Have you been thinking about self hosting your blog? Do you currently have a free blog on a platform like wordpress.com, tumblr, or blogger? There are many benefits to taking the plunge and self hosting your blog, but the switch isn’t for everyone.
After a year and a half of owning a self hosted blog I wanted to share my experiences with making the switch from wordpress.com to wordpress.org. Hopefully this post will be able to inform you about both sides of self-hosting.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through my links and make a purchase I will make a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Why have a Self Hosted Blog?
The primary reason why I believe you should have a self hosted blog if you’re serious about blogging is that you have complete control over your blog with a self hosted site. The free version of WordPress doesn’t let you add your own plug-ins which makes it very difficult to monetize your content.
Additionally with free blog plans you are limited by the themes available from the platform and those themes don’t always look as professional as a paid theme.
There are free blog themes out there that look better than others, but when using a free theme from WordPress’ limited selection you also loose out on a chance to make your blog look truly unique. Hundreds if not thousands of other blogs out there are probably using the exact same theme.
There are ways around this if you have a free blog, for instance WordPress.com has a premium plan which includes one free premium theme. You can also opt to pay for a premium theme, but in my experience there isn’t a lot of selection depending on the look you want and a lot of people still have the exact same theme as you.
I had the Rosalie theme for a year and even though I loved it I noticed that every fourth or fifth blog I visited had the same one.
Where to find a self hosted theme?
When you’re self hosted the options are endless for themes. You can find so many different options online and from places you wouldn’t even expect. I recommend checking out Etsy and Creative Market for starters.
There are hundreds of plug-ins to choose from to make your blog exactly what you want it to be. As a self hosted blog you can get access to better analytics, optimization plug-ins, and plug ins that can do just about anything!
If you want a plug-in to add your instagram feed to the top of your homepage you can add one. You can add all kinds of ad revenue plug ins, as well as shopstyle affiliate tabs.
Basically anything you could possibly think of is at your disposal.
Beware: Some plug-ins can break your site! I did this once, it wasn’t fun. I had to uninstall and reinstall my entire theme and plug-ins until I found which one caused the crash.
Good To Know — if you add too many plug-ins it can severely impact your site speed which means lower rankings in search engine results. Only add what you actually need and try to find plug-ins that do more than one thing.
How to Self Host Your Blog
First of all you need to find a hosting company. I am personally with Siteground and they have been great so far. I have also heard good things about Blue Host.
With Siteground I set up an account and chose the free option to have them migrate my blog from WordPress.com. You do have to give them your password so if you aren’t comfortable with that then you’ll need to do it yourself. From there they literally took care of everything.
Siteground moved over all of my content and my domain name and from there I was able to set up my wordpress.org dashboard. It’s literally the same as the wp-admin tab from wordpress.com, so it’s not daunting or anything like that!
The process was so easy!
Note: When your content is moved over the the new hosting platform you will lose all your wordpress “likes”. Honestly I don’t care too much about wordpress likes, but if you do be warned that they’ll be gone.
Most hosting companies have an intro plan for new clients. I believe I got my hosting at $5/month or something like that, and it’s lower the longer the term you go with. Depending on what Siteground wants to charge me at the end of the year I might shop around for a better rate.
If blogging is just a hobby for you and you have no desire to monetize or grow your brand it might not be an expense you’re willing to incur. And that’s fine! There’s nothing wrong with staying on a free plan if it meets your needs.
Something I was concerned about my was traffic. When I self hosted my blog I honestly wasn’t focusing on SEO. Most of my views came from the wordpress reader, so my traffic did take a hit when I made the switch. When you have a self hosted blog your posts will only show up in the reader for people who already follow you, not in individual tags.
Some people recover their traffic in a few months. For me it took a full year.
This is one of the reasons why you might not want to go self hosted. If you’re getting a ton of traffic on the free plan then you might not want to risk losing it. Personally I do think it’s worth it, but only if you’re in it for the long haul. In the last six months my traffic has finally started to grow again (yay!) I’m not anywhere close to making real ad revenue but it’s encouraging to finally be over the plateau.
Self Hosting is More Work
You need to be able to figure out how to do basic things on your own with a self-hosted plan. Luckily the Siteground team is pretty helpful so if you have any questions they should be able to help you out. Unfortunately I can only speak for my experience with Siteground as I haven’t tried another hosting company.
You need to do basic things like updating your theme and plug-ins on a regular basis. Honestly it’s super easy, there’s an update tab in your admin section and you can check the boxes of anything that says it needs an update and literally click the “update” button.
Some plug-ins require research. I’m not a web developer so a lot of the settings were gibberish to me at first.
Be prepared to pull up your sleeves and do some googling…
- Full control over your blog
- Access to Plug-ins and monetization tools
- Can look more professional
- More theme options available
- Traffic may decrease
- More costly
- You need to be more computer savvy on a self hosted plan
Are you thinking about self-hosting your blog?
Please let me know if you have any questions. I hope this blog post was helpful to you if you were wondering about the self-hosting process. If you enjoyed this post make sure to check out my collection of blogging tips! Happy self-hosting x