My Self Hosted WordPress Journey
Be sure to check out Part 2: Make it Yours!
A lot of bloggers, including me, start out using one of the free blogging platforms (Blogger and WordPress.com being the most popular) while they are still figuring things out. Eventually, though, most (but definitely not all) bloggers get the itch to get rid of those extra characters in their domain name. They want to be independent, special, have a self hosted WordPress blog. However, it can be quite a task to figure out everything you need to do to successfully self host your blog, and since real money is usually involved, this can be intimidating!
Now, I’m no expert in this crazy self hosting WordPress thing, since I’ve only done it once ;-), but I learned a lot and want to share it with any budding bloggers out there. Especially because I got a lot of help and found some awesome resources, and I want to share!
Thus begins my Self Hosted WordPress Journey series! Over the next few weeks (months?) I’ll be posting the steps I took to get self hosted and the actual websites and resources I used conveniently linked for your clicking ease :)!
To start with, whenever you get a new website of any kind, or move things, there are some technical aspects that you need to take care of. Here I’ll let you know what worked for me and others that I asked, so that you can just follow the links and not worry about a thing!
Step 1: Get a Domain!
I suppose step .5 is to think of a name for your domain, but if you already have a blog that might be easier than it was for me. I wasn’t happy with my previous name, it just didn’t seem to fit anymore, so this was the perfect opportunity to change identities :). Once you think of a name, though, you need to go to one of those kind of scammy looking sites and see if it is available. Now, I know that this can be scary, so I’m here to help. When I was at this step I asked Angelya and The Oaken Bookcase for advice since she had recently made the move. What she recommended, and I used and also recommend, is NameCheap.com. For a dot com name it was $10.87 for a year, and this included a few extra handy things. One of those things is WhoIsGuard, which is a good thing. Basically, when you get a domain, all your info has to be stored, and spammers can get to some of those storage places easily. NameCheap uses WhoIsGuard to keep your info away from spammers (and stalkers for that matter…) which is definitely nice for us bloggers that already have to deal with enough of that junk!
Step 2: Get Hosting!
Awesome, you have a domain, now what? Well, having a domain name isn’t enough in today’s crazy world; you also need some server somewhere to hold your website for you and give it to anyone who wants to see it. This can often cost money, but Angelya was there to help me and you again with an awesome service called Safe Shark Hosting. Adam at Safe Shark Hosting believes that bloggers shouldn’t have to deal with all the hassle of hosting a blog if they don’t want to, because they should spend their time creating awesome content. To that end, he has a very cheap package for small blogs, and reasonable upgrades if your traffic gets too big. He is ridiculously helpful and efficient and responds to email questions practically instantly most of the time (I’m not kidding, I just email him at random times to see if he sleeps >.>). He’ll set everything up for you and I can vouch that he is completely trustworthy (since to set things up, he will need access to your website, ie a username and password, but then he makes his own account on your wordpress so you can have your normal password back ;-) ).
There are probably lots of other good options for hosting, but I doubt that any can beat Safe Shark for small blogs. Please comment if you know firsthand of other awesome hosting services though!
Step 2.5: Feedburner? Links?
Super, you officially have a self hosted WordPress blog now! But you want to make sure your previous readers can still find you! This might not be an issue for some people, but many of us have a Feedburner for all of our RSS needs, and it is important to remember to switch this over to the new site as soon as you start posting at your new home. Sooner would be preferable, actually, since it can take a couple of days for everything to propagate through apparently. And since I was a little confused about this when I handled mine, I’m pretty sure the only thing you have to/want to change is the actual feed address from your blog; leave everything else the same (even if you change names) so that people’s subscriptions don’t get messed up. If someone knows more about this than me, please leave a comment and I’ll update this!
Also, many of us try to be good bloggers and use intralinks to help our readers and our SEO. Guess what, all those links are probably still pointing to the old site, not good…. Have no fear! There is a plugin (Broken Link Checker) that you can use to change them all at once (awesome, right??), but until then be sure that any images from your media library are from your new domain and start linking to your new domain’s old posts. Also, I found it a good safety measure to make it really obvious on my old blog that we had moved, ie a big “Moved” sign with the new address across the header. This helps just in case you forget something or Google keeps pointing to your old site for a while. Anyone know of a better way to handle this?
All righty, that’s all the technical stuff I went through for setting up a new, self-hosted WordPress.com site! The next part will handle the pretty stuff! This includes picking a new design or tweaking your old one for your new home, customizing your new WordPress.com blog with all those awesome plugins you’ve been hearing about, and more resources now that you’re all settled ;-).
Anything I’m missing that other WordPress.com users think would be good for new converts to know? Have a question that I may or may not be able to answer? Post comments!
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