Have you been toying with the idea of starting your own self-hosted blog but apprehensive of taking the plunge? As someone who has started professional blogging recently I completely understand your apprehension. The amount of information available on internet on “how to start a blog’ can leave you utterly confused.
Personally for me blogging has been an extremely rewarding experience so far. But to be honest, I too was overwhelmed by the process at the beginning. This is why I am starting this new category on blogging to help newbie bloggers in growing their blogs. I really hope you find my blogging resources and tips useful. All the best for your journey! Read on.
What is self-hosted blog?
If you are serious about blogging as a career you must know what a self-hosted blog is. You can blog in two ways.
Set up your blog with a reputed paid host like Siteground. A paid host allows you more control over your blog. You can have your own domain name, which is the URL of your blog (like this site ohwellyes.com). You can design you blog as you wish, monetize it. Basically you can do whatever you want with your blog.
Some myths about Self-Hosting:
- It’s too expensive: Nope! My web hosting plan with Siteground costs less than $50 annually ($3.95 per month) and I highly recommend Siteground for self-hosting and new bloggers.
- It’s too technical, I’m not an engineer: Nor am I and technology is something I still struggle with. So if I can set up a blog and have it running, so can you. The truth is technical aspect of blogging is easy, it’s the consistency of writing that is difficult to maintain.
- It’s a long process to set up a website: Technically, it takes up 10 minutes to register your domain and may be another 10 minutes for your website to have a basic set-up. Thereafter, you can take your own sweet time in installing your theme, plugins and publishing your own blog posts. With your self-hosted blog you will have access to unlimited free and paid themes.
- There isn’t much difference between free websites and self-hosted platforms: My dear friend, there is actually a world of difference between free hosts and self-hosting, maybe I will cover it all in a separate blog post. But for now please take note of these basic points.
Free website cons:
- You cannot own your domain name: For example if this site ‘ohwellyes.com’ were to be hosted by Blogger, Wix or Tumblr etc. the domain name would be ohwellyes.blogspot.com or ohwellyes.tumblr.com. Needless to say, I find both these names extremely unflattering and ugly.
- Limitations: With free blogs, you cannot fully monitize your blog or get access to unlimited number of themes, or install as many plugins as you want. Plugins are essential software tools to enhance the functionality of your website.
- Ownership: You technically don’t own your blog, your host provider has the right to shut down your website at their discretion. Read this very detailed post on why having a “free website” is a bad idea.
The difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org
If you want to start your self-hosted blog, I would suggest you use WordPress as your software to manage and create your content. It is the most preferred content management system by bloggers.
WordPress powers over 50% of websites globally. Around 19,500,000 websites on the entire web use WordPress. But besides the cool statistics, WordPress’ popularity lies in its simplicity, it is super easy to use, even a non-technical person like me got a hang of WordPress as soon as I started to use it.
There is however a difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org
WordPress.com: Is a free host service provider, it takes care of all your hosting aspects. There is no need for you to worry about server maintenance or site security WordPress.com takes care for all of that. You can open your account for free and easily set up of your website within minutes. But the free version allows limited usage in terms of uploading custom themes or plugins. Like your domain name will have “wordpress.com” attached to it.
If you can upgrade to the premium plans of WordPress.com you will be allowed you to install Google analytics, plugins and themes. You can even monitise your site with ad services like Google Adsense and get rid of ‘wordpress.com’ from your domain name. Personally I find the paid plans of WordPress.com to be costly and low on returns when compared to the amount invested.
- Set up website for free within minutes
- No need to worry about server maintenance and security
- More control over site customisation, traffic analytics, monetisation if upgraded to premium version. Free version is pretty limited in use.
WordPress.org: Is the platform through which you download the free WordPress software and install it on your own web server. This is the concept of self-hosting. However, most bloggers when starting out use the services of paid host providers like Siteground. These paid service providers install the WordPress software in their server or in other words they host your website for a fee.
But here you get total freedom in designing your website, applying codes, installing plugins. You get your own personalised email accounts like mine is firstname.lastname@example.org. Pretty cool right!
- Create your own brand
- Boost your site traffic with SEO
- Get access to unlimited themes and plugins.
- Monitise your site
- Start a membership site
- You need an initial investment to start your site
Self-hosted blog? or register with a free website?
This completely depends on you want your blog to be. Like I said if you want your blog to grow as a business, build a brand, increase your authority, want to earn from it then you must go for a self-hosted blog. However, if at the moment you are blogging only as a hobby and not sure about the commercial aspects of blogging then you simply can start a blog on WordPress.com and later upgrade it to a self-hosted blog (WordPress.org), the good part you will still be using the WordPress software. Most hosting services, including Siteground help in the migration of your site to their servers. Infact, from July 2018 Siteground has introduced a new SiteGround Migrator plugin, to help you transfer multiple WordPress sites from any host to SiteGround at no extra cost.
Hopefully you found this blog post useful and informative enough to have at least a basic idea about self-hosting. If you ask me I am loving the self-hosted life because it gives me a sense of independence and entrepreneurship and it’s the best feeling I have had in a while.