Okay, so after reading lots of comments, I feel like I’ve confused a lot of people about the self hosting process through my ramblings. So I felt the need to include a guide at the end of how I went self-hosted to make it clearer. So strap in for the rambles of my experience going through it, or scroll to the end for the guide!
This has been a rollercoaster for me to say the least. I was thinking about talking about it in my weekend review, but you know what? This deserves a whole post! I’m going to be as detailed as I can about how I made the switch, cause it might be helpful to those considering it, and also I just really want to write about it!
So, you guys may have noticed that my site has shifted. I talked about going self hosted for the longest time before setting a date for it, which was July 22. Yesterday. Or today for some of you guys. I had been talking to many bloggers about their experience about it, asking which host provider they went with, and just reading up on it. That helped a little, but when it came to it, I still had lots of moments of doubt, confusion and a dash of panic. I had decided to go with Siteground, which is also what Linda and Siyana are on! By the way, a big thanks to Linda and Hazel who had been encouraging me to go self hosted for a while! 😀
Anyway on Friday after work, I dove into it. I bought the Premium plan for WordPress. Then for the fun of it, I got to choose my new domain name. I of course wanted Life of Angela, but that was taken. I was stumped, then I figured it out. The Life of Angela. Perfect. Once that was confirmed, I sprinted into Siteground and got the Start Up Plan for $3.95 a month. I didn’t know if there was a specific order to this (turns out there kinda is), so I just kind of jumped in. Once I was in Siteground, I had no clue what to do. Less than no clue. I freaked out for a bit and thought I paid for nothing, before realizing I should probably find some guides. Siteground is super helpful, I went on a chat and talked to a friendly dude in Singapore. He set up the process to get one of their support gurus to transfer my site. It is possible to do it yourself, but as I had written over 270 posts, I didn’t want to try do all that heavy lifting on my own. Plus Siteground offers a service where they transfer your site and install WordPress for free as part of their plan.
Eventually (literally like 5 minutes) I got through to the support, and he started the process for me. Now the website transfer is interesting. Here’s how Dimitar (shout out!) explained the process to me:
What we can do for you is to install a brand new WordPress application on your account with us and migrate your website posts, pages, comments, custom fields, terms, navigation menus and custom posts to the new application on our end.
We can not transfer the theme of the website and the exact setup of your theme, plugins or widgets. This means that your website will not look the same as it is now and you will need to choose a new theme and tweak it additionally yourself after the transfer is over to achieve the desired website outlook.
So it transfers all my content basically, except it can’t bring over the theme, it also means that all views and likes get reset. But the comments stay. It’s hilarious looking back at my older posts now. Anyway, I knew that since Linda had already given me a heads up about it. I agreed to all this, and he got things rolling.
An hour and a half later, he came back to me saying the transfer had been done. He gave me a temporary link so I could see and tweak the site before it was released into the world.
This is where I ran into a problem. I couldn’t for the life of me get it to work. So I decided to freak out again. I had to use the hosts on my local computer (still with me?), to point my new domain to my IP address only, so I can tweak it, but no one else can see it. He gave me a link to a guide that tells me how to do it, but I was still so lost. I freaked, I complained, I asked Rory to help, and eventually it worked. And then it didn’t. So I sent a message back trying not to sound whiny. He came back 5 minutes later with a link that he’d set up that should take me straight to it. It did. Dimitar strikes again! So now was the fun part, looking for themes. There’s a lot of themes out there, being on WordPress.com is a bit more limiting, but with this switch, there was so much more gorgeous free themes. I ended up taking to Google to look for a new theme. Illdy caught my eye. I love a huge header image.
After an hour of playing, I decided it was good enough and asked for help to just load it up. I was impatient and wanted it to be live already. By now it was 11pm, so I went to sleep.
I woke up at 6 on Saturday and immediately logged into Siteground, they came back to me saying that they would make the switch for me. Once this was done, I had to change my DNS (Domain name server) and point it away from WordPress, to Siteground instead. They had another handy guide for this. Once this is done, you’re meant to wait around 24 hours for it to kick in.
It’s at this point that I realised another problem I had. I had two sites now. My wordpress.com site (lifeofanangela), and my new in-progress one with wordpress.org (thelifeofangela). Guess which one I bought the premium plan on? Yeah, I put it on the free site which I was moving away from. This led to another freak out. Then I saw that I could just cancel the plan and get a refund (within 30 days). Whew! So I did that, and then bought it on my new site. It takes 7 days for the refund to come through though, so now my credit card is annoyed. Woops.
Also, after some discussion with other bloggers, turns out you don’t even need this plan. You could stick to personal (maybe free? But I’d have to double check on that), which is waaay cheaper. See what a mess I made? I do like the Premium plan, you get lots more support with Jetpack, and loooots more media space, which was the main thing I wanted.
While waiting for my site to come up, I chatted with some blogging friends. I told them about this self-hosting business. They told me that they could access my new site. I got excited so I put in my url and it led to a 404 error site. I complained and sulked to Rory who told me about the hosts file that we’d fiddled with on my computer. So he helped get rid of that, and I tried again. This time I linked back to my original site. By now I was getting annoyed and sulky again (I really need to chill at this point), so I wrote another message to the lovely support chat team. I was advised to wait a few more hours as these things take time, and also to clear my history as my internet remembered my old site more (from all the times I was on it).
I tried this, and all of a sudden, my site was up. Finally. Then, I played around with installing new plugins, Jetpack, messing with my theme more, then I saw that there was an option to migrate followers from another site. So I did that, and set lifeofanangela.wordpress.com to private. I think that’s it.
So yeah, that was long. It was also made more complicated by myself (so many freakouts), but I got there! This site is still very much a work in progress, but it’s fun. For one, as someone who was used to getting hundreds of views and likes a day, it was funny to see my new stats.
I’m excited about this new direction for my blog though! I will continue reposting old posts every now and then (especially now that I have lots more of them), as I do want to give newer followers a chance to read previous adventures I’ve shared!
I will still be posting multiple times daily and doing my best to stay up-to-date with all your posts too. No promises however, as I do find myself getting a little worn down every now and then. A little break is good every now and then, but I do love to catch up with you all!
Okay, let’s try break this down with minimal rambling
- Pick a hosting provider. This is the company that you will host your site on. Do some research cause there’s a lot out there. I personally recommend Siteground since they can do transfers and WordPress install for free with their plans, and I’ve had lots of great experience with their customer service.
- Pick a plan. This one is up to you, but I went with the beginner option, as I’m still a novice when it comes to the more technical side of blogs.
- Transfer your site and install WordPress. Some companies offer it for free, others don’t. You can also choose a Guided Transfer through WordPress itself, but it costs around $99. However, I think through this you get to keep all your stats. I lost all my views and likes through the transfer which is a bit of a downer, but I know they’ll build up again. If you really don’t want to let go of your stats, consider this option. Also, if you’re really capable, you can do all this transfer business yourself. There’s lots of sites online (and probably YouTube videos) to help you do this.
- Wait. Yeah, this part sucks. Obviously if you’re not doing the transfer yourself, you have to wait till they tell you it’s been moved. So distract yourself with something. Maybe look up some themes and see which one catches your eye.
- Play around. Now your site is up. In my experience, they only give you a temporary link so you can build your site before it goes live. This is where you have to install a new theme. Check if your photos in previous posts haven’t gone wonky. Play with it till you’re happy to have it go live.
- Change the DNS servers. Basically, you want your site to point towards your new host, and not with WordPress. You’re using the platform for your blog, but as your host. Again, there’s guides for how to do this online.
- Wait again. It can take a while for this to go through. In the meantime, maybe put your old site on hidden or private, so people don’t try go to it since you’re moving sites.
- Clear your browser cache and history. This bit is random but hear me out. I kept getting redirected to my old site on WordPress.com, rather than my new one on Siteground. Once I cleared my cache and history, it automatically redirected to my new site. Problem solved.
- Transfer followers. For some reason, my new site had 0 followers, but my old one still had over 1000. So on Jetpack, use the subscription migration tool, and watch them fly over. Still confused? Here’s a guide.
- Purchase a WordPress plan. This isn’t compulsory. This is what I now feel obligated to say. I thought it was needed to get a Premium plan when going self hosted. But it’s not. Choose a plan that suits you, I don’t think it can be free though since WordPress isn’t your host if you’re self hosted.
- Write something. Now you just test it out. I wrote Hello Again as a test, and it seemed to be working. So now you’re in business!
If you read all this, congrats, cause this is long. But I wanted to give you guys a really detailed account of my switch. Cause rambling is the only way I know how to share. I’m happy I made the change, but I don’t think it’s necessary if you view blogging as just a hobby. The free site you get on WordPress.com is amazing and so convenient. I was personally excited to get more space for all my photos (I was running out fast), I wanted to see what other possibilities and changes I could make to my blog outside of the free site, and I felt ready to take this next step in my blogging journey.
Any of your guys thinking of going self-hosted?
If you have gone self-hosted, what was your experience like? You have any freakouts along the way too?