Going Self-Hosted – An Experience and a Guide

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!

Experience

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!

2016-09-06 10.44.00

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! πŸ˜€

Image result for siteground

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.

Image result for siteground plans

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.

1000 followers
Remember my 1000 followers party? No likes or views, but over 400 comments. Sounds right.

 

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.

illdy

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.

20170715_121322
My mood at this point

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.

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!

Guide

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?

Angela.

Hello internet! My name is Angela. I write daily about my travels, life, thoughts, and ramblings. I live down in New Zealand with my lovely husband, Rory. Thanks for stopping by!

50 comments
  1. OMW! You are just like me! I freak out a lot. You know, for some odd reason I have always thought that just upgrading my plan on WordPress is all I need to do but I am so worried about what might happen to my domain. I want to keep ‘buddingregardless’ but get rid of ‘wordpress.com’ without losing my followers, likes, comments or views?. I’m thinking of upgrading in August. Do you think I should? Or should I just self-host mine too? I’m so proud of you for taking this leap and i love this theme too?.

    1. Haha, I freak out a lot too, but to various degrees. Honestly, I think the upgrading to the personal one is a good start. You lose the ‘wordpress’ bit, but keep everything else on your domain. You also get 6GB worth of media, and you don’t need to worry about transferring anything. You keep all your stats and everything. I’m an all-in type person so I figured go big. I’d say just upgrading to the personal plan for now would be best if you think you’ll freak out lots. It was so confusing, but that was cause I made it worse by constantly freaking out ?

      1. Thank you so much ❀ . I want to take a much bigger leap though by skipping the personal plan and heading straight for the premium plan?. I also read Siyana’s post on self-hosting where she also mentioned Siteground so when I am finally brave enough I’ll consider it too ☺ . I’m glad everything turned out great with you ?

        PS. We need to stop freaking out ?

        1. Fair enough, also I’ve just realized that you don’t need the premium plan to switch to self hosting. You can host your site on another provider, then stay on the personal plan on WordPress. Like I said, lots of confusion on my end. Go self hosted first. Then worry about WordPress plans!
          And yeah, we need to chill ?

  2. Your blog has this interesting thing when it’s loading, but it looks very well in general. I can’t wait to see where your blog would take you!

    And also, Dimitar is a Bulgarian dude, and he’s probably outsourcing and not actually being in Singapore πŸ˜€ Poor guy..

    1. Yeah, it’s a preloader thing I believe. It’s optional, but I thought it looked neat so I kept it in ?
      Loading screens are always hilarious to me.
      Did you get Dimitar helping you to?? Oh man, I bombarded him with questions. ? He was so helpful and kind though πŸ™‚

      1. No, it wasn’t him, but they were all Bulgarian ? we actually exchanged a few words but we had to keep talking in English because the conversation was being recorded ?

        1. ?? That’s so cool though!

  3. It sounds a bit scary ??

    1. ? I just thought it would be completely simple and easy, so I got a bit thrown. Hopefully having this out there will help people trying to do it themselves. The hosting companies are always super helpful though as they want to make the move easy for you. I just get confused a lot ?

  4. Holy smokes, that sounds like a lot of work! I’m glad it all got figured out, and it looks great here. πŸ™‚

    1. Haha, I think I thought it would be quite easy and straightforward. But I got through it, and I’m pretty happy with where me blog has landed πŸ˜€

      1. I’m glad it all worked out. And for the record, if I ever to decide to go that route, I will be begging you for help! πŸ˜‰

        1. So am I πŸ˜€
          Haha, if you do make the change, I’d be glad to help! πŸ˜€

          1. Yay and thank you!

  5. I read the whole post. Wow this made me feel a bit stressed. But luckily it worked in the end and I love your new theme and website xx

    1. ? I feel like I’m making lots of people fear the self hosted route. But hey, I wanted to be honest. It was actually a fairly smooth transition, I just got really confused and freaked out a lot. But it’s all good now πŸ˜€

  6. Congrats girl. I’m also so scared to go self hosted even though I wanna do it. Still kinda feel I’m not ready for it. xx

    1. I set myself a date (yesterday) around a month ago. So I could do my research,save up and look around and make sure I knew what I was doing. Looking back at the process now, I should have trusted my host provider. Everything went down as they said it should. I was impatient and also really confused ?
      Go for it when you feel ready Azra! On this side of the transfer, I’m so happy with my blog πŸ™‚

  7. Ah this is totally amazing!! So proud of you for pulling this off, it looks brilliant! I am still so so so nervous to do this πŸ™ I really need some guidance with it and I have no idea!! xxx

    1. Thanks Ella!! I’m so happy with how my blog is now πŸ˜€
      Yeah, the transfer was a bit confusing to say the least, but if you choose a host provider with great customer service then you’ll be fine. I was constantly using live chat with the support team throughout the process, and they were so nice and helpful. It helped ease the nerves πŸ˜€

  8. Wow, that does seem like a lot of work.

    1. It’s mostly a lot of waiting around for the site to become active. It’s been quite fun setting up my new blog once it was up and running

  9. So happy that you have your own domain now! ❀ But I really wish I can still comment through WordPress Reader haha– no worries because I love the new look of your blog!! Congrats, Angela, on surviving that crazy switching!

    1. Thank you so much Jirah!! Haha, I know it’s tricky when you can’t comment in Reader, it means a lot to me that you took the time to come over and comment anyway πŸ˜€ <3

      1. You’re always welcome!! ? Haha and no worries– I really want to see your new blog though and I really think it feels amazing if you have your personal domain.. ❀

  10. Congrats again Angela and thanks for this overview! I’m going to do this soon with My Instruction Manual but may just pay WordPress to handle things for me. One more thing to draw to your attention. You may already know this but it looks like it’s no longer possible to leave comments on your posts through the WordPress reader. Maybe an easy fix?

    1. Hi Keith! You’re welcome, I wanted this to be helpful and detailed πŸ˜€
      I do know that you can’t leave comments via reader, unfortunately that’s something that happens when you go self-hosted. Everyone I’ve talked to has said that you can’t leave comments via the reader if you’re not on wordpress.com. That’s a minor concern though, as luckily lots of readers are still coming through to my site and commenting which is great!

  11. I’m so glad you made the jump! Hopefully I will someday!!

    1. Thanks Pamela! I’m happy to have made the jump, I’d been thinking about it for a while. There’s definitely no rush, do it when you feel ready πŸ˜€

      1. Defo Pam, when your ready because if you don’t give it the time it can go arseways!! Plus with your schedule at the mo how you find time to blog let alone build a self host is beyond me πŸ™‚
        At least now you’ll have loads of us on hand for help in the early hours to get you through!!!!!
        xxxx

  12. Congrats on going self-hosted Angela! I am so excited to see where blogging will take you. I truly appreciate you making this post. I plan on going self-hosted soon and this post was so helpful. I will definitely use this as a reference when making the switch! xx

    1. Awesome! Thanks Natalie πŸ˜€
      I’m glad this post has been useful! I was kind of confused going through the process, so I wanted to write something really detailed to help out anyone else thinking of going self hosted πŸ™‚

  13. WoooHooooo!!! See!!! I did say it would make you cry at least once but if it didn’t I’d never talk to you again hahahahaha!! Super proud of how you managed it and to me you didn’t seem to stressed!! Love the new site!!
    Onwards and upwards my love!!!
    xxxxxxxx

    1. Haha thanks Hazel! I did pull back from tears, I hide stress fairly well. But i also recover from it pretty quick ?

      1. That’s my girl!! You played a blinder!! So proud!! ? xx

        1. Hehe, thanks Hazel!

  14. Thanks for the insightful post! Im looking at also being self-hosted by SiteGround but have a few questions. I want to still be able to acess my reader – seeing my posts appear there as well as being able to interact with new blogs from the community! Is this still possible? How do you go around this?

    1. Thanks for reading Leaa! My posts still appear in my reader, it’s part of still being on WordPress! The only thing is you cant comment through the reader. But people can still like your posts. I use my reader to discover new blogs same as before pretty much! ? if you have any more questions i’ll be glad to do my best to help ?

      1. That’s brilliant! So to clarify, other people can’t comment through the reader on your blog without going to to the full article on your site? But you are still able to comment and like on other people’s blogs on WordPress.com? You’re a great help ☺️

        1. You got it! I’m glad I could help πŸ˜€

  15. I enjoyed reading this, and I am following you on Twitter as well.

    1. Thank you. Haha, I’m not on Twitter very often, but thanks anyway πŸ˜€

      1. I got these great reads here too.

  16. I’m on the free plan with my self hosted and I was wondering if you needed the upgraded WordPress on order to allow comments on your posts through the WordPress reader??

    I just made the switch to my self hosted site adellbaker.com and I can totally agree and relate to the mini panics you have during the process !

    1. Nah you dont need to upgrade your plan. I figured that the way to see my poaya show up in the reader was subscribe to myself again ? Sounds weird, but once I did that I could see my posts show up in the reader again. It’s the only way for me to check that they’re actually showing there for everyone else!
      I’m glad you can relate to all the panics of switching over ? How exciting that you’ve made the change too though! Congrats!

      1. I already did that ? I’m as curious as you are, but there’s no way to comment on my blog posts from the WordPress reader I don’t think but I noticed you could on your blog ?? So I was just wondering if there was any advice on how to set that up?

        I definitely went and read you blog before, during and now after I made the move to see what would happen before during and after ?? but it is such an exciting move thank you!

        1. Ah yes. That is something that you can’t change. Commenting through the reader is for those still connected on wordpress.com. Once you go selfhosted, you have to go into the site to comment. πŸ™‚

  17. Hi Angela! Just wondering how you’ve been going since Self-hosting your site? I’ve been wondering if you experience any issues having two blogs (one self hosted and free blog) that occurs after self hosting. Have you privatised the free blog?

    1. Hi Leaa! I’ve had a few hiccups here and there, but for the most part it’s been running really well. Having two blogs has never been a problem though. I’ve just ‘hidden’ my previous site, which is pretty much the same as making it private πŸ™‚

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