Before I started blogging I researched whether I should start with a WordPress.com (hosted) or a WordPress.org (self-hosted) platform. Being brand new and feeling overwhelmed by all the terminology, I decided to play it safe and start off with WordPress.com which is the free, hosted platform. Although my learning curve was steep I learned quickly and soon became frustrated with “free” because of its limitations. A few short months later I decided to take the leap and switch to self-hosting, but I made some mistakes in the process that other bloggers might learn from.
1) Timing – I got wound up and decided to switch to self-hosting the week before taking our daughter to college, thinking it was going to be easy. Well, it wasn’t. And having all the other things I needed to tend to hanging over my head added more stress. I think I made some snap (and poor) decisions as a result. If you’re going to switch to self-hosting, don’t start the process when you have something important looming on your calendar. Not only to avoid adding stress, but also to allow yourself time to work through any problems that might arise. I encountered some problems during the process, and when it was complete, I then had to go through all my old posts and fix some things.
2) Theme – Have it chosen ahead of time, and verify that it will be supported by your chosen web host. I thought I’d be able to use my same theme, and then after the switch commenced I was told it wasn’t supported, so I panicked and bought one that looked good, but ended up being way too complicated. Then a different tech found that my old theme could be supported and switched me back to it. So I had bought one unnecessarily. The author was kind enough to refund my money, but ThemeForest would only give me an account credit.
3) Domain name – When it came time to register my domain name, I decided to alter it slightly, not realizing that would cause some other problems. I was able to get traffic forwarded from the old domain name, but that added an expense. I also didn’t realize I would be starting over on my statistics.
Advice to New Bloggers
Now that I’ve gained some experience I would offer the following advice to new bloggers:
The idea of self-hosting to begin with was intimidating, but in hindsight I think it would’ve been a lot easier. I only have experience with WordPress, but the dashboard (and learning curve) is the same for both platforms. Choosing self-hosted from the beginning would save the headache of converting later, and give you more freedom with plugins, design, and advertising.
I chose SiteGround as my web host and have not regretted it. I can attest that they have great customer service! During my self-induced stress period I tested it thoroughly via “Live Chat.” I think I chatted with everyone in the department and they were all helpful and patient. I wish all companies provided Live Chat!
As a new blogger, it really helps to find your “tribe,” – bloggers in your niche that you can learn from, and look to for support. Jen Snyder compiled a guide called “Find Your Tribe Online” that lists Facebook groups, Pinterest boards, and more. She put in the time so that you don’t have to. Finding your people will help jumpstart your blog. It helped me find some new blogging friends and inspired me to start my own tribe.
I hope that by sharing the mistakes I made that you might be able to avoid them. If I had to do it over, these are the things I would do differently.