Would you like to take your blog to the next level by upgrading to a self-hosted WordPress site, but not sure where to start or if the investment is even worth it?
Well, you’re not alone! I was in that exact same boat last year. I hosted my blog on Blogger for two years before finally diving into the deep waters of WordPress. And you know what? I couldn’t be happier!
So, today I thought we’d take a break from our usual doll related topics to talk about the advantages of self-hosting and why moving from Blogger to WordPress has been the best decision I’ve made for this blog.
I am by no means an expert blogger or web designer. I’m just an average girl who loves to write! When I started blogging, I used a free platform (Blogger) and was adamant to never spend a dime on my blog. However, I soon realized that in order to create the online masterpiece I envisioned, I needed a self-hosted WordPress site.
What is self-hosting:
Self-hosting means you pay for your site. You buy a domain (web address) and pay a server (like SiteGround, Bluehost, GoDaddy, etc..) to house your website and make it available for the world to see. It also means that you own your site. You control its content, data, files, everything. It’s your online space to customize to your liking and monetize for a small side-hustle.
Now, I’m not going to lie and say you can’t be successful using Blogger or WordPress.com. You can; it just takes a lot more work. For some, this may not be an issue. But if you’re like me and want to build a beautiful site that your audience will love, you should seriously consider a self-hosted site.
*Quick note: When I say WordPress, I am referring to WordPress.org NOT WordPress.com. Like Blogger, WordPress.com is a popular free hosting platform. WordPress.org, however, is a free software used to create beautiful, professional looking blogs and sites.
Why should you self-host:
Ownership: Sadly, if you’re aren’t paying for your site, chances are you don’t own it. Being self-hosted means you own your site. Not Google. Not WordPress.com. YOU!
Since they are free, platforms like Blogger and WordPress.com reserve the right to delete your blog without notice. So all the content you’ve worked hard to create can be zapped into oblivion simply because someone thinks you might have violated their Terms Of Service.
However, a paid hosting service does not have the authority to turn off your site unless you are using it for illegal purposes, which in that case you’ve probably got bigger things to worry about besides blogging.
Personally, I am very proud of my blog. I designed it and spend countless hours each week coming up with new content. So why would I risk losing it? I wouldn’t and that is the main reason I choose to self-host.
Design: Designing a blog is SO MUCH FUN! It’s like decorating your own online house!
Unfortunately, free platforms have very few design options. WordPress.com does not allow you to change the layout of your site, install plugins, or add custom CSS. Blogger gives you a little more wiggle room when it comes to design, but it’s still nothing when compared to the never-ending features of WordPress.org.
WordPress offers thousands of themes (many of which are free) and makes adding CSS easy so you can code your site to your heart’s content! You can embed sign up forms, send out custom e-mail lists and newsletters, add content to your header and footer…seriously, the options are endless.
More Professional: There’s no denying that a self-hosted site looks and operates better than one hosted on a free platform.
Self-hosting shows that you’re committed to blogging and willing to put in the work required. Companies are much more likely to work with you if they see you’ve taken the time to build a functional site that leaves readers with a great impression.
Monetization: If you’re looking to make a little extra income from your blog, then you should definitely choose a self-hosted platform. A self-hosted WordPress blog gives you the freedom to earn money via ads, affiliate marketing, or selling your own products.
Free hosting services (WordPress.com in particular) do not allow you to sell ads and have heavy restrictions when it comes to affiliate marketing.
So, if you’re looking to turn your hobby into a profitable side hustle, I would go the self-hosted route.
SEO: SEO stands for Search engine optimization. The better your SEO the higher your posts will rank in search engines. This is important because having good SEO makes your content easier to find.
WordPress.org is known for having the best SEO tools available; one of those tools being YOAST. YOAST is a plugin designed to manage and improve your site’s SEO so search engines and readers can find you. I use YOAST on this site and it has helped my SEO tremendously. Now when I type it in something like “Review Of Madame Alexander Fan Girl“, my site appears right at the top!
Information and Support: According to codeinwp, WordPress runs 28.9% of the internet and is the fastest growing content management system. Their statistics claim that WordPress powers about 19,500,000 websites and the keyword “WordPress” is googled 2.8 million times a month. So I think it’s safe to say that, in the realm of blogging, WordPress is king.
A benefit to its popularity, though, is the support the large community of WordPress users has to offer. When I was using Blogger, I would scour the web looking for blog tutorials and tips, but the only information I could find was for WordPress. Support for Blogger users is practically non-existent.
So, Google reserves the right to remove your site without warning; but if your site has a glitch and you need help repairing it, you’re on your own!
I totally understand not wanting to self-host due to the cost. When I launched my first blog, I didn’t have the money to spend on hosting. But, I had goal and plan. I knew I wanted to self-host so I started saving for it.
To my surprise, it didn’t take long for me to earn the cash I needed. Truth is, hosting isn’t that expensive. In fact, you can sign up with SiteGround for only $3.95 a month via my link.
If $3.95 is too much for your budget, there are other web hosts who are a few cents cheaper (like Bluehost). However, I recommend SiteGround because they are the top rated hosting service and are known for having the best uptime, speed, and customer service (just type in SiteGround reviews 2018 and you’ll see what I mean).
I’ve hosted my blog on SiteGround for three months now and can say that my experience has been superb. Sign up was a breeze and their friendly staff has never failed to answer my questions–regardless of how silly the question may be.
So, is a self-hosted site right for you? Ask yourself these questions to find out:
- Do you want to stop worrying about whether your site will be deleted and all your work lost?
- Are you tired of the design limitations and glitches that plague free hosting services?
- Would you like to appear more professional online and have the option to work with companies?
- Do you want the freedom to monetize your site and make your hobby pay for itself?
If you answered yes to the above questions, you should consider switching to a self-hosted WordPress site.
Want to know how? Here’s a quick tutorial showing you how to get started:
How To Sign Up For A WordPress Blog With SiteGround:
- Go to SiteGround’s site and take a look at their hosting plans.
They offer three plans: StartUp, GrowBig, and GoGeek.
If you’re just starting out or your blog is still small (less than 10,000 visitors per month) then the StartUp Plan should be fine. Plus you can always upgrade down the road if you decide you need more space.
- Next, you’ll need to enter a domain name. If you’ve already bought a domain from a domain registrar, click the I already have a domain button and enter that domain in the box. If you don’t have a domain yet, click the Register a new domain button. Registering a domain will cost an extra $15, but it will save you the hassle of having to point your domain from the registrar to your site.
- After entering your domain, click the Proceed button.
The next page is where you will create your SiteGround account, then review and complete your purchase.
- Type in your email, choose a password for your SiteGround account and fill in the required information.
- Then review your hosting package and decide whether you want to buy hosting for 12, 24, or 36 months. You can see that a year of hosting on the StartUp plan will cost $47.40.
Personally, I recommend going for the longest period you can afford to take advantage of the $3.95 discount for as long as possible. Since I’m all about saving money, I’m going to pick the 36-month option and lock in that discounted price for the next three years.
- Finally, decide if you would like any of the extra services SiteGround offers and pay for your hosting.
SiteGround is pretty good about not selling things you don’t need, so there isn’t a whole lot to look over here. You can save a little by unchecking the Domain Privacy option and SG Site Scanner options; however, I recommend keeping the Domain Privacy to protect your personal information.
- Once you’ve tweaked your plan to your liking, click the Pay Now button.
All that’s left now is to install WordPress.
- Sign in to your new SiteGround account and click the My Accounts tab.
- Click Go to cPanel.
- Once you’re in your cPanel, scroll down to AutoInstallers and click on WordPress.
- Click Install Now to begin installing WordPress.
You’ve just purchased a self-hosted site and installed WordPress!
I hope this post and tutorial was helpful and answered any questions you might have about self-hosting. I know that self-hosting is not for everyone and am not trying to force the idea on anyone. However, part of my purpose in writing is to help others by sharing what works for me whether it’s about doll collecting or blogging. I know that switching to a self-hosted site has made my blogging life so much simpler and more enjoyable.
Deciding whether you should self-host really depends on how serious you are as a blogger, so make sure to take some time and research it before making your decision.