Right then. You’ve decided to go self-hosted. Maybe you read the first post in my series, you know what going self-hosted means and you’ve decided it’s the right move for you. So the next step then – how to go self-hosted. What do you need to do?
Your own domain name
As with all these things there are a couple of different scenarios. The first thing you are going to need is your own domain name. If you already have your own domain then you can skip right on to the next part. If you don’t have your own domain you’re going to need to buy one before you can have a self-hosted blog. It makes things a bit easier if you buy your domain name from the same provider as your web-hosting so you might want to decide who you are going to go with for hosting first. Domain registration is a little like the hosting in that you have to pay annual fee to which allows you to use the domain name you have chosen and stops anyone else from using it. You can usually pay for anything from 1 year to 5 years. You have to remember to renew the registration of your domain name (or set it to renew automatically). If you don’t there is a chance that someone else might snap it up when your registration expires and then you’re going to be in a bit of a pickle!
When choosing your domain name I would definitely recommend using your blog name if it is available. If it isn’t then you could try adding ‘blog’ on the end or something similar. As for choosing .com, .co.uk, .net or whatever, it’s really up to you. Some people think having .com is best; I decided to go for .co.uk for my blog as I thought it showed that I was based in the UK. Some people also recommend that you actually register all the variations of your domain name to stop other people using them – you can imagine it would get confusing if your blog was mummyblog.com but there was also someone else who had mummyblog.co.uk. I think it depends how unique your blog or domain name is. If there’s a chance other people might want to use the same name then it might be worth it, but if your blog name is more unique then it’s less likely. I took the risk that no-one else would want to use tobygoesbananas and so only registered the .co.uk domain name.
Finding a web-hosting provider
Once you have your domain name registration you need to choose who will host your blog for you (if you haven’t decided already). There are lots of different web-hosting providers to choose from. I use Tsohost as they were recommended to me by a few other bloggers and I haven’t had any problems with them. You could also try Go Daddy, 123-reg, bluehost or Host Gator to name a few. It may seem daunting to choose a hosting provider with so many out there but the best thing to do is probably ask other bloggers for recommendations and compare the prices. You probably want to choose the mid-range option. If you go for the cheapest package available you might find that you use up your storage allowance further down the line, especially if you have a lot of photographs on your blog. As a rough guide my hosting package costs £34.99 a year and I wouldn’t have thought you need to pay much more than that.
Moving your blog
So, you’ve registered your domain name, you’ve paid for your web-hosting. Now comes perhaps the most daunting part, particularly if you aren’t especially technically minded! It really isn’t too tricky though. And remember – your old blog isn’t going to disappear so it really isn’t possible to lose anything. Some web-hosting companies provide a free migration service – you simply give them the log in details of your old blog and they will transfer everything for you. If you want to do it yourself it is also pretty straightforward. If you already use WordPress, Sara at mumturnedmom has a great step-by-step guide on her blog. If you use Blogger it’s a similar process it’s just that you won’t already be familiar with the WordPress dashboard. If you get stuck at any point in the process your hosting company should have a helpline you can call and they will be able to talk you through what you need to do.
Just a note at this point – if you are already using your own domain name on free WordPress or Blogger then this might make the process of moving your blog slightly trickier. I couldn’t log in to my new WordPress dashboard because it automatically redirected me to my old one. This was quite easily solved in the end – I contacted my hosting company who set up an extra temporary domain alias where I could set up my new blog before completely switching everything over. It sounds complicated but actually they did everything for me.
I’ve moved my blog // Now what?
Once the content of your blog has been transferred you can start looking at appearance and layout. It’s worth noting that if you had widgets (blog badges, links etc) in your sidebar or footer on your old blog these won’t have transferred from the old blog. You will need to manually copy the code from your old site to the new one. As for appearance – if you used WordPress before then you might find the same theme is available and you can keep your blog looking pretty similar. If you were previously using Blogger then you get the fun of searching through all the themes to find one you like. Remember you can always change the colours, fonts and header later – I would go with trying to find a layout you like first of all.
After the that the blogging world really is your oyster! The big difference that you will have to get to grips with, whether you used WordPress before or not, is that only a few basic features (i.e. write a blog post and add a photo) are included when you initially install WordPress. Everything else, whether it’s finding out stats, sharing posts on social media, or pretty much anything else you can think of, comes via a plugin. These are essentially programs written by other people to perform specific functions and you can choose whether to add them to your blog. I know the world of plugins can be very confusing so that’s what we’ll be looking at in part 3 of my ‘How to be a self-hosted blogger’ series.
As always, if you have any questions pop them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer or point you in the direction of the information you need. You can find out more about going self-hosted in my other posts in the series: