All about the self-hosted blog

Do you blog for fun? What about for business? Do you blog for fame? The reasons behind blogging are numerous, but one thing remains; when you blog, you need a platform. If blogging is not a business for you, then using a free platform like Blogger is probably the approach you will want to take.  However, for those who use their blogging more professionally, owning the domain name and self-hosting the blog is the way to go using WordPress.

Understanding self-hosted blogs

how to set up a self-hosted WordPress blog

There are a few points that people seem to most often get confused about when looking at using WordPress. Remember, it’s wordpress.org, NOT wordpress.com. In addition, WordPress is free- however, domain names and hosting costs are not. So what do these terms mean?

Domain Name

A domain name is like an address. There is a house, many rooms, lots of things (content), but still- one address. It’s how people find your blog. For example, this blog’s domain name is sitsgirls.com. You can pick various extensions- that is, .net, .info, .biz, etc. The most common is a .com, mostly because it is what people tend to type in when they are looking for a site- and ensuring it’s not confused with something else.

Hosting

If a domain is your address, then hosting can be considered the house. You need a place for your domain to house all of your belongings. You may have different furniture (categories) and different items like tables and lamps (posts), but it all needs to be inside the house (hosting).

Hosting Options

There are various options for hosting plans, and most will cost you from $5-$10 per month. Some of the more popular hosts include Bluehost, Hostgator and Liquid Web. (SITS is hosted by synthesis by copyblogger.)  There are plenty more and you can choose what host you use based on your needs. One thing to consider when choosing a host is how much bandwidth you will need for your site- often, a standard hosting plan is more than sufficient for a blogger just starting out, but as sites grow, more space may be needed. In addition, you need to consider how much you will do yourself and how much you may need help. If you are not technically inclined, you may need to hire help or choose a managed option like synthesis.

WordPress

Consider WordPress to be the rooms in your hosted house at your address. You need framework to put it all in! Many hosting companies offer easy WordPress installations (a great consideration when choosing a hosting company- find out if they offer this). If not, WordPress has their Famous 5-Minute Installationright on their site. The step-by-step instructions require a little bit of work but is relatively painless. Once you install WordPress itself, you are almost there!

Theme

One of the most common questions people have is what theme should be used for WordPress; should it be a paid one, which is better, etc. etc. The answer is that you can really do what you want to do- it depends on how much effort and time you want to put into it. Paid themes like the Genesis Framework & Stuidopress Themes stand out because they have excellent SEO (search engine optimization) built right into their platforms, and many offer designs to go along with them as well.

However, if you really don’t want to pay for these themes, plugins can help this with free themes. One of my favorite free themes is Atahualpa- it is extremely customizable with an easy-to-understand user interface.  It is important to look into how much customization a theme requires and how much you need to know/understand before making the investment. While you can always hire someone to take care of the back-end for you, there will be things along the way that you will want to change and customize too.

Are you on self-hosted WordPress? What makes you hesitate if you’re not?

About Ashley Abele

Ashley is a mom of 3 young children, social media consultant and blogger. She focuses on strategizing for bloggers and small businesses to help them reach their online potential and subsequent sales potential as cofounder of Other Half Media. When she’s not busy creating blogger outreach programs, email or social media campaigns, she blogs her life, parenting, and frequent moves at My Front Porch Swing. Connect on @AshleyNAbele on Twitter and on Facebook.

Comments

  1. zzxlzxsfahzwzdfykrzr, עבודה בחול, nCpkCop.

  2. How about another post like this? Pretty nice. I studied creative writing back in the day, and this had the two most critical parts of a good article, engaging and fun to read. Thanks.

  3. Look, I know is a monumental task for a large number enthusiasts.

  4. I am not sure where youre getting your information, but good topic. I needs to spend some time learning more or understanding more. Thanks for great info I was looking for this information for my mission.

  5. Than just storage, might sound unpleasant?Too Warm foot, free swap online.Comes with it, Edelsteins ma?geblich f?r.Einen bestimmten Nutzen sasummary, wants to play a biological and.Down scheduled payments, Be creative in.,

  6. Nice post. I was checking constantly this blog and I am impressed!
    Very helpful information particularly the last part :) I care for such information much.
    I was seeking this certain information for a very long time.
    Thank you and good luck.
    Go Daddy Review recently posted..Go Daddy Review

  7. I just visited your site via Facebook..I found myself regurgitating what you said in your 1 and 2 points while answering the three questions. =) I’ll be brief insteadwould you be interested in becoming weblog partners?

  8. What a cool article, I didnt think that you can come across some thing here. A pleasant shock, it occurs rarely, but below we can speak of the true extra value towards the reader. Annoy me about blogs usually amateurish article without having good type and with errors. Here I am pleasantly stunned. Hopefully allow it to be to some authors, and compose for their readers and not to have anything on the internet!

  9. Sharon says:

    I am starting a blog and my person tech support guy (hubby) wants me to use Joomla as my platform because he is experienced in working with it. Does anyone have a comment pro or con?

  10. I have a few questions…

    Ok First I have a domain name. I just got hosting. And my hosting came with wordpress. Now what? Do I but a theme? And where Do I put it? I don’t have a website. I down loaded WordPress.org software. But I can’t find where to sign in to. I hear you can move your wordpress.com to a wordpress.org…but can’t figuar that one out either. Every thing looked so easy when I got started but now I am so confused and don’t know where to go or how to begin again. Any help would be great!

  11. I’ve been putting this in the too hard basket for too long… Looking forward to the posts to come to guide me through it! Thanks SITS!
    Emily recently posted..Water is wet

  12. I am not ready to move from blogger yet but I am weighing my options more now and understand all the benefits. Thanks you
    Michael recently posted..Why Do I Love Thee…

  13. This is great info. It answered many questions for me. I have thought about switching many times, but change is hard! Also, I know a woman who is making a nice income on blogger, so that makes it hard to change too.
    Pam recently posted..Choose to be Kind

  14. i’ve been on blogger since I started, but am concerned at what might be involved in switching to wordpress – all my posts, all my followers – seems like a great undertaking and not sure if it’s worth it
    mangiabella recently posted..The Youth of a Nation…And Meatball Lasagna

  15. I’ve always had a self hosted blog. And I have gone through SO many domain names and tried almost every platform out there, including blogger which used to (iuno if they do anymore) copy right to your domain. Blogger wasn’t my fav. I did like Greymatter though but that’s long gone :P WordPress is awesome though (so was B2, what WP used to be) & I don’t think I’ll ever go with anything else, especially since I’m now learning how to manipulate it to do what I want. Still don’t have the perfect theme yet but I’ll eventually get there :P But my site is always there for me and my host, E-Starr rocks!! If anything ever goes wrong she’s right on top of it and I run smoothly once again!
    Jenny recently posted..April #AtoZChallenge Let’s have a party at #UBP12

  16. I own my domain on wordpress.com, but I don’t think I’m quite ready to make the leap to self-hosted. I just stared blogging again after an almost 6 month hiatus and want to get a good groove going with my blog before I attempt the move.
    Liz recently posted..Frustration and delays

  17. I don’t have a huge following, but I’m thinking about moving to WordPress too. Right now, I have a domain on Blogger, but I’m pretty limited on the look of the blog and all that jazz. I’m a little iffy on switching over to WP because I don’t want to shell out money when I only have 36 followers, but I do want to improve my blog.
    Jaida recently posted..April 10th: One Day Without Shoes

  18. I’ve thought about moving but I’m scared to lose readers and also I bought my domain name thru blogger. Do I get to “take” it with me if I move to WordPress?
    Also I wonder, what’s so great about WordPress? I subscribe to some VERY popular blogs and they are still on blogger with the blogspot address!

    Maybe I’ll take the plunge later this year.
    Patty recently posted..Transformation Tuesday {Pretty Up The Front Porch}

    • Hi Patty! One of the things to consider is really your goals, as I mentioned. There’s nothing to say you CAN”T be on Blogger, just that WordPress really offers more flexibility and options in the long run.

      As for the domain, you can take that with you. It’s not technically blogger that it comes from, but a registrar like godaddy or enom.

  19. Over and over you experienced bloggers know what new bloggers need. On Blogger, want to switch to WordPress, technically challenged, budget tight. Waiting anxiously for your guidance in future posts. Thank you.
    Laura recently posted..Resource: Learning the Books of the Bible

    • Laura hang in there! We will have a post out by the end of the month helping with just that :)

  20. Right now I’m on wordpress.com but I’m in the process of making the move to wordpress.org. I’m still struggling with the design though. Hopefully the move will give me more freedom of choice and design.
    Rebecca M. recently posted..Playing the Mom Card

  21. I am a total newbie to all of this and I started on Blogger. You are telling me that if and when I would move to WordPress, I can bring over all of my former posts on Blogger?? I’ve been designing and decorating and repurposing for years, and just started to blog about it, as I am studying with the Sheffield School now. I need loads of support, guidance, and followers!!

  22. Yes, I am a self-hosted blog. But, I’m not live yet. I’m new to all of this. I made the investment in my domain, hosting, and Genesis with the Fashionista child theme. I followed all the tutorials and got everything loaded up, SEO, Feedburner, etc., etc. But…I got stuck when it came to the social media icons and a nice header. I don’t have the money for a designer and I just haven’t figured out how to go about designing and adding these two features. So…. I’ve come to a crashing halt. I think, if I’ve done all this and only have this little bit to go….it can’t be difficult. Any suggestions?

    • Diane, there is a great and simple plug in for wordpress.org called subscription options that does your FB, twitter, RSS and Feedburner. Plus it allows you to change the color of your icons so that you can make twitter orange or FB pink if you want :) Not sure what your site is or what you do so I can’t really help with a header, but my mentor says if you are stuck on something pay someone $/hr to do it for you but make it so that they bill you in 15 minute increments so even if it’s a $50/hr job if it only takes them 15 minutes to do it you only get billed for $12.50 :)

      http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/subscription-options/

    • Diane, you have come so far! Way to go :) A great way to do a header is by using some free tools like PicMonkey or Gimp, and royalty-free images like those from http://www.sxc.hu. If you are not graphically inclined, try using just a text header to keep it simple.

      • Thank you Ashley! I really appreciate your suggestions. I will try my hand at PicMonkey or Gimp and check out the images. I have a fair amount of experience in Publisher, so I think I could do something graphically (fingers crossed!). I so very much appreciate your encouragement. Here I go!!!!!
        Blessings!!

      • Thanks Ashley, I started using PicMonkey, struggling a little with Gimp…but that’s because I have such a hard time reading the white on black instructions…that’s always been an issue for me no matter who does it. In the end I was blessed with finding someone to help me reasonably and voila’! I posted today at http://www.anextraordinaryday.net for the first time. Thanks for you help and encouragement.

  23. I am not on wordpress. I tried it before on wordpress.com and I love that blogger has friend connect. I also am not sure I want to pay for my own domain until I get more readers on my blog. I’ve heard wordpress can be complicated and some of there themes are really expensive. I can add my own great theme into blogger.
    Christina recently posted..Teams and Treasuries on Etsy

  24. hi… This is a great article… I wish I had had this article when I was just starting out in my blogging career. I first started with blogger. And then I move to WP.com but I purchased a domain name for it. But I had taken Bloggin Divas 102 with the Party Plan Coach and I realized that I needed a self hosted blog. Another decision I made was giving that blog my name as the domain name… and I was the brand… just in case I change party plan companies and products.

    I said all of this to say… that whether you are starting our of a veteran, a self hosted wp blog is the way to go. From the plugins to the choices in themes, both free and priced. I feel I have a lot more freedom with my self hosted WP.
    Carla Kennedy recently posted..The Day After Easter

  25. Great tips! Definitely helps!
    Kelly recently posted..Why Don’t You Just Break My Heart While You’re At It?

  26. I absolutely love love love WordPress and I’m so glad that someone convinced me to me (and helped me move). I now have 3 self hosted sites and I guest post on several sites and it’s nice to be familiar with the platform instead of having to learn something new.

    But I have to admit that I wish I knew more about Blogger, because I love sharing tips about blogging, but really can’t offer people too much help with Blogger, because it’s been so long since I’ve used the platform, but I hear that they’re doing good things to bring it into the present

    Thanks for this detailed post. This is going to help a lot of people!

    Kimberly
    Kimberly Gauthier, Keep the Tail Wagging recently posted..Teach Your Dog Fetch | Learning that It’s Easier Than I Thought

  27. I recently moved, and I’m very pleased. BUT. There was so much unexpected and alarming stuff for me. I think the people who are scared are rightfully scared, and I have not yet seen a tutorial that addresses those concerns. I DID lose readers, even though I was able to import them. (It didn’t matter. They still didn’t get e-mails) I DID experience downtime, in spite of being told otherwise. I DID crash my site three times without messing up a single line of coding.

    But. All the things that went wrong were really simple to fix (except the readers. That sucked. I’m still not back to where I was)

    And I wouldn’t go back. The plugin possibilities alone make moving worthwhile. I also love the freedom to advertise (should I want to), something wp.com doesn’t allow. I love the freedom to customize as I want. I don’t HAVE to use one of those themes if I can figure out some coding. So I wouldn’t go back for any reason. But holy wow I’d have loved better guidance than what I found!
    Jester Queen recently posted..Gossip

    • It can be overwhelming, and depending on how you move makes a large difference. There are some things that can be done to prevent this. I have transferred hundreds of sites, and although there have certainly been a few glitches here and there, most are without issue. Shell’s blog is a great example (thingsicantsay.com). All those post, all those readers, all those comments– they all made it alive. :)

  28. When I finally switched over to wordpress my whole world changed with so many more options. I keep learning more and more each day about all the plug-ins that fit my needs. But the only one thing I just cannot understand how to change my avitar picture? I need help on that, so if anyone can help me that would be awesome!

    But for the people who are on blogger looking to switch over to wordpress it was super easy to do. And if I can do it anyone can do it too.

    • Do you mean your avatar picture when you leave comments? That is an easy fix! Head on over to http://en.gravatar.com/ and sign up with the email address you use on your blog/to comment on blogs and you’re all set.

      • Yes sorry misspelled…Ahhhh! Thank you I got it working on my website now does it normally take a while to catch up to other sites that I have already commented on?

        Thank you for helping me.
        California Mom recently posted..Movie Screening

  29. JennAtFFP says:

    I moved from blogger to WP over a year ago and am only disappointed I didn’t make the switch sooner. I will say switching from WP.cOm is easier than when bringing it over from blogger but other than my stats dropping a bit for the month I switched, I didn’t loose anything except a handful of comments!

    I have to say if your investing in a professional blog then budget some money for a premium theme. The support you get with a premium theme alone is worth the money. Free themes can be okay but you have to be careful. Some aren’t coded well, updated in a timely fashion and may even have more plugin conflicts. I love Genesis but I’m debating a change to one of their mobile responsive designs.
    JennAtFFP recently posted..Tax Tips: Deductions & Credits for Self Employed or WAHM Parents

    • Jenn, you make a great point- the premium themes are definitely worthwhile. I’m a huge fan of all genesis/studiopress themes.

  30. I’ve been on wordpress.com for a couple of years and finally just bought my domain. I really want to switch to WP.org but I’m hesitant because I’m not sure if I might lose all my blog posts and/or comments, and I don’t know what I need to know about security/spam filters before making the switch.
    Kate recently posted..Sneak peeks

    • Kate, if the transfer is done properly, you will not lose anything in the switch! There will be more information on this coming on a post in a about a week or so, so stay tuned!

  31. Thanks for the info! I’ve been self-hosted for about 6 months, but I still don’t feel super comfortable with what I’ve created.
    Amanda recently posted..Curtains for my Mom’s Kitchen

  32. Thank you for the 5 minutes installation link – I had been wondering if there was a way to install a WP theme on a website that I’ve had for almost 15 years. A WP theme is so much easier than trying to create CSS templates in dreamweaver.
    Sonia Barton recently posted..Planting the Garden

    • Sonia, depending on your server, it might be very easy! The best thing to do is shoot them an email and see if it’s possible.

  33. Love, love, love the simple explanation for all of this.

    I know when I switched to self-hosting and my own domain I wanted to be able to show I was serious. A year later, I don’t come across as being too serious (hello, last post was two weeks ago! eek!) for a number of reasons but at least I know the content is mine and the flexibility to make things better is there.
    Kim @ Coffee Pot Chronicles recently posted..Diet vs. Lifestyle Change: Which is best?

  34. What a great article!! It touches on everything I considered and then had to wade through when I migrated from a hosted WordPress site to a self-hosted. It was the BEST thing I did. The SEO is great, and I have a LOT more flexibility. I am using Genesis with a Studiopress theme. I love it.

    Thanks for all the great information!
    Sharon {Grumpy, Sleepy, and Bashful} recently posted..Wordless Wednesday: Big Shoes To Fill

  35. I own my domain but I’m still being hosted by Blogger. I’m SO freaked out about making the switch. I think it’s just the fear of the unknown but I’m freaking none the less.
    bcIMthemommy recently posted..Birthday Preparations

    • I promise it’s not so bad! Once you get in for a week or two, you’re golden.

  36. I’ve been thinking of starting a second self-hosted website to do some podcasting on a different topic. Why I’m hesitating is because the genesis WP theme is not loading to my 1&1 server. It may have to do with a podcast button I selected but I’ve been too busy to figure it out. So I’d say finding the time to do all the trouble shooting involved is the biggest issue.
    Young Yoga Masters recently posted..How to Elevate Children as a Kids Yoga Teacher

  37. I agree with Louise too! The sheer terror of it overwhelms me a bit. I’ve been thinking about it but want to make sure that I have to time to figure it out and not just slap something up there willy nilly. Funny because I was putting off thinking about this further until after Bloggy Bootcamp! This IS a great series and this post makes it really easy to understand. Glad you all are doing this.
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted..5 Life Lessons I Learned From Surfing

    • That’s great! We will be getting more into switching in just a week or two, so stay tuned!

  38. Great article! I’m making the move this week! As I type a designer is working on my new blog design. I was going to do it myself. I went as far as setting up hosting, installing WordPress, installing Genesis and a childtheme. Then I got too stressed out trying to set up the child theme while doing my work and taking care of my home and family. I bit the bullet and hired someone to do my design and someone to move my blogger files over to WordPress.
    Arlene @ Flour On My Face recently posted..News From My Kitchen and a call for food bloggers

  39. This is a great explanation for anyone looking to move from a free site to a self-hosted WP blog! I love my self-hosted site and HIGHLY recommend it for anyone starting a blog. I’ll def be sharing this post with newbies. Thanks, ladies!
    Eve recently posted..Caine’s Arcade

  40. I initially started blogging at styleosophy.wordpress.com, the free wordpress component. I wanted to step my game up, but felt it would be a lot of continual work with upgrades and protection to make the switch to wordpress.org, although everyone says it is not a lot of work.

    I couldn’t bring myself to even choose a host..there are soooo many choices.

    So I went with a company that manages the backend, security and all that, and still allowed for CSS and HTML customization. I choose squarespace based on the beauty of the Karen Waldrond’s chookooloonks.com website. The only hard part was deciding how I wanted my site to look.
    Glenyse recently posted..how to use ziploc bags to get dressed in the morning

  41. I agree with Louise! It does seem scary!
    JDaniel4′s Mom recently posted..2nd Annual Tissue Box Challenge Begins April 16th

  42. I am not, but I’m thinking seriously about it. I wish I had enough money to hire someone to give me a great blog design. I’d make the switch then.
    Susan in the Boonies recently posted..Ashley Judd and the Objectification of Human Beings

  43. I do have a wp.org blog. But I have to admit that sometimes it scares me! Because I really don’t understand so much of the technical stuff and there is so little support available:(
    Karen@WaistingTime recently posted..When I Was a Kid…

  44. I made the switch from Blogger to WP a month ago, I`m really happy that I did.
    Forgetful Mom recently posted..Making the Switch to WordPress

  45. AlisonSWLee says:

    Great simple explanation. When I decided to move, I didn’t have much idea of how it worked, but I took the plunge anyway and hired someone to do my design and help me make the move. I have no regrets, I love WP!

  46. I’ve been so happy since I moved to a self-hosted WP site. The only bummer is that I seemed to have lost a lot of whatever readers I had in the move. I bought a theme, only $35, and got help with the install. I loved the fact that I could get exactly the functionality I wanted. Just wish I had known this from the beginning.
    When Pigs Fly recently posted..It’s Not What I Expected

    • It definitely seems like good info to start with- hopefully your readers build back up!

  47. If a domain is your address, then hosting can be considered the house.

    That is a very simple explanation! I like the analogy.

    It took me about a year to be finally convinced that I need my own “address” and “house”. Now, I have a self-hosted wordpress blog and I can’t be any happier!
    viviene @ thejourneyofawoman recently posted..The Good Wife’s Guide Review

  48. I’m absolutely in love with the genesis framework. You can go beyond the themes and turn the theme into a whole different website with CSS and HTML knowledge.even if you don’t know CSS the documentation and forums are extremely helpfully with videos on how to set up.
    I’m not a fan of free themes because they are free for a reason and do not offer a lot of the features of a
    Paid one. It is however a good
    Place to start, gain experience or just make your life easier.
    Self hosted is cool but does require taking sometime to read the documentation which is very clear for
    Most services and WordPress.
    I was afraid of switching from wordpress.com to WordPress.org but no more. I’m happy I switched.

    Happy SITS day.
    WebLy recently posted..Lost for Years, I Found THE SECRET TO SEXY ABS

  49. I was on Blogger and made the move to WP a few years ago – so glad I did. Being a writer, I like “owning” my content. Moving to WP was really easy, because I hired someone to help to all the confusing code work for me. It didn’t cost much (maybe $200), and it was well worth the fee.
    Lynn from For Love or Funny recently posted..My hairy pink tree

  50. What makes me hesitate is sheer terror! I’m on Blogger and would like to move to WP, but trying to figure out how to do so makes my head practically explode. Loving this series, though!
    Louise Ducote recently posted..Yes!

    • We have lots of great information and resources coming up on this very subject. I promise you, nothing to be terrified of!

      • I started out on blogger and think I am ready to take the next step. Even though I blog as a hobby I didn’t like reading that Google owns my blog and could take it down at any time. I like the WordPress themes and the sites look more professional and prettier!

        Ok so what comes first, the chicken or the egg? Buying a domain name or signing up for WordPress?

        I am not sure if I want to change my blog name…although I like mom’s small victories, the 2 s’s together in a domain name might not be a good idea. Also I have RA which is a chronic illness and my blog deals with how I cope with RA and raising 3 small kids it….so any thoughts on whether I should go with RAmommy.com or Momssmallvictories.com?

        Thanks, love your site and all these beautiful blogs!!!
        Tanya recently posted..GoodReads Review: ScreamFree Parenting: The Revolutionary Approach to Raising Your Kids by Keeping Your Cool

        • You want to start with the domain name, so I would focus on that first! Try to picture where you want your blog to go in the next six months, the next year, etc.- sometimes that really helps shape your name!

    • this is me as well, the terrified part. it sounds like I did a good thing in starting with wordpress. I found this blog entry via google and I think I might be starting to get it finally!! I started my blog to write and post pics of my recent travels. I would like to try and make money from my blog once I retire to southern Spain and travel more within Spain. not become wealthy, but if it provides enough to eat out once in a while, that is cool with me. and if it becomes something else, I will cross that bridge when I get there I guess. not really anticipating much, just want to see where it goes.

      thanks for a very informative post!! hoping to make the switch to wordpress.org soon!!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] you been contemplating starting or switching to a self-hosted blog and are feeling a little lost with deciding which web host to choose? Finding the right web hosting [...]

Our Story - Privacy Policy - Website Terms & Conditions