I’d considered hosting my site for a while, but fear gripped me.
Move my writing blog to a new self-hosted domain? By myself? Talk about anxiety; that was it for me.
I moved past that fear to a blog that is smarter and cleaner than before. Some folks have asked, “How did you do it?” This is my story…to the best of my recollection.
This blog started as a free blog at WordPress.com. I had been there for about 18 months. In that time, I learned about publishing posts, building relationships, and gaining traffic. Because of the limitations, I outgrew the free platform and decided I wanted to self-host my blog. I decided to approach this like a piece of writing. So the first step was research.
1. Research what’s necessary
I wanted to use the WordPress software for self-hosting. Confusingly enough, WordPress.com is the free format and WordPress.org has the self-hosting software, discussion forums and support.
When writing about a subject new to you, research is crucial. I read everything I could find about hosting companies – the good, the bad, and the ugly. I won’t give you a rundown of the ugly except to say, don’t go for the absolute lowest price because the service level will likely match the rock-bottom price.
I checked out many services. One was InMotion Hosting. I looked at their website and pricing, then emailed them a couple of times. On their website, they listed WordPress under hosting tools. I found that they had heaps of free tutorials about WordPress software and moving a WordPress.com site.
I also looked through the extensive research that a fellow writer Lorraine Reguly did before moving her site. She gave them a high rating as well. We arrived at different decisions, but I appreciated all the details Lorraine put into the post. She saved me a lot of time. Being in Canada, she wanted to use a Canadian company. Similarly, living in the U.S., I opted to support InMotion Hosting; a completely U.S.-based company. One of their main offices is even in my state.
2. Decide to Act
I signed up online at their website.
The next day, I received a confirmation call from Jackie. I explained what I was doing and she sent me direct links by email to articles for getting started and about moving a WordPress site. She asked key questions and listened to mine. I later used their 24/7 tech support chat service to get some other questions answered (24/7 phone service is available too. I just prefer the online chat).
After I’d had my site set-up for about a month, they contacted me to let me know that my site was temporarily blocked because of a brute-force attack. They again sent me a link to a tutorial telling me how to get back into my site, advised me about a plug-in to install and told me two specific things I should change to make my site more secure. I’ve had no problems since then. I don’t think I’d be this far along without their support.
UPDATE: The day this post went live, I updated one of plug-ins. Immediately, I started getting an error message. After a few minutes, I was unable to even navigate to my site. I went to the InMotion Hosting‘s support chat service and Zach helped me. I learned about how to access my control panel, enter my WordPress file, and then edit the plug-in file. To disable the plug-in, I just had to rename it. I was able to log into my site again in about 10 minutes. Thanks Zach!
3. Study, Learn and Improve
Having your own self-hosted site means there is always something new to learn. I found out that you can transfer followers from WordPress.com to a WordPress.org site using a tool called Jetpack, which disappointingly doesn’t live up to the images I had of a James-Bond-like device (although it is quite handy).
There are special plug-in tools that can help you revive older posts, improve search ranking, and help with comments. I have learned how to set up email, a comments section, and sharing buttons. I’ve even messed up a few things and learned how to fix them. I discover and adjust the site in small ways each week to make it more helpful.
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