10 tips for going Self-Hosted

Ooh it’s that dreaded word “self-hosted”, but it really isn’t that scary and I am hoping that this little post will help encourage some of you bloggers out there to take the plunge – once and for all!

If you get stuck with any of the lingo, read below to get an idea on what the techy words are… If you are not sure what the difference is, check out this infographic which I found explained it quite nicely.

  1. Check out well known companies for hosting and domain deals, check to see if the domain name that you want is available. Companies I would recommend are 123 Reg and 1and1, you can check domain name availability and package prices. With packages you need at least 1 database and some hosting, so make sure you check the databases that come with the package.123reg – domain name availability checker. Package I would recommend is: business package £4.99 a month. Linux Server.
    1and1 – domain name availability checker.  Package I would recommend is: 1&1 starter £2.49 a month – Linux Server.
  2. What domain name do you want? Something to think about as you can have a .com or a .co.uk or even a .net, the choice is yours. You may even want to purchase them all and have them all pointing to the same website, your blog. This is good if you want to get into branding your blog. At the moment though, lets start simply, with 1 domain name. Mine is www.mummyconstant.com – what will yours be?
  3. Once you have the hosting and domain purchased, make sure you set up your very own unique email address, it is a lot more professional looking than a Yahoo account for example and you can set it up in a mail client and use it solely for your blogging emails – I do this to keep organised. My email is sonia@mummyconstant.com and I use Windows Live Mail to keep my emails organised. Its a great and free tool.
  4. Decide if you want to use a template (free or purchased) for your blog, if so, you may need to use the files from the template to set up the blog, instead of using the wordpress.org files for example. Some good template sites are: themeforest.com, smthemes.com, blogger templates.
  5. Once you have purchased your hosting and domain, you will need to wait 48 hours approx for the domain to register. In the meantime you can set up your database, upload the WordPress.org files to your web server and get the actual wordpress blog set up. I use WordPress self hosted as you get much more control than some of the others: typepad.com and blogger.com for example.
  6. When you have your basic blog set up with no information on it, its a good time to make sure you fill out the Settings > General part of WordPress, so that you tell it what your domain is going to be and what your email address is going to be.
  7. Make sure you get a backup of all images and files that you currently have on your existing blog. I backed mine up on to an external hard drive. Export (to an .xml file) a back up of your current blog, you should be able to do this from your blog admin relatively easily. Do this just after the last post you want to write to your old blog and then import it straight away to your new blog.
  8. Make sure that all of your content on the blog has imported properly, I had a few issues with a recent change from WordPress.com to WordPress.org and that was exporting the images and getting them to the new blog – I realised you couldn’t do it easily. So I had to go through the old blog and save the images to a folder and then re-upload them to the new blog. Luckily there were only 10 blog posts, anymore then I would have investigated other options. Just pick a few random posts from random categories and make sure the posts are complete and the content is displaying correctly.
  9. Get your self-hosted blog full of widgets and plugins – make it look how you want it too, add your Facebook/Twitter feeds, get your RSS feeds working properly and if you are using WordPress for your blog make sure to get the JetPack plugin installed and set up – it is a really handy tool to have (Stats, comments and form builder etc).
  10. Finally, once you are in a position where your new blog is alive and kicking, it is a good time to start plugging it and throwing your new domain name out to all of those fabulous networks that you mingle on. All you need to do with the old blog is change it to a different domain, delete it or make it go to “offline” mode. You might want to create a domain like old.domainname.com so that you have both up and running at the same time (just in case).

If you are not sure about some of the words I have used, please take a look at the MummyConstant glossary below:

Glossary

Hosting

The place where your files are stored, similarly to how your “My Documents” folder works on your computer.

Domain Name

The unique name that a website has, for example the Google domain name is www.google.co.uk.

Database

This is a file that stores information that makes your blog “hold” its content, for example your posts, images, comments from other people are all stored in this database. If you didn’t have one set up, you would not even be able to change the blog name or add any posts. This is essential!

Mail Client

A piece of software that will allow you to set up your email address and you can send and receive emails from within it, along with a contact list and most software comes with a calendar too. Examples of this would be Outlook (£) and Windows Live Mail (free).

Template (for blog)

This is in relation to how the blog looks and feels, the background colours, images used, colours of the text and what colours links are etc. Companies out there create templates for free and for £, they customise your blog to make it look a little more unique than the initial, basic setup.

Upload

This is the opposite of downloading something, when you have a place online like a web server (hosting) you can upload files to it so that you can access them online. If you use Facebook and Twitter for example, you would have uploaded an image to use a profile photo, which can be accessed online by other people.

Backup

When talking about an old blog, backup could be as simple as copying and pasting files from one place to another, making sure you have them stored in 2 different locations. For example you may have a copy on your computer and an external hard drive, so that if you loose one, you will always have the other.

Import

Getting something into your blog, so you would import your files from your old blog into your new one.

Export

Getting something out of your blog, for example exporting files from your old blog to import into your new one.

XML

This is the file format that can be commonly used between websites. It’s like a database type of file that looks like mumble jumble, which lists the data in such a way it makes it readable between different websites: WordPress can understand it so you can export and import from different sources. Its quite clever!

WordPress.com

This is the free version of WordPress that you can use, hosted with WordPress themselves and you get a free domain name which includes “wordpress.com”, so for example mummyconstant.wordpress.com.

WordPress.org

This is the self hosted version of WordPress that you can download the files from, find support for your blog and plugins to use with a unique self bought domain name.

Widgets

A WordPress term that resembles a part of your blog, for example a Twitter feed on the right hand side of your blog posts will be a Twitter Widget.

Plugins

This is where you can download and add extras to your blog, to make things like a Twitter Widget possible. Jetpack that I mentioned earlier is a plugin that you need to add to your blog by adding the plugin and activating it!

If you have any questions or comments please do leave them as I would be happy to explain further, help and support or just gather up some kind feedback… Thanks for reading and sharing.

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5 Comments

    • Of course it is… thank you Fiona 🙂 I am glad you think its useful… I hope other people will too! I tried to make it a friendly read….

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