When I was thinking about how the last week has gone, all I could think about was what it was like pre and post hosting of the blog. There was the pre-blog hosting which was fun and adventurous, but limiting. I couldn’t put up video, and I couldn’t modify the designs that they had. Bright green, which was never my favorite color, ended up on the blog. I was stuck behind a wall of boundaries that I couldn’t extricate myself from. And if I were thinking about growing it at all, I had to pay WordPress a bit of money to do this. And this didn’t even get into extra functionality that I was looking for that the regular free site did not have.
Aside from aesthetic boundaries, there was SEO to consider. Yoast seems to be a buzzword for those doing any amount of blogging. Plus, if I had to rely that my own eye for SEO issues was better than having anyone else take a second look, I needed my head examined. While I am confident that I could learn about SEO through books, I am not confident I would catch all of the problems I would come across, or invent. (I never underestimate my ability to create new problems for myself. I have 43 years of practice.) Add to Yoast, the desire to have Google Analytics take a look at my traffic, and I felt like I was going to be extremely limited. Or I was going to be paying WordPress a nice large chunk of yearly fees to have them add it there for me.
Then there was the post blog hosting. If I thought I was stressed before, hosting my own blog took that stress ball and turned up the volume to eleven. Your stress ball volume meter only goes to a ten you say? Well mine goes to eleven. I didn’t even begin to think about all of the things I needed to learn when I made the changeover. I was like a guy with a new gadget. It looks so cool, I didn’t even think about whether I could operate it. I just had to have that shiny new toy. I neglected to think about blog hosting sites, software, themes, loading, payments, modifying code, CSS learning, Yoast installation, Google Analytics connections, platforms, editing, etc. With every hour that passed, I realized how much I didn’t know.
Given my lack of knowledge, I figured there might be other people like me who are eyeing hosting their own site. They have had people contacting them about how they could turn a WordPress or Blogger site into a beautiful money making site. I’ve had a few people contact me on Facebook, letting me know how they could relieve my cash burden from my wallet. Being obstinate, I refused. I went out on my own with the bright idea that I was going to figure everything out. I still hope to. There is a large learning curve. But I gave myself six months before worrying about where I was going. I still have 3 and a half months left. Needless to say, I made the jump. It’s too late for me to rethink this. I am sleeping in the bed I have made, wobbly bed leg and all.
But you do not have to be me. For ten dollars I can give you my great scheme how to avoid all of this. Ten too much? How about eight? Four? Two? Free with a subscription to the blog? OK! You have twisted my arm. I will give it to you for free. Just don’t tell anyone out there I am doing this. The “pay me to make you the perfect blogger” squad may come after me in my sleep. Guess this means I am going to be sleeping with one eye open and the lights on . . . So here it is!
10 Things to Think About When Blog Hosting
1) There Will Be A Large Up Front Cash Investment –
Now this seems a rather silly thing to say. Of course you knew you were going to have to pay money. It was going to cost you at least seventy-five dollars to be able to host on a site for a year. But did you think about the following:
• Installing WordPress
• Paying for themes
• Installing themes
• Paying for premium Yoast
• Converting old content onto your new site
These are just a few of the many ways that they can hit you up for cash. I didn’t even pay for all of these services. Quickly, your $75 investment rapidly makes its way to $250, which is what WordPress would charge you for the pleasure of using their business service, their most expensive service. Happy Birthday to you! Or WordPress! Someone!
2) WordPress Doesn’t Include All The Free Themes Included In Their Free Service –
This is one way that they can get you on the back end if you decide not to pay for their services. When you leave their hosting site, you can still get all of those fun themes that WordPress has. You just have to pay for them now. There are more and less expensive options, of course. But you didn’t realize that you now had to pay for what they were providing you for free. It’s convenient for them that they can hit you up on the back end for money, even if the WordPress download is free and open source. They make their buck one way or another. They just figure if you are getting a buck, they should get their fair share.
3) They Will Attempt To Charge You To Install The Theme –
You do not have to do this. Mostly, theme developers will provide you with installation methods for their theme. But it may be buried underneath a lot of documentation that they provide you. Thankfully the theme I got gave me very good installation instructions in videos that they provided to me. There was a lot there. Sometimes it took 15 minutes to get to the part you wanted to get to. But it was there. Avoid this cost if at all possible or it will be another 50 to 100 dollars for a fairly straight forward installation.
4) Certain Themes Will Have Items Buried In Code Making It Hard To Eliminate –
I have coded for a class that I took in XHTML. I did realize there are a lot of aspects to coding. (OK, I admit I can write XHTML and CSS, but when it comes to java or php my head explodes.) Themes are hundreds of lines of code they have been developing for a long time. It’s not as simple as snapping one’s fingers and making a change. It means going through hundreds of lines to find the specific thing that you are looking for. It doesn’t just jump out at you. If it does, I am blind, deaf, and maybe I have mad cow disease. Ah Denny Crane, eat your heart out! It means going through a lot of code. So don’t think that changes will be simple. Hopefully your theme will allow minor edits to CSS like mine does. This can be helpful.
5) Google Analytics Is Not As Simple As Adding A Plugin –
The nice thing here is that I had some experience with this while I was on Blogger. Just before I moved over to WordPress, I added Google Analytics to the page. (WordPress makes you pay for the privilege.) I knew that I had taken a step back when it came to how people measured your traffic, when I moved to the site hosted at WordPress. But if I had been on WordPress all the time, I might think that having a plugin would be all I need. You need to go through your google account, and Google Analytics provides you with a number to install in your blog at a certain spot in the code. It takes some work but there are some good pages for help with this.
6) Easy Visual Installation And Editing Is A Loose Term –
For me, I knew coding would be a lot of work. While this work is still possible, it would take time to do, all while writing for a blog. I did not have the time to do that. Hence, I looked for a Theme that said that it was simple to put together, and that I could edit visually. Some of this is true. They set up a bunch of pages that I could easily edit the words on the page, and change the font, or the words. But when it comes to dealing with plugins on the page and editing them, you have to search to find them. Either that or go through hours of video the company who made your theme created. (I did find this information for my theme buried in the hours of video, with multiple missteps along the way.) Be ready for the time commitment.
7) Are You Willing To Jettison Your Old Posts –
For me this was a no brainer. For those of you who have been blogging for a long time I can understand that it’s a hefty lift to be able to do. The real problem? Old Links. For anyone old enough to remember Bill Clinton as president (and was not in diapers at the time), you know that links are a big thing to your page. Why? Because you want Google to think you are an authority so you link to other pages. And you put personal links in because you want them to stay on your site and get more views per visitor, as sign of your influence. Internal links mess with your mind upon migration. You have to go through every post and change every external link. For those of you who have blogged for months or even years I have two words: good luck!
8) Sidebars Are Trickier In WordPress.org –
In WordPress there are some cool widgets for a sidebar. They are specific to what you are doing. The good thing about WordPress.org is there are millions of plugins to add. The bad thing about WordPress.org is there are a million Widgets to add. Being a kid in a candy store causes problems here. Limit your widgets. If you began with a blank theme, you might be ok. Widget away! But try doing that on a purchased theme and see how far that gets you. What looks like a simple menu change one place is not so simple someplace else. You cannot just hit the customize button and hope it fixes things. Your menu change may be there. It could be in appearance. With a fun theme, it may be in mystery place number 10. Just pretend you are seeking lost gold if that makes you feel better.
9) Yoast SEO Plugin Will Rule Your Life If You Change To Self Hosting –
When you go back over your old posts, and you have the Yoast Plugin, you will see a blank grade on all of them. It will be blank until you submit your keyword. Submit it. Now stare in shock and awe as it’s bright and red. Woo hoo! You fail, like everyone else. Actually, the SEO is correctable. Click those eyes. It will highlight your problem, in purple. I hope you love purple. But then comes readability. How do you fix that? You change how you write. I suppose we all need help. And that’s great. But every blogger has their own unique voice. If Yoast effects that voice, how much has it helped? Has it helped you if you are not excited to blog anymore because you have to change everything? Hopefully your lights are all green. Then you are the perfect blogger to begin with. Go you!
10) Adding Plugins Does Not Add Them To Your Page –
I suppose this goes in the duh category once again. (I think that’s my daughter’s favorite thing to tell me.) But all of those plugins/widgets you load to your blog, already setup for you in WordPress.com, you activate when you self-host. When you added the plugin to the WordPress.com site it would just be there for you to use. Here, you need to load them, and then you need to activate them. This shouldn’t affect your decision to change to a self-hosted webpage. Realize that when you do, it will be among the long list of modifications that you will have to make; and you must adjust. It’s not so bad by itself. The difficulty comes with the mountain of other things you must remember to change.
All this being said, I still think the way to go is to self-host. It will make the ability to monetize your site easier, and faster. It’s also a cost effective measure if you want to have more control and make money in the long run. The initial costs will be more expensive than you thought. They might even give you sticker shock. (Just have smelling salts ready.) But in the long run you will pay less, for more control, more quickly. And since you being here just might make you a blogger (ah for rednecks and Jeff Foxworthy), you want that control. Does wanting control make me a control freak? Hmmmm . . . .
So what do you think? Are you going to go all in for blogging like me and try to host your own page? Or will you go with WordPress.com and pay them the fee to do it because I made self-hosting as exciting as playing Russian roulette, with five bullets in six chambers? What are some of the questions you may have about self-hosting? I would gladly help anyone interested. Just don’t make me go back and look at the CSS code again and try to fix the A value to highlight in hot pink. Scary things happen. Then again, it just might be April fool’s day.
Leave any questions you may have in the comments, or if more involved, feel free to go to the contact me link at the top of the page. I will get back to you as soon as I can. And if you have enjoyed this treatise on blogging, subscribe to my blog. And feel free to peruse my other sections. I promise I have a lot more treatises to go, although maybe not all on blogging. This is supposed to be a parenting site after all.
Thanks for visiting. Until next time, this is me signing off.
David Elliott, Single Dad’s Guide to Life