Your Blog Is http://yourblog.wordpress.com
If you’ve been wondering about the future of your wordpress.com hosted WordPress blog, this article is for you. You have heard that hosting your blog yourself is a better idea, but you’re wondering what you’ll need to do to achieve a self hosted wordpress blog.
Self Hosted and Centrally Hosted WordPress Blogs
If your blog has an address like http://titleofmyblog.wordpress.com, then your blog is hosted by wordpress.com. This is a free service and it enables anyone to start a blog with zero cost and minimum set-up effort. But your blogging efforts will form part of the wordpress.com domain, which you will be sharing with thousands of other wordpress.com blogs.
I too have a WordPress blog, but because mine is self-hosted, it is referred to as a wordpress.org blog. I downloaded the free wordpress software, but then placed it under my own domain name, lizjamieson.co.uk
If you are new to blogging, a wordpress.com solution seems like a good idea because it is easy. But if you want to use your blog to build something long term, maybe something that’ll eventually be monetised in some way, I think it is best to own your own domain name. You can then make all the decisions about what appears on your site – you control the advertising, the addons, and the content.
So What’s Stopping You?
There are a lot of people who would prefer to self-host because they prefer to be in control, but who fear it is too much of a technical challenge to do so. There are some things you have to learn , and some things that you’ll have to get used to, but it’s entirely possible for anyone to run their own self-hosted blog, assuming they are willing to learn some basic webmaster skills.
This is not intended to be a tutorial, but I’m about to provide a list of items to bear in mind if you’re thinking of self hosting.
You Need A Host
Get a host, and please be prepared to pay for it. If you want a service that is available, reliable and supported in some way this will cost money. You can get good hosting for a few pounds (or dollars) per month. So go do it. The host will need to provide you with email, PHP server side scripting and a MySQL database.
You Need a Domain Name
You’ll need your own domain name. So if you are currently http://brightpinksheep.wordpress.com you’ll need to acquire a suitable domain name, like for example, brightpinksheep.com
This means that once your blog is set up, people will type http://www.brightpinksheep.com rather than http://brightpinksheep.wordpress.com. Big difference. If the domain name, brightpinksheep is already taken, you’d need to get creative and think of a new potential domain for your blog.
You Need An FTP Program
FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol and an FTP program allows you to copy files from your computer (in your house), to your web host’s great big web server in the sky. In this way, if you want to add some new feature to your blog, you will first download the feature to your computer, and then upload it to the host’s web server computer. You will do this using the FTP program. You will get used to this.
You Need To Set Up A MySQL Database
There is no reason why you can’t learn to do this, but if you think the learning curve might be too much, you can pay a third party or your host to set this up for you. All that is required is that you create an empty database, and provide a username and password that has access to the database.
You Need To Download and Run A Copy Of WordPress
WordPress files can be downloaded free, from wordpress.org. Then you use your FTP program to upload them to your server. Next you type a simple URL address in your browser to start the installation, and when prompted to do so, you provide the username and password of your database.
Within a couple of minutes your wordpress blog will be ready for use. The appearance of the blog will be down to the default theme that all WordPress blogs start out with as standard. But don’t worry you can easily change this.
Maintenance of Your Self-Hosted WordPress Blog
The first bit of maintenance you’ll want to do, is to find a WordPress theme to suit your blog. You will have the pick of all the free themes (many hundreds) or you can pay someone to create a unique one for you. The former is achieved by downloading the theme of your choice from wordpress, and then uploading it to your server using your FTP program.
On a self-hosted blog, you also have the option to install (by downloading to your computer and then uploading to the server), your choice from a large number of plugins written specifically to make certain aspects of the blogging easier and more effective. There are stats plugins, internet marketing plugins, decorative plugins, informational plugins and many others that judiciously used, will help to make your blog more interesting to your readers and make it more visible online.
WordPress will also, from time to time, issue updates to the the wordpress software that you must install. When this happens, you will download the required files from the wordpress site, then upload them to your server using, (you guessed it) your FTP program. As you can see, you and this FTP program will be come intimately acquainted. Before you do this, you’ll need to backup your database and your current set of wordpress files. Then if something goes wrong you’ll be able to backtrack.
Migrating from a Large Existing WordPress.org Blog
This can be a real challenge. Read what other people have to say about it. It is important not to have duplicate content on the web – i.e Google will usually detect this and not index anything other than the original content. Even if you destroy your wordpress.com blog, it’ll be some time before traces of it are removed from Google’s index (although there is a way to request page removal . . . but that is another topic). I am afraid I would be inclined to start again. Simply stop writing in your wordpress.com blog and carry on from where you left off with your self-hosted wordpress.org blog. If you have a bit of a following they will visit your old blog and let you lead them to your new one. If you haven’t then you are not missing out on much.
There are other strategies you could follow, but I think the one proposed is best and it is simple. Keep them both. Eventually your new blog will be more popular than your old one, but until it is, let the old one continue to work for you and draw people to your new blog.
There are some hosts out there that offer automatic installs of new WordPress accounts as part of their service. That would make the setup pretty easy. But normally unless you pay someone each time, I don’t know of a service that manages all the updates as well. You are best learning this for yourself anyway. It won’t take you long and you’ll enjoy yourself. Honestly.