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Seeking Advice: Self-Hosting Tips?

under construction In the several days I have off before school starts, I decided I’m going to make the leap and switch from using WordPress.com to self-hosting using WordPress.org. I’ve already purchased the space using BlueHost, so now it’s just making the switch (yikes!).

I don’t think that will change how my RSS feeds work, but I will let you know if that’s not true, probably via Twitter, so follow me (@kimthedork) if you aren’t already.

But I’ve never done anything like this before, so I need some advice from bloggers who are smarter than me. What is one thing you wish you’d known before you switched to self-hosting? What kinds of challenges did you have during the transition? What’s your best piece of advice so I can get my blog back up ASAP?

Or, if you’ve always self-hosted, what’s one challenge that you’ve experienced that you didn’t expect? What are some of the most useful plugins for your blog? Where do you go for advice?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Carrie September 1, 2009, 9:08 am

    i made the switch back in may. my advice is set aside a whole day to take care of any issue that present themselves. don’t try to rush it. you’ll be down while you’re down and back up while you’re up. i’d do it over a weekend since my readership is lower then (for some reason i actually did it on a tuesday which was silly since that’s my peak day)

  • Jackie (Farm Lane Books) September 1, 2009, 9:24 am

    I have been self hosted from the beginning, so can’t offer you any advice on switching. I discovered everything for myself, very slowly, by searching online, but I guess that is no good to you, as you are trying to create everything overnight. The plug ins I use are all here: http://www.farmlanebooks.co.uk/?p=2089
    If you need any help, just ask me on twitter @farmlanebooks
    Good luck!

  • Natasha @ Maw Books September 1, 2009, 9:50 am

    I’ve only self-hosted as well so I can’t tell you about switching. Piece of advice? I’d just take it slow. There is no rush to “reveal” your new blog. Make sure it’s perfect before you switch.

    I do love my plugins. I have about 25+ of them. I’ve listed a few of them on the ning but not all: http://bookblogs.ning.com/group/bloggingtips/forum/topics/must-have-plugins-for

    Good luck! Let me know as well if you need any help. I’d be happy to help.

  • trish September 1, 2009, 11:46 am

    Umm…the one thing I wish I’d known before I switched to self-hosting? Probably that *most* web hosts offer the same services. Some have better customer service than others, but if you stick with the tried and true web hosts, you won’t go wrong.

    I suggest you set aside a good 4-5 hours minimum to make the transition. While the theme you’re using is available, there’s SO MANY MORE themes to choose from that you may want to take a look around. Also, because it’s a little confusing to switch from hosted to self-hosted, you’ll probably be on the phone with tech support in the beginning. It’s amazing how fast you catch on, though.

    Did I send you the list of plugins I sent to a bunch of bloggers recently? I’d be happy to send it to you; just let me know.

    Also, let me know if you have any problems…I’m always happy to help and I have a friend who designs websites who is quick to respond to my questions. 🙂

    Good luck, and I’m really excited for you!

  • King Rat September 1, 2009, 11:56 am

    Some tips:

    * Resist the temptation to fiddle with your site. It’s one thing on Wordpress.com or Blogger, where you are just fiddling with the look and feel. With a “self-hosted” site you can get sucked into fiddling with a lot more.

    * Make sure you have a good backup plugin that does backups automatically. There’s multiple ways this can be done though.

    * Pay attention to updating plugins when new versions come out. It’s fairly easy to keep up. However, it’s a complicated decision on whether to upgrade a plugin or not. You may want the latest version for features and security. But plugins tend to be fairly buggy and upgrading willy-nilly will break your site, guaranteed. You will need to become an expert at checking what’s changed with every new plugin version.

    * If you play with the code in your plugins and themes, you will lose your modifications when you upgrade.

    If you need any help, feel free to ask me. I maintain a number of Wordpress sites and have gotten to know the inner guts of Wordpress pretty well over the years.

  • justicejenniferreads September 1, 2009, 6:38 pm

    Good luck on the ambitious transition. I’m not sure if I will ever be interested in self-hosting. It sounds intriguing at first, but I’m not sure if I’m up for all the work it must take. I guess I’ll have to see how it works for you and then reconsider it later down the road. Can’t wait to see your new blog when it’s up!

  • softdrink September 1, 2009, 9:25 pm

    I moved from blogger to wordpress self hosted over the weekend and it took me 4 days to get everything situated. And I’m still not completely done. But then my theme is heavily modified. Ti suggested I post the email I sent to her about it, so I will, but in the meantime…plan!

  • Monica September 1, 2009, 10:51 pm

    Besides the tips from everyone else, I’d suggest:
    – get the basic framework running first. THEN play with your themes and the look.
    – bluehost might have automatic installations that you can look into. This could save some headaches.
    – The Wordpress.org forums are awesome. That’s the first place I look when something goes wrong.

    As for plugins, I really like the following:
    – AddThis Social Bookmarking Widget
    – (c) Feeds
    – Viper’s Video Quicktags (for embedding videos)
    – Google Analytics for WordPress
    – WP-Polls
    – Wordpress.com Stats
    – Contact Form 7

  • Kelly September 2, 2009, 1:12 am

    I am glad that I switched to WordPress.org (from blogger) but…

    #1! Don’t press the “upgrade automatically” button. As tempting as that sounds, I lost my whole blog doing that. I did recover, but it took a week and tons of tears.

    I have referred to this post several times since then and I feel blessed to have found it.


    In addition to Kim Woodbridge, add http://www.roytanck.com/
    to your blog reader.

    Good Luck!

  • Rebecca Reid September 2, 2009, 6:45 am

    About hosting, I can’t say anything about BlueHost but I did have a large host for a year and it was AWFUL when there was a problem. It took forever to get help, waiting on hold, etc. My current host is smaller and a little more expensive, but customer service is instant. As in, there was a random problem on my blog, I sent an email, and it was solved within 20 minutes. At 6 or 7 a.m. We have five blogs on our sites, so it’s good to have instant help when problems arise (not that we expect problems, and we haven’t had nearly as many with this new host).

    I’m with some of the others: take it slow. And don’t pay for a theme. There are plenty of free ones out there that have special features, you just have to look for them a little deeper. (I.e., not on the wordpress.org site.)

    I’ve only self-hosted. I think the most surprising thing for me was how much I learned about html and css. I suppose I didn’t have to but I find it lots of fun customizing things!

  • Susannah September 9, 2009, 10:16 am

    How did you choose BlueHost? Aside from my blog, I’m hoping to get a personal site going eventually, but I wasn’t sure where to start.

    • Kim September 9, 2009, 3:54 pm

      I went to a “how to get your website online” thing from DoIT last year and BlueHost was one they suggest. I also wanted to use the Wordpress platform, and BlueHost has an automatic install of the software. I think it’s a little pricier than some other services, but so far it’s worked well for me. One thing I’d do differently next time is to buy the domain name through Blue Host — if you get the domain at the same time as you pay for a year of service, the domain is free. I bought mine ahead of time with a different service, so it wasn’t free 🙁