All the bloody basics in 3 non-intimidating posts
If you’ve been blogging on a free platform for a while you must have heard, time and again, many “experts” and “not-so-experts” telling you you need to self-host… So, fine.
I’m not going to tire you with a tutorial: there are literally thousands of them out there. All you have to do is google “migrate from x platform to x platform” (for example “migrate from wordpress.com to wordpress.org”) and you’ll come up with an enormous amount of information, step-by-step directions & walk-through’s, YouTube videos, demos, articles comparing domain name registrars, web-hosts and hosting plans, forums discussing the best tools to customize your blog (plugins, themes, services, etc.), the works!
What I shall do instead is give you a small run-down of all the things I researched myself, while on my own self-hosting venture, found little next to no info at all on, and share the knowledge acquired along the way. I am no techie by any means so this is all stuff I had to figure out on my own and will explain rather “rookie-shly” but as best & concisely as I can, like I wish somebody had done for me back in the day. I decided to split what would seem like a huge and overwhelming post, in 3 manageable and easy-to-grasp parts so that you can have time to let information sink in –trust me, I know the brain-fog feeling all too well.
It’s always a good idea to begin by breaking down essential background information. What you need to know, in our case, is that your blog/website, or rather any blog/website consists of three major “components”:
So let’s talk about what it actually means to self-host. A host or hosting platform –meaning a server– is one of the three major components that make up a website. So unless you own a hosting company and have your own server at hand (in which case you’re probably not reading this!), you’re going to need to find one. This brings me to my next point: Choosing a free hosting platform is like renting a server… let’s call it an apartment! You pay the rent and you can move in, but you have certain limitations… you don’t own the place so you’re subject to your owner’s policies, you can furnish it to meet your needs but some restrictions apply, and in most cases you can’t sublet either! Self-hosting is like buying the apartment —there are general apartment-building policies to follow, sure, but non too confining about the stuff you can implement on your property. You can tear down walls and gut bathrooms and absolutely customize the entire space, and you can monetize/profit from your investment if you wish to. All good things, right?
To wave the apartment analogy out of the way and talk specifics, I will give you a quick run-down list of all the pros & cons based on WordPress because it’s the platform I’ve known and used for ever, but most of the info should be true for other platforms as well.
Have you made up your mind yet?
Before you sign up with a company to self-host, you need to register a domain name. There are several registrars, like Hover, Name.com and GoDaddy, while many of them offer hosting as well. Generally speaking, although domain name registry and hosting used to be two different things in the past, in more recent years the services have integrated —to the users’ benefit! Most hosts nowadays offer domain names with their hosting plans, either in discount or free for a period of time (usually the first year). If you’re just setting up your site, all you need to do is pick up a plan that best suits your needs (with a well-known company like BlueHost or SiteGround) and you can get your blog up and running, following a tutorial, in a jiffy. Same thing is true if you’re migrating from a subdomain address or if you’ve decided on a new web-address altogether. But…
If you’re already paying for a custom domain name within a free blogging platform there are a couple of things you need to be aware of. Namely one, that, as I later found out, was not distinctly pointed out in any tutorial, migration guide or advice-giving article on the matter: DNS data propagation takes time.
Aaand if you have no idea what I just said, just hop on to part 2 of Self Hosting 101.