If you’re blogging on a free platform like WordPress.com, Blogger or Tumblr then there’s every chance you’re considering taking your blog self-hosted. It’s by far the best option to really take control of your content and growth. Luckily, it’s never been easier to take your blog self-hosted.
You probably know some of the benefits of a self-hosted blog already, especially if you’ve been blogging for a while. Mainly, it’s about taking control of your content.
If you’re planning on turning your blog into a business, it’s worth investing the time and money into the self-hosted route.
WHY GO SELF HOSTED?
Going self-hosted takes a little bit of set up, and can be a little tricky initially. It will cost a little bit of up front cash – I won’t lie to you. Trust me, the payoff is worth it. The benefits of this self-hosted include:
- You own your own website, you can customise every aspect – from managing your SEO to
settingup personalised email addresses
- Being able to micromanage your blog’s SEO will boost your ratings for search engines – this means you’ll be in a better position to make deals for PR or sponsored posts
- You’ll be able to buy themes + install useful plugins from all over the internet
- You won’t be limited by the terms & conditions of the blogging platform – you decide how you monetise your content
Plus, you can add ads to your website + start earning from the day you launch – you can’t do this with any of the free platforms out there!
STEP 1: BUY A DOMAIN + HOSTING
The two things your new blog needs are a domain & some web hosting. My personal choice for this is Tso – I’ve used them personally & professionally for years and never had any reason for complaint.
I’m a web developer in my day
Their platform is built for performance, managed by experts & their support is 24/7. They offer dedicated WordPress hosting – hosting specifically designed to run WordPress seamlessly.
You can sign up here and you can even use the code GEMMAH for 10% off your first payment – whether you choose to pay monthly or in advance.
If you’re unsure which of the hosting plans to try, I recommend you choose the STARTUP hosting plan. If you’ve already been blogging for a while you’ll probably need the extra space for all the images and files you’ve been uploading to your blog posts.
HOW TO INSTALL WORDPRESS WITH TSO (IT’S SUPER EASY)
- Once you’ve signed up for your hosting with TSO, log into the account you created here
- Click your domain in the Your Active Services box
- On the page that comes up, hit Login to cPanel
- Scroll down until you find Softaculous Apps Installer – hint: it’s usually toward the bottom, but you can also use the search box at the top
- In the Softaculous App Installer, search for WordPress, click Install
- You’ll be given a page with some settings to fill out, I’ll take you through these:
- Choose Protocol: Choose http://www. or http:// – it depends if you’d like the www or not – don’t worry, your blog will still be available via both
- Choose Domain: Choose the domain you purchased with your account
- In directory: Remove everything from this textbox + leave it blank so that your blog is installed directly on http://www.yourdomain.com
- Site Settings: Add your blog’s name + a little tagline; this can all be changed later! Leave WPMU unchecked.
- Admin Account: This is the account you’ll use to log into your blog to manage it + write posts – I suggest making the username your own name and the password something very secure
- You can leave the rest of the settings as default for now unless you like one of the themes at the bottom! Feel free to choose one but we will cover how to add a custom theme in Step 4
- Hit Install
- Well done, your blog should be installed now! You can access it at www.yourdomain.com, and you can log in at www.yourdomain.com/wp-admin
STEP 2: SETTING UP YOUR BLOG
CHOOSING A THEME
There’s plenty of WordPress themes to choose from all over the internet – they range in price from free to $$$! It can be hard to find just the right one, so before you go theme shopping, there are a few things to keep in mind;
- Your audience + niche: it’s likely your audience is people like yourself, but perhaps not. The theme should ideally be something they’d find visually appealing + easy to navigate
- Your personal brand: themes with lots of customisable options are the best choice because you need something you can change colours, fonts + imagery on to match the brand you’ve established for your blog
Ideally, your blog’s theme should represent you + your content, but also be clear and easy to use. Consider colours, format, layout + style when you’re making your choice!
I can recommend a few places that might have just the right theme for you:
- Studiopress for professional-grade, modern themes
- Themeforest for a massive selection of themes to suit every style/brand
- Etsy for a wide range of handmade themes
INSTALLING YOUR THEME
When you purchase a theme, you’ll most likely be given a .zip file to download – you don’t need to unzip it, just put the download somewhere you can easily find it and follow these steps:
- Log into your WordPress admin panel
- In the right-hand menu, head down to Appearance > Themes then hit Add New, then Upload Theme
- In the screen that follows, you can upload the .zip file of your theme
- Once the theme has uploaded, you’ll be given the option to Activate it
Please note, some themes may come with specific or further instructions and the above is only a brief overview! Additionally, most themes have different settings/options – so play around with yours and don’t forget to read any instructions from the developer.
Typically, your theme settings will be under the Appearance tab in the admin panel and all good themes will come with a guide to getting things set up!
As a WordPress developer, I’ve used a lot of plugins over the years – some good, some bad. The following are a list of kick-start plugins I use on my own blog. All of the plugins below are free, though some may have paid extras (I don’t personally use the paid versions of any of the plugins listed).
- Akismet Anti-Spam will keep your contact forms free of spam!
- Contact Form 7 for creating quick + simple forms that can be used anywhere on your blog
- Cookie Notice If you have readers in the EU, this should be a requirement (find out more here)
- Share Buttons by AddThis for customisable social share buttons
- WordFence Security will keep your site virus + hacker free
- WP Smush It will optimise your images to keep file size down (quicker loading for your visitors)
- Yoast SEO to help make your blog search engine friendly
HOW TO INSTALL PLUGINS
Plugins are what turn your website from a run of the mill blog to a blogging machine! They range from free plugins available to install directly from your site to premium plugins which will need to be installed per the developer’s instructions. We’ll cover how to search for and install plugins directly from WordPress.
- In your Admin Panel, head to Plugins on the left-hand side
- Hit Add New at the top
- In the search box, type the name of the plugin you’re looking for (e.g. Yoast SEO) or type in a keyword for a feature you’d like (e.g. contact form plugin)
- When you’ve found what you’d like from the search results, hit Install Now
- Let the plugin install, then hit the blue Activate button
- Voila! Plugin installed! You should read the instructions that come with it to find out how to use each plugin.
COMMON WORDPRESS SETTINGS
In the right-hand menu in your admin panel, there’s a Settings button – there’s a lot of settings in here that can get a little confusing. Let’s talk through some of the basics.
- General: where to update your site name, tagline, timezone + date formats
- Writing: here you can assign a default category or tag for new posts
- Reading: set how many posts will be displayed per page, or assign a page as the homepage (this is often dependant on your theme)
- Discussion: enable/disable comments or manage comment user/word blacklists
- Media: update the size of images on your site – your theme will usually manage this for you
- Permalinks: this is the URL structure of your site. I highly recommend changing the structure to Post Name before you do anything else on your blog!
Need an easier way?
Maybe you’re wanting to go self-hosted but don’t have the time. Maybe you’re a little nervous because there’s some technical jargon that doesn’t make full sense to you, you’re scared of making a mistake.
I GET IT.
I work every day with people like you who run small businesses who just want someone to take control for
Want to know more? Go self-hosted the no fuss way.