I used to blog at Homeschool Blogger, and although it was a great first blogging experience, I quickly outgrew the very limited features available there. Lots of people from HSB had already moved over to Blogger, but that entire site is blocked in China (off and on — more on than off). I wanted something that was easy to access even from China. In fact, the more I researched, the more I was leaning towards paying for a blog, that is buying my own domain name and setting up my own blog.
Now that I’ve taken the plunge, I’ve got to tell you that I love having total control. It’s my site and I can do what I want with it. And all I can say is, “What took me so long?”
I’ve gotten lots and lots of emails from blogging buddies asking me not why I switched but how. (Everyone seems to understand the why.)
There are basically three steps:
- Register a domain name. ($)
- Purchase web hosting. ($)
- Install WordPress. (free)
Step One –Register a Domain Name
I used Moniker.com and paid $25 for two years of my domain jimmiescollage.com. I do recommend finding a company that will both register your domain name and provide webhosting because you can sort of skip a step in getting the two parts communicating with each other. But I used two different companies, and I was able to figure it out.
Step Two –Purchase Web Hosting
I chose Doreo as my web host. My sign up was a bit complicated because I live abroad, but Doreo helped me through several days of problems, emailing me back and forth until I got successfully set up. That kind of customer service for an $80 a year account really impressed me. I have the cheapest plan they offer, and it’s been more than adequate so far. I’ve been totally satisfied with Doreo and plan to renew with them next year.
I seriously investigated both Bluehost and Go Daddy before choosing Doreo. Although Go Daddy has some amazing packages (domain registration and web hosting packages for really low prices), I didn’t like the images of an older man in black leather surrounded by scantily clad twenty-something girls. (A ha! THAT’s why it’s called Go Daddy. I’ll take my business elsewhere where women are not objectified, thank you very much.)
Bluehost offers both domain registration and web hosting. That’s super convenient, and I would highly recommend going that route for simplicity’s sake. (The only reason I didn’t use Bluehost is that some sites hosted there are blocked in China. If my blog were assigned to share server space with one of those banned blogs, I’d need to change web hosts. Obviously I don’t want my site to be blocked from my own view. )
Step Three — Install WordPress
As long as you have a CPanel (control panel) and Fantastico, installing is super easy — just a few clicks. WordPress blogging software is FREE. (With both Doreo and Bluehost, you will have easy WP installation.)
So if you use a free WordPress theme, you will be paying approximately $100 for a year of blogging on your very own site.
Decorate and Resume Blogging
Now you’re ready to blog. But your blog won’t be very pretty. You’ll probably want to add a theme which is simply the pretty layout. There are loads of free WordPress themes as well as themes for purchase. I actually did invest in Thesis, a super duper theme that makes it even easier to customize my blog. It’s a one time purchase that I will use year after year.
I highly recommend the ebook Simple Blogging by Rachel Meeks. It offered me some fantastic tips for blogging as a busy mom. It’s not about setting up your blog but how to manage the time it takes to invest in a successful blog. Click here to visit Simple Blogging.
What happened after I switched?
- I loved blogging again!
- I got a lot more readers and subscribers.
- I was asked to write for two other blogs — The Curriculum Choice and Heart of the Matter.
When my blog was set up, I did have to manually copy and paste each entry over here into a new entry. That means that I lost all my comments, of course, but I kept the content. It took a lot of time, but I just kept at it an hour at a time until it was done. There’s no shortcut for converting posts from HSB to a self-hosted blog. It was when I was painstakingly copying and pasting each precious entry that I kept wondering why I waited so long to get my own self-hosted WordPress blog. The good news is that if you’re using WordPress.com, Blogger, or Typepad, there is a shortcut to copy your posts over.
So if blogging has become a steady hobby for you and you’re dissatisfied with a free platform, consider starting your own self-hosted blog. It’s a ball!
Any more questions? Comment here or email me.