Shalzmojo turns One as a self hosted blog!!

I started writing a blog in 2009, with hardly a clue as to what it entails. My scribblings were random, almost like a diary to self. I was not perturbed by the fact that hardly anyone read it; just writing it was important for me. Over a period of time, it evolved into a travel diary as some of my friends (who actually did read it) started applauding them. Bolstered, I wrote more. But I was still aeons away from the true blue techniques of blogging and plugged away irrespective of SEO, coding, marketing…….

Cut to 2016 when a blogger friend posted beautiful arty posts on a blogging challenge called AtoZ. It entailed blogging for entire month of April, themed around the English alphabet. I was hooked and earmarked to participate in 2017 (which I did). Thats when I stumbled on to few blogging communities where I met some awesome bloggers and made some good friends for life too.

It was through one such community that I heard of self hosted and went in to turn my blog into one as well. Let me share with you my journey as a self hosted blog with all its learnings!

Self Hosted

Various blogging platforms offer free templates and space to create a blog/online diary which is how I started. I created an account on WordPress and stayed there for almost seven years before I bought a Domain name and rented space on a hosting server to create my blog’s e-home. I was hooked by a low introductory offer from a newly launched hosting company and signed up with them without checking a whole load of technicalities (something I urge every newbie blogger to not to do). This year while renewing my blog hosting, I discovered some discrepancies with the host and decided to move it to a more professional and helpful host.

Choosing a host

After a lot of deliberation (read advise from fellow bloggers and google search), I narrowed it down to GoDaddy, BlueHost and Siteground. I went on live chat with each and found the latter to be the most upfront and helpful and decided to host with them. An added advantage with Siteground is that they moved the blog by themselves; with the first two I would have had to do the technical bit myself.

Domain name

I learnt that Domain could be registered and renewed annually with a different platform while the actual blog hosting can be done with another. (Yes there is a difference between just a domain name and hosting the blog) Siteground has the policy of transferring only those domains which are at least 15 days from expiry. Since I was left with only a week on the renewal, I decided to renew with the first host and only moved my blog. Check with your hosts on things like this if you are moving from one host to another. GoDaddy seems to be popular option for registering the domain name; something I will do next year.

Hosting

I learnt that when you go self hosted, there are a few technicalities which are imperative for the blog. These help the SEO, traffic, etc of the blog – things which help the blog become noticeable in the blog-o-sphere.

  1. Access to control panel is imperative as that enables you to take backup of your blog.
  2. Secure certificates are great for making your website reliable and trustworthy for your readers. Lets Encrypt SSL gives you this feature for free. (Its great for blogs where payment modes are implemented as it secures the user information)
  3. There is no such thing as UNLIMITED server space unless yours is a private server. So basically when you host your blog on a shared server, you get a limited bandwidth and if you exceed it, the host informs you to upgrade and buy more.
  4. With my old host, I was unable to use the WP Backup plugin but on Siteground, this is a breeze.I read the plugin FAQ to know the difference between good and cheap servers. (Another reason to not fall for low-cost promotional offers)
  5. Make sure your blog host has  MYSQL and PHP features – two things very important for running your blog. Double check whats included in this even if the package mentions them. There are finer points on this which can be omitted and land you in trouble.
  6. Storage space are of two kinds – one is just for the blog content with the pictures, etc, called the Database ( 10 GB on my new account) and the other is to keep secure important info like user profiles,etc and can be up to 1 GB which is more than sufficient for the purpose. Check with your host for clarity on this.

Plugins

Plugins are the lifelines for your blog that help it run smoothly by enabling certain blog support functions that one needn’t get into manually. So one can schedule a lot of the blog maintainance work, protect content, beautify graphics, etc through plugins.Check with your host for installing the best supported plugins on your blogs. When in doubt, check reviews and also with other blogger friends. Some of the essential plugins I have on my blog are:

  • Yoast SEO – maintains and perpetuates the SEO
  • No right-click – allows copyright protection
  • Akismet – prevents spamming
  • Alexa – helps to log in the Alexa ranking of the blog
  • Jetpack – a very powerful WP tool with some awesome features
  • Shareholics – to help your readers share your posts on social media
  • W3 total cache – to delete cache and keep your content free
  • WP backup – to schedule regular backups of the blog

Should you go self hosted?

Ever since I had a falling out with my host server, I was at my wits end with the technical bit of moving the blog. You see, I consider myself a tech retard as I simply am unable to grasp the technical terms and ways to implement them. In my depths of despair, I even considered shutting down my blog completely and going back to free WP – basically where I started from. My two bit of self hosted will be that its for folks who are planning to monetize via blogging and need to/know-how-to customise their blog layout/look etc. If the technicalities baffle you, I would suggest you abort the decision then and there.

In my case, I wished I had never heard of it and stayed where I was 🙂 Last one year of blogging has rammed one big lesson home – blogging does not pay, much!

I am still learning the nuances of blogging and this is just a teeny bit of my learnings as a self hosted blog. If you feel I can help you unravel this mystery more, feel free to ping me. Do share what plug-ins you favour for your blog and why.


On an additional note:

My blog will turn one year as self hosted and to celebrate this milestone, I have planned a GIVEAWAY all the month of september! Details as below:

we are Inviting creative #guestposts on first-birthday-giveaway-blog-blogging-self-hosted-shalzmojosays-prize-guestpost-writing-promotion
#fiction
#travel
#books
#food
#selflove
1) One giveaway #winner announced every week of #september
2) Everyone can participate but #prizes will be mailed to an #Indian address.
3) All decisions will be final.
4) Must be following my blog & Instagram account.
5) Tag 3 folks on my insta post for the giveaway
6) Please submit original content; no backdated posts.

Submissions:

 1st september 2017 for Week #1
7th september 2017 for Week #2
14th september 2017 for Week #3
21st september 2017 for Week #4
🍥 a special prize for some interesting comments on my blog posts 🍥
🎡 one prize to my most consistent reader in last one year🎪

So what are you waiting for? Put on your thinking cap and type away…. ☘

Passionate about everything design, I am in love with photography, travel and baking. My writing journey was initiated with my letter writing hobby as a child and has metamorphosised into serious blogging. I indulge with reading fantasy fiction, day dreaming and sipping good wine.

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31 thoughts on “Shalzmojo turns One as a self hosted blog!!

  1. I’m glad I met you at this year’s A to Z Blog. You really have made great strides in just a year of self hosting! Look forward to more years of great blogging from you. Congratulations and thanks for sharing these tips.My domain name etc is up for renewal but I am wondering if it is worth sticking with Go Daddy or if I should take your advice and shift to Siteground.

    1. Ditto Sunita- its been a really good ride together and I have enjoyed reading you and interacting with you. I believe Godaddy is the fav for domains; I plan to register there as well while siteground can be used for the hosting. Most blog hosts domain registry is very pricey and Go daddy is the cheapest and best option in that. Plus its made a name for itself in the domain registry biz

  2. Congratulations on one year of self-hosting! 🙂 I’m glad I came across your blog earlier this year…it’s been a pleasure to read. I didn’t realise you’d been blogging since 2009; will need to look through your archives 🙂

    Also, as I said, I’d love to write a guest post for Week 4.

  3. CONGRATULATIONS, Shalini! I know how proud you must feel of your blog, and yourself and the move you made an year ago. I took a similar step last month and am feeling so good!
    I, too, am a techno retard so all that you said above, well, I failed to follow it all…I moved to a custom domain on WP last month. There are a few plugins I use (And i have forgotten the names) but, for me it is easy to use and that is what matters.
    Wishing you lots of luck and happiness in your journey, dearie!

    1. Thanks a tonne Shilpa; congrats on your move too and I love the beetle on the header of your blog. It makes me smile everytime I go there! I have learnt one thing in past one year of blogging; dont just follow the herd. Do it only if you are comfy with it! I wish you the best of luck and reach out if you thing I can help out in some way!! 🙂

    1. Oh no dont rethink- just stay at the basic free model and blog away. Thanks so much for stopping by; I will check your blog too, it sounds interesting! 🙂

  4. Hey! Amazing, Shalini! Congratulations! It must have been a rewarding journey for you. And this is such an insightful post. Going with Siteground is a wise decision. Your blog looks lovely. Would love to contribute to your blog 🙂 I’m following you on Twitter and blog but not insta. What’s your insta?

    1. Hi there Anjali. Thanks for the kind words – they always make me happy!! And that offer for contribution is just what I needed right now. Will just DM you my insta handle

  5. You are a veteran in blogging and congrats for this milestone, Shalz. Keep writing. I don’t understand the technicalities since I am a retard in that sense. Many suggested self hosting but still not prepared. I shall consider it in a couple of years when I move back to India. There is always the fear of losing all work.

    1. Veteran 😉 Now you are making fun of me Ha ha ha!!!!
      I am still tinkering along and plan to spruce the complete look of my blog in this month! Pls dont go self hosted at all – my honest opinion on that!! Take backup if you fear losing your content!

  6. Congratulations Shalini on your blog birthday. You definitely do not sound like a tech retard. You need to meet me to fully understand the term :-). I need to book mark your post for all the gyan it contains. I still haven’t figured out how to backup my blog. I really need to get to it.

    1. Ahhhh the backup – I still havent done that yet!! Truth be told it scares the hell out of me! 😉
      Pls ask questions from the many more tech savy bloggers who are amazing at helping out; special mention to Shailaja, Sid and Atul here!! If I don manage the backup, will ping you and help you do it too if you like! 🙂

    1. Oh tread very wisely there. I am not a big fan of self hosted as I dont understand the techy part of blogging! This moving the blog killed me in so many ways; did make me stronger but seriously I could have done without it 😉 Thanks for your wishes Soumya

    1. Oh yes pls stay on the WP basic- thats the best thing to do in my opinion!! I am so glad my post made some sense to someone!! 😉

  7. Hi Shalz! This post is indeed very informative. I actually changed some of my future decisions based on this blog. I have the same view as Akshata as well. Thanks again for showing us what you´ve experienced. Looking forward to reading more posts from you. And heartiests congratulations for completing one year ..self-hosting blog. All the best for more wonderful milestones. Love and Cheers!

    1. Thanks so much Tina; yup going self hosted is not a ball at all. Not complaining just stating a fact!! 😉 Al the best with your blogging and hope to read more of you

  8. What a journey it’s been! I know what a troubled episode that was with the previous host and I’m so sorry you went through all that! Looks like Site ground is working well for you. This is a great tutorial for anyone thinking of moving to self hosted.

    On the decision to move, I agree that if you’re just keen on blogging and not keen on nuances and technical stuff, it’s better to stick to free WP. Else go for a custom domain name on WordPress which masks the. WordPress.com and gives you the feel of a self hosted site without the plugins and other advantages. Yes, self hosted is not easy

    Congratulations on the one year and so glad to have found you via blogging 🙂

    1. Thanks so much for your kind words as always Shy – you are such an amazing blogger-friend and mentor for someone like me. Your advise and words always have som much encouragement and hope; it motivates me everytime! Glad to have connected with you in the blog-o-sphere and really hope we will meet each other some day soon!!!!

        1. Amen!! Hope you are coming for the Indiblogger event in Dehradun- I am determined to go unless the universe has some last minute plans for me 😉

  9. Congratulations Shalini!! Your blog is a warm cozy corner I can come to at any time 🙂 I’m so glad to know you, your constant encouragement is a good dose for me 😀 I hope your blog enjoys more readers, and brings you more friends this year!

    And thanks for sharing about self hosting in your simple, catchy way. You’ve given helpful information and I’m going to bookmark it since I have been wanting to self-host. However, I feel I need some more time to dedicate to overseeing the whole process. Short on time right now so, will do it by end of this year or maybe next. This is the first time I heard of Siteground, so will definitely check it out.

    Much love, Venice.

    1. Awww thank you for so much love Vanessa! This felt so good to read 🙂 I am happy with our connect too; I loved the way you helped me out in Kochi with food tips and stuff. I would have been quite lost without you for sure.
      Self hosted is a very tricky subject and I guess you really need to dig into the reasons why you want it and what it will give you; before converitng t it. I am glad this post is helpful to others. My purpose to write it was to let off steam about the whole issue.
      And yes do check out Siteground- they are super with their support desk; something I missed with my prev host!

  10. Congrats on one year of self hosting Shalz! I didn’t even realize that was something you could do. But I’m definitely content with the way my blog is now and know absolutely nothing about web design so I probably won’t be doing that anytime soon. I didn’t realize you’ve been blogging for so long. That’s a really wonderful achievement and I’m glad you’re still sharing your words with us.

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