Self-Hosting: A 6 Month Reflection

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In February 2016, I made the decision to move my blog to a self-hosted site. It was a big decision for me and one that came with a lot of learning curves.

Which is why I thought it would be a good idea to do a 6-month reflection and see if I am happy with my choice.

What I Love

–Manipulating my Theme–

One of the biggest reasons I switched was the desire to have full control over my theme. I really wanted to be able to customize it however I wanted and after a lot of searching I found the theme that works.

I’m not sure if IΒ totally love it but it’s pretty close to what I want. Over the last few months, I’ve had to work out some kinks (like a grid system that cuts off images or why my images weren’t lining up straight) but I think I’ve got a good handle on it all now.

–The Plug-ins–

There are SO MANY PLUG-INS! It’s a little overwhelming! And trying to find what I’m looking for exactly can be difficult. I’ve tested out quite a few until I found the ones that work best but sometimes, it’s touch and go.

I don’t really have any plug-ins that help with my actual blog-posts though. One reason is the fact that the good ones cost money that I don’t really want to spend. The other is that I enjoy inputting the meta data for my posts and because I follow a pretty specific format, the ones currently out there don’t meet my needs.

–I can have HTML Sliding Galleries!!!–

You might have seen it on my home page but I am super excited I have more freedom with embedded features like video, slideshows and the like!

The Bummers

–Getting Followers–

One thing I wish I thought a little more about was “follow” buttons. I really took for granted the fact that as a blog on WordPress.com, it automatically pops up for users when they view my blog.

Yeah–not so much on a self-hosted blog!

I learned how to get a WordPress.com follow widget and now I have that. I’ve also promoted following my blog on Bloglovin’ more.

Since I made the switch, my follower numbers have stayed the same. Honestly, it sucks. However, I’ve seen growth on my Bloglovin’ followers which is great. But my main concern is that my blog lacks the options for people to follow.

–I Forgot my WordPress.com Blog Still Exists!–

My domain was originally purchased through WordPress.com where domain mapping (essentially rerouted people from my wordpress.com address to my .com address) was a part of my package. So in April (when it expired), my old wordpress.com blog was popping up! What really sucked was that I had a form for contacts and people had contacted me on that and I didn’t know!

So I scrambled to make sure everything was rerouted so people weren’t following a “dead” blog!

–Issues with CommentLUV–

While CommentLUV seems to work on my blog for commenters, I’ve run into issues while commenting on other blogs because of how my blog feed is set on my page. Because my blog opens on a home page and not my feed, sometimes CommentLUV struggles to find my latest post.

Am I Sticking With It?

Well, I paid for a year so yes πŸ˜›

Honestly, I’m a little on the fence. We’ll see how the last half of my year goes (I’m going to adulting soon by joining the workforce) and how much of my time I can allot to blogging and reading.

I know I don’t use self-hosting to its max in terms of the tools available for book bloggers so that influences my experience. I’m also really cheap and would rather spend my money on books (especially once I lose my library card for where I go to school).

But at this time it’s a wait and see.


I’m happy to say, I’ve (finally) launched my mini-guide to self-hosting complete with help links!

Check it out here:

selfhost


What are your thoughts on Self-Hosting?

What problems have you run into?

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Comments 6

  • I researched and contemplated going self hosted for about a year before I lucked into finding a WordPress theme that suited all of my needs… Like, all of them. Although I admit part of my happiness with it might come from the lack of knowledge on all the other amazing plug-ins available for a self hosted site. It just seemed like way too much work. And I never thought about the issues you pointed out like the blog not being as easy to follow. I’m really interested to see what you decide when your subscription is up. πŸ™‚

    • I’m jealous you found a theme you love! My biggest peeve was the colour options with the wordpress.com themes. I really like purple and it was hard to find a theme I liked with those colours or ones that matched.

      I never really thought of the followers thing either. Maybe there’s some secret I don’t know about but I never came across it when I was researching.

      I’m curious to see what I do to! I’m hoping I’ll have a better idea come December!

      • I feel really lucky to have found it, although I will say it took FOREVER. I think at the time wordpress was offering over 200 themes and I tried all of them. ALL OF THEM lol. When I finally found the one that had all the functions I needed and let me pick my own background, I was in love. But I think the process took over 6 months and it probably would have been easier just to self host and do my own ha ha. I’ve had to research loopholes and tweak over the past couple years to get it to where I want it. That said, you have such a distinct brand for your website (I love the purple) that I doubt you would’ve been able to make it quite as good on a predesigned theme – I also love the personalized touches like the post it with the paperclip and how you organize each post with all those cool subheadings. Even though I like what I have, I do wish occasionally that I could customize it a little more like you’re able to, but it is what it is.

        • I know what you mean–I searched endlessly for themes before I found this customizable one. And then I did all the graphics so it was tedious. (thanks for the compliments <3)
          It's so tough because there are so many cool features out there and I think I will be forever envious of those who have them!

  • Thank you so much for this reflection, Lauren! It’s so helpful. One of the reasons why I’ve considered to go self-hosted was because of the freedom with customizing my theme. I also love how convenient the CommentLuv plugin seems to be (sorry you’ve had trouble with it, however). Alas, I have no plans of upgrading as of now. But the future, maybe! Again, thanks for compiling this for the rest of us. πŸ™‚
    Summer @ Xingsings recently posted…Nirvana in Fire (A Long Review + Appreciation Post for the Best Historical C-Drama Out There)My Profile

    • Thanks for reading! I’m hoping to do another at the one year mark (or so).

      I really think the CommentLuv think is about my landing page being a home page and not a feed, not necessarily the fact it’s self-hosted. It just sucks because I really didn’t notice until I moved to the self-hosted site. But since then (and since I’ve installed it on my own site), I think it depends on what version the blog has. Sometimes I need to use my feed address, sometimes I just use my general site :S

      But customizing the theme was my big push and I recently just found the exact theme I was looking for so I really don’t want to switch back to the standard wordpress.com ones again πŸ˜›

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