Self-hosting – the big one!


So, I’ve hit that ‘wouldn’t it be nice to do more with my blog but can’t easily on WordPress.com’ stage. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing but praise for WordPress.com but would like to have the flexibility that self-hosting brings. This does of course mean cost and risk.

I have found that a simple google, poll some work colleagues, wander around twitter you find tempting looking pricing and complaints about every provider. Twitter has more xxx were poor than xxx were great tweets (though they do exist).

Given the step up from zero cost to some level of investment, how does one make a decision? I don’t know the answer  to ‘who is best for me’ so there is little chance I know who is best for you; I do, though, have views on what you should do to move forward. The advice is at the end I’m afraid as I spell out my thinking…

The risks

Until you go with a supplier for a while you don’t really know what the support is like, the processes, the tools and the reliability of the service. My advice in summary is minimise exposure and avoid getting locked into the cheapest deal.

Many deals (from research) look very attractive but may be difficult to get out of easily as:

  • They may auto-renew
  • Pricing may change dramatically after the first year
  • Getting your content out may not be simple
  • The cheap domain name (superblog.net) may vanish and you find yourself with a blog brand that dies and you move to a new supplier but have to call your blog anothersuperblog.net losing all your link backs.

A pragmatic approach

Understand what you have to pay for and what you want to protect. Minimise cost of hosting as follows:

  • Go for the baby package that you will probably grow out of in three to six months. You will save some money, all suppliers just let you pay more and upgrade (be careful that this may lead to a new year long lock-in) and you can use this decision to upgrade as a review point
  • Look long and hard at the price for including the domain name registration vs. treating this as a separate cost
  • Don’t rush to make a decision and when you do decide take it slowly.

Key Assets

I think there are four assets you need to worry about:

  1. Your money – as stated above minimise initial exposure even if that means a higher three year cost. You don’t know what this is going to be like until you start using it
  2. Your content – export / import ‘should’ work ok but all research says make sure the hosting company uses cPanel for managing content. This should improve your ability to look after yourself
  3. Your domain name – this is most of your brand and is an asset in its own right. Think hard about an extra investment to manage this separately from the hosting, even if with the same provider
  4. Your wider brand – this is more technical but make sure you understand how people find your currently. Pay WordPress for (at least) one year’s re-direct and use this time to get links fixed. I am linked (not this blog) from at least three other blogs and wikipedia plus various postings I have made on other blogs. This all needs managing! [and will be a separate blog entry no doubt!]

Advice in summary

Always go with cPanel hsoting

Always start with one year only despite offers

Make sure you can exit the arrangement without undue notice or other process

Make sure you can lift all your content easily

Think long and hard about your domain name and keeping its management separate

Final Notes

Budget carefully, please include:

  • One year’s service from your new supplier (at the next tier up)
  • Domain name registration separately (per year)
  • The cost from WordPress.com to redirect your old blog!

Enjoy!

What do you think? Have I missed something? Let me know with a comment, I’m interested to avoid any common pitfalls.

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About Tony Jones
Big Finish writer, reviewer and blogger, I'm interested in science fiction and Doctor Who. I review for CultBox, The Doctor Who Companion and others. I am also Audio Drama editor for Starburst Magazine, and write the occasional piece for Vortex, the BSFA critical magazine.

2 Responses to Self-hosting – the big one!

  1. Pingback: Self-hosting – what did I decide « Reality Checkpoint

  2. Pingback: Experience: External posts about blogging The Journeyman Blogger

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