Tips & Ideas

Self-hosting my blog (step-by-step guide)

Self-hosting my blog (step-by-step guide)

When I launched this blog at WordPress.com, I never heard of “self-hosting” nor did I know its long list of advantages. It’s alien to me. I only learned it from the blogging community and from reading articles on why migrating is better so I considered doing it.

In a nutshell, self-hosting is running your website on your own private server by signing up for a hosting service. Sample benefits are:

  • Custom domain
  • SEO features
  • Custom email address
  • Full web control
  • Plugins
  • More themes
  • Monetization

I actually considered availing premium plans on WordPress.com but I really find it expensive. However, when I learned of self-hosting, I was 70% determined to do it. The other 30% was more on thinking if I have the skills to do it myself. I have zero skills on web developing.

Thankfully, upon reading Writings by JM’s self-hosting journey, I was inspired to migrate my blog. I did some further research about it—you know, just learning what I’m getting myself into—until I officially decided to go for it. The migration was a success, though! I spent a whole day for it.

Below is my step-by-step guide; I tried to write this as simple as possible so it would be helpful for beginners and new to the term “self-hosting”.

This post has affiliate links. This means I may earn a small commission if you use them to purchase services or products mentioned here at no extra cost to you. Rest assured, I only recommend brands that I trust, and that will be valuable to you.

Exporting my site

Exporting blog in WordPress

Since I decided to migrate my blog from WordPress.com, I needed to export its content before I transfered (WordPress Dashboard > Tools > Export). I only had 20 posts that time so it quickly downloaded a compressed file to my device. I extracted it then got the XML document which I would later upload to my chosen host. Note that this process only exports your posts, pages, and images.

Pick a hosting service provider

Self hosting a blog
Click the poster to see Hostinger’s packages now

There were many options in Google if you search, but make sure to check out the features for every package they offer and avail of what fits your preference. After comparing options, I decided to host my blog at Hostinger. It has the most affordable offer of up to 90% at that time and includes a free SSL certificate, a feature that gives you a more secure connection. And because it offers a great package for such a price, I availed a two-year hosting service. They’re also responsive to my “noob” queries and they’ve been really helpful! If you’re looking for a hosting provider that is convenient, I definitely recommend them.

I initially purchased a domain (thequeensights.com) in WordPress.com so I only paid for the hosting service to Hostinger. After confirming my payment, I logged on to their dashboard and started the most frustrating part of the migration.

Importing the site

I downloaded WordPress.org via Hostinger’s Auto-Installer feature in their dashboard. From there, I got access to manage and import my website. Then, I imported the XML file containing all my content which I mentioned earlier (WordPress Dashboard > Tools > WordPress > Install Now > Import). Make sure to check the box that says “Download and import file attachments”.

importing to self-hosting blog

The reason why I said it was frustrating is that it failed to import some of the images! I felt hopeless I almost cried, but Hostinger had helped me every step of the way. Maybe it was just a bad internet connection or just not my time to finish it. I redid the importing the next morning and it miraculously worked.

I really had no freaking idea on the next steps because, first, there were no images in my gallery even the importing was a success; second, my domain had “-preview” tag in it. I immediately consulted Hostinger for assistance and they advised me to point my domain to Hostinger as I had purchased my domain from WordPress.com. This process lets you use your own domain in the self-hosted blog and see all the images in the media gallery. Phew!

Customizing my blog

customize self-hosted blog

Self-hosting offers more flexible ways to customize your website. I like my blog to be chic-looking and interactive. I really had a hard time picking a theme until I tried Bard Theme by WP Royal. This theme, which you are seeing now, totally suits my taste, and is highly customizable with its many features. Simple and clean.

What I love more about self-hosting is the access to free plugins which I couldn’t do in WordPress.com. Here are the plugins I initially installed:

  • Akismet Anti-spam (spam comment blocker)
  • Google fonts typography (to apply other fonts)
  • Jetpack (plugin suite which combines essential WordPress features into one large plugin)
  • Yoast SEO (basically helps you optimize your blog to get traffic)

You can create your personalized logo and banners for your blog for more creative output. If you’re a beginner, Canva would be a big help. It’s a favorite for most of the bloggers. Check out my post on other photo editors you can explore.

Transferring subscribers and stats

Migrating to a self-hosted blog does not include the migration of your subscribers and stats. As for subscribers, I used Jetpack plugin to migrate my subscribers from WordPress.com to WordPress.org. (Jetpack > Settings > Discussion > Subscriptions). Here’s a full tutorial if you want to know.

For the stats, I asked for the help of WordPress’s customer support. I got my stats back after a couple of days.

Making my old site private

Do not forget to make your old site private to ensure that your readers won’t be directed to it. To do this on WordPress.com, I went to my old site’s Dashboard > Settings > Privacy > Private.

That’s it! It was not an easy migration and I somehow felt stupid for not understanding stuff I read online. Thought of sharing this post so I can help other bloggers, too.

Hope you find this helpful. Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

(49) Comments

  1. This is super helpful, I am thinking of migrating over soon too!

  2. This is a helpful guide for the blogger to migrate their blog from wordpre .com to wordpress .org.
    Great post!

  3. Great post. Something I may choose to do in the future!

    1. Good luck!

  4. loveemblogger says:

    I don’t have a WordPress blog but this is a really helpful guide! I am looking to switch to WordPress later on, so will be saving this for later! You make it seem so easy. Thank you for sharing, I love how detailed this guide is!

    Em | http://www.loveemblog.com

    1. Thank you for reading, Em! Glad you found this helpful. 🙂

  5. Congratulations on going self-hosted!! And yes it can be confusing to switch & go self-hosted because of the technical side of blogging but once you’ve done it, it’s an achievement 🙂 I agree it’s important to go self-hosted and have control of your content. 🙂

    1. Thank you! All the stress I felt that time was worth it after it’s done 💆‍♀️

  6. excellent guide

    1. I still have a lot to study about blogging! Hahaha. Save this for future, I think it really convince me now hahaha

  7. arrahdima says:

    Great information! Thank you for sharing.

  8. A Sustainably Simple Life says:

    The visuals really help guide me through the steps. Thank you for thoughtfully laying out this process! When we were setting up our blog, Bard was the first choice for us! We ended up having to choose a different one because of a specific need, but still love that theme!

    1. Thank you so much for this guide! I’ve been debating taking this leap on and off the last little while, and have honestly been more intimate with where to start than anything. This makes it look FAR more comprehensive than I was expecting! I will be saving this for when I make the leap!

      1. Take the leap! Good luck 🙂

  9. Wow this is a massive step! This is definitely something I’ll be looking into doing in the next few months.

    Roni🖤
    http://www.myelevatedexistence.com

    1. Good luck on your self-hosting journey!

  10. When I created my blog, I didn’t have it set up on WordPress.com before so I was lucky enough to be able to do it from scratch. But I did have a really old blog that I used to have self hosted. It didn’t work out the way I wanted it too but I’m so happy with my newer blog now. Self hosting is worth it, I think, and I hope it’s successful for you too!

    1. Thanks, Chloe! I’m also happy with the results of self-hosting so far 💕

  11. I know switching to self-hosting can be so frustrating for so many people so thanks for sharing this!

  12. I recently migrated from wordpress.com to wordpress.org too and have realized that self-hosting is so much better!! This will be an incredibly helpful post to any new blogger 🙂 Thanks for this!

  13. Lamara Travels says:

    I wish I had this guide a couple months back when I decided to go self hosted. I manually rewrote all of my posts from my blogger site when I could have imported them oops!

    1. Oh noooo! I hope that was only a few posts 🤧

  14. Lauren says:

    I went self hosted back in April but I’ve been blogging for 9 years so there’s no way I could have migrated myself I would have been too scared! This is great advice for anyone looking to do it themselves though!

  15. Great article! Very informative, thanks for sharing this. Keep it up!

  16. Super helpful post! I use Buehost and it works great for my blog. This article has so much useful information. Thanks for sharing.

  17. When I changed my host provider luckily they did the move for me, but this guide is super helpful and easy!

    Love Sian x
    http://Www.sianliftsweights.com

  18. This is a very helpful guide to be honest with you. I started my own block on wordpress.com and after reading about all the cool benefits of self-hosting, I’ve pretty much decided that’s what I want to do for my blog. I’m saving your guild because it’s the easiest to understand guide I’ve seen

    1. You’re welcome 😊 good luck on your self-hosting!

      1. Thank you 😊. Hey uhmm can I ask you something? A few harmless questions😅😅

        1. Sure! You can DM me on Twitter so we can have conversation. I’m @queensightsblog 😁

          1. I tried but it’s showing that you can’t be messaged 💔

          2. I see. Can you try again? I just made it public 🙂 Thank you!

          3. Or feel free to just drop your question here so I can help you with it ☺

  19. Great advice especially for beginners thry will alot from reading this article

  20. This was a very helpful post! I recently went self-hosted (with WordPress) but this would have been a great guide to follow, and I’ve found some good tips here. Thank you 🙂

  21. Totally agree! Self-hosting is the way to go. Wish I’d seen this two years ago before I made all those mistakes. 😂

  22. Amber Page says:

    I use Hostinger too it is the best! Thank you for sharing!

    Amber – https://theunpredictedpage.com

  23. Rhi // The Violet Journal says:

    Congrats on going self hosted! Such a big step 🥳

  24. Love this post! Thank you so much for linking my site! x

  25. Like you, I recently pursued my goal of having a self-hosted website. And believe it or don’t it was JM’s post that triggered that too. Lol.

    There are many benefits of having a self-hosted blog. Experts always tell us to look at it as something like a “business”; you really have to invest at one point. And through the process (well, I’m still in it), you get to discover a lot about blogging, website set-up, and other nooks and crannies thereof.

    By the way, I’m having your migration went well. As for me, for some weird reasons, I cannot import my contents the way I want it to be. Perhaps, I did something wrong along the way, although I did almost the exact thing as you did. Luckily, after hours of “manual” transfer, I was able to do it.

    1. I also had problems importing all the contents haha it took me hours, too. But congratulations you made it!!!

  26. Thanks for sharing! I’ve been thinking about going self-hosted but haven’t been sure where to start!

    1. Go for it! 🙂

  27. Alexandra S says:

    Self-hosting is so much better than running your website on wordpress.com. If you want to be a successful blogger and etc. self-hosting is a must. There are so many available features.

    I’m so glad you did it successfully. <3

    1. I agree! I didn’t regret investing ever since I started self-hosting. So glad I started it early so I won’t have much content to manage.

  28. This would’ve been so helpful when I switched over! I lost all my followers back then.. And I totally agree with how important being self-hosted is, I’ve never looked back!

  29. Will be saving this later. Probably should switch to self-hosting as soon as I can. Your guide is very easy to follow. Thank you 😊

  30. I moved mine over a few weeks ago and I found it tricky too, despite reading lots of guides! I’m sure this will really help lots of people, you explained it well!

  31. Thinking of going self hosted too soon so I’m doing some reading about it too before I dive in completely.

Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: