A few posts back, I was writing about how I was going to create my official writer’s website as I’m starting my after-undergrad life as a freelance writer, sort of.
Since then (although it was only a few weeks/days ago), things have changed.
Well, I did launch a website.
But it’s not exactly a freelance writing website. After getting insightful feedback from the surveys I had posted, I realised that people were currently more interested in a Students’ Survival Guide than a freelance writing blog. And looking at my experience, I had way more valuable stories to share in the ‘student’ category. After all, I had only just started freelancing, while I had been a University student for 3 years!
After days of thinking and brainstorming, I finally made the leap and bought my very first domain: dkwaye.com
I also bought a year of web hosting and finally, installed WordPress: the self-hosted infamous wordpress.org!
I remember when I had first started blogging here, 6 years ago, I would stumble upon articles that talked about wordpress.org and it all seemed so complicated and obviously expensive for a 15-year-old girl. I’d never even imagined that I would actually come this far in blogging and writing… and invest in those skills of mine.
Yet, here I am, self-hosting a website, a blog designed to help students out there to get the best experience out of their university/college life!
Thankfully, I was following a course while going through all the technical parts, so the videos guided me through the process, but believe me it was not so easy. Actually, it was quite a ‘culture shock’ to transition from WordPress.com to a self-hosted WordPress site.
It doesn’t mean that I won’t be blogging here anymore; in fact, I will still continue to post everything that is unrelated to ‘surviving the university life’ here.
Anyway, I thought that it’d be quick and smooth to get the hang of self-hosting, just because it is still WordPress after all, but I might have underestimated the process of building a website from scratch.
Moreover, my budget is small, being a student, so there’s a lot of things I had to compromise.
So here are some of the differences between running this WordPress.com blog and my self-hosted site that challenged me and often caught me unaware:
- The overreliance on plugins. I think that here, on WordPress.com, we take a LOT of things for granted. For example, the Stats page. Yes, on a hosted site, you need a plugin to track your pageviews and insights and any type of analytics. Linking your Facebook page and Twitter so that your new posts automatically get shared? Not given, you need a plugin for that. That just makes me realise I should be grateful for WordPress.com for being able to give us all the opportunity to blog with all the features you’ll ever need for FREE.
- Security and maintenance. Since I technically own my website, I have to take care of it. I have to protect it against potential hackers and what not. Hello plugins, again. But I also have to think of back-ups (which is done on my web hosting control panel). Then, I also have to make sure everything works fine on the website itself. Is the loading speed fast enough? Are all the links working? Is it mobile-friendly? Plugins and updates here and there to optimise the blog.
- Coding. Haha. Funny story: I was working on the ‘Sign Up’ page for my website and decided to play with the code to add a background and centre the email sign-up box properly. With the help of my boyfriend, we ended up designing a beautiful professional page… until I realised MUCH LATER that the page was NOT MOBILE-FRIENDLY at all. Knowing the importance of mobile usage, I, unfortunately, had to shut the page down and replace it with the default MailChimp sign-up form. sigh. There are also a few times when I had to add code to the header of my site… Well, I’m glad I have a basic understanding of coding, or else I would have been lost! I’m also going to be starting a Web Developer course soon to improve my super-noob skills.
- Choosing a theme. I almost forgot about this one. Well, I didn’t want to pay for a theme, although if this gets serious I totally should, so I was browsing through the free WordPress themes available, and I was thinking, let’s get a theme that is not so commonly used so that my site stands out. Well, I did… but I had to go through 3+ themes to finally find one that wouldn’t make my life complicated. I mean, if I knew about web development and all I believe I would have been able to make them work… but right now, nope. I just couldn’t customise the themes to how I wanted them to be because I’d just get lost at one point… or somehow the design I had chosen wasn’t appearing. To this day I still don’t know what went wrong.
I think that’s it for now. I’m still experimenting.
I’ve launched my website on the 16th, and so far, I have only posted one blog post, which you can check out here: An Open Letter to Those Who Are Preparing for Studying Abroad.
Please check it out in its whole entity and share it with any friend or student you might know that will definitely be in need of a Survival Guide for University Students!
Thank you for sticking with me on this blogging journey!
An Evil Nymph.
10 thoughts on “A WordPress.com Blog VS Self-Hosting Website: My Experience”
Congrats on the new site. Self-hosted WP can be tricky. WP.com offers so many perks that it’s hard to beat. But self-hosting does allow you lots of control.
Thank you! Yes that’s so true!
I hope you have success on both the blog, and your writing career.
thanks for great info – wishing you the best!
You’re welcome! Wish you the best too!
I am glad that you did go through the dilemma of a self-hosted website well and still trying to explore further.
What you mentioned here are true, the reason why I still chose to buy a Premium plan here in WordPress.com because of the maintenance and coding issue. HAHA. Besides, I find self-hosting expensive too.
Yes, it is expensive; I got a discount thanks to the course I was taking in udemy!