A WordPress.com Blog VS Self-Hosting Website: My Experience

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. 

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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.

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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.

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