What is self-hosting? And why do you need a self-hosted website?
Let’s get right to it – a self-hosted WordPress site allows you to make money from the start!
However, there are a few important factors to consider when it comes to how these blogs make money.
We’ll discuss all of them today.
This self-hosting guide will cover:
- a comparison of top web hosting sites
- the problem with free blogging sites
- the difference between WordPress.org vs WordPress.com
- 10 reasons you need a self-hosted WordPress blog
Let’s get started with a comparison of some web hosting sites before we move onto why I only use and recommend Siteground on my blogs.
Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links and I could earn a small commission if you make a purchase using one. This comes at no additional cost to you and all opinions are based on my experience.
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What is Self-Hosting + 10 Reasons Your Blog Needs It!
You might already be familiar with a few of these top web hosting companies:
I tried the premium versions of Wix and WordPress.com before I began to take blogging for business seriously – both are advertised as easy to use however, I quickly learned that this also meant serious limitations.
Siteground, on the other hand, is used by huge organizations like Yoast, WPBeginner, and Elementor – so, if you want to be the best, learn from them and use the same resources they do!
Popular Web Hosts
Two other popular web hosts on this list, HostGator and Bluehost are both owned by EIG, an IT services company that has earned a negative reputation for:
- mass acquiring hosting companies – their most recent acquisition was Ecomdash in October 2019, bringing up the list to 83 subsidiaries
- several massive web hosting outages since 2013
- cramming too many users onto the same server
To test a website’s loading times and performance, visit GTmetrix – below is a recent report for my site.
For reference, I’m a mom without any technical training in this sort of thing.
According to SemRush, this means that my site runs faster than 75% of the web.
But when a 2 second page load time is considered “the threshold for e-commerce website acceptability”, there isn’t wiggle room for anything other than quality hosting.
Speed is a major SEO factor – so, take advantage of special pricing with Siteground and start a self-hosted blog for $3.95 a month.
Have an existing blog with another hosting provider? Siteground will transfer it for you – they helped me with mine and it was the best blogging decision I’ve made after starting a blog in the first place!
The Problem with Free Blogging Sites
Free blogging sites like Blogger, and the free versions of Wix and WordPress.com are incredibly limited – even more so than the premium versions.
With a free blogging site, you won’t be able to customize your site visually or on the backend – your domain name will also be a subdomain of your free hosting provider.
For example, yourblogname.wordpress.com
Not quite as professional as yourblogname.com, right?
As someone who’s tried the premium versions of Wix and WordPress.com, I can tell you that upgrading later on isn’t going to give you the features you get with a self-hosted WordPress site either.
Self-hosting sounds like you need to do the work yourself, doesn’t it? That’s what deterred me in the beginning!
I had a brand new baby and wanted a site that was ready to go right now and was easy to work on.
Turns out, Wix was actually more time consuming that I thought it would be.
You’ve probably noticed differences between the desktop and mobile versions of your favourite sites.
For me, this was the biggest pain about Wix – I constantly had to edit two versions of my site due to mobile display issues instead of creating new content.
So, I moved onto WordPress.com because again, I thought it sounded easier than this self-hosting stuff everyone kept talking about.
- I never crossed 30 viewers a month – you can’t optimize your site for SEO with WordPress.com the way you can with a self-hosted site
- I wasn’t able to monetize my blog – unless you pay for the premium priced business plan, which kind of defeats the purpose!
- you also need a business plan to use plugins
- and you need a business plan for access to SEO tools
- theme options are limited unless once again, you upgrade to the business plan
So, why didn’t I just upgrade?
The WordPress.com Business Plan costs $25 a month!
With Siteground, you can start a self-hosted blog for $3.95 a month and have access to everything you’re paying extra for – big difference, right?
With Siteground, you’re paying $47.40 a year… and for WordPress.com, you’re paying $300 a year.
Go with self-hosting and invest that $250 a year elsewhere in your blogging business.
Why is WordPress so expensive?
So, WordPress itself is a website building tool.
The service we were talking about above is WordPress.com – in addition to offering free web hosting options, they offer managed hosting services.
What is a hosted service?
Hosted services are an all-in-one deal – like buying a combo at a fast food restaurant!
You purchase a package and choose from a limited number of options.
When you choose a hosted platform, your host, in this case, WordPress.com, handles all of the updates for you.
However, while software updates may sound intimidating, they’re no more difficult to do than the ones on your computer and phone – you just click update and move on with your life!
What’s the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org?
WordPress.org is where you’d go to download the software for your self-hosted website – but since Siteground offers one-click WordPress installation, you can skip that step.
What are Plugins?
Think of them like apps on your phone – they make it easier to get things done and can add cool new features to your site!
My top three favourite plugins are:
- Elementor – to custom design my site
- WP Rocket – to optimize my site and help it load ridiculously fast (1.3 seconds is almost one second faster than the industry standard)
- Squirrly SEO – to help me rank amongst top competitors in Google organic searches
What is a WordPress theme?
Think of it like the appearance of your phone – you can choose different options for how you want your site to look – the best blogs are easy for readers to navigate.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for search engine optimization – its the process of getting your site to rank in organic, editorial or natural search results.
a complicated category that contains strategic and technical
The most important SEO ranking factors are:
- Security and accessibility
- Page speed
- Mobile friendliness
- Domain age, URL, and authority
- Optimized content
- Technical SEO
- User experience
- Social shares
Now, the beautiful part of this is that the top three factors here are taken care of when you choose great hosting and a mobile-friendly theme!
So, in theory, you can start getting organic search traffic without even learning the more strategic part of SEO.
10 Reasons Your Blog Needs Self-Hosting
With the right ideas, content, and configuration, a self-hosted WordPress site is capable of generating a huge income – many bloggers can make between $500 to $60,000 a month!
So, let’s get to the 10 reasons why your blog needs to be self-hosted.
1. Your potential for income isn’t limited on a self-hosted blog
Unlike free blogging sites, you can actually monetize your blog!
Contrary to WordPress.com, you don’t have to pay to make money on your site!
2. You get access to incredible plugins with a self-hosted blog
Plugins can make your site that much more enjoyable for you and your visitors!
3. You can customize the look of your site with premium WordPress themes or design your own
Make your blog stand out – of 1.7 billion websites, 500 million are blogs.
Don’t choose a theme that has been used millions of times over!
4. You own your content
Similar to social media, free and hosted blogs own your content – not you!
Review WordPress.com’s terms of service for more details.
5. You can optimize your blog’s performance
You have so many options for making your blog run well!
From hosting to performance plugins and if you’re feeling brave, some coding.
Don’t limit your site’s performance options – 79% of shoppers are less likely to purchase something from a poor performing site!
6. You have more options to improve SEO
All of the search engine optimization options we discussed above are accessible with a self-hosted blog – you won’t get that with free or inexpensive hosted options.
7. Access to code
There may come a time when you bravely tackle some code – whether it’s to change a font colour in a certain theme or otherwise.
8. 24/7 support by phone or live chat
You don’t get access to support with free hosting services or a hosted site – alternatively, Siteground is one of my favourite contacts!
They offer live chat but I prefer to explain any issues I encounter over the phone – it also helps that they usually figure out what the problem I’m having is while I’m on the phone.
One more point for Siteground’s instant gratification!
9. You can customize EVERYTHING
If you can think it, you can do it!
10. Higher storage capacity
Storage options are very generous on self-hosted servers so you can upload plenty of media files to display on your site!
How to Create a Self-Hosted Blog or Website
Now let’s talk about the four things you need to have in order to launch a successful self-hosted blog.
1. Choose a great host
You should choose your web host based on the following criteria:
Siteground offers affordable pricing from $3.95 a month.
- Customer service
There’s probably a note on my file at this point – I call Siteground all the time when I have questions or issues with my site!
They’re amazing and don’t make you feel bad about being technically challenged.
- Quality of hosting
Siteground offers crazy fast speeds and offers 99.99% uptime so your site is never offline when your visitors arrive!
WordPress.org also officially recommends Siteground!
- Additional features
Siteground offers all of the following:
- unlimited email accounts
- free site transfers – I used this service to switch from WordPress.com!
- daily backups – to save your work and give you peace of mind
- access to Cloudflare CDN -to make your site run even faster
- free LetsEncrypt certificate – see the little padlock by my URL? It means your details are protected!
2. Choose a domain name
Your domain name should:
- be memorable, at two to three words long
- end in .com – it’s easier to remember and looks more professional!
- include a keyword – if you already know your niche
- avoid using numbers or hyphens – characters like these just makes things confusing
You can use this domain name availability checker to see if your ideal URL is available.
If you have a name that’s easy to remember and spell (unlike mine), then opting for your own name as your URL is also a great option.
3. Set up your blog
This the fun part – I absolutely love customizing blogs and designing themes for myself and clients!
However, if you’d rather use a unique pre-made theme, then Creative Market WordPress blog themes is the best place to find one – it’s where I got my first premium theme.
I do not recommend using free themes because they’re so common – there are a billion blogs out there and many of them use the same themes!
Seeing the same layout over and over again gets redundant and visitors will notice.
Stand out from the crowd and give your blog a personality from the beginning.
My blog’s current theme uses GP Premium as a customizable backbone (change colours, text, layouts, etc.) and Elementor to add components that are uniquely mine.
4. Plan and research potential content
You have a blog! Now what?
Chances are that you already have an idea for your blog – but will it get attention?
I like to do research using three different methods:
Simply start writing your topic to see what predictions Google makes based on your inquiry.
Open a Word or Pages document and note the ones you could see yourself writing.
Now, run a search and note the types of content that are ranking on page one – scroll down to the bottom of the page and check out the Searches related to your inquiry option.
Again, note these in the research document.
Related: How to Use Google Search Console for Blogging
As of February 2021, Ubersuggest is a premium SEO tool that offers helpful keyword and content ideas as well as an overview of your competition.
To see how bloggers in your niche are getting their traffic from organic searches on Google, simply type their domain name into the search box.
Big time blogger with very little organic traffic? This blogger is a Pinterest heavy content creator – something I strongly advise against.
After a mistaken Pinterest account suspension, I rely a lot less on social media – because just like free web hosting services, you do not own your content on any social media platform.
They have the right to close your account at any time if they think you are in violation of their policies and it’s up to you to prove otherwise if a mistake has been made.
Now, that being said, the Pinterest search bar is still a valuable tool.
Just like Google, simply type in an inquiry related to a topic you’re thinking of writing about to see what Pinterest suggests and run a search to view the types of articles that are already ranking.
Pro Tip: For best results, cross-reference with your Google queries and write about topics that have potential to do well on both channels.
Ready to make the switch the self-hosting? Now’s the perfect time.
Which features are you most excited to enhance your blog with? For me it was plugins and more money in. my pocket, haha!
Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Happy blogging, friends 🙂
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