What I’ve Learned From Switching to Self-Hosting with WordPress.org

May 21, 2012 — 3 Comments

If you don’t know what I mean by my title, don’t worry. There was a time when I didn’t either. I’ve made a lot of rookie mistakes since then, too.

I don’t really have any technical knowledge about web design. So when I created this blog back in 2009, I just got a WordPress site because they had a template that was easy to use. I wanted people to find the site easily so I paid extra for www.austindhill.com.

As I’ve used my blog more and seen others’ pages, I’ve discovered various things that I’d like to be able to do on my own site, but wordpress.com doesn’t offer free reign over everything. Plus, I still don’t know how to do HTML or CSS coding.

I started to hear more and more about self-hosting a site through WordPress. After doing some research, I discovered that when you use wordpress.com, that site hosts all your content and you use their design tools to create your page. However, you can pay another site to host all your data and post it on the internet, but still use the WordPress design tools at wordpress.org. In fact, if done that way, you can use many more design tools.

Sounds simple, right?

Over the last four days I’ve been spending all my free time (which isn’t as much as I’d like) trying to figure out how to make this switch. I’ve had to purchase services and then return the very same ones since I had paid for them through wordpress.com, I’ve had to transfer my domain name out of wordpress.com, and tried uselessly to make my stats page know what time zone I’m in,  to name a few things.

Long story short, it’s a ton of trial and error, reading forums, trying to see if anybody else has Googled the same issues you have, and looking foolish for a bit while you figure it out.

The process has been much longer than I thought it would be, but I’m determined to do it for free instead of paying somebody else to do it (that could be my biggest mistake right there…) With that said, my site might be a little rough around the edges while I try to figure out the kinks. So if something looks a little odd or if a link doesn’t work, please just email me and let me know… or be patient and give me grace!

In what follows I’d like to offer two lists of what I’ve learned from this experience – one a practical list for anybody thinking about self hosting, and the other a list more about myself and my faith. Enjoy!


For any who are interested in self-hosting a wordpress.org site:

1. If you are just starting out your blog, do the extra work up front and start with self-hosting. It’s much less complicated to start that way.

2. If you are starting a self-hosted site, don’t think twice about buying the e-book WordPress2go. It’s cheap, straight-forward, and very informative. I floundered for quite a while reading various blogs and WordPress help pages before I found this book. This book is what actually got me some traction.

3. If you absolutely must start with wordpress.com, don’t buy a custom domain name to start with. It is a royal pain to switch to self-hosting when you already have your desired domain name on wordpress.com.

4. Don’t buy a custom theme until you are self-hosting. None of your custom themes from wordpress.com transfer when you self-host. You have to re-purchase them.

5. Subscribers don’t transfer to your self-hosted site either.

6. Just to reiterate. If you are starting a blog, buy Wordpres2go, spend a bit more time up front, and start out self-hosting. It will save you a ton of headache.


For those more interested in what I’ve learned about life during this process:

1. When you find something you are passionate about, you will make time and create the energy you need for it. I have amazed myself at the amount of video games, books, and sleep I could have enjoyed instead of working on this transition for my blog. However, I felt compelled to keep working on it – and still do!

2. To quote Jon Acuff, “Never compare your beginning to somebody else’s middle.” I’ve spent too much time looking at bloggers who’ve mastered their craft (or paid a master to design their page). I’ve tried to replicate what I see, and I’ve been frustrated when I can’t. But what should I expect? I’ve been doing this self-hosting thing for all of four days now. Some of these people have been doing it full-time for over four years!

3. I need to be ok with not having everything figured out. The world will continue to turn if my layout isn’t perfectly conducive to finding and posting comments at the moment. I shouldn’t lose sleep over that.

4. As much as I want to get this sorted out, I need to remember the rest of my life too. I’m already seeing how deep this rabbit hole of the blogging world can be. There is an inordinate amount of resources and tools to help people in their blogging endeavors. At some point, I just need to stop, and enjoy the rest of my life.


So speaking of stopping, that’s what I’m going to do. It’s late and I should be in bed already.

In the comment section below, let me know about a time when you were willing to burn the midnight oil for a passion or vision. What motivated you to spend that extra time? Did it pay off?


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I'm a pastor, writer, speaker, husband, father, and follower of Christ, to name a few titles. You can find my contact information in my About page.
  • Sara

    I know it is taking a lot of time now, but it’ll be worth it in the end!

    •  Thanks! I know that most things worthwhile take time and commitment.

  • Shimiko

    Your blog is great! The other day I asked Todd what people meant when they said “host” and “server.” He is probably still laughing right now.