5 Signs That You’re Ready to Self Host

5 signs that you're ready to self-host. Make the most out of your blog on self-hosted WordPress, where the possibilities are endless!

A lovely reader recently submitted this question:

How do you know if it’s worth it to host your own blog? I’m constantly worried that if I host my blog and set it all up that I will get bored or busy and get slack with updating it. Is it worth it to host it in this case?

This is a really big question that I’m sure a lot of bloggers think about at one point or another. How do you know that you’re ready? Well let’s find out!

#1 – You’re frustrated with your current platform

How often do you find yourself complaining about your current platform, whether it be Blogger or free WordPress.com? Think back on any possible Tweets or Facebook messages or blog posts or even just thoughts floating around your head.

I quite often see Tweets from other bloggers saying things like:

  • Is Blogger not working for anyone else?
  • UGH! Blogger just ate my post AGAIN!
  • I’m sick of Blogger’s commenting system.
  • I wish I could do {x} on Blogger.

Have you ever said things like that? If so, how often?

If you have a list of complaints then that’s a pretty good sign that you might be outgrowing a free platform. You want more stability, more room, more fixes/updates to your platform, more bells and whistles… just more and better.

#2 – You want to streamline your process

Since self-hosted WordPress is totally open source, it means that anything is possible. Developers can use code to manipulate the admin area and the front-facing parts of the site. This is where the WordPress plugins shine. They are designed to make it easier and faster for you to blog or manage your website. There are thousands of tools for self-hosted WordPress that will help you blog more efficiently. This might be important to you if:

  • You make money from your site (and time = money!).
  • You like to do things as efficiently as possible.
  • You don’t like how long it takes to do a certain aspect of blogging (like putting together the book information for a book review post) and want to be able to do it faster.

#3 – You’ve been blogging regularly for at least a few months

If you only just started your blog last week, you don’t yet have a track record as a reliable blogger. That’s not to say that you can’t start on self-hosted immediately (I did!), because you certainly can. I just mean that some people might be more comfortable dropping money on their blog if they’ve been dedicated to their blog for a long time.

If you’ve been blogging successfully and reliably for 6 months, it’s more likely that you’ll continue to do so. Whereas if you only just started last week, it’s harder to say what the future is like. You might realize that blogging isn’t the thing for you after only a few days!

#4 – You constantly catch yourself drooling over WordPress plugins & themes

Have you ever been to a blog and thought, “Wow that {theme/feature} is so awesome! I want it too!” then realized that the blog was on self-hosted WordPress and you couldn’t use that same {theme/plugin}?

Have you ever caught yourself browsing the the WordPress plugin repository or premium theme/plugin stores just to see what’s out there?

If you’re constantly checking out the features of self-hosted WordPress, that’s a good sign that you’re itching to make the move. Maybe it’s time?

#5 – You want more design control with less code

  • You like to fiddle around with designs and blog layouts.
  • You don’t know much about coding, or don’t like it.
  • You want to be able to create your own design, but Blogger doesn’t give you enough options to change things the way you want.

You can create some pretty different, custom layouts in Blogger, but in order to do that you have to be very well versed in HTML and CSS. But what if you aren’t well versed in code and want to create your own layout? Then it gets harder, because Blogger has a more limited settings panel for themes.

And as for free WordPress.com, well you’re limited by what they give you. You don’t get to make your own theme choices.

But self-hosted WordPress is where you can truly shine. You don’t need to know code to create your own amazing theme. Self-hosted has:

  • Premium themes with extensive settings panels, where you can customize colours and fonts to your heart’s desire.
  • Drag and drop page builders and visual composers (which I’m not personally fond of, but hey, some people are!).
  • Overall, just more and easier control over the look of your site.

A screenshot of the Tweak Me v2 settings panel, showing some of the Typography settings.

Shown above: a screenshot of the Tweak Me v2 theme settings panel, showing some of the Typography settings.

If you have an epic vision for a beautiful new blog design but can’t pull it off on your current platform, then self-hosted might just be the perfect choice for you. You’ll be able to choose a free or premium theme with plenty of settings panel options, and then customize the whole layout exactly the way you want it. Add your own graphics, change colours, change fonts, pick the layout you desire.

Not all self-hosted themes offer these options, but the point is that these options are there, you just have to choose the right pre-made theme for your needs. Self-hosted offers more freedom and more possibilities.

But what if you do get bored?

Even if you’re a crazy dedicated blogger who’s been at it for two years, it’s still possible that you’ll get bored of your blog and stop updating it. It happens. Sometimes you can’t avoid it.

There’s no way to glance into the future and figure out if this will happen to you down the line. I think it’s important to analyse your situation right now when considering going self-hosted.

  • How do you feel about blogging right now?
  • How often do you publish new posts?
  • How has your blogging been the last six months? Consistent?
  • How worried are you about money? Can you easily afford $5 – $10 per month, or is it a bit of a strain for you?

With self-hosted, you can’t easily “take a break”

You can’t “put a pause” on self-hosted WordPress. You can’t stop paying, step away for 6 months, and expect all your content to still be there when you return. It’s like renting a locker. If you stop paying your locker fees, the owner has the right to remove your belongings from the locker and dispose of them. Same goes for self-hosted.

That is the one downside. And yes, it can be a bit scary, but try not to let it turn you away too much.

If you’re feeling great about blogging right now and you can fairly easily afford the fee, I say go for it. Sure, your situation may change down the line, but you shouldn’t live your life constantly worrying about what may happen next year.

Make a list of pros and cons

Looking back at the list of 5 signs, start making a list of pros and cons.

What are the reasons you want to go self-hosted? Those might be:

  1. You’re frustrated with your current platform and want something more reliable.
  2. You want plugins that will help you blog better, faster, and more efficiently.
  3. You feel like you’ve outgrown your current platform.
  4. You want more control and ownership over your content.
  5. You want more freedom and options when it comes to designing your blog.

And what are the reasons holding you back from self-hosted? Those might be:

  1. The monthly cost is a lot for you.
  2. If you decide to take a break or hiatus, you still have to keep paying.
  3. You’re scared about migrating or don’t want to have to pay someone to do it for you.
  4. There will be a learning curve since it’s a new platform/interface.

You may come up with more or less, but the idea is that you write out a list of pros and cons that apply to you. This will help you clearly lay out all your options and make an informed decision that’s best for you.

What about you? Do you think you’re ready to self host?

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I'm a 30-something California girl living in England (I fell in love with a Brit!). My three great passions are: books, coding, and fitness. more »

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  1. These are all great signs you’re ready to move. This is exactly how I was feeling before switching from Blogger to self-hosted WordPress. I’m definitely glad I made the transition, but people should also keep in mind that self-hosting can cause it’s own headaches if you’re not used to it. I’m glad I decided to switch to your managed hosting, everything has gone so much smoother since then! πŸ™‚

  2. I blogged on WordPress.com for a year and a half before making the switch to self-hosted just a few weeks ago. I had been wanting to change my blog’s name for a long time, I wanted more customizability and the idea of a URL that doesn’t say “.wordpress.com” was just too tempting. I wanted to buy Tweak Me 2, but because of lack of $$ I made do with a theme I got for free out of a promotion. I’m actually glad I couldn’t afford Tweak Me 2 because I ended up learning a lot more CSS in order to get my theme the way I want it. Plugins have made my life so much easier and my blog so much more aesthetically pleasing. I no longer have to color all of my spoilers white!

    The one downside is the decline in readers, but I’m gradually working on that.

  3. I think it’s totally worth it to switch to self-hosting! When I got back to blogging a year ago after a six-year hiatus (welp!), I didn’t consider anything else. I wanted full control of my blog, to make my own themes, and not feel tied to any terms and conditions.

    The only drawback of course is paying for hosting. I’m currently on shared hosting and it’s more than enough so far!

    Raisa recently posted: New Theme: Seasons
    1. Like what? WordPress.com doesn’t add anything else that can’t be added via a plugin in WordPress.org. And if you install the Jetpack plugin, it adds pretty much all the features from WP.com to self-hosted.

      One exception might be the “reblog” feature.

        1. If you compare WordPress.com to a basically blank self-hosted WordPress install (no plugins) then WordPress.com does look like it has more features. But that’s because they bulk up WordPress.com a little since you’re not allowed plugins.

          But there’s a plugin out there for every single WordPress.com feature. The difference is that instead of being packaged in by default, you pick and choose which plugins/features you want and which ones you don’t want. πŸ™‚ You can build up your WordPress install to be exactly the way you want it.

  4. I need to move to self-hosted WordPress now!! Number 4 is me lol. If only I have enough money to maintain my site I would have done it already *sighs* Ashley what do you think about getting a subdomain? A blogger is offering me to have one so I can move to self-hosted WP but I’m not really sure how it works. I’d like to hear your thoughts on it. Thanks!

    Angel recently posted: My Favorite Book Titles
    1. I can’t really say without knowing more details. Because actually “a sub domain” doesn’t mean hosting at all. It literally just means you get a URL that’s something.anothersite.com. For example, http://shop.nosegraze.com.

      A sub domain on its own doesn’t actually give you any hosting space. All it gives you is a URL.

      So if they’re saying you can go self-hosted with that, then I assume they’re also offering you hosting space, but I’d have to know more about what exactly they’re promising you.

  5. Since my blog disappeared off of Bloglovin’ (and after emailing them weeks ago, it’s still not fixed) I’ve been on a rollercoaster of ideas for what I actually want to do with my blog. I was really upset about the fact that my handful of readers weren’t being notified of my posts anymore, because I really liked interacting with them. I have considered self-hosting because I thought that would fix all my problems… The money is holding me back though + the fact that I don’t blog that regularly. I’m not too happy with the options Blogger is giving me but I feel like making the plunge isn’t worth it if I don’t give my blog my full attention, you know what I mean?

    1. This is one of the reasons why I push email subscriptions above all else. Social media sites and RSS readers can disappear. Two examples:

      * MySpace (social media)
      * Google Reader (RSS reader)

      Imagine if you had built up all your following on MySpace. Well, MySpace is dead in the water now. Or if you only focused on Google Reader. Well, that’s completely gone.

      As long as you focus on third party sites, your fate rests in their hands. They can click “delete” whenever they want and all your hard work will be gone.

      My email subscriptions are hosted on MY server using a script that I wrote. It’s 100% in my control. That’s why it’s the follow method I encourage people to use, because I know it’s not just going to disappear one day. It’ll always be there.

      As for whether or not it’s worth it, sadly only you can answer that question. I think it’s less about how often you blog and more about what your blog means to you. You can absolutely adore and treasure your blog but only post once per week. That doesn’t mean you care about it any less than someone who posts every day.

      If your blog is really important to you and you want it to grow and change and adapt, then I think WordPress is a good move.

      But if you see your blog losing importance in your life, then maybe it’s not worth the investment.

  6. Flexibility and ownership were my main reasons. I didn’t like the idea that Google owned my Blogger content and could shut it down at will. And though at first I loved the simplicity of Blogger, after about a year I got the itch to do more with my blog. Your awesome migration service made it so easy, it was just too tempting!

    Lory @ Emerald City Book Review recently posted: ECBR has moved…
    1. That totally makes sense. There are so many horror stories about peoples’ blogs getting shut down for no reason on Blogger (or crappy, inaccurate reasons). And sure, many of them do get restored eventually, but it’s scary that it can even happen in the first place!

    1. I’m glad you think so! πŸ™‚ Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions about it.

  7. I love all these little pieces of advice that I found!

    While I really want to move to a self-hosted blog, I just don’t think I’m ready. Even though I’m serious about blogging, I’m afraid that one day, I’ll just stop. Free is definitely good for me at the moment. But if I ever do decide to make the jump, I’ll come back here. I’ve heard nothing but amazing things about how the switching process is so easy with you. πŸ™‚

    Erin @ The Hardcover Lover recently posted: Waiting on Wednesday (29)
  8. If I’m completely honest, my blog is only a couple months old, but I was already feeling the limitations of WordPress.com. Then I stumbled across a recommendation for the UBB plugin and found myself going for self-hosted a couple days later so that I could use it!

    I also am blogging more than I thought I would when I originally started, and I’ve loved it so much. I figured I’d jump all in so I could really take my blog for a proper spin. Maybe next I’ll get business cards for when I go to conventions! Or maybe that’s taking it too far…

  9. Just found this post from Becca’s shout-out at I’m Lost in Books. I’ve been very happy with the move to self-hosted and use quite a few plug-ins. I switched from Blogger to WP.com and then to WP.org. I use Blogger at work and find it very restrictive. I kept my WP.com blog, though, and that could be an out for people who decide to stop self-hosting. I could import any posts I’ve done since leaving WP.com and go back to using the free platform if I had to, I believe!

    Laurie C recently posted: Mini @Bloggiesta To-Do List June 13-14
  10. I’m considering migrating from Blogger to WordPress, I answered YES!! to a lot of things, I have been drooling over book blogs that have the UBB plugin, it would make my life easier. I have also been salivating over commentluv, would love to have that too BUT a lot of things scare me too, the money involved, I’m worried everything I have worked so hard on with blogger will vanish (I know it won’t but…) and the whole like renting a locker thing makes me freak a little but I do think the cons are outweighed by the pros so may be back for the UBB one day!

    Heather @ Random Redheaded Ramblings recently posted: REVIEW - Tropical Wonderland by Millie Marotta
    1. If it helps at all (with the whole vanishing thing), think of it like this:

      When you migrate from Blogger, you’re not moving your content. You’re copying it. So, the worst case scenario is that things don’t copy over properly and you just cancel the migration and go back to Blogger, where everything is exactly how you left it. πŸ™‚

      Your Blogger content isn’t edited, changed, removed, or even moved. It’s COPIED over to a new place. But everything will still stay exactly the same on the Blogger platform, if you get scared and decide not to go through with it. πŸ™‚

  11. Very interesting post and kinda resonates with me, even though I’ve only just started blogging for a month or two. I’m not on any of the free blogging platforms where I’m considering a move to self-host. However, I’ve actually put some thought into the 5 points in your article while struggling to figure out what direction to move to when I first started. Did a lot of reading and thinking, made pros and cons list, etc, etc and ended up jumping straight to self-host.

    I love what I’m writing and just having a blast with the website. I have worried the most about the “getting bored one day” aspect of it. So I’m glad to have read this post and especially the section on getting bored.

    I look at it this way. Paying for the self-host is a great additional motivator to keep it up.

    Bookmarked your site – lots of good articles to help me as I slowly develop mine!


    1. Thanks for stopping by, Ken! I’m like you in that I jumped straight into self hosting. I never even questioned it. I immediately knew that I wanted that freedom. πŸ™‚

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