We’ve all thought about having our own self-hosted site – ridding ourselves of “.worpress.com” in the site address, better and more flexible themes, looking and feeling just a little more professional!
For those who don’t know, wordpress actually has two entities: wordpress.com is free but with limited features while wordpress.org is for self-hosted sites where you can have your own domain name (like http://www.domain.com) and use plugins, which are extra tools like analytics, forms and widgets. Here is some more information about the difference between the two sites.
About a month ago I took the plunge and moved Nourish My Life to a self-hosted site at Bluehost. There was some work involved in setting it up and redirecting traffic from this site to the new one, but I was in love with it! The site looked crisp and fresh and I was able to install and use plugins and have greater control over my site settings. Also, how much more professional does http://www.nourishmylifeblog.com sound than http://www.nourishmylife.wordpress.com? That sells it in itself, right?
It was a great experience, but there was something lacking which I wasn’t aware of until it was too late and I’d already moved my site. If you are thinking about moving to a self-hosted site, here is one more thing to consider. There’s one thing that wordpress.com is just so much better at.
Let me explain three ways in which the community aspect of wordpress.com makes blogging that much easier:
WordPress.com has the Reader to get your posts exposed to other bloggers out there where they can easily like, comment and reblog your material. WordPress.org doesn’t have this, so you’ll have to work a bit harder at getting exposure and traffic to your site. That’s ok, with a bit more effort you can still achieve blogging success with a large readership. Which brings me to my second point…
You know how when you’re on another wordpress.com site a “Follow” button appears for wordpress? Well, since that is for following in the wordpress Reader, no Reader also means no “Follow” button except by e-mail, and despite some extensive research there’s no plugin to substitute. Since we’re not part of the Reader, it just can’t happen.
People can still follow your blog, don’t get me wrong about that – but only via e-mail or your social media sites. However, I found wordpress.com followers were essential to getting my blog off the ground a couple of years ago with some regular readership.
wordpress.com readers can easily reblog your material on other wordpress.com blogs using the “Reblog” or “Press this” buttons on your posts (if you allow this feature). Again, this can enormously increase your exposure – I’ve discovered many awesome blogs through reposts on sites I’m already following. And again, there’s no substitute plugin on wordpress.org.
Of course, with a (fair) bit of extra work a self-hosted site can certainly build up traffic, followers and regular readership, and posts and can still be shared via social media. If you want to make money from your blog then you definitely have to use a self-hosted site.
The overarching purpose of my blog here at Nourish My Life, however, is to create awareness of mental health issues and educate. I don’t intend on making blogging a full-time affair or making money from my blog. I simply want my message to reach as many eyes and ears as possible. I feel a bit lonely on the outskirts of wordpress, seeing the community through a window but being unable to engage with it fully. I’ve decided I miss the wordpress community and being able to easily fulfill my blog mission.
So with some regret I’m skulking back to this wordpress.com location with my tail between my legs. Before I moved to a self-hosted site I had a reasonable following here and I ranked very well with google. Since my site has been redirecting for the past couple of weeks I have lost my google ranking and all my followers except the most recent ones.
It’s frustrating, but I built this site once and I can build it again.
Please help by reading some more of my posts, following and reblogging my material.
If you have a self-hosted site, I have so much extra appreciation now for the work you’ve put in to building up followers and regular traffic. If you are thinking about moving to a self-hosted site then I wish you the very best of luck and hope you’re prepared for maybe feeling a little lonely in the early days, especially if you are used to wordpress.com!
(Also, I believe my home page is still redirecting to my wordpress.org site on and off, please bear with it while it sorts itself out over the next few days.)