The following is an extremely detailed post of my blogging journey from a free WordPress blog to a self hosted WordPress blog (which is basically Wordpress.org). It’s a post where I open up and am just letting out every thought of mine into the post. It’s going to be very long. Grab some popcorn. Hopefully, you will enjoy the post and find it helpful..
I have been blogging since March 2012 using a free WordPress.com platform. My blog url was www.nazninazeez.wordpress.com. It didn’t look quite nice having the word ‘wordpress’ right after my name in the link. But I didn’t mind it. I was just glad to find a space on the internet where I could put down my thoughts and share it with the world. Let me just put it out there that WordPress.com is indeed a great platform to start out if you are a newbie blogger. It is very user-friendly, beautiful looking and needs next to nil technical knowledge. I am not technical at all when it comes to understanding sites. It suited me perfectly.
There are certain restrictions when it comes to using the WordPress.com blog. You need to play by their rules. I didn’t really read their rules or anything. It’s way too long and I don’t have the time for that. I knew one basic rule though. You aren’t allowed to display ads on the blog. Putting it in simple words, you can’t monetize your blog. Again, that wasn’t my goal. I just wanted to write, that’s all. So, I continued my journey with WordPress.com. In the beginning of 2014, I started thinking how nice it would be if my blog link looked like www.nazninazeez.com. It’s simple and beautiful. I started looking into options of hosting services and their charges. Also, I realized that the free WordPress does not allow any access to plugins. Plugins enhance the functionality of your site. There are countless plugins out there!. The free wordpress comes fitted with some plugins already so that you don’t have to worry about anything. But if you want more, it’s not possible unless you upgrade. That was one more reason that I wished to move.
Then one day, a friend’s WordPress.com blog just got suspended. That’s when I realized another rule of the free WordPress platform. If you violate any of their rules, WordPress can take away your blog from you. It does not matter if you have been blogging for long or have a ton of followers. It will be gone. She contacted WordPress and they never replied. She finally bought an upgrade and continued blogging. She lost her followers and started building it from square one. Anyways, my heart went out to her and I wondered what if that would happen to me!. I never back up my posts or anything. I would lose all my posts into which I had put a lot of effort and time into. It was unthinkable. So, my desire to move to a self hosted blog intensified. I googled different people’s thoughts on moving from WordPress to self hosted and came across a ‘very helpful site’ that basically handled the whole blog setup procedure for you.. It seemed too good to be true but I still kept that site’s address handy just in case. More on that in just a minute..
Fast forward to Dec 20th, 2014. I was working on a post. I checked the ‘Preview’ option to see how the post looked and I did the final touches. Then I hit ‘Publish’. Then, I visited my homepage to once again look at my post. But this is what I saw:
This screenshot was actually sent by my friend, Abidha who was concerned seeing this message on her screen. I am glad she did because I could now show it in this post, because when this problem did happen, it obviously didn’t occur to me that I should screenshot it!.
Back to our discussion, could you guys imagine how I felt at that moment?. There I was checking the preview of my post one minute and then staring at a screen like that the next minute!. I was so confused and my mind kind of went blank. In the next few minutes, I went into a moody state where I was thinking about my blog’s bleak future. Everything I had built so far, was gone. Then in the next few minutes, I went into an ultra calm mode. It’s weird how certain emotions just come over you. My reasonable side suddenly was chilled out, as if nothing mattered anymore. I somehow had this confidence that everything will be alright though I pretty much had no clue what to do next. I was pretty angry after some time that my followers/friends are going to see this screenshot when they visit my blog. Surely, ‘violation of Terms and conditions’ is a serious offence and I was pretty sure they would wonder what I did to have let this happen. I felt so sad then.
At that moment, I had access to only my dashboard (where I can see/edit all posts, moderate comments etc). I did see an option to download my entire blog’s content to my PC in a zipped format. I quickly did that even though at that moment, I literally had no clue how I would later on ‘import’ this content to a new blog.
In the next few hours, I was stuck to Google, reading about different people’s experiences of having suspended blogs. At last I came across a link through which you can contact WordPress when your blog gets suspended. This particular sentence kind of made me more sad.
I wasn’t sure I did violate any rules but I did contact them. My message was ultra simple – “I don’t know why my blog is suspended. Kindly help!!”. That day, thoughts of whether they will ever reply tormented me. Finally, I remembered that ‘very helpful site’ that I had once come upon. That site is WPbeginner.com. They have tons and tons of WordPress tutorials on there that will help a beginner or an advanced user alike. I went on this link – http://www.wpbeginner.com/free-wordpress-blog-setup/#getstarted and started reading more about it. Here is the gist of it:
You will use WPbeginner’s referral code while buying a hosting service for your self hosted blog. They will receive a one time commission from that hosting service. As a thank you, WPBeginner will transfer all your files and everything to the new domain (blog) that you purchased from the hosting service.
Fairly simple right?. When you move from a WordPress free platform to a self hosted blog, one of the main obvious things you need to do is get a hosting service. Inevitably, that’s something you will be paying for. So, what’s wrong in using WPBeginner’s referral code and getting such a service from them in return?. Seemed too good to be true but I decided to go through with it (after some hours of thinking). I found myself thinking “Seriously Naz, are you moving to a self hosted blog?.. Really???… Are you ready to move on?. This is a serious step, girl!. You will be taking your blog to the next level. No more restrictions. Sky is the limit. WordPress.com will no longer dictate any rules”…
I was ready. Yes, I totally was. That’s the moment, I knew that I wouldn’t wait for WordPress.com to reply to my email. I wanted to move on. It was time.
On WPBeginner’s site, I was given the choice of five hosting services – BlueHost, GoDaddy, InMotion Hosting, Hostgator and SiteGround. All five of them are recommended by WPBeginner and let me tell you, those people at WPBeginner are experts!. I looked at only three options – BlueHost, GoDaddy and Hostgator, since they are so popular and I have heard of them a lot. I finally decided I will go with GoDaddy. It is a globally known hosting service. I clicked through their referral link and purchased the domain which was www.nazninazeez.com and an year’s hosting service.
I believe everything happens for a reason. I couldn’t have moved at a better time!. I consider myself pretty lucky because GoDaddy was having a major sale at that time. Usually GoDaddy’s hosting service costs $6.99 (AED 25.67) per month, which works out to be $83.88 (AED 308.10) for an year. However, the time I was purchasing it, they were charging only $1 (AED 3.67) per month and thus $12 (AED 44.08) for an year!!. Not just that, registering a domain is usually charged at $14.99 (AED55.07) but at this time it was FREE!. I only had to pay something called ICANN fee which cost only $0.18 (AED 0.66). My grand total bill for registering a domain and for an year’s hosting service = $12.18 (AED 44.74) instead of $99.05 (AED 363.89)!. Man, how cool is that??. I will probably have to pay the full amount of $99.05 when I renew it after one year. But you know what, I will just worry about that at the end of this year, alright?. No worries right now!
Next, I filled up the form on WPBeginner’s free blog setup link. You just fill up your name, email, the hosting service provider you chose, your payment receipt from the hosting provider (which will be in your email. Just copy paste that), the Title of your site, the Description of the site and that’s it!. After submitting, it was displayed that I will be contacted in 24 hours. I waited patiently and once it crossed exactly 24 hours and I still didn’t receive an email from them, I worried a bit. But in one more hour, my wait was over. Here is the email:
I was overjoyed!. I quickly gave them the requested details. Then once again I started waiting. Meanwhile, after say 2 days after I had initially emailed WordPress.com, they replied!. Here is what they had to say:
Well well well… What can I say!. My free WordPress blog was back on track. I was just relieved to know that I didn’t actually violate anything!. But this ‘mistake’ from their part, made me finally decide that I wanted more for my blog and I wanted to move on to a self hosted blog. No going back now and I really couldn’t be anymore happier!.
It was the holiday season and it took WPBeginner a week to get back. They were sweet enough to apologize for the delay!. Here is their email.
One of the things that had scared me the most was if I would lose my followers. However, as you can see in the above email they had already installed a Jetpack for me to migrate my followers to my new site. There was a fairly simple step-by-step explanation of how to properly migrate the followers, which I followed and successfully did. I checked my blog and it looked exactly the same as I had left it!. All posts were intact and the only thing that had changed in the links of every post was that the word ‘wordpress’ was removed. Also, they installed WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin so that depending on how I tag my posts and such, my posts would get more traffic.
I cannot thank WPBeginner enough for this fantastic service. I didn’t have to do anything technical at all in this whole thing!. I highly recommend you try out this free blog setup service by WPBeginner!. I ran into some trouble with ‘views’ on my posts/blog and the subsequent followers on my WordPress.com blog, whom I had to manually migrate to my self hosted blog every single time. But WPBeginner had a solution for that too. Since, this post is already too long, I will be doing a separate post about what the actual problem was and how it was rectified. Stay tuned for that post on Feb 28th.
That’s my journey from WordPress.com to a self hosted blog!. If you did read the entire post, thank you for your time!.