Tag Archives: the big project

You want to self-host your blog but don't have time? Can you spare 38 minutes?

The Passage of Time
CC - Credit: ToniVC

What I have heard from many people who have been blogging for a while, is that they would really like to self-host their own site but they never got around of doing it because of time constraints. And every time I hear this excuse I can’t help but wonder where they got that impression.

Now I can understand that one might also have the false idea that setting up WordPress is something technical and thus would take time to figure out, but I’ve also heard this reasoning from experienced computer people.

The only thing I can put this down is a simple ignorance on how easy and quick most good web hosts make it to setup your site, both in WordPress and in most other known systems. Not only are the installations a one-click procedure but the whole thing will be wholly automated so that you can simply ignore it until its ready.

Do you know what would probably take the most time? Getting your credit card out and typing the numbers in the purchase order for your hosting plan.

Here, let me break it down for you:

  • Register a new hosting plan: 10 minutes and maybe 1-5 more until it’s activated
  • Register your new domain name: 3 minutes
  • Install your new WordPress site: 10 minutes (and about 10 minutes of waiting)
  • Configure your new WordPress site: 5 minutes to infinity (depending on how much you want to play around)
  • Import from your blogger or WordPress account: Lets say another: 10-20 minutes depending on the volume, all automated of course.

Honestly, I’m just looking back at the notification emails of when I first started. I made the purchase at 4:56 and my website was up and running at 5:15! I kid you not. And back then I had absolutely no idea what I was doing.

It took me more time to find a theme and install some plugins of course but that’s the great part. You don’t have to do this if you don’t want to but you can if you do. And given how ridiculously easy it is to try, change and install addons now, compared to when I started, the whole procedure should not take you more than an extra 30 minutes to 1 hour if you want to take your time.

And from then on, you’re simply opening your “write new post” bookmark or even better, just pressing a button on your keyboard.

Another thing that you may not realise about a wordpress installation is that you’re activelly saving time as you use it.

  • Managing: Whether it is looking at your stats, checking your comments or modifying your categories, WordPress has it as easy as possible.
  • Writing: I would argue that even writing a post can be quicker with all the extra options that wordpress provides for media or special formatting. nevertheless, for one who simply writes text, there won’t be much of a difference. Nothing can beat the ability to grab a CC image from flickr for your post in three clicks however 😉
  • Designing: If you’ve ever had to edit your blogger template and look for the start of the body and the end of the head or whatever, you’ll love the wordpress way of using different files for each part. Customizing your theme has never been easier.

These may not seem like much but altogether and in small amounts, they start to build up. There’s a thousand little ways were you can become more productive with wordpress and if that’s not enough, there’s plugins to make it even quicker.

So if time is your constraint, don’t even think about it. What are 38 measly minutes?

Why setting up your own self-hosted wordpress blog is not hard.

De vieilles entrailles
CC - credit: Sunfox

The third most popular reason people seem to have for not self-hosting their own blog seems to be a misguided understanding of the technical skills and expertise such an undertaking would require.

I’ve heard various takes on this, Some seemed to believe that they would have to code their own site while others assumed that setting up a home server would be necessary. These are, of course, more extreme opinions so I will assume that most people know that setting up your own wordpress installation involves none of that if you don’t want it to.

The honest to Gould truth is that setting up your own wordpress powered site is usually a breeze.

Do you have the impression that self-hosting includes you ftp-connecting, php-editing, apache-configuring and whatnot? If so let me get this out there first. Self-hosting yout blog can be about as easy as setting up a new blogger account or as difficult as any DYI project. It’s all depending on what you wish to do.

Most shared hosting providers not only provide an already setup environment for installing wordpress but they make installing and upgrading the whole wordpress installation as simple as possible. Literaly an one-step process. You can have a new wordpress installation with as much as putting a new password and pressing OK twice.

Once you’ve set up a basic wordpress installation, just with the very default settings you’re good to go. All you need to do is find a theme (and even that’s optional), and if you’re with a good host you’ll have a few waiting for you and you’re ready. No need to tweak any css or php files.

Some of you might think at this point: “But what about new themes and plugins, don’t they need ftp thingamajibs and whatnot?”

Not any more they don’t. Plugin or Theme installations has in recent times become a ridiculously easy procedure. You’ll be hard pressed to find any instances where as part of improving your site you’ll have to get your hands dirty.

Upgrades? One Click. Backup? One Click. SEO? One Click.

So tell me, does hosting your own blog still sound too technical?

The costs of self-hosting your blog

the curl of datasmoke
CC - photo credit: zen

What many people seem to be wary of hosting their own blog or site is that it is somehow going to cost and arm and a leg, or at least a heavy enough sum that it’s just not worth doing. Add to that the misconception that self-hosting is only something that pro-bloggers are doing and you can understand why most people stay with free and limited hosts.

Let me get this out of the way first. Self-hosting is not expensive, not unless you consider 1-10$ a month an expensive amount to spent on a hobby, and lets face it, if you’re not a pro-blogger, it is a hobby for you. It is a  way to reach out to other minds out there and make your voice heard. Possibly have some fun with memes, and hopefully affect the world in some way.

At the most expensive plan, self-costing would probably cost you as much as a night out to the movies per month but in return, instead of a 2 hour (hopefully not-lame) entertainment you not only get to own your data but you get much more freedom in what you can do with your site, more visibility and authority due to your own domain, more security (as someone whom you pay, you can keep accountable for problems as well) and a wealth of other goodies that come along for the same price.

What’s the downside? One less crappy holywood movie per month. It’s about time you found out what the better choice™ is anyway.

I honestly don’t know why so many people have this impression that hosting costs are high. With the profileration of shared hosting, costs have dropped to almost nothing. Web hosts practically fall over each other to be cheaper than each other and the final beneficiary is you.
I don’t know, maybe you’re stuck in the 90s where you were paying by the megabyte and assume that for a normal blog you’ll rack hundreds of euros/dollars of cost per month. If so, rest assured that unless you can fill up a few terrabytes of traffic or hundreds of gigabytes of space, you probably won’t end up paying anything more than the basic costs.

Now, to be fair, there is a chance that a basic hosting will not be enough. I do not currently pay the basic 8$ per month costs I started with. I pay 30$. You know why? Because I am hosting at the moment 4 individuals blogs and 2 galleries. My cost have nothing to do with bandwidth or space and everything to do with script heavy sites (of my own choice) and a recent influx of visitors. Were I to simplify my sites and reduce the 35 of so plugins per site I’m using, my speeds and costs would improve considerably.
That said, someone might require a faster, stronger plan to have a quick and usable site if he gets more that 500 visitors per day but at this point, a few ads could easily not only retrieve the costs but bring you money as well. Something you wouldn’t be able to do in some free hosts for example.

At this point you may be wondering why more people are not self-hosting if it’s not that cheap. Frankly, I’m wondering the same myself. Hopefully by the end of this post I will have dispelled at least the misconception of cost. Stay tuned for more of the same in the later posts of this series.

If you still have concerns on the issue of cost, let me know in the comments and we can discuss if you have a point.

So you don't want to be a pro-blogger eh?

yesterday and todayOne of the most popular reasons for which bloggers avoid getting their own hosted account seems to be that they assume that this is something appropriate only pro-bloggers. About half of the responders until now have expressed this sentiment and I can understand that as it was my impression when I started blogging back in livejournal.

The reasons we turn to blogging are numerours. I won’t get into specifics but I believe that each of us needs to introspect and distill the exact reason(s) they is doing this. My own, for example, are (in order of importance)

  1. To express my philosophy and hopefully make someone’s life better.
  2. To write down and spread my knowledge and experience to others.
  3. To serve as my personal soap box where friends and family can come for news.

In all of these reasons, pro-blogging (having money as your primary reason) never appears in any form. Indeed, in the Division by Zer0 you will not find even  a single advertisement as of this moment. Money is simply not my target.

And I’m not the only one. If you look around, you’ll see quite a few people with self-hosted blogs that have very little to do with pro-blogging. Many of them don’t have ads. Many of them post quite irregularly.

And yet, we all went with self hosting. Why? Control.

WordPress is a brilliant CMS and If you think blogger is good enough, it is just because you have never seen what is possible if your have this power.

Do you want a simple blog where all you want to do is write a post now and then, manage your comments, see your stats and not much else? Why not have a choice of hundreds, if not thousands of themes, easily customizable (much, much more easily than blogger, believe you me) and with perfect control of every aspect?

How about using hundreds of widgets for anything you might think of, where before you might either have to rely (and pay) a third party or not have the choice at all (as in the case of wordpress.com and livejournal)?

Total control and oversight?

It has it all.

What if you change your mind down the line and decide to actually make some money of your blogging? As humans, we change all the time. I went from the default livejournal account to self-host in one year. I went from posting mundane life stuff to posting primarily philosophically and tech in the next year. As a result I’ve seen my readership quadruple in a very short amount of time.

Thus, even though I am still not even close to being a pro-blogger (nor do I plan to be one), It would be a nightmare for me now to go back to free hosting. Having to wait until blogger codes a needed feature that’s been around for ages everywhere else? Having to beg wordpress.com to allow a simple script? No thanks.

Self-hosting is not for making money. It’s all about retaining control of your own little place in the internet and doing anything you might want to without relying on a third party in any way. If your reasons for not doing it is because you’re not aiming for success, then you’re not only missing out but you may end up regretting it later.

Poll: Why aren't you self-hosting your blog?

I’ve noticed that many bloggers in the Atheosphere are quite prolific and popular, but instead of doing what most would expect, that is move to their own domain and manage their own hosting, they either remain in free hosting services (like the Atheist Ethicist) or just get their own domain but remain hosted (like Atheist Revolution). To my continuous surprise, there’s quite a lot of them.

This intruiges me and I would like to know the reasons why you belong to the above group. To this end, I’ve started the following poll [1. If you choose point 7, I’d love to hear why in the comments] [2. Note that you can select 2 choices]:

[poll id=”2“]

Now rest assured that there is a method to the madness . I am not just doing it for my own amusement but I will actually utilise the results I get for your benefit.  I will reveal the how and why in one week, once I have (hopefully) enough answers.

if you are an Atheist who has been blogging for a while, has even a medium audience and still uses a free blog hosting (wordpress.com, blogger, livejournal etc), please take the poll. You can make up to two selections and your answers and comments will affect my follow up post.

I would really appreciate if you spread the word to others in the Atheosphere that might not read this, so as to increase the sample.


UPDATE: I replaced the 6th question (currently 0) with “Other” please use that if the current choices don’t represent your reasons.