Blogging Babbles: Blog design, Self-hosting and other daunting thoughts | DISCUSSION

*everyone double takes at the title as they realize it is not retelling/fairytale/Beauty and the Beast themed*

Yes, you read that right!! I will admit, yes, perhaps I was just a tiny bit obsessed with Beauty and the Beast for the past days leading up to the movie’s release, and had a few* themed posts the past week or so. I do hope you guys enjoyed it!! BUT. I am ready to move forward! My 2nd blogiversary is coming up soon**–though I need help deciding whether it counts because I didn’t blog for 7 months last year???–which means I’ve got a more blogging focus going right now. (You can tell I’m really into the “theme” idea here…).

*3, to be exact. Not very many, in the grand scheme of things. I was contemplating writing a post this time on why you should watch the movie itself, [which I adored by the way] but I figured a post of me screeching about how amazing it was wouldn’t be very helpful. So. JUST GO WATCH IT. And then come to squeal with me on the blog or on Twitter. Ahem.

**I can’t believe it’s been 2 years?????!! BUT. It’s a bit more complicated because I wasn’t sure if I was going to count this because I took a 7-month hiatus last year where I didn’t post anything??? I literally was DEAD. I’m scarred just looking at the HUGE BLANK in my blogging calendar for that time. Is my blogiversary even valid right now if technically it’s been 2 years – (minus) 7 months of blogging???? HELPPPPPP.

The topic you see here today is something that I had wondered/asked myself and was conflicted about for quite some time: Changing your blog’s design and the big question: self-hosting–Should you do it, the process, pros and cons, etc. AND I AM SO CONFLICTED. So let’s discuss! (Aka helpppppppp me I am a smol uncertain bean here)

The great self-host debacle begins!

*sigh* I make it sound so much more interesting than it is.

Why it is tempting.

My blog, has had pretty much the same look ever since I started blogging; the Visual theme offered by WordPress.com. A dark background with white lettering. What you see now is what it’s pretty much what’s always been, and there’s not really anything I can do to change its apperance. And I think that’s one of the things that has me thinking about the daunting idea of self-hosting, because it offers more freedom and control over blog design and how it looks. 

See, I still really like the theme I have now, but I’ve really been juggling with the idea of having a white background as a change instead of the dark one I have now. I do like it, because I feel like it’s unique in the sense that not many people (that I follow or have seen, anyway) have this theme, or a dark background. But even aside from that, I liked how it looked. But a light background is tempting because it feels so much more positive and uplifting than the dark one I have and also several people said they might like it better… It could bring a much-needed change to my blog?? I don’t know. *shrug*

So, I scroll through the free themes WordPress.com has to offer, preview a bunch of them, spend too much time screeching in despair, and I can’t find anything new, that suits me. I found a few themes that I like, but have been used so many times it doesn’t feel like me or feels like I’d be copying other bloggers haha. Which is silly, I know, but something in my head all the same. Others in theory are really nice but lack some of the qualities I’m looking for.

There’s also the option of WordPress.com’s Premium themes, before we hop on the self-hosting wagon. I’ve looked through some of those as well and although they’re nice, I couldn’t find anything that fit either. Shhhh I’m not being that picky. Don’t get me wrong, they’re really nice and I haven’t seen all of them, but at the moment, I’m still indifferent.

Which brings me to self-hosting! The two main reasons why it’s tempting to me at the moment: a) freedom over several things, but especially blog design, i.e. more options to play around with and b) my own blog name. Aka no “.wordpress.com” after your blog’s title URL. It’s nothing I can’t deal with, but I’d love to have my URL just be “booksnacks.com”, and self-hosting would allow me to do that.*

*I’ve also heard you can also buy your domain to get rid of the wordpress.com?? Or buy the URL?? Something like that? So it would still be WordPress hosting your site, but you can get rid of the ‘wordpress.com’?? Correct me if I’m wrong! But that’s definitely another idea as well.

The perks of self-hosting (WordPress.org), in a nutshell:

  • Full control over blog design, formatting, theme, etc.
  • More media space (I think?)
  • Option of monetizing your blog via ads
  • Basically lots of freedom.
  • Own domain (no wordpress.com)

There is a bunch more stuff about self-hosting vs not at these links, if you want to check them out: Difference between WordPress.com and .orgpros and cons, a helpful comparison.

To play the devil’s advocate…

Aka my fears and questions show their little heads

  • “What if you lose your posts while moving over to a different platform??” Okay, the earlier ones can disappear into the darkness but I have worked hard on the rest of the posts?? I poured my soul into them*, but mostly so much TIME and it would kind of suck if that all disappeared. o.O
  • “What if I lose followers/views?” I mean, it’s not that much of a big deal, but it would kind of suck if that happened?? Being a very lazy person, I like the convenience of having to only press one button in order to follow wordpress.com blogs, and the WordPress Reader is how many people find my blog so like…?? Again, not a big deal but it’s in your head all the same, you know?
  • “Do I even want to self-host?” Remember me being a very lazy person? Yeah, well seeing how switching to self-hosted would be I’d have to put in all that extra work and time keeping the blog in proper condition. And I don’t have enough time as it is…??
  • “I finally got the hang of this WordPress thing?? And self-hosting seems so much harder??” Correct me if I’m wrong, but self-hosted blog require more work, no? And definitely a lot of new things to grasp and learn about. I know there are tons of articles out there helping out with that sort of thing, but still. New. Concepts. #notime
  • “I can’t really pay for it??” I mean, I can but that’s an added expense that could’ve been spent on a) chocolate b) BOOKSSSSS c) new fuzzy socks or d) Bath and Body Works and e) MORE BOOKS.
  • Tbh why am I even having this discussion??
  • Cause the whole concept of self-hosting depends on PAYING.
  • And I just don’t have the finances for that?? #studentlife

BUT. It is still definitely that I’m interested in mostly because I want to change my theme but I can’t find anything for free that suits what I want and self-hosting would offer more freedom? As well as the fact that having a dot com url would be kind of nice. Yet WordPress.com is free and I have to do less work so. #nice And it’s also a great community and it’s easy to interact with others (via Reader)? UGH. SO MANY STRUGGLES. #halp


But what are your thoughts?? Have you thought about self-hosting? Have you changed your theme before? (Should I change mine??) If you are self-hosted, how is your experience? (Also does a blogiversary count if it’s technically been 2 years since you started but you hadn’t blogged for 7 months in that time??????)

Let’s chat!

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30 thoughts on “Blogging Babbles: Blog design, Self-hosting and other daunting thoughts | DISCUSSION

  1. I’ve thought about self-hosting before definitely! I was originally going to do that when I started my blog, but had no money, so I opted for free WordPress instead, which has been working for me so far. I planned on self-hosting once I reached a full year of blogging because I have a tendency to quit things and didn’t want to waste my parent’s money, but now that I’ve got the hang of WordPress, I sort of just want to stay. 😂 I am terrified of leaving all my stats and followers, even though I’ve seen several successful transitions. I think I’ll just stay with WordPress though, and just upgrade to get a new domain, probably, because that would be cool. But, right now, self-hosting isn’t for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aha the free aspect is definitely a pretty big factor for me as well. I didn’t want to spend money on something that I wasn’t fully sure I’d be able to commit to at the start, and now I’m kind of at home with WordPress and it would be so much work to switch and get used to that?? 😂 Right?? I worked on this blog for a while and I’m kind of terrified of losing all of my progress… 😳 It would definitely be nice to have a new domain! I think I’m leaning towards that option as well, I don’t think I’m quite ready for self-hosting either.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m really shocked that it isn’t another B&B themed post! LOL…I’m just kidding! I’ve thought of changing my blog design and also about self hosting. But I can’t seem to change the design because I’m quite happy with the original one and regarding, the self hosting thing I really don’t want to lose my followers and though it feels amazing to have your blog named without wordpress.com tagging along with it, I don’t want to risk losing my posts, stats and also the followers. If you love your current design, just stick with it until you find a better one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • 😂😂 To be honest, I am surprised myself…
      Ahah your design is lovely! If you’re happy with it, that’s what matters. Right?? I know that most bloggers who switch to self-hosted have managed perfectly fine to retain their followers and stuff, so like maybe it’s just a myth?? But I don’t want to risk it either haha. Yes, I think that’s what I’m going to do honestly. 😊

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  3. Ive thought about self hosting too, the whole ‘more design control’ thing is a huge draw but mostly getting owning your domain. Im stuck too! We should just try itt! :p also, pfft 2 years is totally valid!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Right? WordPress is great but we have very little creative control over the look of the blog and that can become frustrating. And yes owning the domain is such an added perk that I’d love to have?! Aha we’re in this together then!! 😉 We totally should just do it but there are still so many things that is stopping me lollll. I’m actually so relieved to hear that haha I just wasn’t sure cause I stopped blogging for so long??? Like it’s been 2 years since I’ve started the blog, but not exactly 2 years of blogging…. oh well I think I’ll count it. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ll be honest even though I’ve been blogging for over a year now I haven’t really thought too much about self hosting. I think at the beginning blogging was just a hobby of mine and I thought if I can get the platform for free on WordPress why bother paying for something that’s just going to be a bit of fun and that I’ll probably quick again after a few months. Obviously that didn’t happen but self-hosting still never crossed my mind. 🙂
    I haven’t seen many people talk about it on WordPress at all but the fears you talked about in this post are pretty much the fears I’d have as well, especially when it comes to losing posts or followers. I worked hard on this blog and I hate to lose something I spent a long time working on you know?
    Maybe one day I’ll think about it more seriously, but for now most of my thoughts are, ‘well if it works on WordPress why change it?’
    Also early congratulations on nearly reaching your two-year blogiversary! 😀 ❤ It's an amazing milestone to reach and you must be so thrilled. ❤

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  5. Omg I was just thinking about this! I really don’t like my theme, and I’ve also been looking through the WordPress themes. I was thinking about self-hosting as well (although I definitely will not be doing it in my early months of blogging lol). My only problems would be all the CODING that would have to happen — I cannot for the life of me code. And all that HTML stuff would be torturous to me. Or I could just pay someone to make a theme for me or whatever, but MONEY. I HAVE NO MONEY. That’s also a reason that I may not self-host in the future. However, I really think that if you want or think your blog will be professional, then I say self-hosting is the way to go. I mean, you could wait until you’re ready, but if you’re gonna go professional, self-host. It’s just much more successful for you and your blog. 😉 Hope this helps dearie, and an early congrats on two years! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aha your theme looks lovely, don’t worry about it!! But I get you, it’s hard not to seek for more options I guess?? Because although WordPress themes are nice, there’s just something more I’m looking for.
      Oh my god, right?? I would probably end up buying a theme already created by someone or something. MONEY IS THE PROBLEM, agreed!! 😂 Definitely one of the biggest things standing in my way?
      Aha thank you so much for the advice, lovely! ❤ Self-hosting definitely seems a lot more professional I feel as well, it’s not something I’m not sure I’ll be doing right now but I’ll be keeping it in mind for sure. Thank you SO MUCH May so sorry it took me a while to reply ❤❤😘 THANK YOU!! I would’ve had a post up today but I’ve been so busy, since it’s also my birthday today (I’M OLDER NOW WHAT) 🙈🙈 But thank you!! 💞

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Coincidental timing on this post since I’ve been thinking so much about self-hosting and wanting to alter my theme lately (so many bloggers are that it makes me want to tinker with mine) 😂. Anyway! I share a lot of your same fears – losing posts/followers, the time it would take, getting used to it, and then the money. And then there’s the whole other fact that I have zero HTML skills and would have to pay someone to design mine because I have zero design talent lol. So, in the end self-hosting is a no go for me. But I say if you want to change things up and take the leap than go for it because it does offer a lot more freedom and you might end up loving it. I’ve seen people have a lot of success with it. I do think I’ll end up doing WP premium though because I’ve been eyeing one of the themes and I want to be rid of the .wordpress.com lol. As for your two year blogiversary, it so counts! The fact that you took a 7 month break and then came back to blogging is something to be proud of in my opinion. Sometimes breaks are needed but they definitely don’t take away from your blog turning two. Happy (early) Blogiversary!! Great post, Analee! 💕😊

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    • Right? I haven’t seen much of my theme but I’ve really been getting the urge to change it… but I can’t seem to find the right theme to switch to? Sigh. 😂 Glad I’m not the only one with those fears! Oh my gosh, that’s so true for me as well. I have no HTML skills either so designing it myself is totally out. I’m still on the fence on the self-hosting thing, but the freedom and control it offers is tempting. The issue with money is still a factor though, haha. WordPress Premium is looking more and more appealing as well, for me! Getting rid of the wordpress.com would definitely be a perk. Only an issue of finding a theme, for me, but I’m glad you found on you like! And thank you so much! I’m relieved to hear that ahah, because I was so unsure because I hadn’t blogged for so long last year? ❤ Thank you so much, Melissa!

      Liked by 1 person

      • That was me before I switched to my current them. I bet you’ll come across something that catches your eye eventually. 😊 Right? If only self-hosting was cheaper. I would have gone for it long ago if it wasn’t for the money. Maybe one day in the distant future lol.
        You’re welcome, Analee!! 💕😊

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I’ve been having self-hosting thoughts every now and then for YEARS. For me, the deterrent is (1) the fact that I’m very much a casual blogger and I don’t want to buy a domain and then go on a 3-month hiatus…, and (2) I still can’t decide on a blog name that I think fits me AND is available to purchase. Right now I’m trying to focus on blogging regularly for at least a year, and then rethink the whole self-hosting thing. (Also, I’m pretty lazy and tbh I don’t always remember to check the blogs that aren’t on my wordpress feed/dashboard.)

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    • Oh, that’s so true! I went on such a lengthy hiatus last year, and it would be such a waste if I self-hosted and didn’t blog regularly. WordPress.com is definitely great for casual blogging! Ooh yes, that is definitely hard. If I were to purchase a blog name, I’d probably just go for Book Snacks, but if that weren’t available I would be quite unsure. That sounds like a good plan! How’s it going so far? (I hope well, ahah. <3) Oh my gosh, the wordpress reader is so convenient, I would have difficulty reaching beyond that as well haha.

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  8. First of all, your blogoversary ABSOLUTELY counts, so HAPPY EARLY BLOGOVERSARY!!!!
    Also, I just RECENTLY (very) became self-hosted! Sort of! I got my own domain, because my aunt bought it for me on go daddy, and I upgraded my plan on WordPress (also aunt, she’s awesome). Okay, not WordPress.org , but similar! I personally love my free theme, but if you get any of the plans with WordPress.com, you can change a bunch of cool things like font and colors. And you can still adjust some of that with free. I believe the right theme is out there for you! Obviously we’re very different bloggers and people and have very different tastes (and also both original haha) so what works for me won’t necessarily work for you. But right now I am cruising along with this godaddy domain, simple WordPress plan, and free theme (with a header I created on picmonkey) and it’s fabulous and no extra work at all. I don’t understand self hosted whatsoever though… So maybe this wasn’t a helpful comment at all haha! I wish you all the best!
    -Amy

    Liked by 1 person

    • THANK YOU!!! I’m replying to this so late but that means a lot to me, Amy. ❤
      Oooooooh really??!! That is so great?!? Haha your aunt is fabulous. 😉 That sounds actually really tempting, it’s definitely another option, thanks so much for bringing my attention to it aha. Thank you!! I hope you’re right. 😊 And yes, definitely we have different preferences when it comes to blogging but I’m glad to hear it’s working for you! It’s definitely another option. Ahah self-hosting seems a lot more complicated in comparison!! And no, this was actually really helpful. 💞 Thank you so much!

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  9. I wish I could give you some advice about self-hosting, but I don’t know much about it so I won’t go there. What I do think you should know is this: Follow thy heart. Cliche and dramatic, I know, but this is the truest advice there is. If you feel self-hosting is your way to go, do it. If you feel that you need a different theme, go for it. If dark and simple reflects you and your personality, so be it. As long as looking at your blog, and sitting down to type out a post makes you feel good, you are doing it right.

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  10. I just finished my first full year of self-hosting and for a while, I contemplated if I was going to keep it or not. (I ended up renewing for another year because I finally found a theme I LOVED).

    I did start by buying my name domain so I could drop the “wordpress.com” aspect. You can do that through WordPress right now and its super easy to do that.

    To address some of your concerns based on my experience:
    -I did notice a drop in followers when I first went self-hosted because I didn’t have that easy button wordpress provides for people to follow (found a code for it eventually). Very few people email subscribe so I make a point to mention following via Bloglovin’
    -Depending on your host for your site, they can migrate your old blog to the new one without losing posts. I didn’t lose a thing 🙂
    -Even if you’re lazy, there are a ton of options out there with varying levels of HMTL control. (like Nosegraze does hosting and has themes at your disposal; other hosts have themes too).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ooh, yay!! That’s so great. I’m glad you’re happy with self-hosting and found a theme you loved! ❤
      Yes, I definitely think that’s something I’m going to do as well, it’s very tempting ahah.
      Oh, yes that WordPress follow button is very convenient! I’m glad you found a code for it though. I don’t promote Bloglovin’ much and don’t get many followers via that route, but that is a good idea!
      -Ohh I am SO relieved to hear that!! That is perfect.
      -Very true! I’ve seen some great themes provided from other hosts. If I were to self-host I think that’s the option I’d go with!
      Thank you so much for sharing, this helped a ton. 💞😊

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    • Thank you! ❤ Hahaha no one has more questions than meeeee, of course. 😉 And yes, for sure! Those are such important factors. I've decided for now I think I'm sticking with the free theme! I don't have the money to commit to as big of a chance as self-hosting, but I'm playing with the idea of buying my domain (someday)! ❤

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      • That’s good. Me too. Also, the free theme, you won’t feel obligated to post everyday or multiple times a day because life does get in the way and we just don’t have all day for blogging. You are in school right? and I’m at work on weekdays. I think to upgrade to self-hosting, I would have to want to focus on blogging full-time. It’s the investment that make me think how much time will I give to the blog 🙂 Best of luck to your blogging success 🙂

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        • Yes, definitely! Life can get so busy, and sometimes I have the need to take hiatuses as well, months at a time is what happened last year, and it would be such a waste of money if that happened while self-hosting? And yup, that’s the main reason for me! I think definitely, self hosting requires lots of commitment. Thank you, to you as well! ❤

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