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Are you thinking of switching to a Self-Hosted Blog?

Submitted by on Wednesday, 9 July 20082 Comments

About two or three weeks ago, I was seriously contemplating about buying my own domain and moving my free personal blog to a self-hosted wordpress for a lot of good reasons. For one, i’m sharing a growing internet traffic already and hence as a welcome treat to me and to my blog i need to buy my own domain and sift for the best web hosting solutions providers available in the market. Not to mention the limited features i get from free blogging service hosted by wordpress and blogger (like importing source code JavaScripts on widgets and control of CSS are both disabled in wordpress) have persuaded me to consider self hosting my blog. I also heard some unexpected blogspot outages around from some friends in blogger, but i think this would rarely happen as this would bring a lot of damage… cost and lost to google or blogger. But in the end, it’s still your choice. If you want to have a peace of mind in knowing your blog is safe from these unexpected Blogspot outages, and want to make the switch to a self-hosted WordPress on your own domain name, then you probably need this guide, please read on.

Step 1: Buying a domain name
One of the initial steps is to know more about domain and domain registrars. Simply this is what they term as the “example.com” .So, If you don’t have your own domain name yet, get one. Suppose your blog has an address like mine before -> http://techronnati.wordpress.com then your blog is hosted by wordpress.com or if http://techronnati.blogspot.com, then your blog is hosted by blogger.com. Both provide free blogging services which enable anyone to start a blog with no cost and minimum set-up effort. I decided to buy my own domain and make it Techronnati.com which right now it’s utilizing a wordpress.org account. (** take note there’s a big difference between wordpress.com and wordpress.org- i’ll try to link a separate post for this topic later on). When you do this http://techronnati.wordpress.com your blogging efforts will form part of the free wordpress.com domain and you will be sharing with the rest of other wordpress.com blogs.

You see, there seemed to be a lot of advantages of hosting on your own domain over a Blogspot URL or WordPress URL. And one of this could be in terms of SEO (search engine optimization) which is undoubtedly undeniable. Later on, as i did my research, i found out there were A LOT of domain registrars out there. I found this neutral site =>www.webhosting.info website, which analyzes the trends and statistics of top registrars around- countrywide and worldwide statistics. According to the said website, these were the top 10 domain registrars to date are…

Fastest Growing Domain Registrars

Net Gain/Loss figures of the past four weeks
(06/09/2008 – 06/30/2008) are cumulatively taken into consideration while
generating this chart.
View Complete Registrar List >>

Here are some of my personal recommendations:

  • GoDaddy.com – This is a very popular domain registrar with an easy to use interface.
  • DynaDot.com – Techronnati.com was registered here. i heard a lot of good feedback with this registrar. I even had the time to check some of the forums and compare each registrar between registrar. I thought sharing this forum for you to see the comments of other members => Namepros . Referral Code: 8te8WmM7uF8Z
  • NameCheap.com -Another best domain registrar.
  • Fabulous.com -Another domain registrar known for their reliable support.

With a lot of registrars and web hosting providers in tight competition these days, prices may become competitively cheaper as compared before. But here’s a tip, though. if you saw rates lower than the average rate for domain names, think twice as these may be a hoax or the support is not guaranteed to be world-class. Engage to forums as this would efficiently bring you insights what’s best for you and your domain. =)When i bought my domain at dynadot.com, i used my paypal account. If you don’t have an account yet, you may want to sign up here -> Paypal Link

For Philippine visitors and readers, you may want to read this previous article i wrote for your convenience => Opening a UnionBank and Paypal accounts.

Sign up for PayPal and start accepting credit card payments instantly.

Step 2: Pay for Webhosting
I know there seemed to be a lot of web hosting solutions provider around but one of the best which i’d personally recommend is HostGator. I heard a lot of good feedback with this company. Their web hosting plans offer a generous size of web space and bandwidth, (i get mine for a discounted price – $0.01 for first month – i used discount coupon code: cheaphosting which cuts the Baby plan from $9.95 to $0.01 and pay via paypal ) and based from my experience – the servers are very fast. Some also says that their support team responds very quick as well, which is surprising considering the not-so-big size of their company. A nifty little tool called Fantastico, is what would help you automate your WordPress installation (along with countless other open source scripts- like Joomla, PHPNuke, Drupal, PhpBB and a lot more which may come handy eventually). Of course there are plenty of other suitable hosts out there, just choose whichever you feel most comfortable with. And as friendly reminder, be careful when you search on the web these days because each website you go to has a variable/different set of top 10 web hosting providers. If you think hard enough, you would notice that some of the web hosting providers pay for their review just to be on their top lists. I did my own research and relied to other forums for unbiased opinions to hear about their customer feedbacks. And as i roam around, there is no perfect web hosting provider but at least you, a service subscriber, you want to hear about best customer satisfaction, reliable server performance and competitive rates which we all really want right? I settled to hostgator because of their transparency for webhosting and support. And so far, i think they are pretty dealing fair enough. I just found out later on that the Hostgator owner also goes to forums to answer negative questions which is really moving and valuable. I hope they keep this up to encourage a lot more visitors and switchovers to their plans. (*** Am not being paid by Host Gator to do this sort of “review” ok, just my opinion =) )

Step 3: Direct your new domain name to your new hosting account
Once you’ve done with your domain and web hosting, you need a way to “point” your domain to this hosting account. This is accomplished through setting something called “name servers” (provided by your host) within your domain registrar account. It’s relatively straightforward thing to do, and involves just filling in a couple of input boxes with 2 (or more) nameservers . For example, if you are registered and hosted like me in Dynadot and Hostgator, you need to go to members area of Dynadot.com and look for fields about name servers. Point the name servers to your domain name i.ie. look for the keywords something like – nsxxx1.hostgator.com and nsxxx2.hostgator.com. You get this from the email you received from your web hosting provider. Verify that after paying your hostgator account it will send details about the transaction, your payment, confirmation and also the name servers you would be using to your domain name. Then after this, you could see your domain pointing to a blank Index Of / page very soon instead the default dynadot or godaddy advertisement you see on screen (If you sign up for dynadot, they have an instruction for this as well) . Just be patient though as refreshing the name servers would take around 24 hours or some would experience 1-2 days depending on how frequent search engines reindex their servers pointing to your new domain. To validate your changes to name servers, i suggest you go to www.who.is website and type in your given URL. Verify if you are able to get the correct Domain name servers. If this has been corrected then you are finally done.

Step 4: Installing WordPress
If you chose a hosting provider which uses Fantastico or some other automated script installation tool, then good for you. You simply follow the prompts and you should have a fresh installation of WordPress set up in no time. But in some cases, where automated script installation tools are not available you would be needing FTP program. FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. By definition, FTP program is a software utility which allows you to copy files from your computer (in your house), to your web host’s web server. Take my scenario for instance, im using Filezilla (a known FTP Program) to update my files to server in the US. Currently, I’m situated in manila and transmits data to United States. Cool Right? In this way, if you want to add some new features to your blog, you will first download those features to your computer, unzip the files when necessary and then upload it to the host’s web server computer by using the FTP program. I’m sure you will definitely get used to this especially when adding other wordpress functionalities like plugins, widgets, themes, images and other PHP programs.

Step 5: Importing your content from Blogspot blog/ or WordPress.
A. Blogger to WordPress
Okay, you should have an empty WordPress blog available now. Chances are, you’ve invested a lot of time and energy into your blog and don’t want a fresh start. You should probably import your entire Blogspot blog into your new WordPress installation. Fortunately for you, WordPress has a built-in import feature that can login to your Blogger account, grab all the posts, comments, tags, images, categories and add them to WordPress. You do this by going to WordPress administration panel, select the Manage tab, and then select the Import tab.

As you can see WordPress can import from a lot of other blog hosting services as well, including their own WordPress.com. While importing Blogger posts, you’ll need to “Grant Access” to WordPress to login to your Blogger account and grab all your posts. This process will take a few minutes, depending on the size of your Blogspot blog.

B. WordPress to WordPress
Try to extract your entries using the Export Facility in your Free WordPress Dashboard. You will get an XML File from this, and from here you use this and import to your newly created WordPress blog. I tried it myself and fortunately it went successful. But there’s a limitation. All those data (i.e. posts, comments tags, images, categories) are being imported except the icons and widgets posted in your old wordpress free account. But at least you have something to start working on as compared with nothing.

Step 6: Finishing Touches and Other Tips
If your blog is already well-established, you’ll probably want some way to redirect your visitors to your new URL. I found this piece of code in the internet which i feel like sharing it with you. This is important as you build up traffic in your blog.

First thing you need to do is to edit the HTML Template in blogger. Here is a snap code for your blogspot.

Add the following code below in your template:
<MainOrArchivePage>
<script language=”javascript”><!–
var blog_root=http://www.yoursite.com/;
document.location.href=blog_root;
//–></script>
</MainOrArchivePage>
<ItemPage>
<script language=”javascript”><!–
var process_page=”http://www.yoursite.com/blogger-redirect.php”;
var newpage=process_page;
var oldlink=”<$BlogItemPermalinkUrl$>”;
newpage+=”?p=”+oldlink;
newpage=newpage.toLowerCase();
document.location.href=newpage;
//–></script>
</ItemPage>

Look for the head tags in you Blogger template then add this:

<head>
<meta http-equiv=”refresh” content=”0;url=http://www.yoursite.com/” />
</head>

Of course you’ll have to replace http://www.yoursite.com/ with your new URL.

Now, to prepare your new WordPress blog to accept these redirects and forward them to the corresponding posts, you’ll need to create a new file in your WordPress root directory to do this. We’ll call it
blogger-redirect.php. You can rename this file if you want, as long as it corresponds with the URL you defined in the Blogger template. Add the following code to this file and save:

<?php
require($_SERVER[’DOCUMENT_ROOT’].’/wp-blog-header.php’);
$search_link = $_GET[’p'];
$vars = explode(’/', $search_link);
$num = count($vars) - 1;
$filename = $vars[$num];
$slug = str_replace(”.html”, “”, $filename);
$SQL = “SELECT posts.* FROM $wpdb->posts AS posts WHERE posts.post_name = ‘$slug’ LIMIT 1?;
$posts = $wpdb->get_results(”$SQL”);
if ($posts) {
foreach ($posts as $post) {
$found_link = get_permalink($post->ID);
}
}
else
{
$found_link = “http://www.yoursite.com/”;
}
?>
<html>
<head>
<title>Redirecting…</title>
<script language=”javascript”><!–
document.location.href=”<?php echo ($found_link); ?>”;
//–></script>
<meta http-equiv=”refresh” content=”2;url=<?php echo ($found_link); ?>”>
</head>
<body>
<h1>Redirecting…</h1>
<p>You can also proceed immediately to <a href=”<?php echo
($found_link); ?>”><?php echo ($found_link);
?></a>.</p>
<p>The main blog URL is <a href=”http://www.yoursite.com/”
mce_href=”http://www.yoursite.com/”>www.yoursite.com</a>.</p>
</body>
</html>

Dont forget to replace all the yoursite.com’s with your new domain name. All this code does is try to determine which Blogger post the traffic is coming from, and forwards it to the corresponding page in
your new WordPress blog.

Or you can try this ShortCut which works just like above.

Sign in to your free Blogger.com account. Look for the Tab-> Settings->Publishing

In the Advance Settings Section, indicate your domain, in my case, I indicated http://techronnati.com, then save settings.

Please see image below.


For some reason, i attempted not to delete my older blogs since they are still generating traffic. Some people i knew also suggested to have them both as to duplicate content on the web . Oh well, Google will usually detect this and not index anything other than the original content. Some even commented that even if you destroy your wordpress.com blog, it’ll be at some point in time before it actually traces it and be removed from Google’s index. What i do is that I simply stop writing in my wordpress.com blog and carry on from where i left off with my self-hosted wordpress.org blog. To redirect traffic coming from my older wordpress blog, I just posted my last post to it and redirected them to this new site. Because if i hadn’t I would surely drive a lot of visitors away. I even tried adjusting the domain setup to become private (my old wordpress blog) so as not to include the site to Search Engines. (Settings-> Privacy->select ” This is to eliminate future duplication of entries of your blog in search engines.

So i advise to beginners to keep them both. This is what i did. Eventually your new blog will be more popular than your old one, but until it happens, let the old one continue to work for you so that you could drive people to your new blog.

Step 7: Blog Maintenance

Congratulations. Now that you have reached this level means that you are opted to start blogging again. Just dont forget to study other features in wordpress and the Cpanel features of your web hosting provider. Also don’t forget to back up. It’s essential!

And that’s about it. I hope you learn something from me =) Hit me back if you want some clarification regarding my post.

For more information, feel free to browse over the Techronnati boards

 
 

For more details on this post… click check out this How to set up own blog

Thank you for visiting Techronnati.com. I hope you enjoy your stay. =)
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