How To Go Self-Hosted

I have spent the past month nagging Mr. TheBoyandMe to get a move on with this post on how to move from to Finally last night he gave it and finished it! I've chipped in with some screenshots etc.

1. Choose a domain.

If you're moving from a Blogspot or site, the obvious domain (without losing too many readers) would be your blog name there, followed by one of the various suffixes like,, .com, etc. If you're starting afresh, then the choice is more free and could reflect the subject of your blog, your name, or a more generic word or short phrase.

If course, there’s no guarantee that the domain you’ve chosen will be available, so use a site like to check before you set your heart on a specific name; just typing it into a web browser isn't sufficient, as there's no requirement for a domain to have a website. With few exceptions, domain names are first-come, first-served so if someone else has the domain you want it’s unfortunately easier just to choose another.

Hold off buying it until you’ve chosen where to host your blog, though; it’s often easier if one company handles the entire process.

2. Choose a host

There are a million and one companies out there that offer domain names, hosting and support at pretty reasonable prices. Rather than listing the plusses and minuses of each and every one, I'd simply recommend Salt and Light Solutions for no other reason than they are the people who host TheBoyandMe, and have been faultless!

Whoever you do choose will be in the best position to purchase your chosen domain name on your behalf, set up e-mail and somewhere for you to store your website, and give you enough information for you to use this space.

At a minimum, you’ll need to choose a host that allows you to run PHP (it’ll be listed as one of their features) and gives you access to a MySQL database.

3. Set up the blog software

I'd recommend the self-hosted version of WordPress, available from, as this is what this site uses. Installation is relatively simple, although it does involve having to create a MySQL database for your blog (which your host should be able to help you with if you have difficulty).

Simply follow the ‘5 Minute install’ instructions at and that's your basic blog set up.

4. Importing Posts and Comments

If you’re moving from to a self-hosted WordPress blog, this couldn’t be simpler; under ‘Tools’ you’ll find an option labeled ‘Export’. Export all content (including comments) from your old blog, and import into your new blog: job done!

For most other blogging sites, the process is slightly more complex: but, only slightly. Once WordPress is installed, go to ‘Tools’ then ‘Import’. Select the type of blog you’re moving away from, and follow the prompts to install a plugin that will guide you through the transfer process. For Blogger users this is reasonably comprehensive as it will even download comments that people have made; however, images may have to be transferred separately and Matthew Morley of Salt and Light recommends the separate Blogger Image Import plugin.

In either case, I’d recommend making the last post an “I have moved”, so any fans of the old site follow you to the new one.

5. Categories and Pages

The main reason that I went self-hosted was because of my photography project: 365. allows a main home page with separate posts on it and with each post, a separate set of comments. I had created a 'page' for my 365 photos, but discovered that it was a static page which didn't allow posts. I could only add to the text, and it would only have one comments box. The very astute Mummy Mishaps highlighted to me a week or so into the project that it was going to get very difficult to comment on the photos after about fifty days, and I wouldn't know which photo the comments related to. This is why I went self-hosted: allows you to have proper pages with individual posts and associated comment boxes.

In its standard installation, WordPress puts all posts on the home page but allows one or more other 'pages' to also appear as links at the top; those pages are single posts though, rather than a set of posts. When Project 365 was started, The Boy’s Mummy didn’t want each photo to appear on the home page and the thought of having 365 photos on the same page was unrealistic, so we put together a solution using two free WordPress plugins:

Simply Exclude simply excludes (see what they did there?) any given category from appearing on the home page. For, this includes 365, 366, reviews, Toyology and competition posts.

Page Links To alters the link that a link at the top goes to. Individual pages have been created for each link, but with this plugin anyone going to those pages is redirected, in this case to the appropriate category page.

With both of these installed, and a little bit of playing with the configuration, we were able to make the blog work exactly the way she wanted.

Extra bits that he hasn't mentioned but that I would suggest:

  • Install Comment Reply Notification

I found out about this from GeekMummy and it is one of the best moves I've made on my blog. Personally I never remember to revisit blogs that I've commented on to see if the blog owner has replied. Comment Reply Notification is a marvellous system that means the replies you make to the kind souls who comment on your posts, are e-mailed to them, thus opening a dialogue which I've been told is appreciated.

  • Install Link Within

I've pinched this idea from The Moiderer, it's a fabulous little gizmo at the bottom of posts which shows the thumb-nails for three related posts to entice the reader.

  • Sidebar & Badges

I'm including this because Two Point Four Children asked me how to do this, so thought it might be relevant. You might want to put a html badge into your sidebar, you'll need to use the appearance -> widgets tool and insert a textbox into the section on the right. Into this copy the relevant html and it magically turns into a pretty picture! Ta-dah!

  • Inserting images

When you insert an image into a post it brings up a dialogue box with a url option to the image, like this:

I've highlighted the automatically filled url box because you don't want this filled; it takes up too much of your storage space and if you're doing a 366 project then you want every kb for your photos. Click 'none' to empty it. Then if you've got the image-scaler plug-in installed, you can choose the dimension of the image. Generally I go for 300 or 400 wide for my images. Try and keep your images confined to a couple of hundred kb to upload, definitely under 1mb or they'll eat up space!

Hope this is of use to some people!

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    • TheBoyAndMe says

      No no, I think you've just looked at the 'design' tab on Salt and Light? I don't use that, I've linked to the hosting page which is what I use.

  1. says

    Just to add that with Salt & Light Solution's hosting the WordPress install is even easier. We have a feature called 'Softaculous' which allows incredibly simple installation of loads of website software including WordPress. Other hosts, but not all, may also have Softaculous.

    All you need to do is choose 'Blogs' and then 'Wordpress' then enter your email, blog name and an admin password and the whole lot is done for you – you don't need to manually upload all the WordPress files or create the database and associated users. You even get an automatic email when WordPress gets updated prompting you to stay up to date too.


    • TheBoyAndMe says

      I've just amended this, adding a bit at the bottom about inserting images which you might find useful for your project 366. Hope we see you linking up on Sundays :-)

  2. says

    I'm guessing you might not want to know this (or maybe you already did) but there are ways to overcome some of the aspects you were having issues with on the .com hosted blog.
    I interestingly went the other way and moved from a self-hosted to .com and I couldn't be happier. True I have had to find a few work rounds or let a few things go but in the grand scheme of things they haven't been that important. But I have been able to set up a number of blogs without adding extra cost onto a hosting package, some personal, some private, some group blogs.

    Firstly you can still have a unique, etc etc domain URL at you just have to pay WordPress for the privilege (for me that seemed to work out cheaper than self hosting for me).

    The issue with your pages and comments might have been solved with trying another theme and/or using the custom menu feature (which I have not long discovered) which can collect all 366 blog posts on a page.

    The main disadvantage I have still found of not having a self hosted blog is that doesn't support javascript so won't easily run certain widgets from 3rd parties, e.g. for the A-Z linky I couldn't add that to my blog though you can host your own.

    Hope you don't mind me giving another view – I guess as it's so easy to transport over people could go either way – maybe try free version first and see if that suits their needs.

    I do run a second WordPress blog that I self host but only because I haven't yet worked out a decent way to run the forums on a hosted site too.

    Some really useful tips in this post though – off to see if the comment reply thing is available on WordPress hosted and the tip about the URL links I need to look at again.

    Take care

    • TheBoyAndMe says

      Of course I don't! That's what comments are for to share ideas.

      I am much happier self-hosted as it has every function that I require for my blog. I've had a look at your pages and see what you mean, however I can't see your 366 page?

  3. says

    I do miss some of the adds ons. My 366 page is the Tumblr link actually – decided to go off WordPress and try something new.

    I have a page (underneath the main Bucket List) which collects all posts I've categorised Bucket List.

  4. says

    Really great post, thanks for sharing this. I've recently built a new wordpress self hosted blog, after using Blogger for about 8 months. Still trying to get to grips with everything as the new one's only been live for a few weeks. Useful tip about removing the link url – didn't know that one!

  5. says

    Great post, thanks chick and thank you Mr. TBaM. Have finally found the comment plugin but the link within still remains elusive, I'll have another go tomorrow! x


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