Planning to Invest In a Self-Hosted WordPress Site? Follow These 7 Important Steps To Save Precious Time and Money!

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how to prepare for a self-hosted wordpress site

You are ready to make the first move because you believe it’s really easy to self-host a WordPress blog, right? Hey, wait a sec, before you actually invest in your self-hosted WordPress site.

Self-hosting a WordPress website or blog is fast becoming the craze, especially among small business owners, freelancers and creative entrepreneurs. While small business owners use the platform to showcase their business products/ services, freelancers prefer a self-hosted WordPress blog to create their portfolio.

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Initially it all sounds too good as a self-hosted WordPress platform doesn’t cost a fortune and is easy to manage too. However, you soon realize, “There’s many a slip between the cup and the lip”, as you decide to take the plunge without doing proper homework.

Yes, it is very important that you adopt a methodical approach before putting your hard-earned money in a self-hosted WordPress blog or e-commerce site.

Here I am going to discuss 7 important steps that I have personally followed while hosting this WordPress website. Follow the steps and I am sure your hosting effort will be a success! But before that you need to know some basic facts about a self-hosted WordPress site.

Why Start With a Self-hosted WordPress Site or Blog?

If you are planning to launch your own website/blog without much of technical knowledge then WordPress is the unanimous choice. Why? Because it offers enormous theme support with a wide range of free and paid options. You can customize any theme to suit your business image. Once you pay for a self-hosted WordPress blog, you get access to all the plugins (free and paid).

The WordPress community is a huge one. There are forums, blogs, Youtube videos, social media pages, all of which educate you about WordPress themes, functions, features and a lot more.

Here are the 7 key steps which you need to follow before buying the hosting plan.

  • Plan your website design in advance
  • Find a Free WordPress Theme that best expresses the design
  • Finalize your budget
  • Do your own research to find the best hosting plan as per your budget
  • Decide a domain name and check its availability
  • Write the content in advance
  • Design the website from scratch and upload the content

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Plan Your Website Design In Advance

If you are planning a self-hosted WordPress site, most likely you are going to use it as an e-commerce store or the first contact point.  Remember a good website design can help create great impression whereas a poor design can be disastrous for your new business.

Few important criteria to keep in mind while planning the site design:-

  • Brand your business site with a great logo and tagline
  • Make the site visually appealing and easy to navigate
  • Make the home page appealing with eye-catching visual element
  • Don’t stuff it with unnecessary design elements
  • Place your catalog of offerings at a strategic point. Make it catchy with appropriate description and images
  • Include a clear call-to-action with specific instructions

Make a rough sketch of the site design as a doc or excel file, which you can later follow while actually setting up the self-hosted WordPress site.

Find a Free WordPress Theme That Best Expresses the Design

It is the WordPress theme which outlines the overall appearance and style of your website. With a WP theme, you can define the page layout, font style, colors, widget placements, blog archive and more. Therefore a lot depends on the right selection of your WordPress Theme which ultimately expresses the design that you have visualized.

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Do your own research and pick up the theme that best expresses your particular business segment or industry, e.g. if you are planning an online fashion store, a simple search like ‘best wordpress theme for fashion store’ will fetch an array of options. Here’s an example of a theme search:-

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Since you have settled for a self-hosted WordPress platform and is presumably working on a limited budget, it’s okay to pick up a Free WordPress theme. Worry not as there are many free themes which come equipped with powerful features that allow you to do a lot.

Related Reading:7 Smart Ways to Fund Your Small Business Online Without the Bank Loan Burden

Once you have finalized a theme, gather as much information about it as possible. Read blog, reviews, watch Youtube videos to know how to efficiently design that particular theme and handle tech issues. I suggest saving the relevant Youtube links and blogs for future reference.

Finalize Your Budget For The Self-Hosted WordPress Blog

With a self-hosted WP blog, you are likely to save costs related to hiring a web designer. However the one expense that needs to be considered as a part of the planning is the hosting cost because your self-hosted site needs a place to reside.

The good news is that a variety of hosting services can now be found matching every budget. You can opt for a monthly or yearly hosting plan as  your budget permits. However, the one piece of advice to keep in mind, don’t restrict your budget so much that you end up with an unproductive hosting plan!

Do Your Own Research to Find the Best Hosting Plan as Per Your Budget

This is perhaps the most important part of launching your self-hosted WordPress site,  You need to find a reliable and efficient hosting service provider which charges you reasonably, offers impeccable service, assures minimum downtime and also offers additional perks (free domain transfer, daily backup, unlimited website hosting, Free CDN, etc.).

After trying my luck with several other so-called cheap and popular hosting companies, I settled with Siteground hosting. And must say I am EXTREMELY happy with their quality and service.

Why Siteground?

I am currently using their GrowBig plan which lets me host multiple website with SSL certificates (many sites charge separately for the certification which is not at all cheap!).

The multiple website hosting option is definitely a win-win situation for small business owners, bloggers, freelance writers and e-commerce store owners who can earn from each hosted website. The SSL certificate assures peace of mind for visitors and site owners.

The GrowBig plan also offers additional benefits like

  •  Daily backup which happens automatically; this in turn means site owners don’t have to worry about lost data. 
  •  Unlimited e-mail accounts whereby you can create separate email ids for different purposes like admin, customer interaction, general information, etc. 
  •  Free website transfer which lets you transfer your site from other hosting platform to Siteground and vice versa without paying a penny! 
  •  On-demand backup option, whenever you want. 
  • And many more advanced features.

You can do a comparative study of Siteground’s  different hosting plans  before taking a final call. And yes, when it comes to self-hosted WordPress blog, Siteground clearly wins the day!

Siteground Logo _Onlismallbiz

 

I strongly suggest doing own homework before finalizing a particular hosting provider. Don’t rush to buy a plan simply because the company is screaming a ‘limited period offer’.

Browse a lot with keywords like ‘best hosting plans’ or ‘best web hosting services’. As you get a list of names like Siteground, Bluehost, Hostgator, iPage, etc., do a comparative study of similar hosting plans of different companies.

Also read user reviews to know if the company’s ratings are genuine or not. Ask friends and acquaintances who have recently hosted their sites. Take a decision only after you gather complete information. Remember with a bad host, you may invite a lot of headaches for your small business!

Decide a Domain Name and Check Its Availability

Now that you have purchased a domain, the next step is to decide a domain name for your website. What I suggest is don’t lose sleep over that PERFECT domain name. Since you are starting out, you may later decide to change things as your business expands.  For the time being, simply grab the opportunity to start and grow your business with a self-hosted WordPress blog.

Few Tips to Pick Up an Effective Domain Name

  • Try to find a domain name that tells a bit about your site’s mission e.g. a name like entrepreneur.com immediately tells you that the site is about entrepreneurship and business.
  • Pick up a domain name that describes your site’s audience whom you plan to target e.g. a name like womenonbusiness.com tells you the prime audience they are eyeing.
  • Don’t be too vague or misleading, avoid experimenting too much. For instance, with a site name like Whorepresents.com, can you guess what the site is all about? It’s about celebrities, agents and representatives but the name for sure gives out nothing!
  • Avoid weird or awkward spellings. Now it’s gonna be fun. With names like Expertsexchange.com (Experts Exchange), Speedofart.com (speed of art), Gotahoenorth.com (Go Tahoe North), am sure your audience will burst out laughing before they actually decide to visit your site!
  • It’s okay to settle for a long domain name if you can’t find a suitable short name. Because people usually don’t type the entire URL anymore. The autofill does it for them.

Once you find a suitable domain name, don’t waste time as good domain names are in high demand. Get your domain name registered either with your hosting company or a separate domain registrar (e.g. namecheap.com/register.com/name.com or Domains.Google). The separate registration outside your web host, incurs additional cost but it has its benefits too.

Remember to renew your domain in time else it may face the risk of expiration which in turn will affect your business.

Write the Content in Advance

I feel it’s important to prepare your content in advance so that you can immediately upload it once you set up the self-hosted WordPress site. Here site content implies, the Home page, About Us, your business’s vision and mission, your team, services/products you offer, Projects you have completed (if any), Customer testimonial (if any). 

Also you need to finalize your business logo, images and videos that you plan to display on your self-hosted WordPress website. And yes, whatever content you are creating, keep Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in mind. After all, the ultimate aim of your self-hosted WordPress site is to make Google and other search engines happy and attract online traffic, isn’t it?

Further I suggest adding a blog page. Your blogs let you share information and help you stay in touch with your audience. You can prepare the content once the WordPress site is finally launched.

Why I suggest Writing the Content In Advance?

Because the moment you  subscribe for the hosting plan, the countdown begins i.e. you  actually start paying  for each day. Now if you take 2-3 months to design the site and write the content, soon you  realize that  your hosting plan’s renewal date of  is approaching fast and you haven’t done anything to monetize your site yet!

Design the Website From Scratch and Upload the Content

If you are the non-tech guy taking your first shot at self-hosted WordPress site, then this is the scariest part for you! Worry not. Youtube videos can come to your rescue (at least it rescued me for sure!).

Start with a search like this. You will find lots of videos offering step-by-step instructions to guide you through the entire process of installing WordPress and starting a self-hosted WordPress website.

Pick up the lengthiest video with maximum views. Watch it till the end. If you find it satisfactory, enough then download it and use it as future reference just like you did with the WordPress theme.

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Now that you have all the resources ready, proceed with the self-hosted WordPress setup and hosting process.

Sorry that I keep coming back to Siteground but what I find great about these guys is that you can request an online chat 24×7 or connect with them over  phone. You can discuss any issue you might be facing, be it related to hosting, WordPress installation or basic designing. They patiently listen to your problems and offer practical solutions.

This means if you face any problem launching your self-hosted WordPress site, they will practically instruct you what to do and what not.

Additional Tips to Ensure Safety and Functionality of Your Self-hosted WordPress Site

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Plugin is the awesome feature of WordPress that helps add almost any and every functionality to your self-hosted WordPress blog or e-commerce site. Here are 10 such plugins which can make life easier for the website owner:-

  • Contact Form or WPForms Lite – the user friendly contact form plugin
  • Google XML Sitemaps – helps create an XML sitemap for all the popular search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo, and Ask.com. You can submit this sitemap and request the search engine to crawl and index your website.
  • Yoast SEO- the absolutely necessary plugin that makes your self-hosted WordPress website as much search engine friendly as possible.
  • UpdraftPlus – is the backup plugin that does an automatic backup of your site’s entire content and stores it in a cloud platform of your choice.
  • Insert Headers and Footers – is an important plugin which helps add codes into your self-hosted WordPress site’s header and footer. The code can be anything like Google Analytics tracking ID, custom CSS, Adsense code or Facebook Pixel code.
  • Simple Author Box- is a simple way to display your author profile at the end of blog posts. It lets you add social icons too for easy linking to your social profiles.
  • W3 super cache – offers great caching solution which helps reduce load time and improves overall site speed.
  • Broken Link Checker – monitors your self-hosted WordPress blog and informs you about broken links, if it finds any.
  • Woocommerce – comes with a wide range of designs and functionalities that help set up an online store easily. It can be seamlessly integrated with WordPress.
  • Redirection – is an important plugin which  lets you redirect any number of URLs to new destination without any technical knowledge.

To conclude

So you have the basic information that you need to prepare yourself for a self-hosted WordPress site.

Sounds a bit tough? Initially few steps may sound too complicated. There are moments when you almost feel like giving up.

Take your time. Don’t do anything in a hurry. Since it is your first self-hosted WordPress blog, don’t lose patience, otherwise you may end up losing your hard-earned money.

Go for your self-hosted WordPress site, only if you are genuinely interested to make it a success!!

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Sweta Dutta

Sweta is a veteran content creator, passionate traveler, movie enthusiast, music lover (reasonably good singer!), an informed reader .... and a coffee connoisseur! She has over 10 years experience in developing content for small businesses, internet marketing firms, website development companies and internet entrepreneurs. The experience has helped her develop in-depth knowledge about small business online which she now shares on the OnlismallbiZ platform. In her own words, "I am a dreamer and a doer!"