Finding a blog & website designer and going self-hosted.As my blog enters its sixth year—July 17th is its anniversary—regular readers will notice a new look. I’ve left my WordPress host and am on my own, self hosted, as they say. Feels kind of scary. My motive is flexibility in page layout because my book, Shepherd: A Memoir, will be published on May 1, 2014. Hosting one’s own blog and author site isn’t necessary, but experts advise it because it gives a margin of control. You do give up some great hosted connectivity in the blogging world, and possibly some nifty services. I’ll see.
Having decided on a makeover I sought a freelance designer. There are website design companies that specialize in author websites, of course, but some of their sites looked too slick to me. And I wanted a one-on-one relationship with an individual. Plus—and this was the deal-breaker for me—the companies I looked at really want to host their clients’ sites. I understand their desire and its benefits, but I’ve been steering this little ship for five years and want to continue to guide it. No middlemen. For one thing, I feared it would be harder to move my site if I wanted to. For better or worse, this is mine.
So I checked out a talented young designer, Josh McCall, who’s also a fine fiction writer and essayist. I noticed he’d designed the web site for my friend Dinty W. Moore. And for self-hosted sites Josh uses WordPress.org software, which makes importing content from a WordPress.com blog easier. He mentioned some hosting options, and I picked A Small Orange, which seems user-friendly. And though I’ll have to upgrade soon, it’s cheap, only $35 a year for its “Tiny” plan that I’m starting with.
Josh also transferred the custom url I’ve been paying WordPress a little extra for. Most readers should transfer seamlessly without having to do anything. If you bookmarked my first WordPress url, richardgilbert.wordpress.com, which had continued to function with this url, you will have to make a new bookmark. I’m not yet sure about this transfer’s impact on subscribers—I had two addresses in play before and either one worked. Now they are separate.
Despite potential problems, I’m rejoicing because Josh was able to import my blog’s entire five years of content, including photos. I’ve heard tales of massive content losses in such a switch, but so far so good.
[Next: Mistakes made and lessons learned in half a decade on this digital frontier.]