After discovering the WordPress platform on the Internet somewhat by accident, I created a publicly hosted blog and posted content to it over the course of almost a year. Recently, I chose to move from this public hosted, blog to a self-hosted WordPress blog.

Naive WordPress beginning.

Part of my decision to make this significant transition was the result of attending the annual WordPress Camp gathering of blog enthusiasts in San Francisco. While there, I made the mistake of inquiring with a few of the WordPress experts swirling around the event about how to integrate Google analytics on my blog. They made it perfectly clear by wincing visibly when I disclosed my domain name that I was either a rank amateur blogger or just a Luddite.

Furthermore, I was not worth any significant investment of time or meaningful support. The humiliating take away was that REAL bloggers self-host and only posers or wannabe’s use for their blog.

Stepping up to self-hosted, long-term value.

Below is a list of first-person impressions, experiences, and insights of growing through an education on the WordPress platform and making the transition from a publicly hosted to a self-hosted blog.

First, it’s appropriate to provide full disclosure. I am not a seasoned web expert nor do I have highly developed programming skills. That said, I have found the WP platform and the kind of results it can yield for presenting and continually adding to your online visibility to be truly amazing! Learning the basics of creating content, posting and commenting on a blog is not difficult. But moving on from there can be much more exciting and rewarding.

12 ways to improve your WordPress blog.

Having now stepped up to my self-hosted blog with encouragement and support from the talented designer, incredible illustrator and semi-geek, Heidi Schmidt, I share these twelve observations on how to improve any WordPress website.

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    1. | As PR guru, Steve Rubel said, a truly modern site must integrate a social media component for it to be relevant and sustainable in the future.
    1. | There’s no comparison of a blog and a traditional web site in how easy it is to create and distribute your value, thoughts, opinions and concepts, in virtually any media, with minimal amount of effort or pain.
    1. | The ever-growing inventory of WordPress themes makes selecting the one that best suits your needs challenging, time-consuming and confusing.
    1. | Switching site hosting services is scary and intimidating because of database installations, domain swaps, and email service reconfiguration but once it is done, it’s empowering. And choosing the right site host with one-click-install capabilities can make all the difference in the world.
    1. | Website development and programming has come a long way but it is still complicated, intimidating, mysterious and extremely user-unfriendly.
    1. | To get the blog | site you want, you have to get over fear of php and get fearless about CSS
    1. | Aesthetics, design and content presentation STILL matter more than ever if you want a memorable and engaging user experience.
    1. | Social media integration into your blog is an incredibly potent ignition mechanism that can extend the reach and value of your content. It also ensures that you enhance interaction with your community while continually raising your search results rankings.
    1. | The sooner you overcome the misguided perception that a fully Flash developed site is GOOD, because it moves and has lots of moving interactivity, the easier you’ll be found in the search box.
    1. | Embracing SEO and adherence to best practice techniques for organic search including alt tags, keywords, meta tags, inbound/outbound links and directory listings are amazing in how they lift your search results ranking and ability to be found. And as Matt Cutts from Google says, “Wordpress takes care of 80-90% of the SEO mechanics.
    1. | The quantity and quality of online effectiveness measurement tools that are available for a blog | site for free are just astounding including feedburner, google analytics, hubspot, keyword tracker and many more.
  1. | The continual investment of content in a blog grows exponentially in value with every piece of content that you add.

So what’s the takeaway from this experience? If it is not painfully obvious by now, if you have any value it will ONLY be reached, understood and realized if it is easily found and accessible in a browser.

Embracing content creation and distribution.

I can’t emphasize enough how important this simple fact is.  What’s clear to me after many, many months of experimenting is how a blog is an essential vehicle for fueling Word-of-Mouth for sharing, gaining insight, promoting and learning online. I’ve also come to realize that there’s no substitute for investing in the personal experience of trial, failure and regrouping to complete a better blog site.

I look forward to this web property becoming more valuable with every addition that I make and hope that you’ll find some value in it too. Please share your thoughts or comments on how we can make it even better!

8 thoughts on “12 insights on moving up to a self-hosted blog.

  1. Thanks for the insight.
    I’m a bit disappointed that Flash websites have lost favor over SEO benefits. But the web is so complex now that the only way to ‘be found’ is to have a blog and if you can design it and make it your own, so much the better. It would still require a strong graphic designer to make the blog look professional so the need for ‘talent’ in this new field is still important. Especially to small businesses. I’m sure Flash, in some form, will be apart of all of this soon.

  2. Thanks Jim for the comments. We’ll see where all of this goes as change is the order of the day. I’ll be curious to see how FLASH evolves in this environment too.

  3. “The humiliating take away was that REAL bloggers self-host and only posers or wannabe’s use for their blog.”
    I totally do not agree with this.

  4. Thanks so much for your comment.
    And it’s ok to disagree with my impression of an experience.
    But that’s what happened and I thought it was worth sharing.

  5. I feel like the guy in the picture (but I don’t exactly look like him just yet).

  6. No worries Dean.
    Soon you’ll be over the top with your own WP blog.
    Best of luck.

  7. Glad you wrote this – actually good info for anyone starting a website to get a feel for the challenges involved. If you plan to do it yourself with WordPress, be prepared to roll up your sleeves, learn, struggle, and in the end be proud of a site you’ve built yourself.

  8. Thanks Joe for your comment.
    Wordpress offers a lot of inspiration. But without a lot of trial and error perspiration, it’s hard to realize all of the value in this great platform provides.
    For those willing to make the investment, the rewards are many. 🙂

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