As you can see from the title, this post is about my experience of going self-hosted. Admittedly, this is a post that I’ve been meaning to write for a few months, but never actually got round to it, and I didn’t know if many of you would be interested in this sort of post so put it off for a while. However, recently I’ve received quite a few questions about blogging, how I started my blog, what platform I use and how accessible it was for me to go self-hosted as a screen-reader user.
So, I thought that it was about time that I wrote a post on this for those of you that have questions on this topic.
I spent hours looking through various articles, blog posts and websites on the best way to go self-hosted, which host to use and how to actually do it, it was very time consuming, but it was worth it.
Choosing a host
The main thing that I needed to do was choose a host, after looking at the various plans on WordPress I decided that in the long-run they wouldn’t be the best option as they would be more expensive, and I wouldn’t have as much flexibility with my blog.
After looking at various hosts, I decided to go with SiteGround, I had heard good things about them from other bloggers, they also have 24/7 support so if anything was to go wrong with my blog they are always available to help.
SightGround offer three plans, I personally chose the Grow Big plan as this catered for my needs. The process of purchasing the plan and my domain (my website address) was very simple and it was all fully accessible with a screen-reader. The accessibility of this really impressed me as this was something that I thought I might have to get sighted assistance doing but was pleasantly surprised. When purchasing things online, I can often encounter accessibility issues but that wasn’t the case this time.
Transferring my blog
I certainly didn’t want to transfer my blog from wordpress.com to wordpress.org myself as I had no idea how to do it, and wasn’t sure if it would be accessible or not, I didn’t want to risk losing all my content that I have worked so hard on. Luckily, SiteGround offer a free transfer service so I didn’t have to worry about any of that.
Once I purchased my plan and domain, I filled out a transfer form on the SiteGround website which was also accessible, so that they transferred all my posts, pages, media, categories, and comments over to my new blog. However, they didn’t transfer my followers, this was something that I had to do myself. I did this using the subscription migration tool, this meant that my readers would still receive my posts via email. It is also worth to note here that the tool was fully accessible, so a huge thank you to Jetpack for that.
I also contacted the Jetpack team so that they could transfer my stats which they did very quickly.
Choosing and customising a theme
I had done some research beforehand regarding themes, and decided to purchase a theme from Pipdig. I had heard very good things about them, I had also emailed them a few times prior to going self-hosted and it’s safe to say that they have excellent customer service and fully understood that I was a screen-reader user so were very happy to help with any issues that I may encounter. Since going self-hosted I have contacted them a number of times, and they have helped me, they are brilliant.
Pipdig’s themes look both professional and very nice, they are also fully accessible with a screen-reader, accessibility is at the forefront of my blog.
I know that there are various places that sell themes, so it’s worth shopping around to see which ones you like best. Personally, I couldn’t recommend Pipdig enough and I’ll definitely buy another theme from them in the future.
Once I had purchased the theme, I had to install it which was very easy to do, Pipdig offered some easy instructions on how to do this.
I then had to customise my theme, this was quite difficult as a screen-reader user with no useful vision, but I managed to do it, and Pipdig helped me out as well. It probably took me a little bit longer than it would your average sighted person, but I got there in the end. Once I had customised it, I then got a sighted person to check whether it looked okay as I wanted it to look good visually for my sighted readers. I also checked the accessibility of it both on desktop and mobile.
I thought that I would clarify what going self-hosted actually is for those of you that aren’t actually bloggers.
Going self-hosted means that a blogger gains ownership of their blog. When hosted on WordPress.com (which is the free blogging platform I was hosted on before), my content was mine and my blog’s name was mine but the blog itself was owned by WordPress itself, so it restricted me in many ways. By going self-hosted means that I have been able to change my domain name to one that I’m happy with and I now own my blog therefore it’s my responsibility to make sure it runs properly and that it is accessible for everyone. I think having a self-hosted blog is more professional.
Another benefit of going self-hosted is the fact that I now have the freedom to customise my blog the way I want it. When hosted on a free platform such as WordPress.com there are restrictions in terms of what changes you can make to your theme and other aspects of your blog but now that issue no longer exists.
Like everything, there are down sides to going self-hosted, the cost being one of them. It’s very rare that I make money from blogging, so the cost is something that I have to cover myself out of my own money, so I obviously want it to be worthwhile.
I was very pleased with how accessible it was to actually go self-hosted. For the most part, I didn’t need sighted assistance, which was something that I was quite surprised about.
I’m hoping that this post has answered some of your questions regarding going self-hosted and the accessibility of blogging when you have a visual impairment. I have done a few other posts on blogging when you have a visual impairment, make sure you check those out if you want to know more.
If you are a blogger, how was your experience going self-hosted? Let me know in the comments.
For those of you that are thinking of going self-hosted, I have a referral code that you can use to get discounted hosting with SiteGround. Click here to find out more.
If you have any questions about my experience of going self-hosted, then please don’t hesitate to contact me or leave your questions in the comments.