Speculating on SpecFic is now coming to you live from a self-hosted WordPress installation! (That was my attempt at humour). With a brand new look that’s spectacular! (That was a pun).
I’m really excited about this – moving over to WordPress.org is something I’ve been thinking about for more than a year now, and a few weeks ago I finally gathered up every shred of courage and put things in motion to move. One of the main motivators was that Giselle from Xpresso Reads successfully moved her blog to WordPress.org, and she sang high praises of Ashley from Nose Graze, who helped with the transfer. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Since I started musing about the move seriously in the last month or so, I was asked why a lot. I understand, because I had a pretty sweet set up on my previous free WordPress.com installation. So briefly, my reasons for switching:
- I wanted to own my blog – I saw how Blogger went on its ‘let’s delete the blogs’ adventure, and decided it was something I could do without. Not that WordPress.com has a history of deleting blogs, that I know of, but it brought home the reality of it – I didn’t own Speculating on SpecFic. And I really want to.
- Plugins – a closely related point, but WordPress.com is severely limited in the plugins one can use on their site. WordPress.org, on the other hand, has a plethora of plugins available, from amazing sliders to blogroll displayers to advertising, all of which can make a blog stand out from the crowd.
Things I didn’t know about web-hosting
So that all sounds great, right? So why didn’t I begin my blog on WordPress.org? Why didn’t I switch over sooner?
I didn’t know a thing about self-hosting, domain names, or anything like that. Well, I knew about them in theory (computing classes, yay), but in my mind, it was really expensive, and only something a proper business did.
So I began Speculating on SpecFic on Tumblr (I also knew nothing about blogging two years ago) and then moved it to WordPress.com. That was a mistake I made, because I didn’t realise that when people wrote blog posts comparing Blogger to WordPress, they were talking about WordPress.org, not WordPress.com. I found out the hard way!
But I stayed on WordPress.com because I thought self hosting cost a lot, and me being the poor PhD student that I am, I couldn’t afford it, right?
(An aside begins, but it’s related, I swear) I don’t like the taste of coffee, but love the affect it has on my productivity, especially on Mondays. My work charges us $7 a fortnight for access to the two amazing coffee machines we have there, plus all the tea, hot chocolate, Milo etc that we want. It’s not a bad deal, except I bring in my own, expensive, not-in-a-teabag teas to work, and on the off-chance that I want coffee, I buy my own. That’s $7 a fortnight that I waste.
Self hosting costs between $4 and $25 USD a month. I’m paying $75.06 USD a year with RFE Hosting, which amounts to $83.54 AUD at today’s conversion rate, or just a few cents under $7 AUD a month.
I stopped paying that extra $14 a month at my work, and now half of that goes towards hosting my website, and the other half is mine to keep. I’m not even feeling the cost of the self hosting! $7 a month is way less than what we pay for a book in Australia.
I went with RFE because Ashley from Nose Graze wrote this helpful article on choosing a web host, and I liked RFE the best. Their main support person is amazing, replying to my queries within 12 hours, and once I’d signed up with them, replying within the hour. The customer support is amazing and I have more online storage and bandwidth than I need right now. I’m super-impressed.
WordPress.org has a bunch of highly functional, professional themes available. Even the free ones are sensational. I went with Ashley’s Tweak Me theme – a theme designed for book bloggers that’s already ridiculously customisable, and then paid her to help me change a few things to really make it my own. In particular, she added in the amazing tabs you see on the homepage, and made my menus transparent, as well as a host of other things. I was really picky about the whole process, and she is so patient and kind.
I’m OK with HTML and CSS myself, so while Ashley took some well deserved time off over the weekend (the poor girl was jet-lagged and not sleeping well and still working on my design!) I did a few bits and pieces myself, and then asked her to add those elements to the design. It worked out really well, because I knew what I wanted and had a first attempt at it, and then she was able to provide her very insightful comments.
Tweak Me comes with a host of shortcodes:
Buttons: Cute Button
Dividers: (I made this one myself)
Click to Open
You can write all your toggled text here! Feel free to use HTML if you want.
There are too many to really cover here, but plugins are your best friend on WordPress.org. I knew I had to get Ashley’s Ultimate Book Blogger Plugin when I switched, because it’s exactly what it sounds like!!
The UBBP has fields for book title, series, author, publisher, genre and source when you create a review, and then automatically generates review indexes by title, series, author, etc. It’s worth the money for that feature alone, but there’s so much more to this brilliant plugin!
It also allows reviewers to add in custom ratings, creates that awesome Follow Me widget on my sidebar that counts my followers and fans, keeps track of how many books I’v reviewed towards my yearly goal (and displays it in a widget), has a blog-roll feature, adds in the related content tabs at the end of every post, allowing you to see reviews of the same genre, by the same author, and in the same category, and includes a slider.
And I’m sure I’ve missed a hundred other things the plugin does. It’s unspeakably amazing, and every book blogger needs it.
The UBBP already has a feature which displays this month’s reviews, but I wanted it to display the previous month’s reviews, and Ashley tweaked that for me as well!
To infinity, and beyond …
So there you have it, the why, what, how, and how much, of my migration to WordPress.org. I highly recommend the amazing, super-smart, kind and patient Ashely for her migration and design services, RFE for their hosting plans, prices and customer support, and Ashley’s Tweak Me theme and Ultimate Book Blogger Plugin. Bring on the books!