Blogging – should authors go self-hosted or not? Part 1: two bloggers who don’t

You must self-host. You mustn’t use an off-the-peg theme. You mustn’t, on pain of ethernal damnation, have links in blue Times Roman.

There’s a lot of strident advice about blogging. Even that remark about blue Times Roman came from serious advice on a high-profile site trying to tell quivering newbies what they should do. Perhaps blue links matter in some quarters, but what matters to an author who wants to connect with readers? Should you be spending money on hosting, and on customised, SEO-friendly blog themes?

Today and tomorrow I’m going to examine both sides of the electric fence. Four bloggers, evenly split between self-hosted and not. On the ‘not’ side are me and Catherine Ryan Howard. On the self-hosting side are writer and author entrepreneur Joanna Penn and digital publishing guru Jane Friedman.

In a way I speak from both sides. I started with a self-hosted blog, when a friend insisted I camp out in a corner of his webspace (because he felt it was infra dig to be anything but self-hosted). And it didn’t go well. More about that in a moment.

You’ve lost me already. What does all this mean?

Quick tutorial – your blog is kept on a server so anyone in the world can read it and lots of people can access it at the same time. With self-hosting, you pay for disk space (also known as a domain) and you can put whatever you like on it – blog software of your choice, websites, pay buttons, video, anything. With platform-hosted, like WordPress.com and Blogger, your files are kept by WordPress and Blogger, you can’t customise the design or have pay buttons or video – although paid upgrades will allow some features. It’s like the difference between renting a house – with landlord’s furniture and rules – and owning the whole space outright.

Just to confuse you, there’s a version of WordPress for use on self-hosted blogs – WordPress.org.

With freedom comes responsibility

The biggest difference between the two is, obviously, freedom. This can go rather wrong. When I was self-hosted, I imported a cool plugin that broke my entire blog. I would never have got up again if not for (another) expert friend who was prepared to poke around the upper, scary database levels and unravel the damage. (Note to self: self-hosting is not for the insanely curious.)

The other problem is security. Most blogging systems are open source – which means the code is available for anyone to read, and hackers can find the loopholes easily. WordPress.com and Blogger don’t let you change anything that threatens security, but on self-hosted blogs there are no padlocks. My self-hosted blog got hacked – which might or might not have been because I was sharing with a friend of less secure habits. But after the stress of that I decided I was out of my depth and didn’t have time to sort out software and security headaches. I rebooted on WordPress.com, which has been able to do everything I need.

Get  customising

Obviously you don’t want your blog to look like everyone else’s, but there are only a limited number of visual templates (themes). However, there’s a lot you can do to customise. My blogs all use the same template, Fusion, which I’ve tweaked with my own headers and logos. You can buy upgrades to let you customise even more, but everything I’ve done is free.

Fusion tweaked for my main author site

…and for my novel’s blog

But themes aren’t just about the blog’s appearance. Themes also allow you to draw in new readers through the hocus-pocus of SEO – search engine optimisation.

SEO

Here, the paid-for themes have an advantage as they are designed to worm their way more effectively into search pathways. Tomorrow I’ll discuss this in more detail with Jane and Joanna, but there are ways you can optimise your free non-self-hosted blog:

  • use attention-grabbing headlines with key words
  • optimise post URLs – Google looks at post URLs, so I make sure mine show the headline, not the post date or number. Your blog will probably have an option for changing this
  • use plenty of tags – you’ll see my posts all have shoals of tags, including my name, my book titles, and general tags like ‘write a novel’. Those tags are not for you, reading this page – you already know every post is related to writing novels. Those tags are for Google. Make sure each post contains the keywords for the specific post and the keywords for your blog in general.

Buy a URL

I also bought my own general blog URL and pointed it to the free one. The rationale is that when someone hears about you they search for you.com or yourbook.com. (It’s usually .com they plump for first, even if you’re as English as Earl Grey tea). So the actual web address of this blog is nailyournovel.wordpress.com but for a few dollars I bought nailyournovel.com and through a very easy process, pointed it at this blog. I did it for My Memories of a Future Life too.

Over to Catherine

Anyway, I promised you a second opinion on platform-hosted blogs, so here’s Catherine Ryan Howard, of the indefatigable and unfatiguable Catherine, Caffeinated…

How did you start?

‘I started off with Blogger.com, but I always felt there was something about Blogger templates that said ‘amateur’. This was back in late 2009 so chances are they’ve improved since then but when I went to WordPress, it felt like a whole new level of professionalism and the choice of themes was just fantastic. I think it’s a credit to WordPress that I’ve had enquiries about who designed my blog – people think it’s been done professionally but it’s a free WordPress theme (Bueno) I love how easy WordPress.com blogs are to use, how easy it is to integrate them with the rest of your online activities (Twitter, Facebook, etc) And my all-time fave WP feature is their custom menu, which enables you to link to external sites (or wherever you like) from the menu at the top. For example, on top of my blog I have a ‘newsletter’ tab, and when you click it on it, you’re brought to the MailChimp sign up form.’

Is there anything you pay for?

‘The only thing I pay for is the domain upgrade, i.e. www.catherineryanhoward.com instead of www.catherineryanhoward.wordpress.com.’

What limitations are there on a WordPress-hosted blog?

‘Paypal buttons is the big thing – you can’t sell anything on your WP blog although you can have a donate button.’ (editor’s ahem!… it’s possible to fudge it – see the How To Write A Novel course in my sidebar…)

‘Also a lot of external widgets don’t work. BUT I think this is a tiny price to pay for such a great, easy service that lets me have a professional home online for very little cost.’

What about SEO?

‘I don’t worry about SEO at all. Not one tiny bit. Maybe I should, but I’m quite happy with the way things are for me and my blog at the moment. The only thing I want – and I have it – is for my blog to be the first result when people google my name. I think if your blog is the core of your business, you should worry about things like that. But for a writer, their books are the core – or should be, anyway.’

Roz again… I couldn’t agree more. So here are my tips for making the most of a non-self-hosted blog, if we can use such a horrible term…

  1.  Tag your posts with an eye on SEO
  2. Get your own URL
  3. Check your URLs show your post headline, not just a date or a post number
  4. Find a theme that you can shape to look distinctive (so people really feel it’s your online home)
  5. Remember your online presence isn’t just a blog – you reach much further if you use social media as well.

If you blog, what platform do you use and why? Do you have any thoughts on self-hosted versus platform hosted? Share in the comments…. and come back tomorrow when Jane Friedman and Joanna Penn give their reasons for self-hosting.

The first edition of my newsletter is out now, including useful links and snippets about the next Nail Your Novel book!  You can read it here and you can add your name to the mailing list here.

About these ads

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

  1. #1 by Daniel R. Marvello on July 8, 2012 - 2:27 pm

    I’m a software developer by trade, and I build database-driven web sites daily as part of my work. I lease a dedicated web server located in a big server farm and I run about 25 web sites on it, most of which I’ve developed. I even wrote a content management tool to run online magazines and other content-heavy web sites back in 1999, before anyone knew what a “blog” was.

    Loading WordPress onto my server and configuring it with custom themes or plugins would be no problem for me. But there’s no way I would do that. WordPress is one of the most popular and widely-hacked pieces of software on the Internet. Installing it on a server is essentially installing a time bomb. If you do load it, you must be totally committed to keeping it up-to-date with the latest releases in order to stay ahead of the hackers. Even then, there are no guarantees, because it’s really the hackers who are always one step ahead. I personally don’t want the responsibility of managing WordPress installations on top of my other webmaster duties.

    I do have one WordPress blog, but it is hosted at WordPress.com. I would feel comfortable hosting a WordPress blog at any hosting company that *specializes* in maintaining WordPress installations, but not at a company that simply *offers* WordPress as an option.

    I’ve used Blogger as well, and I’ve noticed that a lot of fiction writers use Blogger. I agree that it is limited compared to WordPress, and often has an amateur look, mostly due to the built-in themes. My least favorite aspect is the commenting system, which makes it extremely difficult for non-Blogger visitors to comment on some blogs.

    • #2 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on July 8, 2012 - 4:18 pm

      Daniel, I had no idea you were such an expert. And your comments about WordPress security are very enlightening. In fact, not long ago the same friend I was camping with had such a catastrophic case of hacking that he had to nuke all his blogs and start again.

      It’s particularly interesting that someone as expert as you comes down in favour of WordPress hosting. This also explains a little more why WordPress seem so slow to upgrade the basic functionality – because they’re probably firefighting most of the time. And – quite understandably – they probably want to encourage clients to pay for upgrades.

      Agree about Blogger. I’ve lost count of the comments I haven’t been able to post on other blogs because Blogger was having a bad hair day. WordPress seems much more friendly and reliable.

    • #3 by Daniel R. Marvello on July 8, 2012 - 7:06 pm

      I suspect you are right about why WordPress are slow to upgrade. Every time they introduce new features, they introduce new potential security holes. I’m sure they do their best to prevent hacks, but it is impossible to anticipate everything a hacker might attempt. It doesn’t help that the software is open source, as you mentioned in your article. The hackers don’t even have to reverse-engineer anything. They can just peruse the code and look for exploits directly.

      I suppose it is surprising that I would prefer to go with WordPress hosting rather than load it myself, but I’ve been told that I’m unusually business-minded for a developer. For me, it doesn’t make business sense to take on the risk of self-hosting when the market offers affordable alternatives. Loading WordPress on my server not only puts my blog at risk, but every other site on the machine (some of which earn good money.) That’s why some hosting companies don’t offer WordPress and won’t let you load it.

      As for SEO, I’ve had my share of discussions with so-called SEO experts, and I have not found anything that beats high-quality content. Every “trick” you try to pull eventually gets punished by Google. The search engines want the same thing that searchers want: great content that answers the question posed by the search. Yes, doing keyword research can help you do a better job of using the words that your audience is using, but success in getting found on the Internet is a lot like success in book promotion: your time is best spent just writing more good stuff.

      • #4 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on July 9, 2012 - 7:21 am

        ‘Writing good material?’ Totally agree – that’s got to be the way. Especially with discerning readers who are looking for genuine help. Satisfy the humans and I’m sure that will feed back into Google somewhere. Or some great blogging fairy godmother…

      • #5 by Sueli Vieira on February 24, 2013 - 3:18 pm

        Daniel, your post is the most lucid piece of information I have found on the web on this subject.
        As a Web Designer I only install a self hosted blog to a client that absolutely insists on having one and after being warned of all the risks they are taking in spite of all security measures that must be put in place (secure passwords, constant updates, etc.).

        • #6 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on February 24, 2013 - 9:00 pm

          Sueli, thanks for commenting! I’m glad to see another web designer agreeing that self-hosting isn’t the holy grail that some bloggers would have us believe. Certainly I’m happy for WordPress.com to take care of security etc. And when I did see behind the gubbins of my dashboard it was mighty scary.

      • #7 by DRMarvello on February 25, 2013 - 3:51 pm

        Hi Sueli! Thanks for your kind comment. I think it’s great that you take the time to warn your clients about the risks of self-hosting. We all have to choose how we spend our time. I suspect that the hackers would be more dedicated to hacking my WordPress site than I would be to defending it from them. ;-)

  2. #8 by tomburkhalter on July 8, 2012 - 2:50 pm

    Good post, and timely for me personally, since I’ve been turning the problem over myself. for the moment I’m inclined to go along with Joanna’s quote regarding the position that, for a writer (that would be me) the books are a bit more important than the blog. I’ll be interested to see the other side of the argument!

    Thanks!

    • #9 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on July 8, 2012 - 4:19 pm

      Thanks, Tom. The good news is, there’s plenty of time to upgrade if you decide to – and it’s not hard.

  3. #10 by mandyevebarnett on July 8, 2012 - 4:16 pm

    Thank you for a very informative article. I have used wordpress.com for about 2 years and find that replying to comments & following my followers has made it successful but more importantly helped me create a writers community

    • #11 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on July 8, 2012 - 6:16 pm

      Mandy, I love the community aspect of blogging. And the fact that WordPress make it so easy. It’s a terrific tool.

  4. #12 by catherineryanhoward on July 8, 2012 - 4:35 pm

    Thanks for having me on your blog, Roz. And I must find out more about this, ahem, fudging/selling thing from you…! ;-D

  5. #13 by Melanie Marttila on July 8, 2012 - 7:34 pm

    Great post Roz!
    Here’s my tale of self-hosting woe: My husband and I already had our own domain hosted on a service that will remain nameless. When I decided to throw my hat into the platform ring last fall, I tried out Joomla! I’m no dummy, but the system just wasn’t intuitive enough for me, so I downloaded WordPress and got off to what I thought was a good start.
    Until February, when out hosting service informed us that my blog had been hacked. Details were not forthcoming, but if we wanted to get back online (our email was hosted there as well) I’d have to delete my blog and any copies. Four months of blogging down the drain. I was devastated.
    So I investigated, tried Blogger, then went back to WordPress.com, mapped my recently purchased domain to their server for a nominal fee, and I haven’t regretted the decision.
    Sure, I can’t download a lot of nifty apps and plug-ins anymore, but I really don’t need to. I’m still a baby at this game.
    Call me the tortoise :) Slow and steady wins the race.

    • #14 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on July 9, 2012 - 6:56 am

      Melanie, you’re the first person I’ve met who’s done it the same way round as I did. Your experience sounds horrendous. Having done self-hosting first, I’m quite happy to stay in the gated community of WP.com.

  6. #15 by Jami Gold on July 8, 2012 - 7:42 pm

    Hi Roz, I use the self-hosted version of WordPress. (So I look forward to reading the second half of this series.)

    I wanted to do more customization than the free WordPress.com installation allowed. The free version doesn’t allow for plugins, so you get the functionality that WP provides, like JetPack analytics, but you can’t track down additional functionality.

    Also, I’m a paranoid control freak, and I wanted my blog to be somewhere I felt I had more control over my data. I’m self-hosted with TechSurgeons (@techsurgeons on Twitter, my tech guy is @jaytechdad), and they’re extremely security focused and have great customer service. They have a background in ethical hacking, so they know the security flaws to look for and specialize in WordPress installations. My blog is backed up every day in case something catastrophic happens, etc., etc.

    Could something still go wrong? Absolutely. Some of my plugins go wonky and computers will always test the best-laid plans. :) And yes, I had to learn some minor programming to make my site do what I wanted. But I’m an overachieving perfectionist, so it was worth it to me. LOL!

    I recognize that it’s not for everyone, however. (In fact, I’m teaching a workshop this summer on how to develop a free WordPress.com site in 60 minutes or less. :) ) On the other hand, I believe TechSurgeons will be partnering with a design service to offer a simple, designed self-hosted WordPress site for the same price as a plain, self-hosted site. So there are a whole range of options for people, and they just have to decide what they want.

    • #16 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on July 9, 2012 - 7:01 am

      Jami, it sounds like you’ve really done your homework and found a hosting service that understands the particular demands of WordPress. I have to say, I didn’t know about any of these dangers until Daniel left his comment – I simply assumed that I or my friend had done something dumb and let the hackers sneak in. I’m sure your workshop will be well subscribed – go girl!

  7. #17 by Lara Schiffbauer on July 8, 2012 - 9:15 pm

    Hi! I’ve not ever wanted to try self-hosting, mostly because I feel totally insecure about the tech side of things. I haven’t understood the advantages of self-hosting, either, so I’m really looking forward to hearing more tomorrow.

    I started out on Blogger, and about three months ago a group I belong to opened a group WordPress blog. I don’t know if it’s because I started out on Blogger, but I find WordPress extremely frustrating. I have trouble commenting on WordPress blogs (with the whole .org vs .com) and even signing in to WordPress to make a comment can cause serious frustration.

    I, too, feel like Blogger looks amateurish, but I really don’t want to leave, because of the frustration I’ve experienced at WordPress and with all the work it would take to change everything. I just keep manipulating the look of my blog, hoping to one day find something that I feel looks professional enough to keep. I’m also hopeful that when I have a website as a landing page, maybe it will take up the slack for the not-as-crisp look to the blog. :)

    • #18 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on July 9, 2012 - 7:07 am

      Hi Lara
      I’m the other way round. I blog at Authors Electric and have to grapple with Blogger, which does my head in every month. Part of the problem, of course, is that I’m so used to WordPress and so any change is difficult! Although they have now upgraded the composing screen which is a lot better.
      When I was first blogging I envied Blogspot users because they seemed to have a lot more whizzy widgets – and I couldn’t find equivalents even in the WP.org plugins. But now I’ve seen a lot more blogs and know more about what I need, I’m happy with the way WP looks.

  8. #19 by Roni Loren on July 8, 2012 - 9:45 pm

    Great overview! I blogged for two years on Blogger and liked it, but it was more geared for a pure blog and not a home website. So after I got my book deal and knew I needed a more official website I started looking around. The self-hosted thing felt a little above my head, so I tried wordpress.com for a trial, but I didn’t feel like I had enough flexibility. Then I found Squarespace. It’s hosted, but you can use their site to build a really custom looking website with integrated blog. It’s not free–I think the base package is 10-12 dollars a month, but I’ve loved the platform. The system has a bit of a learning curve, but once it “clicks” in your head, which took me a couple of days of fooling with it, it’s actually very intuitive. You can adjust everything: fonts, headers, widths, arrangements, etc. I love being able to tweak the littlest thing. And my hits went way up so maybe they’re doing something better with SEO than Blogger. I’m not sure. (I did a post about building my site here if anyone is interested: http://www.roniloren.com/blog/2012/4/25/under-the-hood-how-i-built-my-author-website-atozchallenge.html).

    • #20 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on July 9, 2012 - 7:08 am

      Hi Roni – I didn’t know about Squarespace. That’s very interesting. Especially the difference you noticed in the hit rate. Thanks for commenting!

  9. #21 by Tahlia Newland on July 9, 2012 - 2:21 am

    I’m very happy with my wordpress blog which I have set up like a website, and I do have selling buttons on my Design site. You’re a bit limited in what those buttons can do (eg postage can’t be added after the buton is clicked), but if you take a look here you’ll see how well it works. http://centrepieceproductions.com/tahlias-masks-full-sized-papier-mache-masks/. My author site actually looks more personalised than the design site. I only pay for the domain names. I’m for whatever is cheapest and most simple, so long as it looks good and wordpress gives you that.

  10. #22 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on July 9, 2012 - 7:12 am

    Hi Tahlia – Your design site doesn’t look like a blog at all – terrific job. I had no idea you had this secret string to your bow. (I like ‘black velvet and silver lady’…)

  11. #23 by nadinefeldman on July 13, 2012 - 3:20 pm

    Thanks for this information. I currently have a WordPress.com site with my own URL and have been thinking about going to self-hosting because I’ve felt hamstrung by some of the limitations. Whatever I end up doing, I want to make an informed decision, so this is helpful to me. I especially appreciate some of the comments that I’ve read, which add a lot to the discussion.

    • #24 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on July 13, 2012 - 3:35 pm

      Thanks, Nadine! When you’ve decided on your particular path – eg what kind of self-hosting to go for – do come back and let us know your reasoning. It’s interesting to see how everyone has arrived at their decisions.

  12. #25 by Pamela Williamson on July 13, 2012 - 10:19 pm

    Great post! Being new to blogging, and WordPress, I had some questions. Perfect timing! I think I will go ahead, then, and get my URL. I thought I was tagging too much, but now I will tag all the more. Thanks for the info!

    • #26 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on July 14, 2012 - 2:24 pm

      Pamela, tagging is a funny business. I’ve always used a lot of them for the reasons stated. Then WordPress went through a phase of suggesting I was using too many – not in a threatening way, more of a polite throat-clearing. Then it suddenly changed its tune, and no matter how many tags I put on a post it suggested more – some of them not even relevant. So I guess multiple tagging is the thing to do!

  13. #27 by kareninglis on July 14, 2012 - 8:23 am

    Hi Roz

    This is a great post – and makes me feel much better. Like you, I have WordPress.com sites for my self publishing blog and for my children’s books. They’ve been very simple to set up and, as far as I can ascertain, the only disadvantage is not being able to to sell direct from your site. You can, however, link direct to your sales pages on Amazon, which I have done on http://www.thesecretlake.com and http://www.eeekthealien.com I had an email exchange with WordPress on this and they said it was fine to do….

    I’ve not yet got around to upgrading to have more features but will do so when I have more time….

    On the URL front, like you I own the .com urls above and have a forwarding option on them that take users to my wordpress blog and book sites… it’s a no-brainer really. And as for SEO – I work in web content for the day job. Provided your copy and sub-headers include your keywords I’m pretty sure this is the key driver – however I really must get around to using tags (which I don’t just now!)

    Thanks again for this…. I started out by reading the pro ‘self-hosted’ post and got very worried. Your blog here looks great by the way :)

    • #28 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on July 14, 2012 - 2:26 pm

      Thanks, Karen – I was getting fed up of the polarisation between the self-hosted and platform-hosted camps. Also, I suspected a number of the most shrill arguers weren’t looking at the big picture. I thought it was very interesting how Daniel, an IT guy, made good arguments for platform hosting, and people have been stopping by with their own useful blog posts on the subject! And I’m reassured by your remarks on SEO – so thanks for boosting the general knowledge level. (And thanks for the compliment on my blog)

  14. #29 by loriculwell (@loriculwell) on July 14, 2012 - 6:56 pm

    Great post! It’s good to keep this discussion going, but I have to say I firmly believe that creative types (especially authors) need to treat their work like a business, and this means owning their url and paying for hosting.

    One real issue to consider with these “free sites” is that you (the content creator) don’t necessarily hold the copyright to your own work anymore, since you’ve agreed to the terms of service of the platform provider and they could be using it in other places. Also, and we’ve seen this with Blogger a couple of times, the “free” platforms can crash, or the platforms can decide that you’ve violated their terms and totally delete your blog/ site, and then you’re left with absolutely no recourse because, simply, you get what you pay for. I have had clients with each of these problems, which would have absolutely been alleviated by them just having their own, self-hosted sites that they paid for and owned.

    As far as hackage goes, yes, this is an issue, and this is why I recommend going with a more expensive service like Zippykid or WP Engine, though it’s actually pretty simple to lock that grid hosting down. I have a list of plugins that you can use for this if anyone wants it.

    • #30 by Daniel R. Marvello on July 15, 2012 - 5:40 pm

      Lest authors panic when they see the words “you (the content creator) don’t necessarily hold the copyright to your work anymore,” I thought I’d clarify something regarding WordPress.com.

      In their terms of service, WordPress.com (a service of Automattic, Inc) states the following:
      “By submitting Content to Automattic for inclusion on your Website, you grant Automattic a world-wide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, modify, adapt and publish the Content solely for the purpose of displaying, distributing and promoting your blog.”

      Two things to note here. One is that you do not lose your copyright if you are “granting a license.” The copyright is still yours, but you have given someone permission to use your content. Second, Automattic uses this license “solely for the purpose of displaying, distributing, and promoting your blog.”

      Think about it. If you did NOT give them license to display this information, they could not put your blog up for you in the first place. EVERY hosting company has to have verbiage like this for the same reason.

      When you get hosting, you don’t “own” anything. You are borrowing space on a server, and your site is just as subject to business failure and service interruption as any other Internet resource.

      Another clause you’ll find in the terms of service for every hosting company is a disclaimer for any responsibility relating to the preservation or integrity of your content. If you lose it or they lose it for any reason, that’s just too bad for you.

      So here’s another takeaway from this discussion: Do not let your blog be the only repository of your posts, regardless of where or how your blog is hosted. In fact, you should consider composing your posts off-line and pasting them into the blog software. Another possibility is to use your blog’s export facility (if it has one), to back up your posts periodically. The only person responsible for your content is you.

      • #31 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on July 15, 2012 - 6:10 pm

        Daniel, thanks for wading into the terms and conditions and clarifying this.

        And I’d never compose straight onto the screen except for short posts that are pointing to others. I write it all in Word first and then upload. I also make regular use of the ‘Export’ function. And yes, I always check I locked the back door.

      • #32 by Daniel R. Marvello on July 15, 2012 - 7:18 pm

        Wow, Roz. You are an IT person’s dream come true.

        IT: I’m sorry but we had a server crash and the backups are corrupted.

        RM: That sucks. Oh, well, I have backup copies of everything.

        IT: [following stunned silence] We love you.

        Believe me, that is rarely how the conversation really goes.

        • #33 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on July 16, 2012 - 6:43 am

          LOL…. I’m sure there are many ways in which I’ve been an IT person’s nightmare… ‘why does this poxy thing not do what it says it’s doing…. and what is 404 anyway?’

  15. #34 by sbualum95 on July 18, 2012 - 8:52 pm

    I’m in the process of going from self-hosted to non. I just had my site redesigned through WordPress.com & my blog is through Blogger linked by a custom menu. I chose a Blogger theme that it simple & matches my site. I’ll probably pay for marysuttonauthor.com & redirect my old site to the new one.

  16. #36 by Ileandra Young on July 29, 2012 - 5:27 am

    So far the only thing bugging me about not self hosting are the little widgits I can’t use. Other than that its amazing dnd pretty much all I need and all I can afford time for right now.
    I’m firmly with you two, though I’m curious about the other side of the argument. Powerful pros may change my opinion…who knows!

    • #37 by dirtywhitecandy on July 29, 2012 - 8:55 am

      Yes, the widgets aren’t as plentiful. But when I self-hosted I learned to beware widgets – some of them don’t work, or they dent your security, or they gobble up your processing time because they’re poorly coded.

      • #38 by Ileandra Young on July 29, 2012 - 9:43 am

        I think self hosting is something I may look at way, way on from now, though the main reason I wanted it was so I could link my radio show in with a Spreaker widget. If they really do have problems like harming security, maybe for now its good that I can’t do it! I didn’t realise they could be potentially problematic.

  17. #39 by nosheenakhtar on October 20, 2012 - 8:22 pm

    Reblogged this on Free Soft Fire.

  18. #40 by philipparees on February 24, 2013 - 10:54 pm

    Very critical timing this! I have clung like a limpet to WordPress.com despite feeling that all masters of the IT world were tugging at my kicking legs( mixed metaphor..limpet with legs?…well yes) to insist on self hosting. The lack of a paypal shopping cart button was the principal reason but a Donate button that is geared to include postage seems to be acceptable ( and lets face it as indie published donate is what it is!) until success kicks in which it may never do. I love the ease of .com, and the helpful ‘my pleasure volunteers’ and the instant try out themes. Probably because it was the first IT home that I hung up my pictures and laid out my books. BUT One question How does one back up? a site? I never have!

    • #41 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on February 25, 2013 - 9:17 am

      Hi Philippa!
      You don’t need a Donate button. Or a Paypal shopping cart. Just link to the online shops where people can buy your book. Or ask them to email and then you can send a Paypal invoice. 3rd option – use Gumroad, a selling site, though it may be only be good for ebooks. https://gumroad.com/
      Backing up is easy. Go to Tools and pick Export. Then you can export the entire site to your computer, with all the posts, tags and pictures. The only thing it doesn’t export is your sidebar. It’s not a huge file either, so you don’t need to worry about choking your hard drive.

  19. #42 by philipparees on February 25, 2013 - 4:09 pm

    Lord the simplest things I do not know! I should pay you a retainer. Thanks Roz The direct sale of Ist Edition Book was to offer something better (more valuable) than the LS POD via Amazon, But the email option, although viable might lose the cooling impulse.

    • #43 by Sueli Vieira on February 25, 2013 - 4:17 pm

      What about a Paypal button? As the buyer clicks on it, she/he is directed to an invoice you have previously created.

  20. #44 by philipparees on February 25, 2013 - 4:29 pm

    Thanks Sueli. The invoice I ‘have previously created’ sits where? On another page? I can presumably link the paypal button to that page. And then? Or? I have set up a paypal ‘donate’ button (with a defined fixed amount) which has worked (once). But it seems that a variable Paypal amount ( as per invoice…including postage for example) is not possible on Wp.com. Or am I just being very dim?

    • #45 by Sueli Vieira on February 25, 2013 - 4:39 pm

      The invoice is saved in your Paypal account. The button (Buy Now, or whatever you want to call it) should be positioned right next to your book on your website. You should create a different invoice for each product, so each button is linked to one particular invoice. You can choose to add postage according to the destination (when you create your Paypal invoice) or you may add a fixed amount and say “Shipping and Handling Included for continental US only”
      See this Gift Certificate payment options I have created for a client’s website (she is selling services instead of a product) http://drlaurawood.com/gift_certificate.html
      When you create your invoice, Paypal generates the code that should be then inserted in your website. Each invoice has its own button code.

      • #46 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on February 25, 2013 - 8:25 pm

        Sueli, will this work on WordPress.com? They’ve always said you can’t do any commerce on a WordPress.com website. (Though who’s to say you can’t get an upgrade that allows this.)
        And don’t you have to create a separate invoice for every individual, by keying in their email address? Or does this link take you to an invoice that asks them for these details so they customise it themselves?
        Thank you, BTW, for the detailed and generous advice you’re giving here. Much appreciated!

        • #47 by Sueli Vieira on February 25, 2013 - 9:03 pm

          Roz, Yes you can add PayPal buttons to WordPress.com.
          Here is the link to a detailed explanation on how to do it.

          http://en.support.wordpress.com/paypal/

          I only see a donation option though.
          If a Buy Now button is possible, the right place to ask is directly to PayPal. They have a great customer service.

          When the buyer clicks on the button and is directed to Paypal, the buyer can either log into their Paypal account if they have one, or just use a credit card to pay.

          Paypal takes care of the buyer. You only need to create one invoice per product or service sold.

  21. #48 by philipparees on February 25, 2013 - 5:10 pm

    Thank you so very much Sueli! I will try that forthwith. Very kind help and so much appreciated. Philippa

  22. #49 by philipparees on February 25, 2013 - 8:39 pm

    Your last question was mine equally Roz. I have paid for a package of upgrades but no mention of commerce…yet from the Forum I gleaned that providing you are selling what you have made…and I reckon I have done that! it is Ok. Have not yet had time to work my way through the alternatives on Paypal but since paypal does not even require a website…presumably a link to them from a website ( as from an email) should work as Sueli suggests? But I will be interested in her confirmation.

    • #50 by Sueli Vieira on February 25, 2013 - 9:08 pm

      Paypal does not require a website because it generates the code for the button (this code has the link to the image and the necessary instructions to communicate with PayPal and perform the transaction).
      You need to grab that code and insert it into your website, or even several websites. Some Paypal codes are used to be inserted in emails.

      In the example http://en.support.wordpress.com/paypal/ instead of a code, they are generating a link where the code is stored.

  1. Blogging for authors – should you be self-hosted? Part 2: two bloggers who favour self-hosting « Nail Your Novel
  2. New “Gift” excerpt, Website-hosting Debate, etc. « Tracking the Words: a yearly cycle
  3. WRITING ON THE ETHER: Silly Season | Jane Friedman
  4. Writing Blog Treasures 7~14 | Gene Lempp ~ Writer
  5. Friday Fry-Up — Speakeasy
  6. Should You Self-Host Your Blog or Website? | Jane Friedman
  7. On Blogging: Why, ‘self,’ are you still living as a half committed blogger? | Simply Charming
  8. When Should We Upgrade to a Paid Site? | Jami Gold, Paranormal Author
  9. Useful tools to start a blog
  10. How much time should writers spend blogging and building websites? | Nail Your Novel

Your turn!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,596 other followers

%d bloggers like this: