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The Basics of Understanding Self-Hosting

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Self-hosting is a really difficult process, especially for beginner bloggers. Since I have gone self-hosted, I feel like I have learned so much about blogging that I didn’t even understand before.

I’ve been hearing a lot of questions asked about having a self-hosted blog. Questions like, “what’s it really like when you have a self-hosted blog?” or like, “what do I get from having a self-hosted blog?” or simpler questions like, “What is self-hosting?”

The truth is, I was as clueless as they were before I got into this path. I didn’t know what it meant to have a self-hosted blog.

So, after having my personal experience and reading a lot about being self-hosted, I decided to make a simple yet informational post for those who don’t quite get the hang of the whole self-hosting idea.

Throughout this post, I will try to explain the basics of understanding what self-hosting means. Let’s start with the question: What is Self-hosting?

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What is Self-hosting?

In order to blog, you have to use a blogging platform where you can publish your blogs and connect with other bloggers too.

Some of these platforms are WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, etc. Among these, probably the most common platform is WordPress.com.

WordPress.com is the free blogging platform of WordPress that uses its own server to compile all of your account’s data, posts, and such, in order for your website to have free space on the internet.

Having a free account is kind of like having an apartment with no rent. Kinda cool right? Your website, where you post your content, is hosted by those people who run WordPress.com.

Self-hosting, on the other hand, is the process of personally hosting all of your website’s property by a specific web server. This means that you get to fully control your website from the design to the maintenance specifics.

From your intellectual properties like your posts to deciding your data space, managing updates, to whatever theme you want to have on your website. These can be done when you go self-hosted.

When you’re not self-hosted, everything is run by your free service providers, you have a custom domain (the one that ends in .wordpress.com) and not your own domain, and everything is maintained for you.

Self-hosting means you can buy your own web property (from self-hosting providers) and build your own website without restrictions, depending on your availed plan, and have your own domain.

There are self-hosted platforms that you can use when you decide to go self-hosting. A very famous platform is the WordPress.org platform. This is the WordPress for self-hosted websites.

WordPress.com VS WordPress.org

During my first months in blogging, I also had a hard time differentiating WordPress.com and WordPress.org, but since we figured out the whole process of going self-hosting, this part will be much easier for us to understand.

WordPress.org is a self-hosted blogging platform. In here, you can fully control your plugins, your themes, updates, JetPack, SEO, and such.

Note that this is different from the Premium, Personal, and Business accounts that WordPress.com offers.

WordPress.com is easier, has a free plan, and a much simpler platform WordPress launched. You can make a free account but it comes with restrictions such as installing other plugins, uploading themes, lesser SEO support, etc.

WordPress.com also offers paid plans wherein you can unlock more and more features as you avail of the highest-priced plan.

Pooja made a very comprehensive review of the different WordPress paid plans. You can check them out here.

Although upgrading into a plan on WordPress.com is a bit overpriced even if more features are available, you still can’t entirely control your website. A very helpful article in differentiating these two platforms can be found here.

Personally, I chose self-hosting because it cost me less than what those plans offer. Greater range of possibilities for my website with lesser costs annually.

Advantage and Disadvantages of Free and Self-hosted

If you have any plans on making your own website, or if you already have one, and you’re thinking of changing your blogging strategy, I hope that this section will help you make a decision.

To get a clearer view of self-hosted and free-hosted websites, let’s talk about the advantages and disadvantages of both WordPress.com (free hosting) and WordPress.org (self-hosted) and use this as an example.


WordPress.com is easy to navigate, to maintain, and control. If you’re not that tech-savvy and you want to drift from those technicalities your website may encounter, WordPress.com is the right choice for you.

WordPress offers automated back-ups and maintenance or troubleshooting so you won’t really have so much trouble in figuring out your website’s issues.

It has a free plan, if you’re on a tight budget and if you really don’t plan on growing and monetizing your blog, this is good for you.

Also, WordPress free plans and other plans are stable, and website crashing and long loading time isn’t really a problem.

Although your paid plan may provide fewer restrictions from your website, and may also enable you to monetize it, it’s not guaranteed that your website will maintain its stability throughout time.

WordPress can shut down your site or you may encounter more complicated problems that may eventually push you to move into another platform.


Now, let’s talk about the self-hosted platform like WordPress.org. There are many things you can do to your website when you use this platform. You can:

  • Upload themes
  • Install as many plugins as you want
  • Establish your website accordingly for better SEO
  • Monetize your blog via affiliate links
  • Have a more professional identity on the internet
  • Have your website’s own email address
  • Establish a subdomain
  • Get more traffic views
  • Manage your own database
  • Rank better in Google

I agree that there are a lot more perks in going self-hosted. But you know, as spiderman says, with great power comes great responsibility. The downside of having a self-hosted website is that you have to carefully maintain it and be more responsible now that you have your own web property.

Also, you may encounter trouble every now and then if you don’t know how to maintain your website. You are also responsible for your website’s own updates, managing back-ups, and figuring out how errors can be avoided.

Luckily, everything about it can be learned and there are hosting providers that can help you with maintaining your website.

Below is a table of some of the advantages and disadvantages of going free and self-hosted process.

Free Hosting (WordPress.com)Easy to navigate and control
Has a free plan
No need for maintenance
Free custom domain
Has paid plans with lesser restrictions
On-demand support
Can easily be taken down
A lot of restrictions
Doesn’t promote your website professionally
Self-hosting (WordPress.org)Upload themes
Install as many plugins as you want
Establish your website accordingly for better SEO
Monetize your blog via affiliate links
Have a more professional identity on the internet
Have your website’s own email address
Establish a subdomain
Get more traffic views
Manage your own database
Rank in Google
Requires hard work for maintenance
Needs regular check up
High maintenance
Quite more complicated with technicalities

Best Hosting Providers

Google says, a hosting provider is, “a company that enables businesses and individuals to make their websites available through the World Wide Web.” They are the ones who will help you set up your own property on the internet.

There are a lot of self-hosted service providers that you can look upon the internet but always make sure to do your research first before availing anything for your website, or else, you might end up spending too much or too little and not liking your results.

Each hosting provider differs based on their offers so pick one that is best suited for you. Here are some of the best hosting websites that I’m sure you can trust. Here are some of the best hosting providers 


BlueHost is the most compatible web hosting provider for WordPress users. Aside from their low priced plans, you can also have a free domain for one year and also a free SSL certificate. They have greatly reduced their price from $7.99 to $3.99/month and come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Build your website with Bluehost!


Hostinger is my chosen web hosting provider, and apparently, they are the leading hosting provider that offers the cheapest single plan! Thanks to Jirah, and her blog post about her self-hosting process, I discovered Hostinger, and I went for it right away.

If you have a tight budget in making your website, Hostinger is the right web hosting platform for you. They offer up at least $0.99/month that comes with a free SSL certificate, and very accommodating customer service! So far, if I’m having trouble, I just email them, and sometimes they do the work for you. 

Build your website with Hostinger


I have heard of SiteGround’s great technical services. They are powered by Google Cloud and are also officially recommended by WordPress.org. SiteGround is in the Top 10 list of the best hosting providers this year. Their plan starts at $6.99/month with unlimited databases and free CDN.


HostGator is also one of the cheapest hosting providers with a single plan that costs $2.75/month. This comes with unmetered bandwidth and free WordPress tools that come with a longer 45-day money-back guarantee. They also offer a free website transfer.

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The reason why I have gone self-hosted was that I really felt like there were a lot of things I couldn’t do with my free blog– like I was restricted from letting it grow.

I wanted to have a full blog make-over badly because I loved blogging and I want to be able to handle it on my own, make it look pretty and all.

Monetizing my blog wasn’t much of my priority, but I admit that if I would spend some money creating a website that I worked hard for, might as well be a good idea to make small money out of it so that my expenses would lessen, and I would have extra support on the things I need like for my school allowance.

Also, doing so pushes me to create great content for my readers. In return, I grow as a blogger and a content writer.

I hope you have learned something from this post.

Are you self-hosted? Do you find self-hosting easy to maintain? What are the problems that you encounter during your self-hosting process? Would you like to go self-hosted? 🙂 Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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  • Janis

    Thanks for this Elle! I am curious! I was using WordPress.org to host my site (random choice – no reason but the instant availability) but then I stopped blogging for a while so I didn’t find the service practical to continue. I am currently studying about your post… thanks for making it easier to understand…

    • Elle

      What hosting provider di u use before with wordpress.org? haha I agree! It wouldn’t be practical if we availed one and we didn’t continue blogging. I think going self-hosted is for us if we decide to have a long term plan for our blog and if we plan to grow our audience too. Hope you think about going self-hosted! :> Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Janis! xo

  • Beaton

    I walk the fine line of self-hosted, free-hosted and a paid wordpress.com plan.
    Each platform has its merits and disadvantages and at the end of the day the most important thing is to figure out what exactly your plan with your website is to figure out how best to host it.


    • Elle

      I agree. Your intentions with your website is a huge part of deciding whether which is best for you. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by, Beaton. xo

  • Richie

    Hi Elle. I sort of jumped straight in to self-hosted blogging and never tried free hosting. From what I’ve discovered subsequently I think that I made the right move! I’m with a UK hosting firm called Krystal and have found them to be very good, especially on the support side of things (which is handy for a beginner like me!).

    • Elle

      Yes, I agree. There could be a lot of changes and it could take so much time if you’ve had a couple of years being free-hosted and then moving to self-hosting. You really made the right move, Richie. 🙂 I’m glad you’re doing well with your hosted platform. Hostinger has been so much helpful for me too when I availed self-hosting. Hehe Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Richie! xo

  • Jaya Avendel

    I am currently not self-hosted yet but it is something I have been looking into for a while! A lot of research has to go into finding the right host for me!
    I did recently go for a paid WordPress plan, but only because it was half off, which made it worth it for me to try for this year. We will see if I like the benefits of the paid plan enough to renew it next year.
    Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on self-hosting along with a handful of potential website hosts!

    • Elle

      You should definitely do research first, yes. Hahaha I found that the hard way. Luckily it turned out well for me haha. I couldn’t afford paid plans on WordPress, but it’s a smart move what you did. Hope it turns out well for you too, Jaya! thanks for sharing your thoughts. :> xo

  • PoojaG

    This post could not have come at a more perfect time because I am actually currently in the process of moving to a self-hosted site. This is so super helpful thank you! And thanks for adding the link to my post!

    • Elle

      I really found your post helpful too. Because at before I didn’t understand what paid plans meant and if it was considered self-hosting or not. Turns out there’s another WordPress that’s for self-hosted. HAHAHA I hope you try out the hosting providers I listed on this post! Let me know about your self-hosting process! hihi Thanks for your thoughts, Pooja! :> xo

    • PoojaG

      I will and I am definitely looking into the providers you listed! Thank you and I’m glad you could understand the plans better now.

  • Janis

    HostGator… a friend helped me set it up and hooked me up with tons of affiliate programs too… I was really active but when it’s become WORK, it can get tiresome. I realize I don’t blog for money… I got lazy…
    Yes, one really needs to plan; it can get expensive especially if you’re not really planning on earning from it. It’s like keeping an expensive journal that you never use. I was so serious about spending on my blog that my themes were created by https://www.fancygirldesignstudio.com/

    I was obsessed that I forgot that writing is the most important thing in blogging 😀

    • Elle

      Yes, that too. I agree. It can get serious sometimes because we’re pressured to produce content and promote at the same time. Hahaha Also, I think earning from your website is only more quickly effective for those bloggers who made blogging their source of income. But or others who have different work, it can take years before they start seeing passive income from their affiliate programs. But, all things are greatly possible with time and continuous effort. :> Thanks for sharing this, Janis! Will check out some themes! hihi xo

    • Elle

      Oh, thank you! <3 You're too sweet! Let me know if you need anything regarding it. I think going self-hosted will really help you grow your audience and use it for your freelance work too. You can reach me always via email! :) xo

  • Anthony Gaenzle

    This is a nice guide. I think a lot of bloggers are confused about their options, and typically a lot of bloggers don’t realize this is an option. You’ve laid out the case for self-hosting nicely!

    • Elle

      Thanks, Anthony! I have been confused with it too, but I’m glad that this post has become helpful for some. 🙂 Thanks for your thoughts, Anthony! I appreciate you.

  • Paul

    Hi again, Elle,
    Those two disadvantages – high maintenance and technical ability required – are the ones that give me the most problems. I’m a level (maybe…two) above a caveman when it comes to my ability to navigate technology. I use Wix and am satisfied enough with it now, though it has its limitations. I almost gave up on it after the first year because it wasn’t user-friendly. However, last year, the New Wix Blog came out and has been so much better and not as buggy as the former version. Anyway, interesting read and I learned something I didn’t know. That’s a good thing. Paul

    • Elle

      Hi, Paul! I hope you’re doing good. 😊 I haven’t tried wix though but I can understand the limitations. I can’t comment on some of my friends’ post because wix said I needed to make an account, I guess that’s a problem too for being not too user friendly. But I’m glad you found something u can work with, I really love how you write and your platform doesn’t really matter, it matters what you write. 😊💕 Thanks again for stopping by, Paul. xo

  • Suresh Allu

    Elle, your crystal clear explanation has given in depth knowledge about different hosting options available.

    An well explained blog post which is very helpful for every blogger.

    Thanks for sharing such awesome article 😍😍

    • Elle

      Thank u, Suresh! I’m glad you found this helpful, I admire your blogging posts, I think they’re very useful and informative too. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. 😊💕

  • Bridget Marie

    Great article! I know I was super confused when I first started my blog about the differences between the two, so I think this post can be super helpful, especially for beginners! I chose to go for self-hosting and I’m really happy about my choice. I think it’s pretty easy to maintain, you just have to learn the basics at first and then you learn the rest as you go! 🙂

    • Elle

      Hi, Bridget! I know, it can be very confusing, as I was confused before too. Haha luckily, all things can be learned. I’m glad you found peace in self-hosting. Although I much prefer this than other options, I still encounter some management problems but I think I can get a hang of it. Haha thanks for stopping by. <3

  • Tiphany

    I am self hosted and I love the flexibility. There are a ton of free plugins to keep the cost low. Of course they can slow down your site too so I only do what I need.

    • Elle

      Hi, Tiphany! Yes, installing plugins that you just need is a great tip because too much plugins can really slow down your site. I learned it when I started self-hosting too. 🙂 Thanks so much for stopping by! xo

    • Elle

      Hi Pooja! Thanks so much for the mention! :> And I do hope this process will be successful. Let me know if I can be of help. Hihi xx

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