Or…how I switched to a WordPress self-hosted blogging platform—making every mistake possible!
So…I thought I’d go “professional” with my blogging! I have enjoyed blogging off and on (mostly off recently), and I wanted to spiff up my WordPress.com blog and get more serious about blogging! I’d let my homeschool blog go dormant for awhile with life, drama, moving, schoolwork, and home projects filling in the gaps.
Since I clearly have nothing to do, I’ve decided to get into blogging again! I enjoy writing, and am eager to get back in the saddle.
First things first
But…my husband needed his website set up. “No problem,” I thought. “I’ve used WordPress.com to blog. Shouldn’t be much to it! I’ll bet I can do it and save him $100!”
I’ll set up my husband’s WordPress self-hosted website
And so I dove right in! I was eager to get moving along, so that I could get to my real goal of setting up my own self-hosted blog. I blundered through that set up. It only took me about five days to set up a simple website, a process that I’d read could take place in thirty minutes. That seems to be life for me! If anyone is curious, https://www.littleastree.com/here is my husband’s site, which still needs some tweaking, but is live!
Learn WP.org as you go…
Setting up my husband’s site was not difficult. I just had never done plug-ins, knew nada about SEOs, or anything that was not already loaded onto the basic WordPress.com site. Let me say that although I got pretty frustrated at how long I took to get it done, I really did learn a lot. I eventually came to rely on the http://WPBeginner.com site—and this is not a commercial for them. However, I truly was a beginner at the self-hosted world, and appreciated the step by-step tutorials.
Setting up my OWN WP.org site
Once I succeeded in getting my husband’s website set up, which is a very simple site, I plunged ahead into setting up my own self-hosted blogging site. Purchasing my domain and obtaining my web hosting was super simple. I opted to go with SiteGround, because of the good reviews I’d read. I believe that this could have been a good host for my blogging adventure, but it did not turn out to work for me. Here’s why (and let me just say that it took me two long days of tech support by chat, phone, calls to the phone company, and more to determine this information): We are off grid. Therefore, in our location, we can’t get internet service, and I rely on my cell phone’s hotspot. This works out great for us in most way. We have no worries about an internet bill, can pretty much watch what we want on YouTube and Amazon Prime, and we have unlimited minutes and data, so everybody’s happy.
Happy bubble bursting. I can’t use my hotspot for my self hosted blog.
Our happy world ended when I tried to use my hotspot to power my self-hosted site. Everything seemed to work well, except that I COULD NOT get into cPanel. Not with the app, nor with the connection via SiteGround. Initially, I thought that I was doing something wrong. However, after consulting many online forums, clearing all my caches and cookies, and doing everything else suggested by tech support, we still could not access the control panel. Finally, I took a trip into town to log onto my parents’ computer, and voila! I logged in successfully on the first try! Then I knew what I had suspected—it was a problem with me using my hotspot for the internet.
Static IP Address needed
It all boiled down to my IP address. Turns out that when using a cell phone, at least with our service (Cricket), the IP address is not static, and logging into cPanel requires a static IP. This is the layman’s explanation. Someone smarter about tech stuff could explain this better than I can, but if you can’t get your phone company to assign a static IP, then a hotspot won’t work. Apparently, some internet providers can do this. For us, it would work out much better if we had a regular internet service, but, alas, that’s just not a possibility for us on our off-grid homestead.
The story continues…
I canceled SiteGround and signed up for DreamHost, because they were one of the few web hosting services that does not use cPanel. That was easy too.
Getting WordPress installed up via the one click WordPress was simple. But when I got there, I didn’t find all of the familiar features like my .com blogging site boasted. I know you’re thinking, “Duh! That’s so obvious!” Obvious or not, logging onto a blank WordPress site is still somewhat disconcerting.
My blog transfer
The WPbeginner.com site proved to be helpful here also. I just followed their basic tutorial for setting up a WordPress site, transfer your old blog to a new, and the one about which plugins to use if you’re just beginning. That went well, except that only two-thirds of my old blog posts migrated with the transfer, and at least half of those had mixed up pictures–as in the photo from one post showed up on the wrong post. Very frustrating!
Why? I had no idea why the old posts did not transfer properly, so I used the WP Reset plugin and deleted everything and tried several times more. No success, and could not find any forums to help me. I figured I would need to just transfer those manually.
My first blog post
Now I moved onto writing my new post. I used the tips from Yoast SEO to get my post up to SEO standards, and this is where I made a big assumption that caused me a lot of grey hairs! I noticed that my post settings (permalinks) only showed the date and time, not the title of my post. Naturally, I wanted to be SEO visible, so I CHANGED THE PERMALINK SETTINGS! BIG MISTAKE! Only, I was too green to know what I’d done.
Don’t change the permalinks on your blog posts unless it’s not live, or unless you know what you’re doing!
(I will say that I have read that choosing the POST permalink structure is better to be seen via SEO than the default settings, but it’s just important that you don’t do it if you already have many posts, or if you don’t know how to go into your code to fix the broken permalinks it could cause)
Anyway, I blissfully kept on blogging, adding my affiliate links, my SEO titles, and just what I thought I was supposed to be doing. My new messages got linked to my old WordPress.com site so that the WP reader could see them. I had no idea that me clicking that little box had caused my site to actually go invisible! Naively, I believed that since my site was brand new, that those settings wouldn’t be a big deal. But every time I linked my blog, it apparently caused more jumbles in my code. Maybe it was because I’d migrated many posts, which had a permalink setting one way, and my new ones had a different permalink structure.
Eventually, I tried to go out of my site and log in, and noticed a white screen with the “Index Of” message across the top. Strange. But since I could still get in via my WordPress login, I didn’t worry about it. I kept making changes, to get my old posts up to date, to make my site more visible, etc. But, I did notice that sometimes I’d still see that Index Of message. It wasn’t until I consistently tried logging in as a guest that I started to get that queasy feeling. My site was inaccessible from the outside. Nobody could see it, no matter how great it looked to me from inside! Aargh!
Back to the forums and tutorials I headed! Most of the tips I found involved going into my blogging site’s code and making changes, most of which I had no idea how to even do! I watched multiple videos, tried the suggestions that I could understand, and got nowhere.
Next I went into my files via FileZilla, and followed the videos that I found promising to fix my error, but kept hitting a brick wall! I literally got to the point of tears, because this process took place over a week’s time, from when I got my site going until that point. SO MUCH TIME wasted over that simple click!
A Birthday Wish
My birthday came. I was DETERMINED to get this site up and running, because all I wanted to do was blog! My husband noticed my dismay, and he had also heard about all of my woes! He asked kindly, “Have you prayed about this?”
“Yes, a little.”
Actually, I had cried to the Lord in my distress, but just had not felt like I could hear any answer at all. Well, not any answers that I wanted to hear, anyway. I had just taken some prayer time, and had the idea of just deleting every post, but quickly dismissed that, since I didn’t know if it would help.
“Have you considered just erasing everything and starting over?”
“Yes, I have, I just didn’t want to lose everything.” But, in reality, I had already lost days of productivity, and with my experience so far, I knew that the setting up of the site was the easy part, as long as I didn’t click anything that I shouldn’t!
Finally, even though I did not really want to admit defeat, I had peace. I would go back to square one. Half my posts needed fixing anyway, because of the transfer, and I knew I could get it right this time.
I decided to go about it like a chicken at first–I’d delete my posts first to see if that would fix things. I found a plug-in called WordPress Reset, that promised to keep my theme and plugins. We did the reset, which worked properly; but I found that I still had that Index Of error on my site. After that, I just did a complete uninstall through my DreamHost web hosting side, then went ahead and did the One Click Install again.
Back to square one
After this very long tale of my errors, I quickly set up my new WordPress blog site. This is my new first post for my blogging journey. It took me days of frustration to get here, but I am finally happy to say that I am launching my new blogging journey here!
Maybe I will still try to migrate my old site into this one, but one at a time, as I get the time!
What is the take-home lesson?
While this is a homschooling blog, it is also a blog about learning lessons of life. If I can help even one person to resist the urge to click on that permalink button, I will save one person a ton of tears! And for anyone who is chuckling by now at my foolish blunders, just be happy that you know better than to make the mistakes that I’ve made!
Watch for more true stories from our home in the future! And good luck as you try to set up you own WordPress self-hosted blog! Happy blogging!