Self-Hosting: My Experience So Far and How I Did It

Self-Hosting

When I first thought about creating my blog, I had no intention of going self-hosted. Self-hosting was the thing that established bloggers did; the ones will lots of followers and interactions and really pretty sites.

I’d decided I’d create a free blog on WordPress.com – it would give me enough functionality to blog as I wanted to for a while. It would give me the chance to see if I stuck with it, to see if anyone was even interested in my rambling about yarn and patterns and recipes. So I went with it, set up my blog and then did some reading on promoting your blog and growing your followers. I set up BlogLovin. I set up Twitter. I joined blogging Facebook groups.

But most of the things I read pointed to self-hosted being the way forwards.

So what made me decide to go self-hosted?

  • Almost everything I was reading suggested self-hosting give you the most options to increase followers/readers/subscribers
  • The customisation options available on a self-hosted WordPress.org site are far better
  • I could use plugins to really work on making my posts as good as possible, and improve my SEO
  • The blog would be mine
  • I could use my own domain name, and not have the WordPress branding in my domain (which, I’ll be honest, is probably the one thing that irritated me the most about a free WordPress!)
  • It would potentially open up more doors to be able to do collaborations, work with brands, and make money from my blog. I’ve not got any real plans for this at the moment, as I’m so new to blogging, but self-hosting seems to be the way forward if you do want to make any money from your blog!
  • I might be more likely to stick with blogging, as I’ve invested in it already.
  • It made sense to do it sooner rather than later, as that way I wouldn’t have as much information to transfer over

Disclaimer: The sites I recommend and link to in this post are my own, personal recommendations. I have not received anything to promote the companies mentioned, and this post talks about my own, subjective experiences.

How did I do it?

I started by researching managed wordpress hosting. I googled it, I read on forums, I read on social media and tried to work out which host would be best for what I needed. There is ALOT out there on which hosts are good, which plans offer real value for money etc. I’ll be honest, one of the big things for me was cost. At the moment, our budget is stretched to it’s limits, so I knew I wouldn’t be able to afford a massive monthly fee. But equally I wanted to go with a hosting provider that was reputable. I read an article on the best wordpress hosting providers in 2018 on Techradar. It mentioned all the hosts I’d come across in my readings, plus a couple of others.

Which Plan Did I Choose?

I decided to have a look at 1&1 – as Techradar recommended it for the novice blogger (that would be me!). The 1&1 Basic WordPress package is only 99p (+VAT) per month, for the first year. It also includes a free domain name for the first year. The renewal costs for anything after the first year are reasonable too, and you can pay monthly, rather than annually – which for me was a big plus! The plan also includes and SSL certificate and DDoS protection (I honestly don’t know what that really means, but I had read it is important to have this). I read some reviews and decided to give it a try!

The process of buying the plan and setting up the domain was really simple. It took around 24 hours for everything to be sorted, and to be able to access my control panel. First of all I set up my domain and SSL certificate, and then began the process of setting up WordPress. It was really straightforward and my site was up within about 15 minutes! I also set up my email address, installed a simple theme and then set to work on finding out how to transfer my posts from my original WordPress.com site.

Moving My Posts to my New Blog

This was the bit I thought would take the most time. It turned out, by following a few simple steps, I had moved my posts over to my self-hosted blog. I found this step by step tutorial by WPBeginner to be awesome. I only wanted to move my posts, so I can’t comment on how it works for anything else, but I found the process really simple. Just remember to extract the XML file that you download!!

Self-Hosting Success

So that, in a nutshell, is how I went self-hosted! It was nowhere near as scary and technical as I thought it was going to be. I’m finding adding posts and updating my site is still fairly intuitive with the WordPress.org platform – althought there is more functionality that I have yet to figure out!

I’ve started to use some plugins that were recommended on WPBeginner, but it’s early days yet and I’m still working on trying to understand those. (Once I know which ones I like, and the ones I use, I’ll pop a post up about the plugins I have found most useful).

I hope this helps anyone thinking about going self hosted. If you are about to take the plunge, or have any questions, leave me a comment or drop me an email – sarah@dottycraft.co.uk

 

Sarah x

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A Week of Sunshine

Well, it has been a pretty busy week of sunshine for me! Lots going on, and a few changes in store. It has also been a beautiful sunny week – the perfect example of a Great British summer. I have had a chance to enjoy that in the garden with my favourite people!

Enjoying the Summer

 

Pink Sweet Williams

I’ve been waiting for these flowers to bloom in the garden for a while now; the gorgeous sunshine has finally encouraged them to blossom and I love the vibrant pink colours. They make the mornings look brighter and the evenings prettier.

I’ve made a real effort over the last week to keep my “proper” camera within easy reach. As I’m using a really old phone at the moment (due to a washing machine disaster at Christmas with my main phone) I know that my little old iPhone 4 isn’t really up to taking the best photos. I’ve got some super photos of my girl enjoying time in the garden in her paddling pool, as well as some garden photos, and even a blue sky photo, complete with aeroplanes… So in the midst of Winter, I can look back and remember the glorious weather we’ve had recently.

Blue Skies and Aeroplane

 

Crafts and Hobbies

I’ve also been able to do a little bit on my cross stitch project. The awesome Woodland Sampler from The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery has been sat on my stitching frame for far too long. On Monday, after an important appointment (more on that in a later post), I decided to sit in the garden and do a bit more on the sampler. I love TFPS projects; they are cute, colourful and really easy to follow. Mr and Little DottyCraft bought this pattern for my birthday. Once it is finished, I plan to have it framed for Georgie’s bedroom.

Garden Stitching

The fabric I’m using is from Chromatic Alchemy, and the colour is called Nimbus. I adore using hand dyed fabrics for my cross stitch projects. There are so many fantastic artisans creating the most amazing colours – it is a bit of an addiction in itself just collecting the pretty fabrics! Chromatic Alchemy is one of my favourites, and I highly recommend checking out the website if you want to ogle some beautiful fabrics.

Reading

You might also have noticed the book in the photograph too. I’m really trying to make an effort to read more, especially because our new shiny library opened last Summer and it is within easy walking distance, so I really have no excuse! I do find it hard to choose and stick with a book sometimes though… Am I hooked in the first chapter? I am not a huge fan of chick-lit books either, and the plot has to keep me really focused.

At the moment, I’m really enjoying historical fiction, and my current book is The Italian Wife by Kate Furnivall. I’m about a third through and I’m enjoying it a lot. I try to make sure to have it in my backpack for trips on the bus to and from work, as for me, that is the best time for me to fit reading a chapter or two in.

 

How I’ve Been Getting Organised

One of the reasons I decided to start a blog was because I needed to “switch off” from work and from the office. But in attempting to do that, I knew I would need to do something to really organise and focus my working days. This is so that I don’t feel guilty about not checking in with work related stuff on my days off.

I’ve been a fan of bullet journaling for a while, and made a start on my very first bullet journal earlier this year. Of course, with work, life, and my need to try and make it all pretty and perfect, I lost my way with it for a bit. But after seeing a post on a Facebook Group recently about how someone used their bullet journal for work, I decided it would be a great chance to get back into it, and use the bullet journal system for a very specific purpose.

I used it last week and am going to set up this week later on, and I plan to put a separate blog post up about how I’m using my bullet journal for work. So keep an eye out for that very soon πŸ™‚

I’ve also taken the plunge with my blog this weekend, and gone self-hosted. It’s still very new as I only went “live” this morning. I really want to share with you my experience and what I have done and learned in my self-hosting journey so far. Once I am a bit more familiar with things, and can put it into something meaningful, I will do a separate post.

Phew, I think that’s about it for now! Thanks for reading.

Sarah x

 

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Mid Week Motivation

Gowhere

I’m just going to leave this here, as I get ready for a potentially very difficult and gruelling day in the office. But I’m feeling OK about it; this quote sums up really well how I’m feeling, and there is a light at the end of this little tunnel!

I’ll explain in my next blog post what I have done to change everything around, and how I tackled it. It’s been an exciting and tough week so far… here’s to hopefully having a much calmer rest of the week!

Have a great Wednesday! πŸ™‚

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5 of my favourite crochet gift ideas for teachers

 

 

Yesterday was Georgie’s last settling in session at reception, before she starts her “big school” journey in September. In just one month’s time, her preschool days will be over and another chapter will begin for us all. She has had the most amazing year at preschool, and has come on in leaps and bounds. The staff are absolutely fantastic, and it’s safe to say I will miss them myself when its time to move on. I started on a little quest to find some cute and easy to stitch up gift ideas, so that over the coming weeks I can make some little leaving gifts for the ladies who have given Georgie such a brilliant start, and built her confidence in so many areas. So, I thought I’d share my favourite five crochet gifts for teachers with you!

Kawaii Apple Keychain

I absolutely love Spin a YarnΒ  crochet’s cute amigurumi patterns, and this little apple keychain is so adorable! I also love how it is worked in flat rows, and in the awesome ragdoll style of some of the other patterns! It is quite a small pattern though, and does require stuffing and safety eyes – but is just so cute! πŸ™‚

Coffee Cup Cosies

These are a great bet for teachers, who always have a good mug – and with the number of reusable coffee cups going up, you can be sure a cup cosy will always make a great gift! There are plenty of crochet patterns for these cosies online, and a considerable number of free patterns. This one is one of my favourites – and I love the idea of using felties to stick on and make them even more adorable! You could also use pretty buttons or ribbons, if you can’t get hold of felties easily. I particularly love Sewrella’s pattern for these though, as it’s free and simple, and you can also print off the free cardboard insert to make it look really professional.

Crochet Flower Bookmark

These look so pretty and the pattern appears to be fairly simple – and fast to work up. Bookmarks make great teacher gifts – what teacher doesn’t have a book somewhere? I love these so much, I think I might even make one for myself! πŸ™‚ They are also a great way to try out cotton yarn – I’ve got a bit lying around so will give these a go.

Simple Crochet Coaster

When I was first learning to crochet, a coaster was one of the first designs I tried – it’s small, not too complicated and finishes up easily. These would make great teacher gifts, and are perfect if you are just beginning with crochet too! I also think these look absolutely fab in variegated yarns. Oh, and if you struggle to follow a written pattern, this video tutorial is the one I used to learn from so I can highly recommend!

Crochet Jar Jacket

I just love how colourful these are, and with an empty jam jar and some flowers you have a great teacher gift! Your little one could even pick the flowers to go in it πŸ™‚ OK, so there are a lot of colour changes and probably plenty of ends to sew in, but they look so bright and cheerful in the rainbow colours! Or, to avoid colour changes, you could try using a yarn cake or variegated yarn. And they can be used for allsorts of different teacher related things – if I was a teacher I’d love one of these on my desk!

I hope you find some of these ideas useful! I’m definitely going to try some of these – I just need to decide which one(s)! They would also make cute Christmas gifts for teachers or work colleagues too (not forgetting family and friends of course!)

Disclaimer: The items and links referred to in my post, are patterns that I have found and think are great! I have not received anything from the designers to promote these items.

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A Weekend of Baking

Yesterday was Father’s Day, so it was all about enjoying family time together, and of course making the most of Daddy-time! The weekend in general had a bit of a cake/baking theme to it. Starting on Saturday with a morning of baking giant cookie pizzas with Georgie, at one of our favourite cake shops, Poppies Bakehouse. I’ve been a big fan of the bakehouse for a couple of years now, and Natalie has made me several batches of cupcakes as well as Georgie’s second birthday cake, and I’ve done a cake decorating class there. Cooking Tots is a way for the littles to start to experience baking and cooking, in a safe environment, with others of a similar age. Georgie had a great time, and made an extra special pizza cookie for Daddy (which of course we all shared yesterday afternoon!).

On Saturday afternoon Georgie and I did yet more baking/cooking, and made a lemon and raspberry cheesecake. It’s a recipe I found on Pinterest a while ago and I’ve been wanting to try it ever since. As it was Father’s Day, and we had invited my mother-in-law for dinner, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to try it out. I could probably have gotten away with doing a smaller version, as it is very big and there is still plenty leftover in the fridge. Next time, I’ll probably halve the recipe and do one that is just big enough for the 3 of us. It was very simple though, and I loved the fact that is really is a no-bake recipe! The lemon curd really brings out the flavour, and it tasted beautiful.

Georgiebaking2.JPG

 

cheesecake

Today, Georgie is at preschool and so I’ve been baking again! This time, a birthday cake for a little girl who may not otherwise get a cake on her special day. I am chair of Free Cakes for Kids Sheffield, and as a voluntary group we bake for children across Sheffield who, for whatever reason, may not get a birthday cake. I love working with this group, and it really means a lot to me. I don’t always get the opportunity or time to bake, with running the group and life in general, so it was nice to spend the morning practising my buttercream skills. Whats more, I now have a nice batch of pink, tasty buttercream leftover – so I have popped this in the freezer for an easy baking afternoon with Georgie next time we do some cupcakes. The theme for this cake was Minnie Mouse – although the family requested a mainly buttercream cake so it was little bit more difficult to find inspiration.

As always, Pinterest saved the day and I kind of mixed up a few of the ideas I had pinned to my board, to create my own Minnie Mouse themed cake. This afternoon, I’ll drop it off with the referring agency, and hopefully it will make a big difference to the little girl and her family. That’s what I love about it all, it brings such joy, not only to that child, but to their family – and makes someone’s day just that bit more special.

Untitled design

The sun is shining this afternoon too, so after delivering cakes and collecting Georgie, we will head into town for a wander, and to make the most of our time before it’s back to work for me tomorrow. It’s a nice short week for me this week though – with a day off on Thursday for Georgie’s reception induction afternoon. Eek!

xx

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In the beginning…

So I’ve finally taken the plunge! Decided to really focus on making a blog that represents me, and my life, and my creative outlets! I won’t lie, this is not the first blog I have started… but it is the first one I am really excited about. Because I want to write about and share the things that really inspire me. I also want to let this little space on the internet be somewhere that in between the office, the school run, the supermarket and spending time on my crafts, I can just be me!

no-person-3165927_1920

I have always loved to write, and since finishing university and life generally getting in the way, I just haven’t done anywhere near enough of it. I’ve missed it – and although I’m not amazing at it, I enjoy writing for fun,Β  so I am really excited to do this. Mix that in with my love of crochet, yarn, floss, fabrics, baking, and of course my lovely little family and I’m sure I will have plenty to write about.

I’ve been thinking about blogging for a few weeks. Office life at the moment is stressful, hard work and all-consuming. On the days I am in the office, I literally do not get a moment to step back, to think, to focus on what I am actually doing. I don’t think it will be like that forever, but right now I can’t see it changing any time soon. I’ve been spending my days off continuing to work, trying to fit everything in, trying not to let people I work with down. But it’s not sustainable, and isn’t fair on me or my family. So I decided a few weeks ago I needed somewhere else to focus my energy, something to really stop my mind thinking about the office when G is at school and I’m home alone for a few hours. What better way to do that, than by following my love of writing once more? So Dotty Craft is just that. Let’s see where it takes us shall we?

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