Now let’s talk about how to get self hosted (that means from a .wordpress.com or .blogspot.com address to your own .com) for $5.
This step is essential if you want to monetize your blog. You are not allowed to accept direct advertising on WordPress or install Adsense until you are self hosted. Hosting is a paying service, around $50 per year, with discounts if you prepay for several years.
When I started Reach Financial Independence, I bought a 1 year hosting package with Hostgator . I highly recommend them because they have stellar customer service and most of your problems or queries will be solved in less than 30 minutes with their live chat support.
A few months later, there was a 75% off sale and I bought another hosting plan for 3 years. Yes, that is how happy I am with them. But what I didn’t know was that you need to do a bit of work to transfer all of your files from the first hosting plan to the new one. I thought once the first lapses the new one would pick up and take over. No.
If you wait for the old hosting plan to lapse, you will lose all your data! So a week before, I started to look into Hostgator’s tutorials to do the job myself. What you need to do is backup all your files (a 250Mo folder in my case), that includes your settings, themes, pages, posts, comments, etc. and download it via FTP to your computer. Then you need to upload that on your new cpanel. After looking at the tutorials, I was a bit lost, so I went to my favorite outsourcing place, Fiverr, to see if someone would do that job for me for $5. I searched for “Hostgator migration” and found a few people who would do it. I used that particular gig on Fiverr to get the migration done, and I think it saved me easily a couple of hours work.
If your website is self hosted already
The process is pretty straightforward.
1. You need to login to your billings account, for Hostgator it is on https://gbclient.hostgator.com and look at your hosting packages. You will see
Old hosting package: Old site name, expires a month from now.
New hosting package: Whatever name you put there, expires 3 years from now.
2. On the NEW hosting package, select change my domain, and change it to your site, in my case, reachfinancialindependence.com.
Now, you have two hosting plans overlapping for the same domain. But Hostgator is only keeping your data on the old hosting package.
3. If you are confident enough to do the FTP transfer yourself, make a full backup on the old server and download it, then upload it on the new server. Otherwise, outsource the gig on Fiverr or to any competent webmaster of your choice.
NOTE: during the migration process, you will lose any new data that is added to your site. If you download all your FTP data at 1pm and someone puts a new comment at 130pm, or you have a new post going live at 2pm and can only upload the FTP back by 3pm, that data will be lost. Ideally, you will find a time of day that is not so busy. My blog gets most commenting and a new post in the morning, so I scheduled the migration for 9pm.
I was really impressed with the Fiverr guy because from the moment I paid until he delivered not 2 hours lapsed. Once the migration is complete, move on to step 4.
4. Update the name servers on your domain account. For me, it meant login into Godaddy, my account, domains, launch, and under my domain set name servers, then edit name servers. Save it, and again it can take a couple of hours to take place so do not do any blog maintenance during that time.
5. Log into your WordPress dashboard, settings, permalinks, and click save changes without changing anything.
6. Check for any missing comments or posts that could have been lost during the migration process and re-post them.
7. Log in to your cpanel and make a full backup of your data.
8. Change your password if you have outsourced the work.
If you are hosted by WordPress and not self hosted yet
I recommend you hire out the migration to make sure none of your data gets lost.
You will need to do a few things yourself:
1. Register your domain.
At the moment, your domain will be yourdomain.wordpress.com. Go to Godaddy or any domain registration company (Hostgator does domain registration too, but at the time it was cheaper on Godaddy) and register yourdomain.com
2. Set your domain on your Hostgator billing accounts like in step 1 above.
3. Handle the FTP transfer or outsource it.
4. Update the name servers like in step 4 above.
5. Perform step 5, 6, 7 and 8 as above.
As I said at the beginning of this post, you will save a lot of time by outsourcing the FTP process, and the other steps are quite easy. Hostgator can do the server migration for you too if you are a new customer. Contact their live chat to know how you can take advantage of their 30 day free migration. Because I was over the 30 day period I had to do it myself, otherwise it would have been free. I have had webmasters quote me up to $150 for the job so it is a big saving.
Ideally, you would go self hosted right away of course!