Why I’ve Gone Back to my Free WordPress Site

bald-eagle-489080_640The eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed that although my website looks quite similar now to the self-hosted one I created just a few weeks ago, it is in fact my good old WordPress.com site with a few tweaks. If you read my previous post (now deleted) about my migration to a self-hosted WordPress site, you’ll know that it was relatively painless in terms of moving the content from one place to another. I spent a lot of timeย faffing aroundย with the design, choosing a new theme, installing a header and then loading the widgets but that too, was quite straight-forward. However, I soon found that in order to change even the slightest thing about the design, I was often having to get to grips with coding. I am lucky in that I am quite good at the technical aspects of most things and I’m also lucky enough to have a husband who knows a lot about all that stuff too but although I was enthusiastic at the beginning, it really did start to wear me down. For example, I wanted to centre my Twitter feed box and my Facebook likes box. For this, I had to submit a support ticket to WordPress.org and wait for them to come back to me with the CSS (Cascading Style Spreadsheet) code. They did come back with it and once I had it and knew where to put it, it was easy but when I found myself having to do this for every little tweak, it soon became dull. The main issue I encountered though was with transferring over my social share counts, by which I mean, the figures underneath each blog post showing how often they’d been shared on social media. After a lot of querying, I found out that it just isn’t possible to transfer them from one URL to another because Twitter and Facebook will only associate the shares with the original URL, even though my site was redirected from the old URL to the new one. I did come across a coding fix but it was so complicated that even my husband couldn’t get his head around it. I therefore decided to go back to my old site before I write too many more posts and lose the counts on them! When you are a small blogger/author, your social proof is so important and I’ve spent so long building it up that I don’t want to lose it. I have kept the domain name but I can’t see any way that I can realistically use it now sadly. One of the other things that tipped the balance for me, was that last Monday, my web host company was ‘attacked’ by some technical force or other (clueless!) and this meant that my site was down for a large part of the day. Of course, this never happens with WordPress.com and all at once, I started to see all the things they are doing for me behind the scenes. You don’t normally see all that because they’re dealing with it. Spam? Don’t even notice it but if you’re self-hosted, you have to set yourself up with Akismet or someone else and for that you need an API key and when you’ve worked out what that is, another day has gone by. I cannot complain at all about Tsohost’s customer service, they were great but I don’t want to have to deal with my site going down and all the associated messages that go with that. So I reversed all the steps: I exported my content and then imported it again to WordPress.com. Then I cancelled my site redirect with no charge as it had been less than a month since I put it in place. I used the Jetpack plugin to migrate all my subscribers back again successfully. I had no idea that the Jetpack plugin was one of the WordPress ones until I was ‘speaking’ to a WordPress ‘Happiness Engineer’ (that really is what they’re called). I was speaking to them because I had left a message about my disappointment in finding that I couldn’t transfer over all my social shares. I wrote that I thought I had read somewhere that this was possible so they got back to me to ask me where I’d read it. We discussed it a bit further and then, quite out of the blue, they sent me some upgrades free of charge because of my useful feedback. I told you they were called Happiness Engineers and by the way, there are about 50 of them tending to the needs of over 80 million subscribers ๐Ÿ™‚ So, it’s back to normal for me and I have got my life and my writing time back. The moral of the story is that you should either self-host from the beginning with a domain name or you really shouldn’t bother, not if you care about your social shares anyway. If they were to sort that issue out, I would try again but otherwise, I’m going to concentrate on what I set out to do two years ago – my writing life ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks so much for bearing with me. Oh and if you need any coding done…

30 thoughts on “Why I’ve Gone Back to my Free WordPress Site

  1. I’m really sorry you had all that bother Julie – I’ve been following this process with interest, because I have a free WordPress blog that is quite big now and I’ve had ‘self host’ at the back of my consciousness for a while now. I think, after reading your post, I’ll give it a pass :/ But this blog looks as good as ever, so it’s all turned out okay. Could you use your domain to point to this site? That’s what I do with my JoannePhillips.co.uk domain x

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    • Thanks, Jo. It’s been an experience! I don’t know about using the domain to point to the site, possibly. I will look it up when I get a moment so thanks for the tip ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • Thanks for reading, Sam. I hope it’s helpful to others. There are so many things to think about all the time and negotiating them all on your own can be a bit of a minefield ๐Ÿ™‚ Onwards and upwards, as they say ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  2. What a month, Julie! Thanks for sharing the troubles you’ve had. It’s a good warning. I’ll certainly be keeping it in mind. I’d have to say I’m rather fond of my WordPress blog. ๐Ÿ˜„

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  3. You have become a right good techno. This is all very useful in fond e pertinence for others. Thank you. Onwards with continuing success….
    ๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ˜Š

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    • I have indeed! It has been good experience for me and I hope that others find it useful. It was worth a try and may still be possible in the future ๐Ÿ™‚

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  4. Thanks for letting us know of your experiences, Julie. When you switched from free WordPress, I was beginning to wonder if I should do the same, and now you’ve saved me the bother of worrying about it! I’m not technically incompetent, but certainly not as good as you and your hubby, by the sound of it. I also hate the unfamiliar. My free WordPress terrified me at first because I’d never done anything like that before, but in the end I found it pretty user-friendly and now I know (more or less) what I’m doing, I don’t like the thought of new territory. I am sorry you’ve had all this hassle though .. and it is very good of you to share. Thanks! ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • Thanks for reading, Helen. I think it’s one of those things that you hear everyone saying you should do and I could see that there would be benefits to it but it is a lot of hard work and that does take away from your writing, of course. Anyway, happy to be back in the fold now and it looks like it’s provoked a good lot of comments about it too ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • Thanks for reading and I know just what you mean. Still, sometimes it’s good to see whether the grass might be greener…Thankfully, I could come back when it didn’t quite go according to plan.

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  5. Thanks for sharing Julie – as useful you’re really generous with your information which is a great help to others. I’m amazed that WordPress make it so difficult to go over to a hosted site as it doesn’t give people any incentive. It means that they are losing a lot of potential income from upgrades. ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • Thanks for reading, Heather. I hope it’s helpful. To be clear though, this isn’t a WordPress issue really – it’s a Facebook/Twitter issue because they will only associate shares with the original URL, if that makes sense. If you are good enough at coding to change the permalink for each individual post without breaking the connection to your site then you can keep your shares but it is tricky which is why WordPress don’t do it for you as yet. If all that makes your head swim, you’ll understand why I came back to the free site!

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      • Aah right, I understand. I’m not the world’s best with technology as you know so it probably wouldn’t be for me. (‘Useful’ should have read ‘usual’ above but you probably realised that). ๐Ÿ™‚

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      • The machines are taking over! It is much easier to stay with your free site and you don’t lose anything ๐Ÿ™‚

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  6. You could use your domain name for a dedicated book(s) site โ€“ about you, about the book(s), reviews, where to buy, links to interviews, contact details, media pack, things that inspired the book(s) โ€“ without any commenting facility, and have a link to your blog. For an example of an excellent book landing page, have a look at Belinda Pollardโ€™s Poison Bay page (belindapollard dot com slash poisonbay) โ€“ although she has this on a blog site, there is no need for it to be. (Hope this doesnโ€™t appear twice โ€“ I wrote it with a link but think that WordPress might kick out such comments thinking they are spam :-).)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for reading Clare and for your suggestions. That’s a very good idea actually and I might well do that. I think that’s what Jo was suggesting in her earlier comment. I will have another look at Belinda’s page, thank you.

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  7. I’m so glad I found this post via Twitter. I have a three book series coming out next year and the publisher said it’ll be time for me to create my own website, not just my blog. WP looks easy but as I read what you wrote, I realized I wouldn’t know half the questions to ask the “Happiness Engineers” (great name). It almost makes me want to hire someone to do it for me. I am hopeless at coding as well. Thanks for the useful info!

    http://www.heathermccubbin.blogspot.com

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    • Thanks for reading, Heather and I’m glad you found it useful. WordPress.com is easy and it’s a great way to start a blog even when you know nothing about coding. At the moment, I combine mine with the details of my book but there are a number of ways to go about this as you can see from the comments. Anyway, good luck with everything. Make sure to do lots of research before hiring someone to do it for you!

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  8. Julie, I bought my catlumb.co.uk domain from WordPress and everything stayed the same, could you do this?
    My Other Half thinks it would be easy to tie your domain name site to this site, it’s called mapping apparently?! Drop me an email if you want more info. He’s very tech savvy and hosts his own website on a Raspberry Pi (mini PC the size of a credit card!l). Hopefully we can get your domain back up and running in sync with WordPress.

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  9. Hi Julie, and interesting to read of your experiences, thanks for sharing them.
    I’m always amused when people say you must have your own hosted site, because then you ‘own’ it. No. Your new hosting company still owns the space, and you are still reliant on other software such as WordPress. In fact, the only thing you truly own is your domain name, and that can be transferred across to WordPress.com for a very small annual fee. (Details are somewhere in the bowels of WordPress where it gives upgrade options.) Thats what I’ve done with both coastalwalker.co.uk and ruthlivingstone.net – they’re still on WordPress.com. You might be interested in exploring this, when you’ve recovered from the move!

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    • Yes, thanks Ruth. That’s what a few people seem to be suggesting. I need to look into it a bit more when I’ve recovered as you say. Nice to hear from you ๐Ÿ™‚

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