I started with wordpress.com. Then I tried self-hosting, and finally returned to wordpress.com.
I started with WordPress.com because it was free to start. I knew I could move onto self-hosted wordpress when I was ready.
I have a technical background including software development, but not in web development. So it was natural for me to see the opportunities of doing clever things with websites. Because of this, I let myself be tempted into the world of self-hosting, multiple plugins, and the potential to tweak the code.
The push away from wordpress.com came from the lack of a staging environment. I noticed this when I was trying different themes.
It’s hard to find out what a change in theme is going to do to your website. The customizer demo gives you a small glimpse of what the changes might look like, and it isn’t accurate. Themes are generally not well documented. Yet they have a huge impact on all the elements of content and also the available features.
I chose Hostek as my first host for a self-hosted wordpress site. They were cheap and allowed an unlimited number of websites. I could quickly create a clone of my site, apply theme changes, review the whole site, then delete the clone. However, there were concerns with downtime and getting Jetpack Backup to stay connected via FTP.
I tried Pressable as an opposite to cheap hosting. They use the same infrastructure as WordPress.com, so the downtime should be resolved, and their Jetpack Backup was sure to remain connected. Plus they allow you to create a staging website. However, I got frustrated with the included backup being just a daily backup, and it was expensive given this was a new blog with no visitors.
So then I had a go with BlueHost. They have a cheap plan, allow for a staging site, and are often recommended in the wordpress world. What a complicated mess! The regular wordpress setup features were all over the place and every new website comes bloated with lots of auto-updating plugins. I killed this plan after 24 hours.
This is when I realised that I had been pulled into a distraction. I was spending all of this time fixing technology problems when I should really be focused on learning to write a blog. I thought of myself as a techy person rather than identifying as a writer.
So I killed my self-hosted sites and returned to WordPress.com. It’s simpler and I’m taking up the challenge of becoming a writer. When I want to try another theme, I’ll create a free site, export my content into it, and use that as a staging site to test the theme.
Sometimes I follow a long path to get back to where I started, to take up the real challenge, writing, rather than the comfortable one.