Welcome to the new frontier. There is a reason we have placed our son’s newborn photos (taken by his super-hero mama days after an emergency c-section) to illustrate this post. In many ways, this is a rebirth of our efforts. The term “new frontier” is exactly what this newly redesigned and revamped Chef and Steward® blog feels like to us.
Why you should move your blog to self hosting
We are adding new dimensions to our blog. When we started out in December 2010, the focus was on supporting our low carb, atkins, paleo, primal lifestyle, way before any of those words became popular. Over time, we bent with the wind and have paid for it with our waistlines, but we are now standing firmly recommitted to eating clean in our pursuit of wellness and fitness goals. We are on a mission and we would love you to join us! You can follow our daily plates and motivational tid bits on our Instagram feed. I (Kari) am working on our family business full time as a pro blogger, digital influencer, media content producer, presenter and an NLP certified professional coach and motivational speaker while raising a wonderful little human that is our Apprentice. I would love you to view my professional portfolio, which I created over a year ago but never advertised here. Lij will continue to provide support and culinary direction as well as writing and presenting our film productions. We are also adding more travel as well as lifestyle and wellness posts to the blog as part of our #ChefandStewardofMyLife campaign. We are two average people from a small place with big dreams and high hopes. We want to change the world. We will live the change. We will be the light we want to see.
We also took on the brave decision to make two mega changes on our blog at once. The first was to redesign the blog into a much more user-friendly format with a recipe archive page that works because we had so many recipes that we buried deep into a poorly organised website. The second mega change was to finally move our blog to private hosting well into four years of blogging and it has been quite a ride! Talk about a huge spike in the learning curve!
The process took much longer than we anticipated and would have taken even longer if we had not received lots of hand-holding and interventions by the superb human spirit, creative director and talent that is embodied in the person of Ryan Forrester. I love the photos he has uploaded to his FB Fan Page. Please show him some love over there. We have a saying in Jamaica that good friends are better than pocket money and I have known him and his just-as-talented and beautiful wife Devie for more years than I care to number. And boy have we all come a long way…
What we have learnt in the process
- If you are serious about blogging long term and using it to support any business efforts, self host! We knew this from the beginning but we launched this blog without having even the monthly cash for self hosting- heck we didn’t even have a stove and had to cook in the cheap teflon pots that came with our hotel staff accommodation so we did it within our means. This only made things harder as we had so much more to move and the wordpress.com platform is great for amateur blogging but impossible to operate on as professional bloggers and digital influencers.
- With photography being a huge element of our site, we quickly ran out of space and were actually paying more for a ‘premium hosting upgrade’ on wordpress.com. What a waste of money because the functionality and control was SEVERELY limited on the wordpress.com platform.
- Just bite the bullet and do it now! It gets harder the longer you wait, especially if you are a serious, prolific blogger. Tack it on to your monthly household expenses if you have to and cut back on something that is not an extreme necessity.
- Hire a graphic artist if you can, but if you are willing to do lots of research and loads of troubleshooting, you can actually do it yourself. If you are not a CSS pro, simply pick a theme from any platform you prefer. We still LOVE WordPress so we stuck with it.
- There is a HUGE difference between wordpress.com (the freebie hosting we were using before) and wordpress.org (the self-hosted platform we are now using)…
- You cannot run ads on wordpress.com but you can on wordpress.org. Now we are offering a few select ad spaces for rent to cover the taxing expenses of professional blogging (advertisers please contact us for our rates and terms)! I know some PR practitioners may feel that blogging is a free and cheap platform to get their bands publicised on but we have invested THOUSANDS of US dollars in our equipment and education and years honing our skills and craft – none of which came free.
- You cannot simply migrate a wordpress.com site with one click because there is no FTP access. This is a virtual nightmare. Take it from us. We’ve been there and this made us realise it would have been totally worth it to take the plunge much, much earlier!
- You cannot run certain useful plugins or widgets. Things that make your site more reader-friendly, help to get you more page views and also to track them. It’s like having half a car. You might as well stick to a bicycle.
- It’s not as daunting as you think. The whole idea of “self” hosting scared the living daylights out of me. That was really the source of my hesitance. My wordpress.com platform was stable and others were spending all their time making it so. I had no webmaster assigned the task of running the blog. As much as I learnt web design in my undergraduate communication degree, I was certainly far from a pro and forgot most of the html. I have since realised that stable hosting providers exist and you can even get a plan specifically designed for WordPress sites and they still jump through hoops to keep your site online and still have enough support for the mega traffic spikes you will get when your blog gets featured on Oprah, which is pretty freaking awesome! Check out Media Temple and BlueHost. We have been using BlueHost since we made the move. The only caveat is that you will be billed the monthly fee all at once so be wary of selecting a cheaper monthly fee for a longer period, especially on Bluehost.
- If you are on wordpress.com and want to migrate to self hosting, if you can afford the extra $120.00, pay for them to move your site to one of their preferred hosting partners. You are limited to their choices but at least those sites all have FTP and you can easily move to your host of choice afterwards without the headaches.
- We seemed to have lost over 2,000 followers in the process of migration. Help us make up for it by subscribing via email on the top right side column. Also share us with your friends.
I thank you for keeping the blog alive during the month that we were down. Thanks to you, we were able to maintain our traffic of over 25,000 page views for the month of March.
What do think of the changes we have made? We would love to hear your opinion!
Here’s to new beginnings!