Blogging to you live from ye olde custom internet domain! Let’s get meta here for a minute.

Basic knowledge of HTML/CSS is important for more advanced learning in coding and software development. I used to know my way around angle brackets back in my Blogger days, but I’m rusty (real talk: is it still blogging if it comes from WordPress or should it be referred to as “pressing” now?). While the first few posts on this site were created on a wordpress.com hosted site (marydickson.wordpress.com), I had always planned to migrate over to a dot com of my own, setting up a page that could get me started and documenting right away, while still allowing for more advanced customization and scaffolding down the road.

Shockingly, myname.com was available, so I snatched it up via Namecheap, who I know from my time working with Fight for the Future are big supporters of internet freedom issues. The cost to register and host marydickson.com for a year was $9.66  and $9.88, respectively.

My first login to the Namecheap account manager was a bit… what have I gotten myself into:

help

help

Lots of things to click, but I could not figure out the basic stuff like um, how do I get a page up. I was looking for something called “Softaculous” and did not see it as an option. Nor could I figure out how to set up an email address (me@mydomain.com).

Enter cPanel. It took a few google searches and another trip through the introductory email from Namecheap to find my login and password for the REAL control panel, which helped me set up FTP and email and choose from several options for creating content, WordPress among them.

And then I made an error, because when Softaculous installs WordPress, the installation defaults to yourdomain.com/wp. I want WordPress to be my home page, at least for the time being, so I ran through an overly complicated process to fix it. Something like this: install to mydomain.com/wp –> export from wordpress.com –> import to mydomain.com/wp –> oops, install in the correct, root location –> import again –> delete that other thing –> can’t delete*? ok well delete the files from the ftp then –> that will take 5 hours –> how can that possibly be it doesn’t have any content yet?!?

*”delete blog” is an option on wordpress.com hosted sites but not custom sites. Because… reasons?

So if you have questions about moving around your WordPress blog, or press, don’t ask me, man. BUT, eventually I got it working and my content transferred. The only problem is that the template did not transfer and my fancy widgets were now AWOL.

I’m going to get a little detailed here, so bear with me. I just don’t want you to get discouraged that your new, custom site can’t be as awesome looking as your former wordpress hosted site. The template I had been using on the wordpress.com hosted site, “Plane,” was persona non grata in my new mydomain.com world. It wasn’t showing up in the search results. But there it was, on the web, in my previous iteration… I knew that somehow this MUST be possible!

SOLUTION: you can have any theme you want, but you have to download it and then upload via “appearance” and theme –> upload.  So go get thee a template.

plane

pretty plane

 

 

The second discouraging thing that happened is that in the previous theme customization, I had my pick of great widgets to put in the side bar, things like a link to my about.com profile and a little box of recent tweets. In the new theme, even after I got Plane to load, my pick of widgets was slim to none. No tweets. No about.me. Only an option to display my Flickr photos (hello, 2006 calling).

SOLUTION: you can have any widgets you want, but you have to download them as “plug-ins” first and then install and then push a bunch of buttons and viola: tweets! I installed something called “jetpack” which comes with useful widgets and links up to an existing wordpress account so you get the same benefits as the wordpress.com users. Go get some widgets.

This is a Plug-in and it is flipping fabulous.

This is a Plug-in and it is flipping fabulous.

Bottom line: I am glad I started on a wordpress.com hosted site, since it exposed me to options that I might not have known I was missing, had I started directly on mydomain.com. However, the latter option is probably the more straightforward of the two, if you’re patient. I would recommend reading the WordPress Quick Start Guide (all the way through) and this breakdown of wordpress.com vs wordpress.org.

Next up: will you be able to follow this blog (or press) on Feedly? Explore rss with me!

Are you a WordPress veteran? Tips on the best hosting and content management options for newbies? Chime in with a comment.