How I Set Up My Site for $23/Year, Tops

I know it took me a while, but I said I’d share how I set up this blog for so little. Hosting, domains, and setting up can be a bit overwhelming if you don’t know where to start… here’s how I ended up setting Tis But A Moment up – and at less than $24/year!

1. Start with WordPress

WordPress was my obvious first stop when putting Tis But A Moment together, not just because every company I’ve worked with relied on it for their blog or site, but because it’s unnaturally easy to use (and free, cough cough).

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Not in this lifetime, WordPress.

I started the site on a free account, only to commit and buy my own domain a few months later. Doing everything directly through WordPress would have cost a minimum of $39/month – not my first choice.

2. Find a host

I looked into (and almost signed up for) every online host before settling on eHost. The stand-out candidates were:

– BlueHost, largely touted as a great find at $2.95/mo, and user-friendly with their 1-click WordPress install. Basically they make it so you don’t have to think about. (Plus, as a bonus, Ebates partners with them, so you can get $10 cash back for signing up)

– iPage, which offered both a free domain AND free Google marketing, along with a slew of other benefits at just $1.99/mo. They also partner with Ebates, at $20 cash back.

eHost, which offers free domain registration for life, along with ad credits from Google, Bing, and Yahoo!, and easy-to-navigate integrations with WordPress. All at $2.75/mo

I started the sign up process for each of these, and then used the good old abandon-cart trick. Each time, a nifty popup offered an even heftier discount.

When all was said and done, I had to go with eHost. And with the abandoned cart discount, it came down to $59.99 for 3 years of service — that blows the competitors out of the water, even without cash back! The tradeoff, though, was a bit more hands-on work to get my old site transferred over (see below).

3. Buy your domain

This is the moment where your blog goes from a WordPress site to a genuine real-life website! The big difference: removing that “.wordpress” from the url.

It felt like a big moment, I assure you.

As I said, I went with eHost for their free domain registration for life. So they took care of that process for me.

4. Protect your privacy!

Most of the add-ons you’ll be tempted with are superfluous for a small independent blogger, but this one is a nonnegotiable. If you don’t request privacy while registering your domain, your contact information is up for the highest bidder. I’m not a fan of constant telemarketing calls, or having my home address broadcasted to the world. If you’re like me, find an option to protect your privacy when purchasing your domain, and hold onto it. With eHost, mine was $9 for 3 years – such a no brainer.

5. Transition from WordPress

Now that you have a domain and a host, you can start building from scratch using WordPress’s super easy-to-use dashboard. If, like me, you’ve already been dabbling on a free site and don’t want to lose all of the snarky gifs and content you’ve already produced, you can import it.

WordPress advertises an easy-to-use transition to their partner domains, for a fee of course. Skip all that. Just go to their Export page, and download your existing content.

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Once you have a handy zip file, go to your new dashboard of choice and hit “Import.” You may have to do this a few times, if you’ve built up a lot of content, but it really is that easy.

6. Let people know

Last but not least, I made sure to tell the lovely people who read this blog that we moved. This was in three ways:

– I got Jetpack (the standard plugin for WordPress traffic) on my new site, and migrated subscribers over from the original site

– I posted an announcement saying we’re moving, and linked to this new site

– I turned the old site into a static billboard linking to the new site, just in case

could have used the WordPress redirect option, at an additional $13/year, but I figured this was enough of a heads up that nobody would feel confused, lost, and alone. At least due to the site having moved.

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There you have it! It took all of maybe two hours of research to decide which hosting service to use, and all of a half hour to transition everything over. And instead of paying the quoted minimum of $1.99/mo just for the basic package, I’m saving about 30 cents a month, getting free domain hosting, and bundling in privacy protection (seriously, don’t skip on that). Feel free to do the same!

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