For my other author friends who may be considering the plunge to their own hosting, here’s my list of my things I’ve discovered, either in my research or once I got set up:
- Probably you should use a hosted service like Godaddy (which is what I did). It’s $2.99/mo and includes domain registration. Maintaining the security of a WordPress instance sucks, so I didn’t want to do that on my own server.
- This one would’ve been part of 1, but it deserves its own point: If you’re getting a domain like me, use private registration. The first time you get a weird stalker-type fan, you’ll intensely regret it if you used your real name and street address when you registered your domain.
- Speaking of plugins, make sure that you install and configure the “Jetpack” plugin, because it gives you 99% of the features you’re used to on wordpress.com. So you have your stats system, the easy-to-use auto-posting to twitter / facebook, and most of the other bells and whistles.
- WordPress.com really dislikes Amazon affiliates. Per their TOS, they can actually suspend your blog for affiliate links – because if anyone is going to make money off of your blog on their server, it should be them for providing hosting. If you look at my store page, that’s something I really couldn’t have done on WordPress. (Spare the snark on the page design; I’m not a graphic designer).
- I’ve got direct access now to stash files of any type in directories on my server. If I so desire, I can now repackage my free books in ePub format for the convenience of new readers, and allow direct downloads. I’m not bound by the strictures of WordPress, and I’ll be able to design raw HTML or even CGIs if I need to. I could, for instance, maintain links to all the places my books reside so that a reader could say “I prefer Barnes & Noble” and then all the purchase links would go there if they click one of my books.
- There are a few plugins to do adult content warnings. This is actually really cool as far as I’m concerned, because I do get somewhat concerned about some parent catching their teen masturbating to my stories and then freaking out about it. A “look, it says 18 and older here” banner is one more thing standing between me and an angry mom with a pitchfork.
Of course, one still must ask “do I recommend going independent?” And the answer to that one is a big fat “it depends”. If you want to not have to worry about WordPress’s TOS, you’d like to make a bit off of affiliate links, and you’re tired of having your info on your core market hidden from you by wordpress, amazon, and everywhere else, then you probably should.