There are any number of things I wish I knew when I first made the transition from a free blog at WordPress.com to self-hosting. But these are the ones that really stand out, and that I think others would be interested in knowing as well.
1) You can get your followers migrated over. All that is required is having JetPack installed on your self-hosted site. Once you have your site up and running, with JetPack installed, you then contact their customer support and politely ask them to move your followers from the old site to the new one. Give them both URL’s when you do this. It took 2 business days for mine to appear. The URL to do this is:
2) Allowing others to list their most recent post when they comment. This is done with a plugin called CommentLuv. I’d seen it on the blogs I follow, and it’s really useful both for the commenter as well as you. They can pick one recent post from a list of their last 10, and if it looks interesting you may have found someone else to follow and chat with. I’d seen the heart icon when commenting on other blogs, but nowhere had I seen the name of the app.
3) Share Buttons at the bottom of your posts. There are a number of different plugins to choose from for this purpose, but I like Share Buttons by AddToAny. You can choose which ones from a huge list of sites that you would like to have available for your readers, including ones that will show you how many times a particular post was shared on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.
4) How to automatically display your most popular posts. I use WordPress Popular Posts. It lets me show the most popular posts in the last 24 hours (or week, month, all-time) and appears in the widgets area. You can have it sort posts by views, or comments, and even have more than one displayed so it shows one with the most views and one with the most comments like I have set up on my right side-bar.
5) Keeping track of your visitors. The simplest stat counter and also the easiest one to install that I have found is the Official StatCounter Plugin. It lets you customize colors as well as keeping track of all page hits for the entire site.
6) Using Google Analytics. I was recommended the one by Yoast but it didn’t work at all for me. Just kept showing me a page that said “coming soon.” I now use Google Analytics Dashboard for WP. My only complaint with it, is that it doesn’t have a separate page to view it on. It’s dropped at the bottom of your Dashboard, and if you click links to change what you want to see (like most popular pages, search engine terms, etc.) the entire page refreshes in order to show you that info. On the other hand, it’s quite useful to track the bounce rate of visitors, and see what pages are popular at the moment. As well as showing you some search engine terms that were used to find your site.
I’m sure I’ll find more things that I wished I had known as I continue to blog, but these were the current most important ones. What are some things you wish you had known? Do you use any of the plugins I mentioned?