Hosted vs. Self-Hosted Blog: How To Decide

self-hosted blogIf you’re thinking about creating a blog, you’ll need to decide on what blogging software to use and whether or not to go with the self-hosted blog option or host it free.

Free, hosted blogs are perfect for the beginning blogger creating a blog for personal or social use because you can create a blog with a simple sign-up. There are no hosting or domain name fees.

If you’re creating a blog as part of your business or to make money, you’ll be wise to go with the self-hosted blog.  You’ll have a lot more flexibility when it comes to design, monetization and ownership and it will speak volumes about whether you want to be known as a professional or an amateur.

When I first created my blog, WordPress and Blogger were the most popular blogging platforms, and still are today. There are several other platforms that have surfaced in the past few years, but these two still remain the most widely used.

Both Blogger and WordPress offer free remotely hosted options, however WordPress also offers a self-hosted option which is the platform I chose.  I’ll show you why this was the best choice for me and why it will be for you as well if you intend to use your blog for business and making money.

To demonstrate the benefits let’s first look at the differences.

The Hosted Blog Option

A blog that is on a hosted blogging platform is completely free. A good example of this platform is WordPress. com. It requires a simple sign-up, there is not cost or fees, however your blog will be hosted on the WordPress servers and your domain name is not yours, it belongs to WordPress.

Other blogging software that offers the free hosting options are Blogger, Tumblr, Posterous, Penzu, and Live Journal with Blogger being one of the most popular.

The Self-Hosted Blog Option

With the self-hosted blogging option, the blogging software is still free, however you will need to purchase your own domain name and place the blogging software on a hosting service that you pay for. This was the option I chose for my blog using the WordPress software.

The other top self-hosted blogging platforms are Moveable type, Expression Engine, Joomla, and Drupal.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Hosted vs. Self-Hosted blog

The big advantage of hosted blogs is that they are free; there are no hosting fees and no domain to buy. The downside is that your blog will be hosted on the blogging account servers and you will be given a domain name that belongs to them as well. For the serious business owner, that puts you at a disadvantage because you do not own the blog.  Giving up ownership means there are restrictions.

For example, you have limits on flexibility, not all advertising is accepted and your blog is vulnerable to disapproved content. Your blog could also be taken down at any time if it does not meet blogging guidelines set up by the blogging host account.

Imagine, spending months, even years on a blog that could get taken down because your host doesn’t approve of the content.  This won’t be as disastrous for the personal blogger, but for the business blogger that could be devastating.

Why A Self-Hosted Blog Appeals to the Professional

When bloggers start out they often look for as many free options as they can get, I get that, after all one of the best things about starting a business online is that there are so many free services. But if you’re truly serious about making money you have to project a professional image.

You can get a reliable hosting service for roughly $5-7 a month and if you pay yearly it costs even less than that. Domain names are even cheaper with a cost of about $12 for one year. With those minimal costs comes complete ownership and control over your blog.

If your blog is going to be your business providing you with an income, investment in that business should be a priority. For me spending roughly $8 a month on a blog that has every opportunity to generate income with no limitations is a worthwhile investment.

If you’re serious about creating an online business, be serious about your blogging platform. I can assure you that someone coming to a blog that doesn’t have a professional domain name and is hosted on a platform that you don’t have ownership of won’t see you as a serious professional. That will impact your ability to make sales and you won’t be taken seriously as an authority in your niche.

Why I Chose A ‘WordPress’ Self-Hosted Blog

Creating my first blog was a business move, so naturally I chose the self-hosted blog option.  My motivation for choosing WordPress was its professional look, its popularity, and of course the very cool blogs others have created.

The WordPress software itself is free but the customization is endless.  In some ways it was almost overwhelming; especially all the WordPress themes there are to choose from.

I’m not someone that can make up my mind easily so instead of making the choice of one specific theme I chose the Thesis theme that let me make the changes I wanted right within the theme with just a few clicks. It wasn’t free, but it relieved me of the overwhelm of going through hundreds of theme options.  That’s just me :-)

Probably the thing I love the most about WordPress are the easy to install customized plug-ins that extend the capabilities of WordPress to do just about anything you can think of. There are plugins that let me include various advertising options, provide user statistics and plugins to boost commenting, clicks and improve social media, search engine optimization and so much more.

Installing a self-hosted blog will require a few more steps than simply signing up like you would for a free hosted blog, but it doesn’t require technical savvy either. I’m certainly not a techie but I can follow directions and honestly, that’s all it takes.

To show you how easy it really is I created a free guide that will take you step-by-step through the process of choosing a domain name, to choosing a hosting service and then setting up your WordPress blog. Grab it here and see just how easy it this installation is.

Hosted vs. Self-Hosted Takeaway

If your blog is your business, invest in it. The benefits of a self-hosted blog versus a free hosted blog far outweigh the cost in terms of social presence, professionalism and ultimately your profits.

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