Last week we discussed on how we could start a blog in 2019. We also talked about how choosing the right name can make or break your blog. Today we will put our heads together about which blogging platform is right for you – Free or Self-hosted. Believe me, when I say whether you are a newbie or a veteran in blogging it is extremely confusing to choose between the two.
When we decide to begin a blog, we tend to pick any of the free blogging platforms –Wordpress and Blogger included. But did you know that Self-Hosting is another option which you can think about? Let us break this down for you.
Free Hosting Vs Self-Hosting
Free Hosting means your blog is hosted through a free website like WordPress, Blogger, Blogspot, or Tumblr. These blogging platforms do all the hosting and set up for you. ie., the website files are stored on the blogging platform’s servers. In other words, imagine living in a rented apartment. You may call it home, but it really isn’t. You are limited to what you can and cannot do – be it designing your blog, monetization and the inclusion of ads.
Pros of Free Hosted Blogging Platforms:
- There are no initial start-up costs. But, you may pay to get a domain (eg: www.yourblogname.com instead of www.yourblogname.wordpress.com).
- Also, you can start a blog on a free hosted blogging platform without any prior web design knowledge.
- There is no maintenance from your end as the site security, updates and backups are taken care by the blogging platform.
Cons of Free Hosted Blogging:
- You have very little control over how your site should look like, for there are only limited preset free themes you can choose from. Plugins and code-level access aren’t available making customization very limited.
- You cannot place ads on your website and thereby monetize it.
- You are allotted only limited storage and bandwidth.
- At the end of the day, a free hosted blog appears less professional. Your client would be put off just by seeing your blog URL, tell me which among these looks amateur – www.yourblogname.com or www.yourblogname.wordpress.com?
- The free blogging platform can shut down or delete your blog at any point. There are many such horror stories out there.
Who should opt for a free hosted blog?
If you are thinking of blogging for a hobby, then you may opt for a free hosted blog. Else, if you want to simply try it out, and isn’t sure about the durability/longevity of your blog, then also free hosting is a good option.
Many of us, I included, do not think about blogging as a business. However, if you have the slightest inclination as to monetize and earn money from your blog, then a self-hosted blog is the right option for you. Here’s why.
A self-hosted blog is the one that resides on your own server. You pay hosting companies like Bluehost, Hostgator or Siteground for the server to host your blog by giving you the digital storage space to run your blog. In other words, you are paying to build your home on the internet, thereby, having full authority to customize and do whatever you want on this space.
Pros of Self-Hosting:
- You’ve full control of the blog, be it the setup, theme, design, customization, coding and more. There are some amazing plugins for free (and paid!) which comes to your aid while designing your blog. You have complete access to the backend files thereby helping you to make changes on the code (if necessary!).
- This full control of the blog design and customization means you can brand your blog the way you want to.
- You can optimize your blog for search engines (SEO) and also make revenue by placing ads.
- Another important advantage to self-hosting your blog is the option of tracking your traffic and analytics. You can set up Google Analytics and can tailor track based on your needs and requirements.
Cons of Self-Hosting:
- Ah, the initial cost is daunting and can be intimidating. In self-hosting, you have two main expenses – domain and hosting. However, if you opt for a longer plan from a hosting provider, say for an year or three, there will be huge discounts. You can also watch out for Black Friday or Thanksgiving holidays to grab some amazing deals!
- Costs can also include purchasing a theme of your choice. There are, however, many free themes for you to try out.
- From choosing a hosting provider to finding out a plan/package, purchasing, framework, getting your site live and customizing your blog, self-hosting can take a long time for set-up.
- Though it isn’t imperative for you to have a prior web-design or coding knowledge, it definitely helps during self-hosting.
Who should opt for Self-Hosting?
As discussed, a self-hosted blog looks more professional as it stays true to your brand. This means your readers and clients take you seriously because you have invested enough to build a brand. So, if blogging is your full-time dream career, you should definitely opt for self-hosting.
Which is better – Free hosting or Self-Hosted?
Now, that’s a decision you should be making! Do your research, think about what you want and where you see yourself in the next five or ten years with respect to your blog and bite the bullet.
Do you have anything more to add, feel free to let us know your views on having a self-hosted blog or why you do not want to opt for it.
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