If you’ve considered starting a blog, you’ve probably run across the term self-hosted blog.
Most people will tell you that a self-hosted blog is the way to go,
especially if you’re looking to create a professional image.
But what is a self-hosted blog? And why do you need one if
you can just start a blog for free through other services? Below, we
explain the details of free and self-hosted blogging platforms, the pros and cons of each, and which one you should choose.
Free Blogging Platform
What is it? A free blogging platform is one that is
just that: it’s free to sign up for an account, get a domain (such as
www.example.com), and set up your site. You can start your free blog
with services like Blogger.com and WordPress.com.
The thing about a free account is that your website’s files are
stored – or hosted – on your blogging platform’s servers. While there
can be costs involved after the initial set up – which we’ll get to in a
moment – this simple fact is what differentiates a free blog from a
Pros of a free blog:
- There are no initial start-up costs.
- Free programs like WordPress and Blogger are easy to set up and maintain without any prior website design knowledge.
Cons of a free blog:
- Unless you pay for your own domain, you’ll have the WordPress or
Blogger domain tacked onto yours, such as www.example.blogspot.com.
- Free blogs appear less professional than self-hosted ones.
- You have less control over your blog. For instance, people who
self-host their blog with the WordPress software can download plugins to
expand their website’s capabilities. A free WordPress blog doesn’t
allow this, limiting you to only a few options. CSS functions and theme
selections are also limited on free blogging platforms.
- You have a limited amount of bandwidth, video time, and memory space.
- Free platforms usually limit your advertising options, meaning that itâ€™s harder to make money from your blog.
What types of costs are involved?
A free blog can be completely free if you want it to. However, if
you’re looking to get rid of the “Blogger” or “WordPress” in your domain
name, youâ€™ll have to buy and assign your own custom domain. These can
be as low as $10 depending on what you pick.
You may also choose to buy stock photos, hire a designer, or purchase
an upgraded theme, which can all add to the cost of your blog.
Who should use free blogs?
Free blogs are best for people who are just exploring the blogging
world or are not very serious about blogging. If you’re just blogging
for fun, then by all means start with a free blog! If you need help setting up your blog on blogger check out my Fiverr Gig
Self-Hosted Blogging Platform
What is it? A self-hosted blog is one that resides
on your own server. Most people, however, pay a third-party to host
their blog, which opens them to all the benefits of a self-hosted blog.
Sites like HostGator
(which I recommend),QServers and Bluehost are among some of the
popular companies that provide hosting services. Essentially, these
companies rent out digital storage space to users to make running a
Pros of a self-hosted blog:
- You have full control over your blog, including in its layout,
search engine optimization, advertising revenue, additional functions,
- You can install custom themes to brand your blog.
- You have complete access to your backend files, which allows you to make any necessary code changes.
- Using a third-party host usually costs only a few dollars per month.
Cons of a self-hosted blog:
- It requires an initial investment.
- It can be intimidating to new bloggers.
What types of costs are involved?
Like with a free blog, any photos, domain names, and themes that you
purchase will add to your costs. With self-hosting, you also have to
invest in the cost of using a third-party host. The good news is that
hosting can cost under $5 per month. Certain pluginsâ€”which is a piece
of software that you can install on your site to expand its
functionalityâ€”can cost money, too.
Who should use self-hosted blogs?
Since self-hosted blogs look more professional and perform more
functions, they are best for businesses. They are also ideal for the
individual who wants to improve his or her professional appearance and
boost the functions available on his or her website.
WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org
One issue that often comes up when looking at free sites versus self-hosted sites is the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org.
What is WordPress?
WordPress is an open source platform that has been developed by tens
of thousands of people. Essentially, WordPress was created by a
community of developers, and it is now a free blogging platform that can
be used on a free or self-hosted basis.
To get a free WordPress site, all you have to do is visit
WordPress.com to start designing your site within minutes. WordPress.com
is run by Automattic, a company created by WordPress co-founding
developer Matt Mullenweg. Here, you can use a restricted version of the
WordPress software, and your site will be hosted on their servers.
WordPress.org, on the other hand, offers the full extent of the
software. However, in order to use it, you need somewhere to store
your website files. That is where a third-party host comes in handy.
If you are not sure which way you want to go, its worth starting a
blog at WordPress.com and then later upgrading to a self-hosted blog
while still using WordPress software. The good news is that once you
find a host, they can usually help you install WordPress on your site,
and then you can enjoy the easy-to-use software with full control over
Still confused? Leave us a comment with your question.