Free vs Self-Hosted: Which Blogging Platform Is Best For You?

Photo credit HannableArt

If you’re new to blogging you might be wondering whether it’s better to use a free blogging platform or go the “self-hosted” option.

The truth is, the answer depends on your blog’s purpose.

I’ll explain the differences between both platforms, and how to know which one is best for you.

Free blogs are popular for two reasons

  1. The cost

    Anyone can be up and running within a matter of minutes on Blogger/Blogspot or without having to spend a dime. This is a great option if you’re just blogging for a hobby and don’t plan on using your blog to make money or to promote a product or service.

  2. Customer Service

    If you’re having problems with your blog, you don’t have to deal with them on your own, customer service handles it for you. You also don’t have to be responsible for things like upgrades or security updates.

But, if you dream of having a rabid fanbase or you’re using your blog to promote a product or service, it’s totally worth it to invest in the cost of your own domain and monthly hosting fees.

Free blogs come with a major limitation

Blogging for your business using a free serviceĀ is kind of like running a brick and mortar store out of a building with no lease.

At any time, the people who own the building can close up shop and lock the doors (with all your stuff still inside), which leaves you with no other choice than to start again from scratch.

The worst feeling ever is when you find yourself building a great following or making consistent money off of your free blog, only to one day find it’s been deleted overnight, with a zero percent chance of getting it back.

All those hours spent crafting killer content, all your backlinks, Facebook likes and shares for your posts, all your RSS subscribers, all gone forever.

Self hosted blogs give you complete control

When you build your blog on your own turf, you have complete control over it. You don’t have to worry about your blog being deleted without warning, and you’re free to monetize it any way you see fit.

All you have to do is pay for your domain name and hosting, then install WordPress. BlueHost is a great hosting service for new blogs, since they give you a free domain and also offer a “one-click” WordPress installation that makes it really easy to set up. Security updates and upgrades are also generally a “one-click” process.

When you have a self-hosted blog, your blog’s layout and design is completely up to you. You’re not limited to a handful of “cookie cutter” themes like you would be on a free platform. You can either choose from tons of free themes online, or you can pay a web designer to give you a completely one-of-a-kind look.

You’ll also have access to the backend of your site, so if there are technical issues you can have them resolved on your schedule instead of having to wait for customer service to get back to you.

Which choice you make really depends on where you see your blog going in the future and the level of control and customization you want to have over your blog. If you’re blogging for your business or to grow your readership, it’ll definitely save you a lot of time and frustration down the road if you go the self-hosted route.

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