When you have decided to start a blog there are many questions that run through your mind. How do you start a blog? How do you pick a name? Do you have to pick a niche? You will also find your self asking “Do I need to be self-hosted?” and “What is the difference between self-hosted and free hosted?” Here is why I think going down the self-hosted route is the best option.
Why Are You Blogging?
First things first, before you go any further, answer why you are blogging. If your answer is purely because you want to write your thoughts down and you have no desire for it to make money or reach 1000’s of people then you don’t have to continue reading this post.
If you want to make money, you want greater creative freedom on your blog or your aim is for it to reach 1000’s of people and look more professional then here is why you need to go self-hosted.
You Own Your Content
Going down the free routes such as blogger.com or wordpress.org are great if you’re just looking for somewhere to spill your thoughts but you don’t actually own the content you write, Blogger and WordPress do. If you write something they don’t agree with or don’t like then they have the power to remove your post or take your whole blog down without notice.
This happens often and normally no fault of the writer. See the case of Dennis Cooper as an example, his 14 year old blog was taken down without warning.
When you go self-hosted, you are paying your host for space on their server and what you do with that space is completely up to you; sometimes they will have terms such as no illegal activity. You don’t have to worry about them removing your posts or content and you have complete control over it.
You might find that a free hosting service limits the features you can add to your blog, such as Google Adsense or certain plugins. When you host your own site you don’t have any restrictions, except for what your site can actually withstand, you’re free to add affiliate links, advertising coding and whatever plugins you might need.
It Looks More Professional
As you can control how your site looks you’re not left with branding such as “Powered by WordPress” at the bottom of your site. This shows potential clients that you are serious about your site, serious enough to pay for it to look good and they know you have control over what you write.
Having a personalised domain also adds to the professional look, you can have a vanity domain for a free site which will point to your viewers in the right direction but some companies might refuse to work with you. It’s not uncommon for brands and companies to refuse to work with you because you’re free hosted on a site such as Blogger or WordPress.
Accurate Statistics & DA (Domain Authority)
Knowing who your visitors are, where they’re coming from and why they’re coming is a great way to continue to produce content that gets seen. Sometimes free hosted services can produce inaccurate stats and the information they provide about who they are and why they are visiting is non-existent. Linking your site to Google Analytics (which isn’t allowed with some free sites) is the most accurate way to track your traffic.
Domain Authority or DA is a phrase you might see thrown around a lot, especially by brands, PRs and SEO hunters. In a nutshell, DA tells you how trustworthy and reliable your site is. The higher your DA the more appealing you are to others for their content to be on your site. You gain DA by having your URL all over the place such as on other people’s sites, as well as a few other ways.
If your website ends in .blogspot or .wordpress.org then you won’t have a true DA score, you’ll show as that sites score – often in the 90’s (the score is 1-100). You need a personalised domain name to get your own score so at least a vanity URL which points to your site.
How To Go Self-Hosted
If you’ve read this and have decided to take the plunge then that’s great. Next, you need to choose who you want to go self-hosted with. There are many companies to choose from so make sure you do your research first. It is tempting to just go for the cheapest but that doesn’t always work out for the best; they’re often cheap for a reason.
Decide which package is best for you, if you’re a new blogger then the lowest package might be best to get started. You can normally upgrade at any point. If your new hosting company is worth the money they’ll hold your hand every step of the way, should you be confused. Failing that there are loads of YouTube guides to help you complete this switch.
This site, and the others I manage, are hosted with SiteGround. Their customer service is second to none with no question too stupid (and I’ve asked many stupid ones) and they’re happy to complete a transfer for you if you’re already established.