Article by Jerry Low
Geek dad, SEO data junkie, investor, and founder of Web Hosting Secret Revealed. Jerry has been building Internet assets and making money online since 2004. He loves mindless doodling and trying new food.
Blogs. These days, almost everyone has one or two of it.
As soon as you tell the world you want to start a blog, I am sure some of your friends will suggest hosting it on its own domain and hosting; while some recommend you to do it freely on a free blogging platform, WordPress and Blogger.
Tough call? You bet.
But hey, seriously, does your blog really need its own domain and hosting?
Well unfortunately, I do not have the magic crystal ball to give you a definite-right answer. Moreover, there is no one-fit-for-all solution in this dilemma. Does your blog need its own domain and hosting? Well the question can only be answered by the blog owner, which is you, yourself. Let’s go thru some careful considerations on the pros and cons of both options; and hopefully you have a clearer picture (thus making the wiser choice) by end of this article.
First thing first, what do I mean when I say “free blogging platform”?
A free blogging platform simply means a website that offers free blogging tools and hosting services for their users. Blog created in such platform normally owns a third level domain name, something like myblog.wordpress.com.
As mentioned, WordPress and Blogspot are currently the two biggest names in this industry.
With the help of these free, user-friendly blogging platform like WordPress and Blogger, web publishing is as easy as writing an article with Wordpad on your desktop. This makes domain name registration and website hosting slightly unpopular as they are less convenient and they are not free. And, this explains why not all bloggers have the experience of running things on a self-registered domain name and hosting account. In fact, many individuals with years of blogging experience have no idea on how to register their domain name or setting up a WordPress platform on its shared hosting account.
There are several key plus points for a WordPress blog (or Blogspot or TypePad or any other free platform) when compare with those with its own hosting/domain.
Zero Cost First of all, blogs hosted on these third party blogging platforms are totally (well?) *FREE*. Cost is the major factor differentiating the two options. A third-party-hosted blog is normally free of charge and all you need to invest is your own time in writing and designing the outlook of the blog.
Easy Maintenance Secondly, setting up a blog on a third party platform is very simple and there is little work to be done besides writing. Bloggers do not need to worry about bandwidth cost or inodes or limited hosting capacities or database limitations or whatsoever; as the hosting features are provided freely by the platform provider and you have basically nothing to configure on the hardware side.
Successful example of blogs on a free platform
We are not lack of successful blogs (that hosted free on these platforms) that are followed by thousands, if not millions, of readers and fans daily. In fact, some of these blogs appear as the irreplaceable authorities, for instance: SethGodin.typepad.com, BrandAutopsy.typepad.com, PhotoshopDisasters.blogspot.com. AntiGreen.blogspot.com, MoBlogsMoProblems.blogspot.com (The Viral Garden), and MarketingGreen.wordpress.com, as well as TPZzoo.wordpress.com.
At this point, you might ask: “If these free, third party blogging platforms are so good, why take the hassles to operate a blog on its own domain?”.
Long answer short: Free blogging platforms are not perfect.
There are various limitations in marketing, branding, and functions when a blog is hosted free on Blogspot or WordPress. A blog with its own domain name and hosting, on the other hand, is much flexible when it comes to branding and designs.
Blog Marketing Overally speaking, branding power is the biggest advantage of having a blog on its own domain and hosting. Believe me, blogs hosted on a free blogging platform are harder to promote. The long and ugly URL makes a blog address hard to remember. Furthermore, a blog on free platform projects the image of ‘part-timer’ or ‘amateur’ in general. It is more difficuly to get other webmasters to treat your blog seriously when it comes to web partnership or joint venture. Personally I’d think twice to exchange a link or to review a service that is hosted on a free platform. The first question that pops in my mind when I see blogs on free platform like Blogger or WordPress: “Hey, is this guy serious about his/her blog?”.
Web Functions Blogs hosted freely on a third party platform face lots of limitation in web functions and designs. For example, use of cgi-bin and .htaccess are prohibited on all third party blogging platform. Not to mention robots.txt and 404 error pages.
Customization Unlike a free blog on a third party platform*, the owner of a self-hosted blog get to customize his/her blog without any limitation – Be it a commercial blog that focuses on affiliate sales or an informative blog that focuses on banner advertising or a portfolio blog that present your past photography work.
*Important note: WordPress.com for example, disallows its users to put up affiliate links or advertisement on their blogs.
Summing things up, we can now easily see that a third-party-hosted blog is most suitable for those who just wish to write and share their knowledge/interest in certain fields. A free blog is right for you whenever you do not wish to spend extra time and money on your blog.
Alternatively, a blog with its own domain and hosting is best for those who can afford a little extra time and money – shared hosting, after all, cost less than $5 per month. As an independent blog has better potential in term of profitability, it should be the choice of bloggers who wish to make money online.
Your blog needs its own domain and hosting account if…
Your blog does not need its own domain and hosting account if…
If this is the first time you getting a hosting account for your blog, here are the web hosting services I recommend.
|Web Host||Price*||Trial||Why Recommend?|
|$4.97/mo||30 Days||Fastest hosting; highly flexible and scalable –
Good option for blogs with heavy traffics.
|$5.90/mo||30 Days||300% green hosting – Good for those who want zero carbon footprint web host.|
|$4.19/mo||90 Days||Reliable and highly scalable – Good option for blogs with huge content collections and heavy traffics (FYI, this site is hosted on InMotion Hosting).|
|$1.89/mo||30 Days||Best Budget Hosting #2 – Perfect option for newbies and small-to-mid size blogs.|
|$20/mo||30 Days||Highly recommended by web developers in our recent survey – Perfect blog host for web developers and designers.|
|$1.99/mo||90 Days||Best Budget Hosting #1. Affordable, reliable, and trustworthy – Perfect option for newbies and small-to-mid size blogs.|
|$29/mo||60 Days||Best WordPress-only hosting – highly scalable and 100% uptime.|
And, in case your blog is getting more traffics than the usual, I strongly suggest you to read my WP Engine review. This blog is hosted on WP Engine and I am very satisfied with its service.
There is nothing wrong about running a blog on a free, third-party platform. But just before you make your conclusion, note that the blog ownership is a point that often neglected by most bloggers. Running your blog on its own domain and hosting is like living in your own house; on the other hand, a blog hosted on free platform is like renting an apartment – you’ll never know when you will get chased out! What if the website that offers free blogging platform is sold or shut down? Be warned that you will lose your entire readership when this happens to your blog.
As I am writing this, there are plenty of reliable web hosting services cost less than $5/mo and domain registration is just about $10/year. So in case you can afford some extra bucks monthly; and, if you are serious about your blog and your web precense, why not start your blog from a better position with its own domain name and hosting?