Should I Start A Free Hosted Blog Or A Self Hosted Blog?

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Should I start a free blog or a self hosted bog?

Many new bloggers face this question when they want to start their own site. It’s a legitimate question after all! But what is the difference between running a ‘Free Hosted Blog’ and a ‘Self Hosted Blog’?

Free Hosted Blogs

There are plenty of sites that allow you to start your own blog for free, most notably WordPress.com & Blogger. But these free blogs are only useful in certain circumstances.

Free blogs are great if you want a personal blog to share your pictures and videos with your friends and family. People also use free blogs as an outlet for their writing, whether it be a way to express their personal opinions, comment on the news or even writing short stories. There are many uses that a free blog can be used for, but all would fall under the ‘amateur’ category.

The biggest problem with free blogging websites is that you have zero control over them! What I mean by this is that there are many restrictions imposed on you as to how you can mange your site.

One of the biggest downsides is that your chosen URL address has to include the name of the free blog (i.e. http://onlineincometeacher.blogger.com instead of http://onlineincometeacher.com). This can be particularly tricky when you tell someone the name of your website, as they may forget the .blogger (or whichever free website provider you use) part and navigate to another website.

You are also restricted to the free templates that you can use. If you want a specific look to your website, you will find it very difficult to achieve without proper professional help.

Probably the biggest downside to free blogs though relates to your SEO strategy. Search engine optimization is one of THE best ways to drive traffic to your website, but it doesn’t work on free blog sites. This is because all of the content that you create is indexed to the free blog site, which ultimately hinders your SEO strategy. Added to that however, search engines like Google, tend to look less fondly to content on free blogs and generally rank them lower than self hosted websites.

This is a major disadvantage if you are planning a business/professional blog. You ultimately prevent yourself from getting the maximum amount of traffic possible by using free hosting.

Of course if you are planning a business/professional blog, you have to consider whether your target market will take you seriously or not! If you plan on selling products or offering a professional service, would you expect people to take you seriously by running a free website? I suppose it depends on the subject of the website, but I would image not. It’s definitely something to consider.

So free hosted blogs have their advantages and disadvantages. The key point to remember is that these types of sites are aimed more towards the ‘amateur’ blogger, rather than the ‘professional’ blogger.

Self Hosted Blogs

So, what about ‘Self Hosted Blogs’?

Well you have to buy your own domain name and hosting service to run a self hosted blog, but by doing so, you get a lot more freedom over your website.

You can add whatever theme you want and customize your site to your own specification. This instantly makes your site look more professional, which will help you attract more visitors.

You aren’t hindered in anyway with your site SEO, so all the keywords, Alt tags, inbound links, etc. help your site to rank higher in the search engine results pages (SERPs). This alone will help drive more traffic to your site.

You are free to place whatever adverts/banners that you want on your site. Some free blog hosting sites restrict your adverts, some even place ads for you which make money for them instead of you! You won’t face these restrictions when you self host.

I decided to go with the self hosted option because I wanted to create a professional website. I couldn’t have achieved what I have done had I gone for free hosting.

A domain name usually costs about $12 per year, with hosting an additional $5-10 per month. So somewhere between $72-132 roughly for the year overall (depending on which company you choose to go with). Now this may sound like an awful lot compared to having a free blog, but if you think of it as a business, then it is incredibly cheap!!! I can’t imagine many businesses that you can start for around $100.

For domain names, we use GoDaddy as they are the market leader worldwide, offering great customer service and is really easy to set up. For hosting, we use HostGator. Again, this is because they are the market leader with many other bloggers hosting with them. Our site is hosted with these and we have never had any problems with them and would highly recommend them.

If you do choose to go with HostGator, you can use our very own ‘Coupon Code:-OnlineIncomeTeacher‘ to recieve a MASSIVE 25% OFF!!!

What are your thoughts on free hosting vs self hosted blogs? I’d be really interested to hear your thoughts below…

About Matt Smith

Matt Smith is the founder and editor of OnlineIncomeTeacher. He is a Professional Blogger, SEO Consultant & Web Developer, running a number of sites from the UK. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

  • You hit the point right on the head! You can start a thriving online business for around $400 (which includes outsourcing graphics, etc) instead of the hundreds of thousands you would spend to open a franchise.

    Also, when you use free blogs you also come up against the concept of “digital sharecropping” meaning you are working the land (site) without owning it. If blogger or WordPress change their policies they can cut your whole company down. Which is the same reason it is a little scary to base your entire business on social feeds like Facebook or Twitter instead of using them as an addition to your main site. BUT – that’s a topic for another day 🙂

    Great post Matt

    • That is very true! It’s very risky to put all your eggs in one basket and hope that the site that you are building your business on (i.e. Blogger, WordPress.com, Facebook, etc.) doesn’t change it’s rules that could harm your entire site! Having your own self hosted blog limits this risk, as you’re the only one that will change things.

      Thanks for the great comment Amie 🙂

      • Gary

        One of my goals is to have a self-hosted blog. I can have total control and freedom at the same time. If I could get a stable income through my self-hosted blog, then I can start firing my boss. I appreciate all your useful ideas here.

  • Sell Electronics

    Well thought out. Free hosted blogs are just good for personal use and you are not targeting any sales for your post.

    • Yes, anyone wanting to get their business online with their own website needs to go for a ‘Self-Hosted’ site, whereas if you are just interested in running a personal site then you may be better off going for a ‘Free’ site.

      • TheeGooch

        My concern is that I’m just starting and don’t know if I’ll get any
        readership. I’ve wasted thousands on an unproven business model before. I
        went and bought a domain, merchant services, etc because my friends
        told me I’d make money. The whole thing fell apart in under a year and
        left me owing a bunch of money. I don’t want to do that ever again.
        Isn’t it smarter to first have the blog prove it’s value before
        investing money into it?

        • Hi TheeGooch,

          It’s kinda hard to build a successful blog/website that runs on a free hosted provider.

          Professional running/looking sites are much easier to create on self hosted providers. They give you much greater freedom of what content you can include and links, adverts, images you can use.

          I don’t know what your friend told you, but websites shouldn’t cost thousands to create. I only spend a couple of hundred pounds on website maintenance per year, that’s one of the great things about websites, they are pretty cheap to set up.

          Of course, websites require a lot of hard work to maintain and update regularly, but if you are prepared to put the work in, they can become quite successful

          • TheeGooch

            Reread my post, this was personal experience 1st hand experience with an online business where I resold products. And keep in mind the idea I’m proposing is to limit the outlay of time and money before you know if you have a product that will sell or not. Once you start getting(or not getting!) customers, then decide if moving to a self-hosted blog is worth it or not. I’ve went hold hog on building a blogging site before, but in a ton of hours for months, doing SEO,Web design, social media marketing, etc and didn’t get any following.

            Work or even willingness to work does not automatically mean you’ll get any business. Just my local area I’ve seen brick and mortar business come and go in a matter of years.They worked hard but for whatever reason they did not get enough business.

            Take the risk if you want, but I’d rather have a regular job,start the blog on the side to minimize the risk(not all eggs in one basket), and keep costs down until the numbers show my blog/product has a chance of surviving in the market.

          • It sounds like you have answered your own question then. 🙂

            What you say is true, putting in all the hard work doesn’t guarantee that a site will be successful, as many businesses can fail for a number of different reasons.

            I think you are right to try and keep your costs down to a minimum, especially when starting out – but I still feel that self-hosting is the way to go. I say this from experience.

            I was in a similar situation to you when I first started out. I didn’t want to waste my money paying for things that I didn’t need to, but I did invest in a proper domain name & hosting provider. I wanted to create a professional website and I felt the only way to do that was to do it properly.

            The thing with free hosted sites is that you can spot them a mile off. They tend to look cheap and nobody really takes any notice of them. The other thing is that free hosted sites are linked to the site that they run on (i.e. Blogger or WordPress.com), so it makes it MUCH harder to switch when you choose to do so. SEO, backlinks, social media counts, etc. all go to waste when switching.

            You also have to think about what your customers think. Will they feel confident in buying a product/service from a site that doesn’t want to pay for it’s own website. I know I wouldn’t.

            At the end of the day, only you can make the decision. But I do think it would be in your best interests (long-term) to think about self-hosting.

            Wish you all the best and let us know how you get on.

  • Pearlie Samuel

    Good post! Your post really got me thinking of moving from my free blog to a self hosted one.

    I have a query about self hosted blogs though. When we start a self hosted blog, is it necessary that we go in for a private registration of the domain? How important is a private registration and is it a must that we go for such a registration? What will be the risks/benefits if I go for a private or public registration? Would really appreciate your inputs.

    • I wouldn’t say it is necessary, but it can protect you in certain circumstances.

      For example, if you ‘Publicly’ register a domain, then people (if they wish) can find out that you specifically registered it, i.e. your name. They can also gain access to your personal details that you submitted when registering the domain, such as your address.

      All private registration does is hide this information for you. So it’s not vital if you are a public business with a business address, but I would advise getting it if you are registering individually.

      Hope that helps Pearlie! 🙂

  • Your post is too beautiful and I really impressed by this blog. Everything is fairly defined in this post. You should continue do this type of post. It’s enjoyable post.

    • Thanks! I’ll try to keep writing posts like these

  • Well, welcome to OnlineIncomeTeacher Glemoh!

    I’m really glad that you found the website helpful, it shows that we are doing our job right. Please feel free to get in touch if you need any help or want some questions answered. I’m always happy to help.

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  • I have a blog on WordPress.com and it drives a lot of traffic to my website. I’m not technically inclined so self-hosting is too daunting for me at this point. The one annoyance is the lack of control over who can read my blog in cases where following has become stalking. WordPress.com doesn’t allow you to ban or even delete email followers. I have turned off my blog temporarily while I figure out if I can move my blog elsewhere.

    • Hi Lhinn! Sorry to hear that you are having trouble with someone on your site. I seem to have been lucky in that regard. I’m not entirely sure whether you can ban someone from visiting a site. Even if you could, they could probably get around it by using a different computer.

      If someone is leaving you negative comments, you may be able to blacklist them. I’m not sure which comment system you are using, but ‘Disqus’ (this system) has this feature.

      You could look at making your blog a membership only site. This way, you control who has access to your content. There are plenty of plugins and systems that you can use to do this (both free & premium).

      Sorry I can’t help you more. I hope you find a suitable solution. All the best

    • Mahroof Ali

      In blogger, You can’t stop some certain people from viewing your blog, but you can limit your reader ship to certain people. I’ve used both wordpress.com and blogger, And I choose blogger over wordpress.com because it gives more control over the layout and theme and other google services can be easily tailored with the blogger platform, if you choose. Blogger also gives a somewhat limited control over the template and layout, still a lot better than wordpress.com. I think your “somewhere else” could be blogger, it also has a large community of users

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  • Thanks for the post, This was exactly what I needed to see.Good list, keep up
    the good work.

  • Clint Henry Utiripse

    free blogging is better….

  • Dipti Sanyal

    you always post wonderful post and your posting item always meaningful and amazing. I always read your blog.. thanks for sharing this information.