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…