Last week marked my one year blog birthday. In 2020 I made the decision to go self-hosted after being on a free blog for years. And that got me thinking about how uninformed I was when I first started blogging. I had no idea what I was doing and made the rash decision of jumping onto the “self-hosted” bandwagon without actually knowing anything about it. And let me tell you, that was a disaster. To help other bloggers who intend on going self-hosted, I came up with this post. Hopefully, it will help you make a more informed decision before shifting over. For the sake of clarity, I will be using WordPress in my examples.
Before I get into the rest of this post, what exactly does going “self-hosted” mean? If you are new to blogging I’m sure you will be seeing this term pop up now and then and have no idea what it meant. Having a Self-Hosted blog means you run your own blog or website after purchasing a domain and server space from a hosting provider. The easiest way to identify whether a blog is self-hosted or free is by looking at the URL. If it does not have a wordpress.com or wordpress.blog in the domain name, that means that the site is self-hosted.
So which type of site is for you?
There are several aspects that you need to consider when deciding which type of site to go for. Ask yourself the below questions –
- How new are you to blogging? Is this your first blog?
- How much money are you willing to spend on your blog?
- How much time do you plan spending on your blog?
If you are fairly new to blogging, have a limited budget, and don’t plan to spend that much time maintaining your site then I would suggest going in for a “free” or hosted blog. There are many hosted sites that you can choose from online to set up your first blog. I used both Blogger and WordPress in my initial days of blogging and only once I felt comfortable with it did I make the move. Blogging is time-consuming and adds to that the stress of maintaining a self-hosted site, it can be very overwhelming for somebody who is new.
If you have been blogging for a few years now or plan to take your blogging more seriously then definitely try going self-hosted! But keep in mind, it does take some investment and you may not be able to make up the money you spend on your blog soon. Depending on the hosting provider and the domain name, the amount of money you spend can vary from a couple of hundred to a thousand bucks or even more (depending on where you are in the world and your currency). And this is why I also asked about how much time do you plan on spending on your blog. It makes no sense investing so much money into something for you to only use it maybe once a month or so.
A “free” hosted blog.
Having a free blog has a ton of advantages. The main one being that it is completely free! You do not have to spend a single penny when using a free site. And also, you do not have to spend time maintaining your blog either. By maintaining your blog I mean the coding aspect, updating your software, and other backend maintenance (which you have to do on a self-hosted site almost all the time). A free site is perfect for you if your only intention is to write and create content! And don’t worry about how your blog will look. There are many free themes for you to use and customize to your liking.
A few disadvantages that a free blog has is that you have limited customizing ability as compared to paying for one. You also cannot install plugins or have ads running on your blog if you have a free site. You also get limited storage space online and cannot connect to external sites like Google Analytics. But these shouldn’t hurt if you are new to blogging or if you intend for your blog to just be your “hobby”.
And now we come to the advantages of going self-hosted. Having a self-hosted blog means having complete control over your website. You have unlimited scope of customization with several themes and plugins at your disposal. I noticed my SEO ranked better after I switched over to a self hosted site and so did my daily view count. You can also run ads and earn on your blog. Having access to Google Analytics and Search Engine helps you write better content as well as understand how are you faring online.
But of course, most of these things come with a price! Like I mentioned earlier, depending on your hosting plan, it can get quite expensive. You also have to have time to manage your site which includes updating themes, plugins, and widgets. Going self-hosted also means that your site is at the mercy of your server providers and it may go offline if they have an outage. I wouldn’t say knowing code is necessary, but it can come in helpful now and then, especially when implementing certain plugins or customization to your site. I have lost count of the number of times I have googled or youtubed certain coding terms because I had no clue what they meant.
And there you have it. I hope this post made it easier for you to decide between going self-hosted or keeping a free blog for yourself. Let me know what you think in the comments below!