Start a New Blog: Should I Choose a Free (Hosted) or a Paid (Self-Hosted) Blogging Platform?

If you are planning to start a blog of you own, you might be at the crossroads of deciding how to set up your blog, where to host your blog, and how to get a domain name for your blog. You might have also come across the terms “Hosted and Self-hosted” blogs.

In this article I will explain both hosted and self-hosted blogs, I will also do a comparison between both and help you decide which one is best for the kind of blog you want to start.

Most people will tell you that self-hosted blogs are the best if you intend to start a very professional blog, this is true but they may not explain to you in details what this truly means and what it curtails.

Hosted or Free Blog

A hosted or free blog is a blog that is attached to another website which serves as the service provider for the content management services that your blog uses.

An analogy I love to use when explaining this is real-estate. Consider your blog as a house, the land is server on which the house is built on.

When you create a free or hosted blog, you are renting that land to build your house on, the landlord has control of what you can do on his land and what not.

The host provides the free hosting service, a sub-level domain and other resources that will be needed to design the blog and keep it running.

All you need to do is to signup on the host’s platform and you can start setting up your site and start publishing content. In some cases the hosts allows you to make use of your own Top-level domain.

Some popular platforms that provide hosted blog services are Blogger.com by Google and WordPress.com.

These two platforms are widely used by millions of blogs and sometimes you will even find it difficult to identify a blog that is hosted on these platforms merely by visiting the homepage of the blog.

Advantages of Hosted or Free Blog

  • Zero start-up capital needed.
  • It is great for beginners, as it gives you a free platform to start familiarizing yourself with the blogosphere. You can start creating content and driving traffic to your blog without having to worry about any costs of keeping your blog running.
  • Even if you don’t want to start your blog with your own domain name or you just don’t have the funds to buy a top-level domain name yet, the free blogging platform provides you with sub-level domains that you can use to effectively run your blog for a start, e.g. (www.thetechblogga.wordpress.com).
  • Free blogs are very easy to design and run. The platform provides you with free tools and templates that you can easily modify to your taste and start running your blog, even if you have little or no prior web design experience.

Disadvantages of Hosted or Free Blog

  • Free services are never the best. It’s just the fact
  • You don’t have full control of your blog and you always have to play by the rules set by the platform providers.
  • You get limited bandwidth, upload size, video stream limits e.t.c
  • Most of the free platforms will limit your advertising options making it very difficult for you to make money on your blog. In some cases they will even place their own ads o your blog without your permission and there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it.
  • No matter how hard you try, free blogs will never look very professional. Something will always be missing.

Self-Hosted or Paid Blog

A self-hosted blog on the other hand is a blog that is hosted on your own server. The analogy of this is still the real-estate, when you self-host your blog, it’s more like you buying your land and building your own house on it.

You have full control of what you want to do on that land, you make the rules there and you can do as you wish because its yours.

A self-hosted blog allows you full control of your blog, you will need to buy your own top-level domain and design your blog. You can easily make changes and determine every operational policy that applies to your blog.

Some popular hosting services include Hostgator, Bluehost, DigitalOcean, Vultr & Dreamhost.

These are platforms that provide you with server space to host your blog on, you can then either decide to choose a CMS platform like WordPress.org, Joomla, etc to upload on the hosting space and that will help you manage your content, if you are a programmer, you can also develop your own content management system by yourself, which you can upload to your server and you have your blog up and running.

A self-hosted blog doesn’t come with a domain name so you will have to buy it from domain name vendors, some of the most popular include Godaddy and Namecheap.

Advantages of Self-Hosted or Paid Blog

  • Your blog will be very professional.
  • Self-hosting your blog gives you 100% control of your blog. You determine what you want to do with it, the template, the layout, your search engine optimization tactics, ad placement, subscriptions and any other functions you might want to add, its all in your control.
  • You can choose from millions of free and paid themes to use for your blog.
  • You have full access to all the website’s files, including the back-end files, this makes it very easy for your to modify your codes as you like to keep your website running effectively.
  • If you choose the right hosting service provider, you will only spend a few bucks to keep your site running every month, some even go as cheap as $2/month.

Disadvantages of Self-Hosted or Paid Blog

  • A startup capital is needed.
  • You might need to employ a developer to create your blog for you if you have no web development experience.
  • It can be very challenging and intimidating if you’re a first time blogger.

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org

wordpress.com vs wordpress.orgFirst of all, what is WordPress? WordPress is an open source platform that is developed by thousands of developers.

Basically, WordPress was created by a community of developers, and it is now a free content management system that can be used on both free or self-hosted platforms.

If you are new to blogging you might not know that there are 2 versions of WordPress. one is free (WordPress.com), where you can signup and enjoy the free services of hosting your blog under WordPress.

The other is also free to use, but you will have to host it on your own server which gives you a content management system that you have full control of.

WordPress.com

This is the totally free version of WordPress that you can signup for at WordPress.com.

By signing up for this, you get a free sub-level domain along with free tolls needed to design your blog and a few free themes too. This is a restricted limited version, so you just might not find plenty joy using it.

WordPress.org

This is the version of WordPress that has all the full features of the CMS, it gives you total control of your blog, the back-end files, monetization, subscriptions, name it.

It has a very huge library of themes and plugins that you can install to carry out various functions on your blog.

All you have to do is to buy a web hosting space and install the WordPress.org on it, then you start enjoying the features it offers.

If you are a newbie, you can start with WordPress.com to get familiar with the blogosphere, know what work and what doesn’t because the moment you start using WordPress.org, it means you are fully ready to go professional.

If you are still confused of which one is best for you or need any assistance on deciding and starting up, please reach out to me, i will gladly help you get started.

Got any questions? Just drop them in the comment section below or use the contact form on the contact page.

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