You may already be using free blogging platforms to achieve some or all of your online goals, and that’s great. After all, having an online presence is better than having nothing at all.
In the short and medium-term, “outsourcing” the hosting of your content to a free platform seems like a reasonable move. After all, who wants to deal with technical hassles when all you want to do is write, share content, and establish your expertise in a profitable niche market?
However, from a business perspective, not hosting your own material with a hosting platform that you own and have full control over can have severe consequences. If you’re looking to build a serious business online, you must host your own blog to maintain full ownership and control of it.
If you intend to use your website for commercial purposes then you should avoid using free hosting platforms.
The good news is that these days, with tons of competition, it's not expensive to host your own site, and you can do so by paying for an inexpensive hosting plan ranging around $10 to $15 a month. In fact, web hosting companies typically run regular sales up to 50% off or offer deals where you can pay for a full year all at once, which can help bring the cost of hosting down to less than $10 per month.
Though the allure of "free" is perfectly understandable, here are some key reasons why you're better off hosting your own WordPress blog on your own web hosting account and staying away from free blogging solutions.
1. Ability to Personalize Your Own Domain Name
Whether for business or strictly social purposes, a big part of building a website and blog is about branding. Unfortunately, on free platforms like Blogger.com that have millions of users and blog posts, it’s difficult to stand out from the crowd, even if your blog has a really great name.
That's because in addition to the name of your blog you will have the branding of the free platform you are using as part of your domain name. So, instead of having "example.com" or site would be "example.blogger.com"; or whatever the name of the free platform you are using is.
Imagine if a major company, like Amazon.com, used Amazon.wordpress.com or Amazon.blogger.com as their website address. This looks very amateurish, unprofessional, and cheap. After all, what kind of reputable company can't even afford to have their own domain name? The same is true for your online business. Putting forth a professional presence requires you to have your own branded domain name.
No matter how much effort you put into creating valuable content and making a free blog presentable, you will eventually face the hard reality that you are mostly promoting the platform, not you or your brand. This holds true especially if you have to compromise on your desired address name since your first choices are often taken.
Another big issue is that when you are hosting your website on someone else's platform, they can take your site down at any time for any reason without recourse; more on that below.
2. You Really Own Your Blog – No Questions Asked
On a free platform, the blog is not really your blog at all. You see, although your fantastic content is identified (hopefully) with you, the underlying company (Google, WordPress, Medium, etc.) are the real owners of the site. Later on, if you want to move to another free platform (or eventually to your own domain), you risk losing your readers, because you have no control over the site.
All of the work you put into getting your site indexed in the search engines so that it ranks well also goes to waste because when you do decide to move to your own domain to another web host. You'll need to start from scratch to get your new site indexed so that it actually shows up in internet search results.
Also if you do decide to move your blog from a free platform to your own hosting account, in many cases there will be a lot of manual labor involved. Yout can't simply copy and paste your old site to a new site. Imagine if you have hundreds of pages of content, images, videos, etc. You'll have to manually move everything over, page-by-page, image-by-image, etc.
When you own your own blog hosting account, whether you switch web designers, web hosting providers, or any other changes to your online business you don't have to worry about losing your established Google rankings and existing traffic because you keep the website and domain name. And moving your own blog to another web host is a simple process.
If you don't own your own blog, it can be taken down at any time for any reason without any recourse. You can lose everything overnight.
3. Owning Your Own Blog is Extremely Inexpensive
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, you don't have to worry about high costs preventing you from hosting your own blog. By downloading quality (and more often than not, free) blogging software and purchasing your own domain name, you’ll be all set. Budgeting between $10 to $15 a month should do the trick.
Convinced that you should host your own blog? If so, the WordPress platform is the way to go, because it has already been tried and tested on millions of website worldwide. Other options exist, but if this is your first venture into hosting, you'll have easy success with WordPress.
Since WordPress is one of the most popular solutions on the internet, there are plenty of people you can hire to outsource standard and custom WordPress work, and almost all third-party services integrate with WordPress. It really is a no-brainer.
In a nutshell, you can work through the following list of steps to get started with a WordPress blog:
A. Purchase a domain name from a reputable company.
You can accomplish this for $15 or less. While GoDaddy.com is one of the most popular options, look for a deal from hosting companies, such as Bluehost, SiteGround, and HostGator which are popular hosting options as well.
B. Find a Web Host for Your Blog
Most good web hosts these days allow you to easily install WordPress on your site (for free) with just a couple clicks. This makes it possible for people with absolutely no technical experience to get their content uploaded quickly and without hassle.
Some hosting companies also offer website builders that are relatively easy to use, offer customizable designs or themes, and include competitively priced free domain and free hosting plans.
More experienced and/or technically-oriented users can get a more standard plan that allows for more creative options. You can learn about the different types of hosting options here.
C. Install WordPress
The specific details of WordPress installation are outside the scope of this article. You should note though, whenever discussing WordPress, that two versions exist. Both offer templates and tools to build your site, but with WordPress.com, free use requires you to use a subdomain, such as Myblog.Wordpress.com. For a small monthly (paid annually) fee, however, you can use your own domain that doesn't include WordPress in the name. Either way, your website will be hosted on the WordPress.com platform. WordPress.org supplies tools and more, but you must supply your own hosting. This requires a bit more work and knowledge but has fewer limitations.
To set up a site using your own hosting and WordPress.org tools, the basic procedure is pretty straightforward as described below:
- Confirm that your web host supports the ability to install WordPress (most web hosts do).
- Log into your hosting account and install WordPress (most web hosts have a simple interface that allows you to do this with just a few clicks)
- Select a template for your WordPress site (there are many free options to choose from)
- Begin adding pages and content to your website
As mentioned before, if you don't want to deal with the technology you can always find someone on a freelance site such as Upwork to outsource the complete set-up and creation of your website.
The important caveat here is to make sure that you, not a hired web consultant, actually buys your domain name and hosting account so that you are the owner of everything instead of the person to whom you are outsourcing your website work.
If the relationship ends for whatever reason, your hired web developer could keep the password to the hosting service and your website, meaning that you'll have nothing to show for your time and money, and no more access to your site.