When you’re talking about blogs like we are here there are usually two options:
1) Self Hosted (Paid Hosted)
What does self-host mean you may ask? It’s a valid and rather important question. It pretty much means that you don’t use a free service or provider to run your blog or website, that you pay a company to host your blog.
We always recommend that you create a blog on a self-hosted platform.
The reason is pretty straightforward and simple – if you want to build a blog or a business that is taken seriously by readers (or potential clients) and search engines then you’ll want to avoid signing up for a free hosted site.
With this option, you do have to buy your own domain name and hosting service to be able to run a self hosted blog, but by doing so, you get a lot more freedom over your website. We suggest you sign up for a paid hosting account with a company like BlueHost and host your blog and domain name yourself. This is a more professional option and gives you control of your servers and how you design, build and optimize your blog or website.
You will be able to add whatever theme you want to and customize your site to your own specification. This will make your site look far more professional than a free site, which will help you attract more visitors.
With self hosted, you aren’t hindered in any way in regards to your sites SEO, so all the keywords, Alt tags, inbound links, will help your site to rank higher in the search engine results pages driving more traffic to your site.
You are free to place whatever advertisements and banners that you would like on your own site whereas free blog hosting sites restrict your ads, and some even place ads without your control which make money for them instead of you!
A domain name usually costs around $12-$20 per year, with hosting an additional $5-10 per month. So you will be looking at somewhere between $72-132 roughly for the year overall (depending on which company you choose to go with).
2) Free Hosted
Free blogs are a fantastic option if you want a personal blog simply to share your pictures and videos with family or friends, but for a blog that you want to turn into a business, generate income, or drive traffic a free blog is not the best option for you. The biggest problem with free blogs is that you have very little control over them due to the many restrictions imposed on you as to how you can manage the site.
Some of the downsides are that your URL address has to include the name of the free blog hosting company (i.e. http://myblog.blogger.com instead of http://myblog.com). It looks pretty unprofessional and is more difficult for people to find you. You are also usually restricted to the templates that you can use. If you want a specific look to your website, you could find it more difficult to achieve.
Probably the biggest issue relates to your SEO. Search engine optimization is one of the most important ways to drive traffic to your website. Unfortunately, it is not something you can utilize with a free blog. The reason for this is because all of your content that you create on your free site is indexed to the free blog site, which ultimately obstructs any SEO for your free site. Google also tends to look less fondly to content on free blogs and ranks them lower than self hosted websites.
Therefore the main reasons you should NOT create a free hosted blog is:
- You will have very limited functionality and options for your site.
- You will be limited creatively with how much you can customize the look and feel of the site.
- Less likely to offer the kind of metrics and analytics you need to see what’s working.
- It’s more difficult to make money from a free service (it can be impossible to add eCommerce/shopping cart functionality or to run ads)
- Some hosting companies place ads on your site that you have no control over and you do not get paid for.
- You don’t always have full control over your domain name.
When you’re self-hosted (have paid for your hosting service), you own your website and have full control. And for anyone looking to monetize your blog, who are planning on building a long term online presence, self-hosted is what is recommended.