Are you using a free blog? How’s that working out for you? It may be you feel you’re ticking along just fine thank you very much. But that doesn’t mean you couldn’t be doing better and this is where a self hosted blog will be a real game-changer for you.
If you haven’t yet started your blog and are thinking about doing so, you can of course start a free blog.
After all it doesn’t cost you a penny, right? So why wouldn’t you?
Free blogs are a great way to start blogging with zero investment but in the long run, you’re way better off running a self hosted blog. In this post I’m going to tell you why.
- What a self hosted blog is.
- Why self hosting is a better option than a free blog.
- Who I recommend for self hosting your blog.
What is a Self Hosted Blog?
Self hosted blogs are a slight misnomer… since you don’t actually host anything yourself. Self hosting really means you take responsibility for finding a host where your blog lives and you install the blog software and take care of looking after it.
The other major difference between a self hosted blog and a free blog is that you have to pay a subscription for it.
Now I understand that paying for your blog to be hosted may not sound that appealing. After all you can have a free blog on Wix, Weebly or WordPress, right?
However there are too many benefits to self hosting to simply dismiss it for the price of a few dollars every month…
Why Should You Opt for a Self Hosted Blog?
As I referenced above, the relatively small outlay for self hosting a blog compared to the benefits you get over free blogs are too many to ignore.
Here are 11 reasons why…
1. SEO Benefits
A free blog can most certainly rank and bring you traffic. However, it’s not really bringing you traffic… it’s bringing traffic to your free host.
There’s little you can do to influence SEO on a free blog other than optimizing your content. You can build backlinks to it but you can’t do much in the way of optimizing elements of the blog itself.
On a self hosted blog you can (in no order of importance):
- Optimize your permalink URLs for keywords
- Choose the meta tags you want to use.
- Achieve faster page load speeds
- Access plugins to help you optimize your content.
Overall you’ll have a much bigger say in how search engines view your blog by optimizing on page elements other than the content itself.
2. You’ll Get to Choose Your Own Domain
Self hosted blogs enable you to choose your own domain name. Free blogs give you a domain like:
With self hosting, you’ll be able to choose a domain name that properly represents you and your brand. Of course you’ll have to pay for a domain and that’s an additional cost. But again there’s a potential SEO benefit to this, especially if you choose a .com domain.
Some free blogs do offer you the option to use a domain name you purchase, but you’ll likely have to pay for the privilege of doing so. As a consequence, there’s a double hit since you’ll still have to buy your domain on top.
If you’re interested in purchasing your own domain, here are some tips to help: Choosing a Domain Name.
If you self host your blog on your own domain, you’ll be able to set up email addresses that reference it. This means that any email you send to people will come from:
An email like this makes you look more professional and is something you retain for as long as you own the domain name.
The real benefit is this is FREE. You heard me, free email!
You won’t get an awful lot of technical support with a free blog… why would you? You’re not paying for anything!
Many people like the idea of free blogs if they don’t feel confident with techie stuff. But just because you self host a blog, it doesn’t mean you’ll be knee deep in servers and code.
Hosting companies provide support for you… and support from the best hosting companies is excellent.
If there are any technical issues with your blog, you can ask your hosting company for help. Heck, most hosting companies will even install your blog for you, especially if you want a self hosted WordPress blog.
I use SiteGround for my hosting and I’m extremely confident to recommend it to you.
A Review of SiteGround Hosting
SiteGround offers multiple benefits for self hosted bloggers. Read my SiteGround review to find out what they are and why I’m a very satisfied customer.
5. More Storage
Free blogs tend to limit the amount of available storage you have. You’ll also find this with self hosting packages of course. But in general, the storage limits you’ll enjoy are far greater than what you’ll get with a free hosting solution, and you can always upgrade.
This means your blog is far more scalable going forward. If your intention is to blog into the future, access to more storage will help you to grow.
6. You Control Monetization
Will you want to monetize your blog?
Free blogs restrict the ways you can make money from your blog. You might take a revenue share from ads the free blog service puts into your content, but you have limited control over when and where those ads appear.
You can of course add affiliate links on your free blog, assuming affiliate networks allow you to join their programs.
However, affiliate networks don’t just open their gates for anyone… your blog has to look and feel credible.
In general, self hosted blogs tend to look a far more serious proposition than free blogging platforms and this can be the difference between affiliate network approval and disapproval.
7. Analysis Tools
Free blogs do provide you with access to native analytics data to help you understand how your blog is performing.
Others, such as Blogger, will grant you access to Google Analytics, which is the analysis tool you’ll definitely want to use for your blog.
However, not all free platforms permit you to install Google Analytics… and that’s a big blocker to growing your blog.
Google Analytics is a vital tool to help you understand how visitors interact with your blog. It’s free, which is incredible considering the amount of sophisticated data it shows you.
With a self hosted blog you’ll also be able to add your blog to Google Search Console. This is another free tool that provides you with incredible insights into SEO for your blog.
GA and GSC are reasons enough in themselves to move from a free to a self hosted blog.
8. You Get the Functionality You Want
If you currently run a free blog you’ll understand there’s a limit on how much functionality you can add to your blog. If you don’t like the way something works, you may be stuck with it.
With a self hosted blog the possibilities for extending existing functions or adding completely new ones is almost limitless.
Firstly you’ll have access to a simply mind-boggling number of plugins that add all kinds of whizz-bang features to your blog… especially if you opt for WordPress as your blogging software of choice.
Secondly, you’ll be able to access your server and modify code directly there… if you’re comfortable doing so.
When you’re self hosting, plugins and custom code give you unlimited possibilities to tailor the way your blog works specifically for you… and that’s simply not possible to the same degree with a free blog
9. You Determine What Your Blog Looks Like
Not only will self hosting help you make your blog DO the things you want, but also it means you can change it to LOOK precisely the way you want.
As with plugins to extend functions, you’ll be able to use themes to extend the look and feel of your blog.
Again you’ll have masses of choice here:
- Free themes
- Premium themes
- Custom themes
Let’s take a self hosted WordPress blog as an example. You could choose to install a free theme from thousands on offer in the WordPress Themes Directory.
If you want something a little more slick, paying for a premium theme will give you a lot more bells and whistles.
For those that want something more unique, you can pay for someone to build you a theme that looks and does precisely what you want.
Additionally, if you self host you’ll be able to add your own custom rules for the way your blog looks by editing the style rules (CSS) yourself.
Free blogs allow you to change colors and fonts and do give you some options for layout, but they don’t give you the ability to specify design elements to the nth degree in the same way that editing your own CSS does.
A self hosted blog differentiates you from the free blog herd!
10. You’ll Look More Professional & Trustworthy
I’ve touched on this already with regard to affiliate networks. A self hosted blog on your own domain makes your blog appear more professional and trustworthy.
You can’t expect to look like a serious blogger on a free blog, even if your content IS professional and trustworthy.
You might produce the greatest content anyone has published anywhere on the Web, but people will make assumptions based upon how professional and trustworthy you look.
It’s sad, but people make such assumptions based on a first impression. If that first impression isn’t great, your visitors never get to your content anyway.
11. Learning Opportunities
I’ll say now that a self hosted blog will stretch you… and that may deter you if you feel you want an easy life.
However, anyone can learn the basics to self hosting quickly and over time your knowledge will grow.
The support of a hosting company like SiteGround, combined with trial and error will teach you new skills and make you feel a lot more confident with the technical side of blogging.
Who knows… you may get to the point where you can start selling your services to install self hosted blogs for others one day?
I’m hopeful you’ll see how the many benefits of self hosted blogging outweigh those of free blogging.
Free blogs of course offer you a cash saving. However for a relatively small monthly outlay, self hosted blogs offer benefits in the following areas:
- Using your own domain
- Free email
- Technical support
- Increased storage
- You control monetization
- More sophisticated analysis
- Functionality improvements
- Look and feel enhancements
- A more professional and trustworthy appearance
- Learning opportunites.
If you need any more evidence, most bloggers that are killing it in the blogging world, those who you aspire to be, are doing so with a self hosted blog.
Make the right choice… the benefits are screaming out to you!
That’s all for now.
Want to know more about self hosting? Leave a comment below with any questions you have.
This was a useful post. I have two blogs, both on free Blogger programs and I have had a few issues with them- I have a school blog which has been my method of teaching my students during lockdown and it was been so useful but there have been some highly irritating things I’ve not been able to do- the lack of technical support was a big one as I ended up getting trolled by someone (I’m pretty sure I know which ex-student it was) but there was no way of getting support to find out who it was. Would have been so much easier with my own domain etc.
I feel your pain.
I’ve long since left behind free blogs… there are too many advantages to self hosting. Yes, it costs money. Yes, there is a learning curve. However the benefits outweigh the drawbacks in spades.
If you ever decide to migrate to self hosting on your own domain, give me a shout and I’ll help out.
Thanks for your comment.