Why You Might Want to Switch From A Free Website Hosting Service to Self-Hosted Service

If you haven’t already set up your own website or blog you might want think carefully about getting it done. Having your own blog or website is like owning your own real estate on the web. It will also, increase your opportunities to make money on the web. If you already have your own website or blog, then kudos to you.

I will talk more about Blogger and WordPress in this post.  I know that there are several other services, such as TypePad or Tumblr, that allow users to build and host blogs/websites.  But, Blogger and WordPress are the most popular ones.  At this juncture, they are the only blogging platforms that I have experience with.

Now, WordPress has two different websites:  WordPress.com and WordPress.org.  WordPress.com is a free hosted blogging platform and the blog is hosted on WordPress servers. WordPress.org is a paid, self-hosted platform.  A website owner would need to purchase a domain name and then pay for the blog to be hosted on a server.

In some ways, I feel that Blogger is unduly scorned or shunned in the professional blogging community.  Some other webmasters and bloggers feel that Blogger is a low-quality platform, since it is a free service provided by Google, Inc.  I have heard a few people say that your audience will not take you seriously if you use blogger.  I disagree and there are many  successful people out there on the net building a following and making money with Blogger.  I appreciate this service because it has allowed me to take my time and “get my feet”.  I have been able to learn and experiment with blogging, at my own pace, at very little cost.

However, there are a few pitfalls with using Blogger.  The main ones being safety of your content and customization of your blog.  The Blogger composer is an HTML editor that also allows the user to edit text, upload media files, creating links, embedding YouTube videos, etc. It has the feel of a WYSIWYG (What you see is what you get) editor. Google provides some free,  customizable templates with the service.  In my opinion, the Blogger composer is a little weak in comparison to the WordPress.org dashboard, which allows the user to do much more (i.e. install pluggins, greater selection of themes, etc.).

Of course, webmasters and bloggers whom are familiar with HTML and CSS can manually customize their Blogger blogs to suit their tastes and style.  But, this can be daunting and time-consuming for a person that lacks the knowledge and experience to do this.  If one were to pay a professional to customize the Blogger blog it would become an expensive proposition as well as a waste of money.  A professional web designer would probably prefer to code the blog from scratch or use a more robust platform to build the blog, such as Dreamweaver or WordPress. With a WordPress theme, you could get a beautiful layout on your blog or website, and customize it without having to mess around much with code.

I take issue with the safety of content displayed on Blogger.  What I mean, is that even though you retain copyright ownership of any content hosted on blogger, the platform itself is not yours.  Blogger belongs to Google, Inc.  Therefore, at anytime Google can decide that it no longer wants to host your content.  If you check out the terms of service agreement, you will understand that Google does have this right.  Google could decide to start charging for hosting services, pictures uploads, and a myriad of concerns.  How would you feel if one day your tried log in to your Blogger account and it were closed?  All of your time would have been wasted, unless your blog were backed-up somewhere.  Now all of this is hypothetical and may be improbable (but not impossible).  I have heard of these types of situations occurring with other free blogging platforms, though.

I have not made the switch yet on one of my blogs, since I am still trying to organize some things there, and tie up some lose ends.  That blog is a blog more for fun and casual blogging, so making a switch from Blogger to WordPress.org is not the highest of priorities for it right now.  I did buy a domain name for that blog, instead of using the generic free blog domain name (www.yourblogname.blogspot.com vs. www.yourblogname.com) . You could purchase a domain name for fairly cheap- about $10 a year. I got mine through Godaddy.com. It think that having your own domain name just looks better.

As you have probably noted, this blog is a WordPress blog, hosted with Bluehost. Hosting is not very expensive and services run anywhere from $8 -$20 per month for small websites or blogs.   Moving forward, on any other blog that I start, I will most likely be use WordPress, with paid, self-hosting.

A disadvantage that I see with using a free-hosted WordPress blog is that you can’t place your own ads on the blog.  Wordpress may choose to run their own ads on your free hosted blog space, though.  In addition, with free-hosted blogs there is very little customer service for bloggers.  Yes, there are forum at Blogger and WordPress, where other bloggers might answer your questions.  At the same, very few people will be willing to actually “hold your hand” and walk you through technical issues (unless you pay them of course).

So, if you are using a Blogger blog (or another free hosting service like WordPress.com), you may want to consider making a switch to another self-hosted, blogging platform, like WordPress. Blogger is a wonderful service, especially for the casual blogger.  I am definitely not knocking it. At the same time, building a website/blog with the intent to make money requires more services and tools than I feel that Blogger has to offer.  Better yet, If you are just getting started with building a website or blog, use your own self-hosted blogging platform rather than a free hosted service.

© Copyright 2013 Susan Broadbelt