When I first ventured into the world of blogging, I was completely clueless! I had never heard of hosting or SEO or widgets. And I’ve had a steep learning curve to climb my way up to where I am now. At the beginning of this year, I decided it was time to take my website to the next level. I still have a lot to learn before I’m playing in the big leagues, but I wanted to share what I’ve learned so far.
There are many different types of hosting, but today we’re going to focus on shared hosting. For a run-down on the different types, check out thebalance.com.
Through my blogging journey, I’ve tried free hosting and paid self-hosting.
Do you know the difference?
There are websites that offer free hosting: Blogger, WordPress.com, Weebly, Medium… My experience is with WordPress.com, so I’ll be referring specifically to this one platform. I originally chose free-hosting because it seemed to offer everything I needed to start out.
If you don’t mind having wordpress.com in your domain name, then your hosting will be truly free. My daughter, Hadley, chose to use the free hosting option for her blog, hadleyslife.wordpress.com. She wanted to make sure that her interest in blogging would continue long enough to make the cost worthwhile. I chose one of the paid options, which allowed me to have my domain without the wordpress.com subdomain, and offered more customization options and storage. Even the paid option was only $10/month, paid yearly, but it can be as little as $5/month.
Simple to Set-Up
Setting up my blog was incredibly simple. Even someone as technologically challenged as myself could easily have a blog up and running in under an hour. There are enough options for you to personalize your website without making you feel overwhelmed or lost.
Simple to Maintain
Not only is the set-up simple, but publishing your blog posts or creating landing pages can be as simple as you want to make them. WordPress.com takes care of all the background maintenance for you. You don’t have to worry about updates, back-ups, security, or current HTML standards.
After a year of using “free” hosting, I made the decision to switch to self-hosting. I had been running into more and more roadblocks that were limiting what I could do with my site. (A post on the process of switching is coming soon)
More Customization Options
WordPress.com offers a 100+ select themes and no widgets. Whereas, self-hosted platforms offer hundreds of themes, with the option to upload other third party themes. Your own imagination and technical capabilities are your only limits to what you can do with your site. You also have access to all free and paid widgets which can improve security, SEO, social media, email marketing, analytics, etc… Again, the sky’s the limit!
Complete Freedom to Use Your Site As You Wish
If you’re looking to monetize your website, you will be limited by WordPress.com. You can only use disguised affiliate links or direct “hire me” pages. With self-hosting, you are free to add whatever ads or links you choose, opening the world of on-line business and passive income. Of course, check the laws and regulations where you live to know what restrictions you legally have.
Truly Own Your Website
Last and most importantly, you want to have full ownership rights to your work. When you go through a free-hosting platform, you are at the mercy of that company. They can shut your website down at any time, for any reason. You have to work within the confines of what they designate. It’s like renting an apartment. You can call it your home, but you can’t paint an accent wall or change the light fixtures, and your landlord is free to evict you without cause. And if you were lucky enough to have a landlord who allowed you to make changes, when you move, the light fixtures and accent walls stay there.
And the Winner Is…
Depending on your level of expertise, amount of time you have to devote to your website, and business plan, free hosting might be the best option for you.
After working within the confines of free hosting for a year, a realized that I needed the freedom and ability to do more. I quickly saw that self-hosting was what I needed to take my blog and business to the next level.
Coming soon: The Process of Switching Hosting Platforms (In case you didn’t choose the right one in the first place, like me).