Blog Ownership – Free Blogs vs. Self-Hosted Blogs


Before you setup a blog, you need to first think about blog ownership. If you’re a total newbie to blogging, you might not think this is sensible at all. Isn’t the blogger automatically the owner of his blog?

The answer isn’t as simple as you think. Online, it’s possible for you to own the text, images and thoughts in a blog, but someone else might be the owner of the platform you use for blogging and of the domain where your content is. Of course, it’s also possible to choose full ownership over both your content and your domain.

Free Blogs

When you don’t own your domain, you are most likely blogging using a free service or platform. Obviously, when you have a free blog, you don’t pay for anything. You just create and publish content.

You’d know if you’re viewing a free blog if the URL (domain name) that appears on the address box of your browser looks like this:

http://yourblogname.blogspot.com OR http://yourblogname.wordpress.com

Notice the portions blogspot.com (blogger.com) and wordpress.com? These are free blogging services that you can use without having to pay anything. The only catch is that the service’s name has to be retained in the domain name. It’s never going to be just http://www.yourblogname.com.

There are other free services you can use to start a blog but Blogger.com and WordPress.com are among the most popular.

Self-Hosted

When you’ve paid for a domain name and for space to store or host your content files, what you have is a self-hosted blog. You own both your blog’s domain name and the contents in it.

You’d recognize a self-hosted blog when you see one because the domain name that appears on the address box of your browser usually looks like this:

http://www.yourblogname.com

Most self-hosted blogs run on WordPress.org which you’ll have to download and install. We’ll tackle how to buy a domain, how to setup hosting and how to install WordPress in another section.

Free vs. Self-Hosted

So what’s the best option for you? Many web experts will tell you to go straight for the self-hosted option. This is because of several advantages to it:

  • You have full control and you can do almost whatever you want with and in your blog. I’d like to stress “almost” here because every service has terms and conditions, even paid ones. Self-hosting however simply gives you greater freedom than free options. Policies of free services can restrict many activities, such as monetization methods, among others. Free services can shut down a blog even without proper notice if you break their rules.
  • Self-hosted blogs have domain names that look more professional. This is important if you’re running a blog for your business or to showcase your services.
  • You’re given more means to customize. You can dramatically change your theme or add tons of different functions and features.

Despite these obvious advantages, I wouldn’t always recommend the self-hosted option especially for beginner bloggers because there are disadvantages to it too:

  • You’re in charge of regular maintenance which can be technically challenging and time-consuming.
  • You have to resolve issues on your own which will again be a problem if you’re not tech savvy. Some of the most difficult issues include hacker attacks and blogs that break after an update.
  • No host truly offers unlimited file storage and bandwidth. This is true even among hosts that say they do. You will have to eventually pay a lot once your files and number of visitors increase.
  • Crucial mistakes, which can have far reaching consequence, can happen when you immediately start a self-hosted blog with little knowledge about how things work. Not setting a preferred permalink structure and then setting it at a later point in time is an example of a critical beginner error.

For beginners, I would suggest starting a free blog first. This will help you both practice market research and get comfortable with some of the minor technical aspects of blogging. In the meantime, a good way to prepare for the self-hosted option is to start reading more about it.

Once you’ve become comfortable with publishing online and you’ve come to accept the possibilities of encountering challenges, then you can go for a self-hosted blog. If you’re bent on taking blogging seriously though, I recommend not taking too long to shift from a free to a self-hosted platform.

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2 Responses to Blog Ownership – Free Blogs vs. Self-Hosted Blogs
  1. efi
    April 24, 2012 | 4:20 am

    I’m generally to blogging and i genuinely appreciate your content. The article has actually peaks my interest. I’m going to bookmark your site and keep checking for new facts.

  2. George Stevens
    July 21, 2013 | 8:41 pm

    I used Host Gator for years but it was just getting too expensive since my site only makes a few hundred dollars per year. My blog is more for fun than to make money anyway.

    I found Host Hoot and it’s all unlimited hosting for only $1.99 a month. I have had my site there for about 4 months now and it’s never been down. I used their 1 click WP install then moved my blog from Host Gator to Host Hoot. Very easy to do.

    I believe some people do blog just for fun, so you might as well spend the least amount of money for it lol.

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