Bloggers are faced with two main options when first setting up their blog: to use standard platform hosting, or acquire self hosting. Blogging platforms like WordPress and Blogger can host your blog for you, this type of hosting is usually free and is often the simpler option. There are many benefits to creating a self-hosted blog, however. With self hosting you purchase room on a web server and maintain your own blog, independent of major blogging companies. You can still use WordPress or other blogging Content Management Systems with self hosting. To see which option is best for you, check out this comprehensive pros and cons list for self hosted blogs.
If you have your own web hosting to upload your blog to then you’ll have a significant increase in the control of your blog. This increased control affects administrative and creative aspects of your blog from choosing the CMS to installing third-party themes and templates.
Self hosted blogs can be published on any CMS that your server provider allows. You can even switch between CMS’s later on, or backup your entire blog, remove it and re-upload it to another server at any time. If you choose platform-hosted blogging, for example by uploading your posts to WordPress.com, then you will at the whim of a WordPress administrator or script to complete these tasks at their discretion and timing.
Increased control over your blog also includes the freedom to install any plugins and other software you may want to use on your blog. Site-hosted blogs don’t always allow unlimited plugins, and certainly don’t offer you the liberty of installing extra software packages on their server.
Advertising and Monetization
Each blogging platform has unique rules about ad placement on their servers. Many platform-hosted blogging outlets don’t let you run advertisements of your own, and some install their ads on your content. Some blogging platforms will let you pay a fee to remove their ads from your posts. If you’re going to pay a monthly fee for this service, it often makes sense to go with self-hosted blogging. Using your own hosting package will enable you to control the ads and monetization of your blog. You can place ads wherever you want them or post ad-free content if you have your own hosting package.
Search Engine Optimization
Another pro of having your own web hosting for blogs is that you can better optimize your content to be found by search engines. Self-hosted blog owners have the benefit of being able to install SEO plugins and software, as well as control backend factors that may affect SEO. Such factors include meta tags and description settings, control of CMS version, and server speed and bandwidth. Choosing a fast web server may put your site ahead of platform-hosted blogs, especially if the blogging site you’d be using is running particularly slowly in any given time period.
Being able to more easily measure and track your blog’s user statistics and other metrics is another benefit of having a self-hosted blog. You can install metrics-tracking software either as a plugin or independent from your CMS when you have your own hosting. Many web hosts even offer automated site statistics, making it easy to view logs of who is visiting your site and how often. Platform-hosted blogs often have limited ability to track such metrics, and are almost always confined to a single analytics tracking system.
Cons of Self Hosted Blogs
Though there are many pros to having a self hosted blog, there are also some cons to consider. Cost is a major difference between self-hosted blogs and platform hosting. The cost of your own web hosting package for blogging may vary between $5 and $20 per month, whereas it’s free to host your content on WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr and other blogging sites.
Ease of Use
Installing your blog CMS and uploading posts to your own web server does require a little more effort than simply logging into WordPress.com and making a post. The added effort required to run a self hosted blog may turn many bloggers away, especially if they are intimidated by the prospect of purchasing hosting.
Hosts today often try to combat these fears by offering one-click installs of blogging software like WordPress or Blogger. The easiest route is arguably to avoid self-hosted blogging, but those willing to take a few minutes to sign up for a hosting plan can reach more people and run an ad-free or profitable blog through independent hosting.
After considering all the factors of self hosting your own blog, you need to decide what the best option for your unique situation is. Most blogs will benefit from the increased control, improved SEO and other pros of owning a self hosted blog. Simple blogs that aren’t made for monetization, and don’t require much customization may be able to get by on platform-hosted servers like WordPress or Tumblr.