Free Blog Hosts vs Hosting Your Own Blog

on March 4, 2008 in Blogging
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The following is a post I wrote a while back about blog hosting options at Jentrepreneur.com. It doesn't only apply to freelance writers, but I wanted to share it here directly, since we're talking this month about setting up professional websites and blogs. I'm sure some of you will have different opinions, so do feel free to share them. :)

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Many new bloggers launch their first blog on a free blog host like Blogspot or WordPress.com. Personally, I’d say that’s one of the biggest mistakes you can make as a blogger. Here’s why:

  1. Free blog hosts are less professional from a marketing perspective.
  2. The domains for a free blog hosting account are longer and harder to remember from a reader-standpoint.
  3. It’s hard to take a blogger seriously when they don’t care enough about their blog to spend a few dollars a year on it.
  4. As a blogger, you don’t have as much control over your blog’s appearance and functionality as you might if you hosted your own blog on your own domain.
  5. You may not be able to use all available advertising and monetization options when you use a free blog host.
  6. You can run into problems down the road if you do decide to switch from a free blog host to your own domain and hosting, because you may not have access to be able to redirect the old blog to the new blog (meaning lost rankings and visitors).

I can only see one really valid excuse for using a free blog hosting account, and that would be if you wanted to test a new niche to see if there’s a potential audience. However, I’d also say that’s a pretty flimsy argument. If you did find the niche to be profitable, you would run into the problems I already mentioned if you chose to move it or market it more thoroughly. If it weren’t a good niche for you, sure you wouldn’t lose anything. But if you did invest in a “real” blog from the get-go, you would have only lost a minimal investment anyway… and if you’re not willing to invest even just a few bucks into a potential business model, you very likely won’t have what it takes to cut it to begin with.

On top of the financial aspect, there are other ways to conduct market research and figure out if a niche has potential… and that’s something you should have done long before launching the blog itself (again, if you’re serious about blogging).

I’m all for saving money as a business owner, and not spending anything not absolutely necessary. But your identity is absolutely necessary. If you’re considering launching a blog, don’t make the mistake of going with a free blog host if you intend on becoming a serious blogger. They’re fine for hobby bloggers; not for those using blogging as any kind of business model.

Thanks for sharing!
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Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, and indie author. She began writing for clients in 1999 and started her first blog in 2004.

She owns 3 Beat Media - a publishing and client services company which operates All Indie Writers as well as several other websites and blogs including The Busy Author's Guide and BizAmmo. Jenn comes from a background in online PR and social media consulting, having owned a small PR firm for several years before choosing to pursue a full-time writing and publishing career.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names in the areas of children's fiction, mysteries, and horror fiction. Jenn is an active member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and currently serves as the organization's Assistant Coordinator of Promotions and Social Media.

2 Comments

  1. Rob Amend March 4, 2008 Reply

    Jennifer, I really like your blog. It has been very informative. I do want to let you know about an option that is available through Blogger. Google provides a way to purchase a domain name for $10 a year (automatically renewable, if you desire). It’s a cheap way to gain some recognition without the hassle of designing your own template to begin with. The domain is registered through goDaddy, so you can transfer it to another host later on. I agree with your points about design control, though.

  2. Deborah Woehr March 6, 2008 Reply

    Great article, Jen. I’d like to point out one major pitfall with free bloghosts, such as Blogger. Several of my friends have had the misfortune of Blogger wiping out their blog for no reason. Either that, or they got locked out of their account. That said, I agree that anyone who wants to build an online presence needs to register their own domain.

    Another great point you covered was the market research. There are several tools out there that can help you determine whether or not your blog has the potential to become profitable. I discovered a neat site last year called NicheTaxi.com that tells you whether or not a niche is good or oversaturated.

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