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.
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:
- Free blog hosts are less professional from a marketing perspective.
- The domains for a free blog hosting account are longer and harder to remember from a reader-standpoint.
- 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.
- 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.
- You may not be able to use all available advertising and monetization options when you use a free blog host.
- 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.