If you’re just starting out as a new blogger you might be wondering if self-hosting is really worth the money. After all, there’s plenty of free alternatives to start a blog, right?
Well, there’s no such thing as a free lunch, as they say. Did you know that in the long run, running a “free blog” is actually going to cost you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in lost revenue?
Yep, that’s right.
Read on to find more about why I always recommend going with a hosting platform instead of a free blogging platform like Wix or Squarespace.
But First, What’s The Difference Between Self-Hosted And A Free Blog?
Let’s take the analogy of property here. Having a free blog is like renting an apartment: it’s cheaper, but you have a lot of limitations to how you can customise your home. There are some things that you simply can’t do.
It’s also not always secure – your landlord can kick you out if they please.
Having a self-hosted website is like buying a house.
You’re in charge of everything and you can make your house look like anything you want. It costs more, but it’s value also appreciates in the long run. If you take care of it well, you could even sell it for profit!
Now, with that analogy in mind, let’s talk a little bit more about how things work in practice.
In practice, self-hosting a website means that you pay a small amount of money to a private web host, like Bluehost. They store all the information about your website, so that others can view it online.
You can make it look like whatever you want, and you own everything on your site.
If you want to make money blogging, you need to have a self-hosted website.
Free websites like Wix, Tumblr or Squarespace on the other hand come with a lot of limitations, and you won’t be able to monetize sites built on these platforms.
Free blogs have their own spot in the blogosphere, but unless you want to create a hobby blog, it’s not recommended that you choose a free blog platform.
Now, let’s talk a little bit more in detail exactly why you should choose a self-hosted blog.
8 Reasons to Go Self-Hosted With Your Blog:
Did you know that if you blog on a free website YOU DON’T OWN THE CONTENT! Yep, that’s right.
The platform that you blog on has full ownership of your blog content and they can do what they want with it, including deleting it if you don’t meet their terms of service!
Another rather annoying feature about free blogging platforms is that they place ads on your site which you can’t delete. And you guessed it, you won’t earn a dime from them, nor do you have any control over what kind of ads are shown on your site.
Although free blogs are great to begin your blogging journey, if you want to move past the “hobby blogger” stage and actually make money with your blog, you need to go self-hosted.
2. More Customisation
One of the major advantages between a free blog and a self-hosted blog is that you can make a self-hosted blog look like anything you want.
There are thousands of blog themes that you can choose from and thousands of fonts that you can use to customise your website.
Here’s a collection of some of my favorite themes from Bluchic, aren’t they pretty?
And what’s even better, you don’t need to know how to code to use these themes! It’s as simple as installing the theme of your choice and voila.
You’ll also be able to make changes to the theme you’ve chosen with the help of the seller. It’s standard to offer free tech support at least for a year after the purchase!
Let’s face it – if you want to stand out in the crowded online space, you’ll need to have a theme that stands out.
If you go with a free theme, the chances are that there’s already a hundred blogs that look exactly like yours.
3. More Money
I’m not going to lie – making money online is why a lot of bloggers start a blog, including me. However, if you don’t have a self-hosted blog, you are severely limiting your income potential.
You might think that you are saving money by starting a blog on a free platform, when in reality you could actually be losing out on hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.
Free blogging platforms often don’t let you monetize your site and brands won’t work with you if you don’t own the rights to your content.
When you start a self-hosted blog, you’ll be able to make money from ads, affiliate links and sponsorships. Starting up a self-hosted website is as cheap as $2.95/month through my special Bluehost link – it won’t take you long to earn back your investment!
For me, it took a couple of months before I got my first blog sponsorship that paid for 2 years worth of hosting.
Even if you don’t dream of quitting your job to pursue blogging, wouldn’t it be nice to earn a little extra from all the hard work that you put into your blog?
Here’s a couple more resources if you want to learn more about monetizing your blog:
- How I Made My First $25,000 Blogging
- The Highest Paying Affiliate Programs For Bloggers
- How I Made $3,184 Last Month Blogging
4. It Looks More Professional
Speaking of sponsorships, another reason why brands want to work with bloggers who have a self-hosted blog is because self-hosted blogs look more professional.
With a self-hosted blog you’ll get to use your own unique domain name, something like yourdomain.com, instead of yourdomain.blogger.com or yourdomain.wordpress.com. This will instantly make you seem more professional and you’ll be able to position yourself as an expert in your field, even if you aren’t one yet.
You’ll also get rid of embarrassing ads on your website, like the classic ‘Get A Free Website With Wix!’. Think about it – if your doctor’s website had a text like this, what would you think?
It sure as heck wouldn’t seem professional.
There’s already a lot of competition in the blogging world, so make sure that you stay ahead of the game and create a self-hosted site.
5. More Traffic
Choosing to go self-hosted also has an impact on your traffic. Google sees self-hosted blogs as more authoritative than free blogs and ranks them higher in their searches. So does Pinterest.
The best thing is that your authority increases over time for free with a self-hosted blog. For free blogs, your authority never increases.
So, if you are interested in getting your blog actually seen and read by people, you should go with a self-hosted blog.
Also, free blogging platforms often have limitations to how much traffic they can carry.
As an example, let’s imagine that you get a viral pin that brings in tons of traffic to your blog. Well, if your blog can’t handle the volume, most of those people won’t actually make it to your site because the site has crashed.
Most of those people will never return to your site because of the bad user experience that they’ve had. To avoid this, simply go with a self-hosted website to begin with.
6. Access To 50,000 Plugins
With a self-hosted blog you get access to over 50,000 plugins. Now, you might be thinking “What the heck are plugins?” if you’ve never had a blog before.
Well, plugins are little tools that help you customise your site even further.
For example, on my site I’m currently using about 20 plugins. One of those is my online shop plugin with WooCommerce – this let’s me sell my products safely and accept payments through PayPal.
Another example is my pop-ups that I use to collect emails. Then there’s my image plugin that makes my images load faster and creates a better user experience.
Also, there’s tons of design plugins that have enabled me to make my website look exactly the way that it does.
Whatever you’re after, there’s always going to be a plugin for that. They make your website better for both you and your visitors and enable you to take your website to the next level.
7. Access To Analytics
With a self-hosted blog, you’ll get access to Google Analytics, which one of the most powerful analytics tools out there.
Many free blog platforms don’t allow you to access data about your audience, which can be a big problem.
Building a blog without looking at the stats is like throwing spaghetti on the wall and seeing what sticks – a big part of your efforts is going to go to waste.
Having data is crucial to the growth of your blog, because you’ll be able to see what’s working and what isn’t. You’ll be able to create more content that resonates with your audience and leave behind the topics that your audience doesn’t love.
This will make it easier for you to grow and monetize your blog, while also serving your audience to the best of your knowledge.
8. It Builds Trust With Your Audience & Brands
Last but not least, having a self-hosted blog builds trust with your peers and brands. I’ve already talked about how having a self-hosted site makes your website look more professional.
But what many bloggers don’t consider is that often, simply having a free domain can kill your credibility and the trust between you and your audience.
First impressions are made within seconds both in real life and in the online world, and people don’t take long to decide whether your site can be trusted or not.
Brands and people can see straight away if you’re using a free platform and it’s going to make them question why you haven’t taken the time to invest in your own website. After all, if you haven’t invested in your website, why should they?
So, getting people to trust your recommendations, buy from your website or even share your content is going to be much harder with a free website.
How To Start A Self-Hosted Blog The Right Way
There are many different hosting providers out there, but I always recommend Bluehost. Bluehost starts at $2.95/month through my special link and it’s the fastest and cheapest hosting alternative out there. It’s super easy to start a self-hosted website, so let me walk through the process with you step by step!
Step 1: Let’s Set Up Your Domain
Your domain is the URL that your visitors use. Bluehost is generous enough to offer a FREE domain ($15 value) to anyone who registers through my Bluehost partner link. You’ll also get up to 63% OFF of your purchase!
Click on the “get started now” button and let’s get started!
Now, select a hosting plan that fits your needs. Normally, if you are just starting out I recommend the basic plan. For 99.9% of the cases, starting out with a basic plan will work perfectly well. However, if you are really serious about blogging and want more resources & power go with their Prime or Pro plan.
Keep in mind that you can always upgrade later if you more space!
Step 2: Register Your Domain Name
Like I mentioned, Bluehost gives you a FREE domain name, which is awesome. (This normally costs $15!)
Type the domain name of your choice in the bar on the left to check out if your domain name is available – if it is, awesome, you’re one step closer to creating your site!
If you’ve already bought a domain from a third party provider, you can set it up with Bluehost using the bar on the right-hand side. Super simple!
The next few steps are about filling out your account and billing details.
Using my link will save you a total of 63% if you choose the 36 month option. You’ll get the biggest bang for your buck if you choose the 60 month or 36 month options, but you’ll still get amazing savings even if you choose the 24 month or 12 month option!
I would actually recommend sticking to the 24 month option, because you want to try out blogging at first to see if you even like it. Also, your blog might grow exponentially in the next 2 years, which means that after that, you might want to upgrade to a bigger hosting plan.
In this step you can also choose any package extras that you might want. I HIGHLY recommend getting domain privacy protection. This will protect your site from hackers and keep your personal address private. You can skip the other extras (if you want to add them on later, you can always do this.)
Next, review your package information. Bluehost charges you for the entire year up front – this is how you’re able to get such a good deal!
And…..you’re done – congrats!! Your hosting account has now been created. Bluehost will now send you an email confirming your account and FTP details.
The next step for you is to finalise your account and create a password. Now, we’re almost done with the boring bits!
Step 3: Install WordPress
Bluehost makes this step super simple. WordPress will automatically be installed on your hosting account after you’ve completed set-up! This is unique among hosting providers and it’s the number one reason that I recommend Bluehost for beginner bloggers – everything is as easy as it can possibly be.
Now, it’s time to pick a free theme. You don’t want to spend too much time doing this – it’s just to get you started. You can change and update your theme at any time after this step.
Now that you’ve picked your theme, let’s get started with WordPress!
Bluehost will ask you if this site is going to be personal or business. To be honest, it doesn’t really matter what you pick at this point, but I suggest sticking to ‘business’ if you want to start making money with your blog.
Now you’ll see Bluehost and WordPress integrating. You can manage blog posts, pages and plugins here. (I’ll come back to the plugins that you need later on in this post – don’t worry about it now!)
Now, we are ready to launch – simply click ‘launch your website’! Decide on a site title and site description – I recommend sticking to your blog name and a tag line that is descriptive of your website.
(For reference, mine is: The Chic Pursuit – High Street Fashion Blog Based in The UK | Affordable Chic Style.)
That’s it! You’re all done with installing your site on WordPress. You officially have a blog – wohoo! That’s awesome!
You’ve officially registered your domain, your host and set up your site on WordPress. Go you!
Next Steps – Design & Blog Posts
Now, you’re essentially ready to go! You can start thinking about what you want your blog to look like. If you want some inspiration, head over to 20 Beautiful Feminine Blog Themes For Bloggers and choose one that you love.
Alternatively, you can also head over to my Free Blog Maker page and fill out the contact form. If you’ve used my Bluehost partner link, I’ll give you a free premium theme worth $79 for completely FREE! 🙂
If you want some more goodies, sign up to my email list below and I’ll deliver $300 worth of blogging tools and tips to you, absolutely FREE!
Enjoy your new blog and good luck! x
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