Starting a Blog : Hosted vs. Self-Hosted
So you’ve heard about this blogging thing and think you might give it a go. Perhaps you’re ‘umming’ and ‘ahhhing’ over whether or not blogging is for you. Perhaps you’re unsure if you’ll have the time. Maybe you’re worried you’ll run out of things to say. What do you need to do now?
Give it a go!!!
How on earth are you going to know if blogging is for you if you don’t give it a go? We all blog for different reasons and in different ways. There is no right or wrong way to blog, there is only the way that suits us all individually. The first step is to decide you are going to do it.
When Using A Free Website Is Okay
There are literally thousands of blogs all about blogging and there is a plethora of information out there for you. What I have done is taken all that I have read and researched, combined it with my own experience and condensed it down for you so it doesn’t all become too overwhelming. It’s easy to get caught up in reading about blogging and what we should be doing, but at the end of the day, you just need to start. Start your blog now.
I’ve read plenty of posts that say you should know your niche before you start, you should have the perfect design, the perfect content, the perfect images. I don’t exactly agree with this 100%.
The first time you start a blog should be a learning process… It doesn’t have to be perfect from the start – hell it’s probably not going to be perfect in a month or a year from now either.
That being said, having a name you are happy to stick with is a massive help. I would go so far as to say, don’t start up your blog online until you have a name you like. It’s that big of a deal.
I’ve also read a lot of posts that say you should go for self-hosted straight away, that is where you pay a third party to ‘host’ your site and own your own domain. Now, while I think this is a valid point, I only believe you should do this if blogging is something you plan on doing regularly. You don’t want to feel like to have to blog because you paid for the site. It should be something you want to do and enjoy doing.
Even so, at just a few dollars a month to have a super professional looking site, it can be a pretty inexpensive hobby.
Your main options for hosted sites are:
Perfect Enough For Us (my original site) started out with a blogspot.com website and to be honest I loved it as a starting point. It was incredibly simple to use, had an easy to navigate interface and offered a few options for templates. I spent a lot of time, in the beginning, playing around with my template on blogger, learning basic html to be able to modify it and make it look the way I wanted to. It was a lot of work and looking back, would have been time better spent on building my content. There are a handful of seasoned bloggers who still use Blogger as professionals – however, these are a minority. I highly recommend Blogger for someone who wants to start out as a hobby, learn the ropes and is just wants to get their blog out there.
Not to be confused with wordpress.org – the site that is used in conjunction with self-hosting. Over the years I have created a few different blogs and used WordPress.com for two of them. To be honest, at the time I had very little idea about how blogs worked and for someone who is new to the system, it seemed a little overwhelming. Now that I understand how WordPress works, it does seem relatively easy to navigate however in comparison, Blogger is far more straightforward.
Weebly or Wix
I don’t have any first-hand experience with Weebly or Wix so I cannot comment on it’s usability or performance however, after paying close attention to new blogs that I read, I have noticed that there is a fair number of bloggers using these platforms. From what I can tell they are easy to use and easy to set up.
There are plenty of other hosts out there offering simple ways to start your own blog but these seem to be the ones that are most popular. If you do decide to move your site over to self-hosting at a later stage, WordPress.org has an import feature that can easily move your posts across. I used it for moving my Blogger posts across and had only had to re-add a few images. Simple.
When You Should Upgrade to Self-Hosted
After you have been blogging for a month or two, or once you have decided for sure that blogging is something you want to stick with, moving to a self-hosted platform is the best option. When your blog is being hosted by someone else, such as Blogger or WordPress.com, you don’t actually own your blog.
They have the ability to shut your site down or delete it at any point. There are plenty of horror stories out there, which is why I recommend that if you decide blogging is something you want to keep doing, then that is the time you should move across to self-hosting.
WordPress.org is the industry standard when it comes to website platforms. It requires you to be self-hosted, which means you purchase hosting from a server, kind of like renting space, and WordPress.org parks your website on that server.
Having a self-hosted site allows you to step up to that next level of professionalism. There are literally hundreds of thousands of site templates to choose from, plugins to add and ways you can make your website your own.
Getting started with self-hosting doesn’t need to be expensive or scary. I highly, highly recommend (and use) SiteGround as a host. Their specialized WordPress plans start from just $3.95 a month and that includes your own domain.
I switched to SiteGround from GoDaddy after my server kept crashing and my site was becoming slower and slower. Since making the switch my site has been super fast. I’ve had zero downtime and their customer service is ah-may-zing!!
They are super simple to set up and you’re walked through the process as you register. Once you’re done it’s time to import your existing content from your current site into your new site, then find the theme you love (we’ve got you covered there). Finally, when you’re done it’s time to set up redirects. (I promise it’s not as scary as it seems.)
Another option for hosting is Bluehost. While I believe their prices are comparable to SiteGround, I do believe SiteGround hosting is superior. However, I understand a lot of bloggers starting out LOVE Bluehost and they do have fantastic deals running from time to time.
You can find out more about the step by step process of setting up your blog here – How To Start a Blog That Stands Out From The Rest
So what are you waiting for? Decide which way you want to go, hosted or self-hosted, and get yourself started. Post your link to your new blog below so you can share with everyone your new space.