It’s a question asked by bloggers in blogger groups around the internet: which is better? Self hosted or hosted blog services? There’s no easy answer, and what is right for one blog might not be right for another. So here is a look at the drawbacks and benefits of both hosted blog services and self hosted blogging.
What is Self-Hosted?
Self hosted blogging is when you, the blogger, have your own domain, hosting service and CMS (content management system) that runs your blog.
What is Hosted?
A hosted blogger may or may not have their own domain. Their blog is hosted by a service such as LiveJournal, Blogger, WordPress, Wix, or SquareSpace.
Benefits of Self Hosting:
- Freedom! From Blogger to WordPress you are being limited if you use these platforms. WordPress hosted blogs are not allowed to use the same plugins that a self hosted WordPress site has. Blogger also has its own set of restrictions that may prevent you from adding certain features to your blog or designing it the way you would like.
- More options. You can choose your own CMS: WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, LiteCMS, Koken or any of the many other CMS out there just waiting for you. Pick the one that you like the best and that best suits your blog.
- Complete Control. You can control every single facet of your site, and domain.
- You own it. No matter what provider you use there is always the risk that your hosting provider may go out of business, stop supporting your fave feature, randomly delete your site for Reasons, or do any number of things that may annoy you or cause you to lose months or years of hard work.
- No restrictions on ad providers or monetization strategies.
Drawbacks of Self Hosting:
- Cost. There IS a cost associated with it. It can be small if you are frugal and shop around, but you will have to pay for a domain, hosting and potentially your CMS or plugins/themes to go with it.
- Responsibility. The dark side to all that control you have: if it breaks you’re responsible for fixing it. Of course your host is probably very helpful and will help you out, but it’s still a frustration none the less. It also means that if you break it there’s no one to blame but yourself.
- Technology Savy…maybe. Depending on what you choose for your blog’s host you may or may not have to worry about things like updating your themes, plugins and CMS. Some hosts will take care of this and all the other back-end stuff for you. Not all do.
Benefits of Hosted Blogging:
- Not your problem. Down time? Site glitch? Updates? Not your problem, that’s your service provider’s issue to fix. You can sit back and relax, none of that back-end stuff is your concern.
- Lower costs. Maybe. Depending on your plan and provider it might be cheaper. WordPress.com and Blogger are free to join, but there are upgrades and paid options available should you choose them. This can be cheaper than self hosting.
- Easy to use. The back ends are usually fairly easy to use with useful FAQs and tutorials to help you out, and they don’t generally require any coding knowledge.
- Easy to set up. Create an account, add some information, choose a theme and you are ready to go! Quick & Easy!
Drawbacks of Hosted Blogging:
- Restrictions on monetization. Each hosted blog service may have it’s own restrictions on how and what services you can use to monetize. This can be both due to business strategies or technology issues.
- Less control. From a design standpoint to a features standpoint you don’t have as much control over your blog.
- Not your problem?…but it is. While you don’t have to worry about the back-end, when stuff does go wrong there’s nothing you can do but wait and hope they fix it.
- Migration issues. Perhaps down the road you decide you do want to go self hosted. That brings you to the dreaded site migration. For every blogger whose done it with no problem, there’s one who has a horror story. Moving your blog later, especially if it’s large, will take time, effort and potentially money.
So…which is best? Hosted or Self Hosted?
If you plan on monetizing and plan on being a professional or serious blogger: Go self hosted.
If you want a personal journal or are unsure if blogging is for you: Go hosted.