In this post today, I will be sharing more about the ins and out of hosting and help you decide if you should opt for self hosted or free hosted website. Being new to blogging, you might be contemplating if you should pay extra for hosting or just stick with the free one.
If you have already done some basic research, you would have come across lots of terms like ‘hosting’ and ‘domain’. Do not worry if you have no idea on what it means as I will make a quick run through on what this is to help you understand better.
What is Domain and Hosting?
Domain is basically your website address. For my case, my domain would be interestinglyawesome.com. That is my site identity and there will only be one of this domain. When I first started blogging, I thought having my own domain is all I need to launch my site.
Little did I know that having a domain itself is just one half of the equation. I am sure most of you fall into this category as well. Owning a domain will not bring you anywhere close to setting up. All you get is the right to the address name. If you want your domain to be up and running, you will need to have a hosting plan set up as well.
I am not going to go into the definition of what hosting is. But in short, hosting is a web service that allow you to post your website onto the internet. Web hosting provide you with the service needed for your site to be viewed on the Internet which is hosted or stored on a placed called servers.
Whenever someone type in your domain, they can view your website as the computer will connect them to the server for your webpage to be viewed by them. This explains why having a domain itself is not sufficient.
Still don’t get it? Let’s put it in real life term. Picture yourself buying a new house. Paying for the house (domain) itself give your the right to the house ownership but to be able to live there, you will need to have proper documentation and to pay tax and certain fees to actually move in (hosting).
Not exactly how hosting work, but you get the point. To get things up and running, you will need a domain and hosting plan.
The hosting dilemma
Now that you understand what hosting and domain actually meant. Now comes the dilemma. Free hosted or self hosted website? We read everyday through articles shared on pinterest, twitter, facebook or even through google search. You might have come across a number of different domains depending on the article source.
How do you know if a blog is self hosted or free hosted?
You will notice that your under free hosting, the domain would usually end with abcdef.wordpress.com or abcdef.blogspot.com or abcdef.weebly.com. These are sites which are hosted for free by the service provider. You do not actually own the domain and hosting is done by them. Thus, everything is free.
How about self hosted? You will notice that under self hosted website, the domain will usually end with abc.com. This means that the domain is yours you have the right to do anything with it. But having said that, you would then need to pay for the hosting plan and the domain.
But choosing between self hosted and free hosted website is not about how you want your domain to look like. There are more to that as they both have advantages and disadvantages. I will lay out the pro and cons below to help you understand better.
Free Hosted Website
It is easy to set up and it is free. All you need to do is create an account with them get a free domain (www.abc.wordpress.com). You can easily set it up with provider such as blogger.com, blogspot.com or wordpress.com. Opting for free hosting means all your sites data is stored on the blogging platform’s server.
Let’s look at the pros and cons of having a free hosted blog:
Pros of free hosted website
No initial Cost
Free platforms like blogger and wordpress are free platform. You do not need to pay any fees to set things up. All you need to do is create an account and within minutes, your site is free hosted site is up and running. It’s completely free
Easy to set up
Not that self hosted blog is hard to set up but free hosted blog is really simple to set up. You literally just sign up, install the themes you want and you are ready to go. You can save the hassle of learning how to purchase hosting and how to install wordpress into your domain .
Cons of free hosted website
I will just touch through quickly as I will talk more on the cons over at the pros of having a self hosted site.
- Free hosted blogs appears less credible compared to the self hosted ones.
- You have limited plugins in terms of increasing your website’s capabilities.
- To those that who can code a little, free wordpress hosting might limit this function.
- You do not actually own the website content. Which means that you have the risk of losing the content on your site.
- Monetizing is definitely every bloggers ultimate goal. You should know by now that since you are hosting for free under the service provider, there might be restriction.
Self Hosted Website
Now let’s look at self hosting. If you were to choose to self-host, there is small cost to be incur and it will take a longer time to set up. Here is the pro and cons of self hosting.
Pros of self hosted website
Build up credibility
Simple question. Would you rather buy something from amazon.com or amazon.wordpress.com?People tend to have a perception that a site is fishy when there is no proper establishment. There are more than a billion sites out there and we are already questioning if each site is a scam. Having a proper domain will definitely helps in building up your site credibility.
No Limitation to plugins and themes
One of the cool features having a self hosted site is that you have no limitations to plugins and themes. This allow you to have lots of opportunity to search for the best themes of your choice which is limited if you decided to host for free. You may not like the themes choice but since it is free, you have no choice but to choose the best out of the worse.
But self hosting allows you to choose from various themes choice and if you are not satisfied, you can even purchase external themes and install onto your self hosted wordpress.
In terms of plugins, you can practically install as many plugins as you want from mailing list, social media plugins, slider bar, and etc. Literally no limitations. Starting a blog on your own, you definitely want to have access to unlimited plugins to make your website as professional looking and as user friendly possible. This is only possible if you are opt to self host.
Full ownership to the blog
How about ownership of the blog? As it is paid, you actually have full ownership to the blog. Unlike free hosting in which you do not technically own the blog. Simply because at the end of the day the ownership of the blog remains with the service provider.
This also means you have certain restriction to ads placement and etc. And if you happen to violate certain rules, your blog can be terminated in a blink of an eye.
This is a similar concept to renting a house and actually owning a house. You can renovate your house to whatever extent you want but at the end of the day, the house belongs to the owner. And if you happen to violate the rules state out by the landlord, they may terminate your contract. For that reason, I have decided to opt for self hosting.
No Monetization restriction
Ultimate goal of every bloggers out there is to eventually able to monetize their blogs. There are plenty of ways you can actually achieve that from ads, affiliate marketing, sponsors, product sale and etc. The biggest reason why you should consider self hosting lies here.
Self hosting have ZERO restriction on monetization since you have full ownership to the blog. I am sure most of you would have been familiar with google adsense where you earn through ads placement on your site. This is NOT possible with free hosting wordpress.
Why? Because you do not own the blog. There will still be ads placed on your blog but instead of you earning from it, the service provider will be the one that reap the benefits. Think about it, why work so hard only to have the benefits taken by someone else.
Cons of self hosted website
The obvious one would be that you need to pay for self hosting. The second disadvantage is that it takes slightly longer time to set up as compared to free hosting. You would need to go through the process purchasing your hosting and domain, then setting them up.
But again, it is not that hard. You can easily do it yourself. Check out my free guide that help you set your blog from scratch.
Which is the best?
It all comes down to your end goal of starting the site. What are you trying to achieve? I have personally tried both free hosting and self hosting. From my own experience, I would definitely recommend self hosting. You may not know what you have in mind for your blog just yet but it may grow into something big one day.
The last thing you want is to be restricted in terms of monetization or making your site user friendly. You never know what you will gain out of it. The case would be different if it cost a lot but you can get everything set up at a ridiculous cheap price. Which is why I always recommend self hosting.
You can easily set it up yourself. It is really simple. Here is a comprehensive step by step guide to help you set up. And if you have decided to self host, use my link to set up (Coupon Code: INTERESTING60) at a cheaper rate where you will get 40% off the hosting plan and domain at only $4.99.
Let me know if you have other queries on hosting at the comment below. Would love to help out.