Self Hosted vs. Free Hosted Blogs: Which one should you go with?
When it comes to starting a new blog, you are posed with one fundamental question: Which type of blog should you go for? Self Hosted vs Free Hosted blogs?
I am sure you have come across terms like Self-hosted blogs and Free hosted blogs. You may be confused about choosing the best one for your business. I was in a similar dilemma a few years back when I started my first blog. So, guess what? You are on the right track because this is what any normal person would go through.
This article will help you in making the right choice. I will discuss what’s and the whys of these terms so that you get a clear idea.
Self-Hosted Blogs: What does it mean?
As you would know, to set up any blog, you would need two things: Domain name and Hosting. When you buy a domain and choose a hosting plan to connect your domain, it is called as a self-hosted blog. You are the main decision maker here and have a plethora of options to choose from. All this comes at a cost, as domain name and hosting doesn’t come for free.
With Self-hosted blogs, you get greater freedom over the resources. You can increase or decrease the resources being used depending on your requirement. It has many more advantages and disadvantages, which we will discuss at a later stage.
Free-Hosted Blogs: Are they really FREE?
Just as the name suggests, this is a type of blogging in which the domain and hosting are provided by the free blogging platform. You just have to create an account, choose a domain and get your blog started. You will not be charged anything for the initial setup. In order to implement different themes and functionalities, you will have to put in some money.
This is when the concept of ‘free’ is breached. To have a good looking website with basic functionalities, some money has to be spent. These types of platforms come with their own set of pros and cons, which we will explore in the coming sections.
Some of the popular free hosted blogging platforms are: WordPress.com, Blogger, Medium, Squarespace etc.
Self Hosted Vs Free Hosted Blogs: The Difference
I am sure you now understand the two terms and won’t be surprised the next time you hear about them. However, to make a buying a decision, you will have to know how the two of them differ. Let us explore a few differences between self-hosted and free hosted blogs in the form of a table.
|Storage of files||All the data related to the website will be stored on the hosting server. This hosting server can be anything of your choice.||In the case of free hosting, you do not have choice with respect to the storage of your media files. They all stored in the servers of the respective free hosting platforms.|
|Domain Structure||You are free to choose a domain name of your choice.They will not have a subdomain as in the case of free hosted platforms.||While you are free to choose a domain of your choice (as long as their available), the name you choose will have the subdomain.
For ex: if you choose ‘myname’ as the domain name on medium.com then the final URL will look something like: www.myname.medium.com
|Flexibility||You can choose the various aspects of your hosting like: bandwidth, disk space, domains etc.||As it is free, you do not have any form of flexibility. All free users get the same set of resources. In order to increase, you will have to upgrade to paid plans.|
|Pricing||Depends on the hosting plan you go with. There are plans which start from $1/ mo to $500/ mo depending on the type of hosting.||The initial set up is completely free. However, if you plan to have extra functionalities then you may have to go for the paid plans.|
Free Hosted Blogs vs. Self-Hosted Blogs: The Pros and Cons
Every service will have both good and bad attributes attached to it. It is critical to analyze the pros and cons of any service you decide to buy, it becomes even more relevant when it comes to hosting services. This would allow you to conclude if a particular service matches with your requirements. Here are some pros and cons of the Free hosted and Self-Hosted blogs.
|Initial Setup||From buying a domain name to connecting it to the hosting, you may feel overwhelmed as everything has to be done by you. However, there are enough guides online to make it easier.||Very easy to get started. Just open an account, choose a domain and then start blogging.|
|Availability of Themes||Choose from a wide collection of both paid and free themes. Even customize them as per your choice.||Only access to free themes. No customization allowed.|
|Cost||Hosting and domain name and theme would be the major part of your expense. You will have complete control over your website.||As suggested earlier, you can get started without any investment. However, if you need additional features, you will have to pay for each of it.|
|Availability of Plugins||There are variety of plugins on WordPress, you can also add custom and paid plugins.||You can choose from the set of free plugins. In case you need any sort of customization, you cannot do it.|
|SEO||Easily, try and test various SEO related aspects as you will have complete control over the web property.||Due to limited control, there is nothing much you can do about SEO for your blog.|
|Traffic||You will have to find your own ways of generating traffic. Organic and paid traffic are the two widely used techniques.||Every Free blogging platform will have its own community. This could be a traffic channel for starters.|
|Monetization||You are free to use any type of monetization techniques. Run ads, affiliate campaigns or even direct sponsors.||You are restricted to only serving ads as per the TOS of the platform. Added to this, you will have to share the earnings with the Blogging platform.|
Self Hosted Blogs vs Free Hosted Blogs : Which one the best for me?
I would love to answer this for you but some things can only be answered by you alone. I have tried by best to give you all the information regarding the two types of blogs. Depending on your requirements, you can go with any of the two. Ideally speaking, if you are really serious about the blog and have long term plans with it, Self-hosted blog would be the best option. If you just want to test things out and not really confident, Free hosted blogs would be the right fit (only because they are free).
If you are still confused as to which one to go with, I’ve written a detailed write up on why Free Hosting could be a bad idea for your blog.
Choosing free hosting platforms is not a tough task because every option is almost the same. However, choosing a Self-hosted blog can be tricky because you will have to choose the domain name and hosting. There are way too many options and this can be overwhelming for you. Which is why, I have listed the best affordable self-hosting plans.