If you are going to start blogging as a means to make money then it’s important you host your own blog. A self hosted WordPress blog is the only class of blogging software that is suitable for business bloggers. Free sites such as Blogger, Tumbler, Square Space and WordPress.com are too limiting to your business. They just don’t give you the right arsenal of tools you need to make money blogging. Let me explain why…
What is a “Self Hosted” ?
When you signup for a free blogging account at WordPress.com or Blogger.com, you are given a site hosted on their server. When you host your own site or “self host”, you find your own web host and run WordPress on that server (for a monthly fee). At your end, WordPress will look and operate exactly the same. Your login, dashboard, settings, everything…
The only difference is the location of the host.
Why Self Host ?
1. Website Design
These free blogging sites give you a limited library of themes. There so SO many great WordPress themes out there and WordPress theme shops specifically for women that you can only use if you host your own blog.
If you want your own custom design then you also need to host your own blog so you can upload a custom theme (the free blogging sites doesn’t give you access to ftp).
Furthermore, the WordPress community is VERY large and therefore there is a large pool of talent and you can easily find some greatly talented WordPress blog designers.
Yes, some of the free themes gives you options to customize the look and feel but you are typically limited to changing the logo, colour and font. I should also mention that WordPress.com does offer the option of gaining access to the css code for an “add on” free but again, you are limited to what the css can do for you.
If you want to gain an audience then building your brand is important and your blog’s design is a big part of that. Also remember that you may be happy with your design today but you will likely want a change down the road!
2. OMG, the Plugins!
Like themes, these free blogging sites give you a library of plugins (or “gadgets in bloggers terms) but their plugins are even more limited compared to all available plugins out there (19 WordPress.com plugins compared to over 30,000 WordPress.org plugins!)
WordPress plugins are often used to integrate with popular websites. In fact, because WordPress is so widely popular many plugins are often developed by the companies themselves so they can reach the WordPress audience.
- The Mailchimp plugin allows visitors to fill out their name and email on a form on your site and they get added to your Mailchimp email list
- Reward Style (a fashion blogger affiliate network) has a plugin that let’s you pick affiliated products to show at the bottom of your posts.
- Ziplist (a food blogger network) has a plugin that lets you display recipes and allows users to easily save the recipe to their account
- Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest all have feed plugins
WordPress plugins can also deliver more functionality to your WordPress blog.
- Sell Memberships
- Sell Products
- Book Appointments
- Live Chat
- Add a Directory
- Add a Job Board
As a website business owner, you likely want to try out new ways to capture leads, grow your audience and make money. With WordPress plugins you can easily try out different ideas for your business that can’t be accomplished with a free blogging site.
3. Make Money
Photo from Tara Victoria
Well, it seems like Blogger allows you to show ads on your site pretty freely but WordPress.com doesn’t allow for monetization of any kind. If you want to display ads, use affiliate links or even accept sponsored posts, you’ll need to have a self hosted WordPress site to do so and if you do see WordPress.com sites that do then they are actually violating the policy terms and could be shut down.
Of course, a self hosted WordPress blog does have the leg up with plugins again so there are also some great tools here to help you monetize your site and track sales!
Web Hosting Services
A web host actually offers you a lot more than just hosting for your blog. Many include a free domain name and unlimited email accounts for your domain. They also offer more storage and video storage that’s restricted on some free blogging services. Additionally, there are some wonderful canadian web hosting companies out there that offer a wide variety of different website hosting solutions, so be sure to do your research to find a web hosting service that works for your needs.
So, note that even though you start off with a free blogging service, it may cost you even more in the end when you purchase their “add ons” for customization, support, more storage and other services that come with a web host.
For WordPress hosting and the services mentioned above, I recommend SiteGround (very inexpensive $4-$5 ish bucks a month) or Media Temple (more expensive but they manage your backups, updates and security). I use both.
How do you Install WordPress on a Web Host?
Simple. You push a button and go through a setup process.
99% of hosts today give you easy WordPress install options. No need to be a “techy”. You don’t even need to download the software yourself. The host can do it all for you (they typically advertise for WordPress or look for a “CPanel” backend). Also, your host should have support if you do run into issues.
What if I already Blog with a Free Account?
Well, you aren’t dead in the water. The free sites allow you to export your content and WordPress has a tool to import from them all. WordPress.com even allows you to carry over your theme now. Of course, if you are moving from Blogger or a different service to WordPress you will loose your blog design. Also moving from WordPress.com to a self hosted WordPress site, you may loose some plugins settings.
But that’s all the bad news about that 🙂
Don’t limit yourself! If you are serious about blogging and serious about making some money then you need to host your own blog. You are just loosing out on the potential of your blog if you are stuck not being able to take advantages of all the tools available to you!