Going self-hosted // Why should I do it?

Why should I go self-hosted?

So you’ve started a blog, you’re using WordPress or Blogger and everything seems to be going well. Then you notice other bloggers talking about going self-hosted – sounds like something you should be getting in on. But what exactly does being self-hosted mean, and why would you want to do it?

I’ve recently moved Toby Goes Bananas to be self-hosted and I’ve had quite a few other bloggers asking me what the benefits are and whether they need to do it too. And then there are people who have taken the plunge and gone self-hosted but then have found themselves floundering in an unknown sea of lost followers, confusing WordPress plugins and nothing is quite how it was before. I’m no technical blog-guru but I know enough to find my way around so I thought I would write a few posts about the self-hosting process and hopefully I can help out a few other bloggers along the way.

First up then:

What exactly does being self-hosted mean?

If you have a blog on WordPress or Blogger (or any other blogging platform) you are using a bit of their web space for free. They are hosting your blog for you. When you sign up for either of these you will be given a blog address, a URL, which is your blog name followed by .blogspot.com or .wordpress.com. There’s nothing wrong with either of these blogging platforms but you might decide that the URL is a bit long and you want something a bit more personal. You’ve then got two options. Either you can keep using the bit of internet that you’ve already got for free and just get your own domain name (more on that later) or you can pay a hosting company to give you your own bit of webspace, with your own domain name, and your blog will become self-hosted. Being self-hosted basically means you are paying to rent space on the internet for your blog and therefore you have complete control over what you do with it.

Which brings us to:

Why do I want to be self-hosted?

That depends.

Blogger

If you use Blogger and are happy with how it works then you probably don’t need to be self-hosted. There isn’t much that Blogger doesn’t do. You may want to use your own domain name to make the blog more personal. You can buy a domain name from a number of domain registrars. The easiest thing is to do a Google search for ‘buy domain name’ and see what comes up. It costs from a couple of pounds up to about five pounds for a domain name per year depending what you want. One tip is to choose something relatively short and easy to remember. It makes sense to have the same domain name as your blog name, if this isn’t available then try adding ‘blog’ to the end of it. You can then change your .blogspot.com domain name to your own custom one and Blogger doesn’t charge for this.

WordPress

If you have a blog on WordPress.com then there are some things you can’t do. If you don’t want to do any of these things then again, you probably don’t need to move your blog to be self-hosted. A few of the things that you can’t do on WordPress.com are; have any advertising, use javascript (which means you can host giveaways using Rafflecopter or host a linky), you also have very limited options for customising the look of your blog although there are lots of themes available for free or to buy. If you are happy without these features but want your own domain name then again you can do this with WordPress.com but in addition to buying your domain name WordPress also charge $13 a year to use your own domain name. You can also buy upgrades from WordPress which allow you to customise your theme but to be honest, if you are going down that road then it will work out cheaper in the long run to make the move to a self-hosted blog.

The advantages of a self-hosted WordPress blog

If you choose a self-hosted blog then the majority of people choose to use WordPress. When you have set up your hosting package then you can install WordPress on to your new site. If you’ve been using WordPress.com previously you’ll find that initially things look very similar. The main advantages of a self-hosted WordPress blog is that it is entirely customisable. You can still use free themes or buy one and you then have free reign to edit the theme to get the layout and design you want (or pay someone else to do it for you!). The big difference though is the ability to add additional features to your blog using plugins. I’m going to do a blog post devoted to plugins but basically they are add-ons which allow you to do pretty much anything you want from SEO (more on that later too), adding related posts, allowing readers to Pin images directly from your blog to Pinterest and literally hundreds of other things. If you want to boost traffic to your site then going self-hosted and using some of the available plugins can really help.

What does it cost?

This is the big question I suppose, and may ultimately be the deciding factor in whether or not you choose to go self-hosted. If blogging is just a hobby to you and you aren’t really interested in increasing traffic or working with brands then your free Blogger or WordPress blog will probably do you just fine. However, if you want to make your blog a bit more ‘professional’ to make it more appealing to brands and grow your readership then going self-hosted may well be worth it. If you don’t already have your own domain name then you are looking at up to £5 a year to register your domain (and don’t forget to renew it when the time comes or it could be snapped up and used by someone else!) and then anything from £15 to £100 per year for a hosting package. For a standard blog you probably only need a fairly basic package – mine costs £34.99 per year. If you have had your .blogspot.com or .wordpress.com blog address for a while you might also want to pay for readers to be automatically redirected to the new blog, at least for a while. I already had this set up with WordPress – again it costs $13 a year and it means if anyone types my old address or clicks on an old link it will automatically send them to the new blog. You don’t have to do this though – you could just put a post on your old blog (unless you actually delete it, it will still be there on the internet) and let people find their own way to the new one.

 

If you are a blogger considering going self-hosted then hopefully this information will help you make the decision. If you have any other questions that I haven’t covered then please do leave me a comment or tweet me on @tobygoesbananas and I’ll do my best to answer. And if you’ve decided to go ahead and make the move then you can find out more in my other posts on going self hosted:

Going self-hosted – How do I do it?

Going self-hosted – A guide to WordPress plugins for the newly self-hosted

16 thoughts on “Going self-hosted // Why should I do it?

  1. If self hosted is renting, I wonder what the internet equivalent of a mortgage is?

    One thing with Blogger that I found out recently is that all Blogger blogs use the same IP address (or something like that) and so their page rank, domain authority etc is invalid as every Blogger blog is the same. That’s one reason to move to self hosted from blogger.

    Great post! x

    1. Donna, that’s not true. All TLDs have their own siterank (which is becoming irrelevant these days), and you can put your own custom domain onto a Blogger site. Keep in mind that most shared hosting platforms have limited IP addresses, so many sites are often on the same IP.

      You received some bad information.

  2. Thanks for this great post – I was just talking to my husband about this as I was saying that I am happy on blogger but a lot of people seem to be changing over to self hosted and I was wondering why. Now I see that most people who change are actually on word press as that does limit things but blogger does most things. I am happy with using blogger and have my own domain name now so I think I will stick with that. Thanks again 🙂 #BinkyLinky

  3. Great post, really looking forward to reading the wordpress plug ins. I struggle with these as there is just so many and not entirely sure what any of them do. xx
    #BinkyLinky

  4. Such a great post. I have been thinking about self hosting recently and wondering whether it was something that would benefit me and this post has answered so many of my questions! Thank you!

  5. Brilliant post, as I was thinking about whether to do this or not!
    I have a parent blog on blogger which judging from this post I don’t need to do anything about, and I have a plus size fashion blog on wordpress- unbelievable the amount of things they DONT let you do on there, but the one thing they do that blogger doesn’t, is allow you to put your posts in categories, which is handy with fashion!

  6. A good article, but the problems are that 1) too many people go self-hosted that have no business managing a CMS or a webserver account. Then their site gets hacked and they become a haven for spam about Viagra and 2) the vast majority of bloggers would be able to achieve all of their goals on a hosted solution of Blogger.

    1. Hi David, thanks for your comments. I think that’s what I was trying to say about Blogger. I know some people are worried though about Blogger being under Google control and they might decide just to get rid of it and try and make everyone use Google+ instead.

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