A guest post by Sarah Sibert of Navadaru.com
Many bloggers start out with a free blog from wordpress.com because it is extremely simple to set up and there are no running costs. It’s a great way to introduce yourself to blogging and blogging software.
However, if you really want your blog to take off then you need to be thinking about self-hosting using wordpress.org.
Self-hosting isn’t as complicated as it sounds and the interface remains the same so there really isn’t too much to learn. In effect, all you are doing is taking your blog from wordpress.com and putting it into your own hosting account. The basic WordPress software is still the same and still free.
You may be wondering therefore, what’s the point of going to all that hassle if it’s essentially the same? Well, there are some great advantages to self-hosting that you do not get with a hosted account and making the switch soon pays for itself.
1. You will have a real brand
On wordpress.com the free blogs all have domain names like myblog.wordpress.com. If you are trying to build a recognisable and memorable brand then you need to have your own domain name. It is possible to pay to have your own domain name on a hosted account but you’re still not in control of your blog whereas a self-hosted blog will have your domain and you will be in control.
Having a proper domain name will provide your blog with a brand and you can also have the emails that go with it. Even the most basic blogs can be branded and help you stand out from the competition.
2. You can customise your blog
On wordpress.com you are limited with the themes that you can install and if you want to tweak the look of anything yourself then forget it. You have to pay to have that kind of simple access to the controls. If you self-host then you can do what you want to your blog. You can install any one of thousands of themes (paid or free) and you can make simple customizations if you wish. You have complete control of how you blog looks, making you free to style your blog to your brand.
3. You can advertise
If you want to make money from your blog through advertising whether through Google Adwords or affiliate schemes, then you will have to self-host, no question about it. It is against the ToS to have affiliate links on the hosted sites.
Not only can’t you have ads on your wordpress.com site but they reserve the right to put on their own ads so they make money. This can be a very bad thing, believe me. A blog I know that focuses on the safety concerns of some exercise machines actually has adverts, put there by wordpress.com, that advertise these exact machines! Not what the blogger wants I am sure.
4.You can boost your blog with plugins
Any self-hosting blogger will tell you that they rely heavily on numerous plugins to really give their blog a boost. If you self-host you can install whatever plugins you like, if you still have a free blog you can’t.
Plugins can provide all sorts of added functionality to your site, such as social media links, enhanced commenting, increased speed, event calendars and membership sites to name but a few. You can provide your readership with a more engaging experience using plugins like these and keeping your readers happy is the name is the name of the game.
5.You will look more professional
Self-hosting is not expensive, for a domain name and hosting account you can pay as little as $60 per year. Yet there are still many bloggers who refuse to make the switch.
But, by making this small leap you are saying to the world ‘Look at me, I’m serious about my blog‘. If you are still using a free account then the message you are sending is that this is not a business, this is just for fun.
By making the switch to a self-hosted, wordpress.org site you instantly take control of your blogging business. You can make whatever updates you choose, design it how you wish, monetize as much as you like without anything holding you back.
Make the switch today and you’ll soon wonder what took you so long!
Sarah Sibert is a web developer and blogger with a passion for WordPress and helping other people with their WordPress blogs. You can catch more of Sarah’s WordPress hints and tips at Navadaru.com.