Free Blog or Self Hosted Blog – What’s Best?

Blogging is now becoming the trendy thing to do. Either everyone has already got their own blogs or are looking to start one. People blog for a variety of reasons. Some do it to earn money, while others do it to opinionate themselves or show their expertise on a particular topic. Some others use it as an advertising platform, while some others do it purely for fun.

Whatever be the reason, the truth is that blogging is now a national, or rather an international phenomenon. If you are new to blogging, one of the most important decisions that you have to make is whether to go with a free hosted blog, or whether to opt for a self hosted blog.

Why is that so important, you may ask? It is hugely important for a variety of reasons. But first, you need to understand the difference between the two.

Free Blog

A free hosted blog is one in which you sign up with an existing blog service, and they put together an account free of charge which you can start using straight away. Although great for beginners, you may experience problems with it as you become a more experienced blogger. Some of their basic services are limiting.

For example, you can’t monetize most free blogs. Banners and other ads are not allowed. However, there are some paid upgrades available for features such as domain name, custom CSS design, additional space, and upload of audio and video files.

Self Hosted Blog

Having a self hosted blog means that you have bought your own web hosting, your own domain and installed the blogging software of your choice, from a host of choices available (content management services or programs). You will have more control over the design and content of your site.

Pros of a free blog

This is great for beginner bloggers who are just testing the waters to learn how they should be running a blog as it is completely free. Free hosted blogs are great for amateur bloggers, who blog only for fun and sharing experiences.

You need far lesser technical skills to set up and run a free blog, as the blogging service does all the technical things in the backend. You also choose from predefined templates, so no technical knowledge is required for installing themes or plugins.

Pros of self-hosting a blog

Self hosting a blog gives a blogger a lot more control over the design and content of the blog. It’s more versatile. In addition to adding pre-made themes and plugins, you can also install your choice of themes. Self-hosted blogs are great for brand building.

They give you more visibility. Suppose that you need to blog to promote your company or a product, you can achieve this purpose better if you have a self-hosted blog. Having your own domain name gives you better visibility as it offers you better search engine optimization (SEO) in comparison to free hosted blogs.

Most self-hosted blogging services are based on open source content management services, so they are constantly updated. A domain name costs less than $10 a year and one can get a good shared hosting account for only $7 to $10 a month. So why wouldn’t a professional blogger or a writer representing any organization go for a self-hosted blogs?

Cons of free hosting a blog

The downside is that the blogger has to accept some terms of services before being allowed to use the service. If a blogger doesn’t abide by these terms, he/she stands the risk of having their service terminated.

It is difficult to retrieve articles once lost this way. In addition, the free templates on offer can be limiting. You may have to hire a HTML savvy person to further customize your blog as per your requirement.

The biggest drawback is that a blog, run by you, on a free hosted site, doesn’t belong to you. All the content is added, indexed and credited to the free blog site, and not credited as content to the main company website. The most you can do is to place back-links to your company site on your blog. But this does not give your main site any SEO benefits.

Cons of self-hosting a blog

One of the cons is usually the cost involved but it shouldn’t be so bad if the right blogging software is chosen. And in the long run the costs involved can usually be offset if the right blogging strategy is implemented.

Another factor is that running a self-hosted blog requires a person to be HTML savvy. However most CMS come with an in-built visual editor, and with some exploration and playing with the backend, familiarity with the blogging service comes with time.

In Conclusion

In conclusion, if you have any aspirations of taking your blog past the hobby stage, or if you are blogging for a professional organization, you should start out with a self hosted site. If you have any intentions to move from a free hosted site to a self hosted site later on, it is better to avoid all the transition fuss and start with a self hosted blog.

SEO should also be considered when you decide which option to start with. Ultimately, the aim must be to increase brand visibility, whether you choose the free option or the self-hosted option.

Some bloggers may go for the flexibility that a free site has to offer and live with some of its downsides. Others may choose more design flexibility and opt for a self-hosted blog. Having a flexible mind will help you to decide which option to go for after carefully weighing the pros and cons of each.

Once you have decided the type of hosting for your blog, its time to publish high quality blog posts to attract audiences to your blog. Visit QuickContent.net for affordable blog services.

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The Self Hosted Blog – Business Benefits

Business owners wonder whether they should set up a blog in the same space as their business website (a self hosted blog) or use a free blog service like WordPress.com or Blogger.com. While free blogging services are easy to set up, a self hosted blog offers enough additional benefits to warrant the investment.

Customization: Almost every part of the blog can be changed for better functionality, resulting in a blog that is easier for readers to use and customizable to you and your unique business brand
SEO: A content rich blog at a free blog hosting site is beneficial to the free blog hosting provider. The blogger does SEO work for the host every time they add content and attract inbound links and content from the readership. Building a content rich blog on your own server is highly beneficial to you. Search engines like to see relevant content, updated regularly, with links coming in from other websites (from readers who comment and link to your blog). When a blog is hosted on your business website, you get content, links, and more.
Attention: a blog on your website helps attract attention directly to your online business presence. Blogs are uniquely capable of engendering interest, even publicity.
Trust: Blogs can build trust if approached not as an opportunity to market but as a chance to engage with readership and invite two-way communication. Blogs can build customer confidence and loyalty; when hosted on the business website, this forum is just a click away from a desired customer action (making a purchase, signing up for a seminar, etc.)

CMS: Content Management System

A CMS is software used to create and manage content, including HTML documents and images.
A content management system is designed for those who don’t know a lot about programming or markup languages.
Software may be free or for sale.
CMS content is presented in layers, with a behind-the-scenes layer and a presentation layer that visitors see.

You can use the CMS provided by a free blog hosting provider like Blogger.com, but you can tailor your business site and make it easier for your readers to use when you implement Open Source CMS software like WordPress®. Hosting is free at WordPress.com, but you get much more when you self host, using the thousands of plugins® available through WordPress.org.

If you already have a website for your business, you already have a domain name (your unique Web address) and a Web host (where your domain name is “parked,” the Web server space/bandwidth you purchase). Your blog can be hosted on your business website.

If you don’t have a domain name and Web hosting, obtaining these is the first step to setting up a self hosted blog. Fortunately, you have many options and can easily get everything you need. Some hosting providers include WordPress blog hosting automatically. Even if a hosting provider doesn’t include WordPress.org, you can set up a blog on a business website and install WordPress.org. The online marketing benefits are well worth the cost.

Maura O’Neill is a content specialist with Network Solutions, an online marketing services provider. In addition to affordable Web hosting for blogs, Network Solutions offers domain name registration, search engine optimization, Pay-per-Click advertising, Web design and other services for online businesses.

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Hosted Or Self Hosted Blog?

If you are about to embark on creating a blog. Whether it be for personal or business use, you will be faced with a number of key decisions. One of the most important decisions will be which blogging platform to use.

Typically blogging platforms fall into two main categories:

Hosted
Self hosted

Hosted Hosted blogging platforms are simply blogs that occupy web space on a blogging providers server e.g. Blogger or WordPress.com. Hosted blog sites offer a number of benefits. They are easy to setup and in many cases all you need to do is sign-up, select a name for your blog and away you go. Hosted blogs from the major providers are normally free which is ideal if you are working to a limited budget. Because the blog is hosted you will not have any system management worries as nearly all of it will be taken care of by the provider, so no bandwidth charges or web hosting fees to worry about.

Hosted blogs are a great and very cheap way to get a blog up and running however they do have some drawbacks that you will need to consider. As the web blog is hosted you will have little control over what changes you can make to the look of the blog site, this can be especially restrictive if you are trying to match the look of your business website. You may be restricted in adding additional functionality to your site. Typically you will not be able to use your own domain name with the hosted services (some providers offer this service for an additional fee). You may find the hosted blog has a host of other restrictions that may prevent you expanding your site in the way that you would like.

In summary the hosted blog is a quick way to get started in blogging but you do need to consider the drawbacks.

Self Hosted A self hosted blog is simply a blog that you own and maintain on your own web host. You will need to install the blog software and create any additional requirements such as databases yourself. Many web hosting companies now provide a simple interface on the control panel to do 1-click installs of common blogging software such as WordPress, Drupal and Joomla which does make life a whole lot easier.

The key benefits to self hosting is that you can use your own domain name for your site. You will have full control of the look and feel of the blog and will be able to add additional functionality as you see fit. You will also be able to easily integrate your blog with your business website if you use the self hosted route.

Of course the self hosted route is not all plain sailing. Firstly you do need a web hosting account which can vary in cost, however the web hosting market is very competitive so you will be able to bag yourself a good deal and it should only cost a few dollars per month.

As you are self hosting you will be responsible for ensuring that all software updates are installed along with any security patches, this is not so much of a problem if you are only running one blog, but it can be a time consuming exercise if you have a number of different blog sites. Likewise if the blog encounters problems as a result of either an user error or maybe an incompatible plugin then you will be responsible for sorting the problems out. If you are lucky the web-host may offer some support but it may well be limited and will not always be in the timescales that you may require.

Summary So in summary both the hosted and the self hosted route offer a number of benefits and drawbacks. If you want a quick and easy blog and are not to fussed about changing the look and feel or using your own domain name then a hosted site is the easiest and most cost effective. If however you need flexibility and control then you really do need to consider going down the self hosting WordPress route.

Simon Bunker is the owner of Technology Consulting firm Samba Consulting [http://www.sambaconsulting.com]. Samba Consulting provide technology consulting services specifically tailored to the small business owner. The services offered by Samba Consulting include Blogging, Social Media, Affiliate Marketing and all things online.

If you are a small business owner or new to running a business and need some impartial advice on the best technology to use in your business please do visit the Samba Consulting website

You can read more about Simon & Samba Consulting at [http://simonbunker.co.uk]

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Blogger and WordPress – Free Hosted Blogs Can Be Shutdown – So Own Your Own Blog

If you have a blog at a free host, such as Blogger.com or WordPress.com, then it can be shutdown by the free host if you violate its Terms Of Service (TOS). You can prevent this by owning your own blog.

The trouble with a blog hosted on a free service like Blogger.com or WordPress.com is that you must agree to the free host’s TOS. If you violate the TOS, then the free host can pull the plug on your blog by shutting it down. Note: It is important to know that WordPress has a free service (which is WordPress.com), besides the self-hosted version of WordPress that is installed at your web host. See WordPress.org for the self-hosted version of WordPress.

It does not matter how much hard work and effort you put into your free blog, or how much income you might be earning from it, or how popular it is. If you violate the free host’s TOS, then poof! Overnight, your blog may disappear with no warning.

I was recently busy searching for a WordPress theme for a client, when I followed a link to a blog about themes I wanted to check out. I had found the link on the second page results of a Google search, and I thought it might have something of interest for my client. To my surprise, instead of the blog appearing, the WordPress.com TOS Blog Shutdown notice appeared on my computer screen. I have no idea what this free WordPress.com blog did to get shutdown, but I imagine it somehow violated the WordPress.com TOS.

The one thing I know for sure is that WordPress.com pulled the plug on this blog… it’s gone. This would not have happened if the person who had the free hosted WordPress.com blog about WordPress themes instead had owned his or her own blog.

It is my opinion that if you are going to start blogging, and if you plan to put a lot of effort into your blog, then you should own your own blog and not depend on a free blog hosting service. I strongly recommend you own your own blog. Only then are you the captain of your blogging ship, you will have complete control over all things regarding your blog.

How to own your own blog:

Self-host. Purchase a web hosting plan from a web hosting service.
Register a domain name at a domain registrar.
Use the WordPress blogging platform available from WordPress.org.

A blog you own is a self-hosted blog you install at your chosen web hosting service. A self-hosted blog is often referred to as a paid blog. A self-hosted blog will usually, and should have, its own unique domain name (a URL – Uniform Resource Locator) associated with it. The WordPress blogging platform works wonderfully and is very, very popular amongst bloggers.

I happen to have some blogs that I own. I self-host and pay for my web hosting, and I have registered domain names for each of these blogs. In each blog, I use WordPress as my blogging platform. These are all standalone blogs. I own my own blogs and I am the only one who can choose to shut them down, assuming of course that I keep paying my web hosting account fees! By the way, web hosting and domain registration fees are very affordable.

If you are going to have a blog, and if you plan to make it an endeavor where you put valuable time, energy, effort, and thought into it, if you plan or hope to make money from the blog, if you are going to provide a service, or sell goods and merchandise, if you want to establish professionalism and credibility, then for goodness sakes own your own blog. Don’t be at the mercy of a free blog service’s Terms Of Service.

Do yourself a favor, own your own WordPress blog if you are going to be serious about blogging. Have your own registered domain name and use a web host of your choosing. This gives you complete control over your blog. You are the Big Kahuna, the Supreme Dictator, of this type of blog because you own it. You control how your blog looks, what gets posted, what topics you cover, what features the blog has, and… well, everything!

Own your own blog and you are the one who decides its fate and future. It’s really that simple.

If you are ever in need of web design services, then I can help. You can learn more about how I can help you with web design, WordPress blogs, or custom database websites here: http://www.jonathanrallenwebdesign.com/

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Free Hosted Blog Disadvantages

At hosted for free blog services like blogger.com and WordPress.com, you can create a blog in a mere matter of minutes. Starting and setting up one is as easy as pie. All you have to do is follow the free host’s recipe and your blog will quickly be online.

This kind of blog is not necessarily the best kind to have. Instead, you might be better off paying for hosting, getting your own domain name, and installing WordPress as your blogging platform. There are some disadvantages with free hosting that you should be aware of, if you intend to put a lot of time and effort into blogging.

* There will be less configuration choices than a self-hosted blog. You simply won’t be able to tweak it as much as you could with self-hosting. At the start, this may not make much of a difference. However, as your blogging demands and capabilities grow, you will probably find the lack of configuration choices a detriment. The configuration limits of free services can hold you back.

* You will have to choose your theme from a selection of canned themes. Some of the theme choices may have some design change options built into them, and the particular free hosted service you choose may allow some theme modification. Overall though, you will be using themes that everybody else using the free hosted service chooses from. Your blog will probably wind up looking like a lot of others. With self-hosting, you can have your own unique theme.

* Although you will have the ownership of the content you create for your blog, you don’t have complete ownership of your blog with free hosting. The online service you use for your blog has ownership of the domain name associated with your blog. You can’t change or improve the blogging platform, you just make do with what is offered. You will have to live with the way your blog works on a hosted free service. With a self-hosted blog, you own the whole shebang and can do whatever you want, because you own your own blog. That’s a very good thing.

* The default domain name you will have is not a Top Level Domain. An example of a Top Level Domain name is myblogname.com. The domain name will by default, include the name of the online hosting service. An example would be myblogname.thenameofthefreehost.com. A self-hosted blog with a Top Level Domain name, is simply more professional and impressive. It’s best to register your own Top Level Domain name and use it for your blog.

* If you ever decide to make the switch, it can be a challenge to move your freely hosted blog over to a self-hosted blog. You will have to export your blog’s content, and then import it to your self-hosted blog. This process may or may not go smoothly. Personally, I’ve had good luck exporting and importing content to a self-hosted blog, but things can go wrong and my palms were sweaty each time I did this. The worst-case scenario is that valuable content can be lost or not imported to the new self-hosted blog. Your blog’s content is all the effort and hard work you put into making your posts. You don’t want that to forever disappear with a mouse click. Keep in mind that moving content to a self-hosted blog can be risky.

In my opinion, owning your own blog by using WordPress as your blogging platform, having it self-hosted at a web host you choose, and having your own registered domain name, is the most professional and serious way to have a blog. You will maintain control of your blog and a third-party free hosted blog service will not impose limitations or constraints on your blog, or what you do with it.

If you are ever in need of web design services, then I can help. You can learn more about how I can help you with web design, WordPress blogs, or custom database websites here: http://www.jonathanrallenwebdesign.com/

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