I constantly see questions on becoming self-hosted and if there are any benefits. However, I rarely see answers that touch on more than the fact you can have your own domain. Even then it’s hard to find answers as to what this really means for the non-technical.
Generally bloggers start off with a ‘wordpress.com’ or ‘blogger.com’ which are free blogging platforms. Then after some growth and experience in blogging, they decide to switch to being self-hosted. My story is a little different, I knew I wanted to start my own blog and I wanted to have control over it. I had a free wordpress.com account for less than a month and had no doubt about going self-hosted.
Yes, I wanted my own domain because, as sad as it is in the world we live in, perception is everything. So I wanted my blog to look like it is mine and the control freak in me wanted it to actually be mine. Of course, if you use a free platform the content is yours however if for some reason that platform crashes or gets taken down, so does your blog. So owning your domain gives you full control which allows you to improve functionality.
There are options available on ‘wordpress.com’ and ‘blogger.com’ to get a custom domain which work well for some people depending on your long term plans. But for me I think of it like renting or buying a property. If you use this option you get the custom domain and safety net of these sites if you have any problems. But this still limits your options. Whereas if you self-host you really do have all of the control.
Reasons I chose self-hosting.
The options available for themes, widgets and plugins are endless when you self-host. You can make your site look and function exactly how you want. There is a plugin for any function you can think of.
Adverts and Affiliations.
You are no longer limited when it comes to advertising and using affiliate shops. You can have as many or as little adverts as you want on your site. You can also expand any affiliate links and shop options without restriction.
Personalised emails are great, they look professional e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org and you will not using your personal email address for your blog. The emails can be forwarded to personal email address or even another business address.
SEO (Search engine optimisation).
There are plugins available to help and guide you with this. My favourite is ‘Yoast SEO’ as it highlights ways in which you could better the SEO criteria in your posts. Basically, these plugins help you can make your site rank higher in Google search results.
Management and Tracking.
Also being self-hosted you are able to use google analytics and webmaster tools. These are great tools for gaining a better understanding of your audience and organic search engine traffic.
If you see yourself blogging long term or have hopes of monetizing your site I think self-hosting is a great way forward. I find it motivates me to keep going as I am investing in it and generally I find when we get things for free it is easy to take them for granted. Be warned though, you need a bit of technical knowledge or access to someone who has that knowledge to get you off the ground.
Are You self-hosted ? What made you switch?
Are you thinking about switching?