When you want to start blog, one of the first things you must decide is where you want to place your blog.
- Do you start a blog at free blogging service, like Blogger or WordPress.com?
- Or do you setup your own hosting account and install a blogging software on your server and build your blog there?
Yes, the latter will cost you a bit of money (hosting most of the time does), but are the benefits you get from blogging freedom worth the costs? (I say freedom, because with free blogging services your hands are tied in a sense.).
I didn't go through much of a thought process, when I started blogging with Blogger for free and I did it for years and it worked well. But settings up hosting at DreamHost and moving to self-hosted WordPress.org blog was the best decision in my blogging life. And this is the reason I wrote this post, my Self-Hosted WordPress Blog Manifesto.
There are many options for both free blogging and self-hosted blogging, but I have had free blog at Blogger and for all my own blogs, I have used WordPress.org. So naturally, this post will cover those two, free blogging with Blogger and self-hosted blogging with WordPress.
Why I Have a Self-Hosted WordPress Blog?
I blogged for years with Blogger and I was happy with it. But back then, I didn't have big plans for my blogging "career" if you will. Every now and then I would have wanted to do something different, adjust the settings a bit more and such, but I just couldn't do it, as Blogger didn't support the things I wanted to do. I realized that my free blog had reached it's limits, so I had to move on. Don't get me wrong. These free services, like Blogger, are very good way to start blogging, but you have limited control over your settings - excellent to learn about blogging, but limited in many ways.
But in the long run I wanted to have absolute control over everything on your blog (with free blogging services, in theory, it's not your blog, it's a blog that can be found from free service that you write into). Controlling everything doesn't mean that self-hosted WordPress.org based blog is any harder to maintain and keep a blog at than the free services, but behind the basic functionality, WordPress goes way beyond what these free services offer.
It seemed that all the blogs I was reading at the time were running on WordPress, so I got interested, as I wanted my blog to be bigger, better and look more professional. So I did, and I never looked back..
It is quite amazing that the most popular and also the best blogging platform is FREE. WordPress.org is used in over millions of blogs around the world, and it is by far the most used blogging platform. As it is open source, millions of experts work with it and develop it even further. There are thousands and thousands of free resources for WordPress.org blogs, like themes, plugins and widgets. I can't recommend WordPress enough, but I can quote the truth that is stated in the WordPress.org:
WordPress is a state-of-the-art publishing platform with a focus on aesthetics, web standards, and usability. WordPress is both free and priceless at the same time
If you are interested in making money from blogging or use your blog as promotion tool for your offline services, you want your own, self-hosted blog. Free services are great for casual blogging and sharing info with your friends and family, but if you want to touch a larger audience and have the opportunity to turn your blog into something bigger, perhaps even make a living out of blogging, I'm sure you understand that actually owning what you put yourself into, is pretty important.
If you plan to support or run a business with your blog, self-hosting your blog is the only option (don't even consider free blog). Also, even if you need to setup a "normal" website for yourself or your business, consider self-hosted WordPress. It's super-easy to setup, very easy to maintain and still provides all the functionality you can ever want in it.
It is possible that your free blog will suddenly stop working, for numerous reasons, and you might not be able to do anything about it. With a blog that you own, the chances of that kind of catastrophe happening is slim to none. I'm not saying it will happen with any free blogging service or your blog in particular, but think if hundreds of posts you've written would suddenly disappear, all the links and readers you had on your blog - gone. The money (if any) you are making with your blog is now zero. Even if you are not interested in making blogging a career or make money from blogging, losing years and years work would definitely hurt. It is possible to backup free blogs, but not to the extent you can with self-hosted blogs.
For me, I love the opportunities I have with my own WordPress blog and the functionality of the WordPress.org as the blogging platform. With WordPress, my blog looks more professional and more credible. If I want to, I can just write and publish my posts, but if I have the need, I can dig deeper into the settings and start playing with different themes and plugins. I can easily create my own theme and plugins if I want to. I can take easily backup my blog and know for sure that I can restore my work if things would go bad. If I would add advertising to my blog, I would not have to consider terms and conditions of my free blogging service and the advertisers and sponsors would feel better getting their ads on professional, self-hosted blog.
For non-technical person, WordPress is very simple and easy to use, but for a technical person like me, WordPress is paradise - the possibilities are endless and I can script, code, tweak and test everything.
With self-hosted WordPress, I can start small, but plan big.
Because I value the security and the endless possibilities my own blog offers me, I chose self-hosted WordPress.org as my blogging platform.
43% of Problogger.net readers in May 2009 felt the same, as you can see from What Blogging Platforms Do We Use? [POLL RESULTS] @Problogger.net.
Do you have a self-hosted blog? Do you have it on WordPress.org like me? or do you run your blog on a free service?
Share *your* thoughts on blogging platforms and choosing the best option for you and leave a comment on this article.