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How to Start a Blog for Fun or Profit: Hosted vs. Self-Hosted

by Ryan Guina

In the first two parts of How to start a Blog for Fun or Profit, we discussed who should start a blog and which topics you should blog about. Now we will discuss different types of blog hosting – an important consideration that must be made before starting your blog. In the next article in the series we will discuss where you can set up a blog and how to do it.

Hosted vs. Self-Hosted Blogs

There are two main types of blogging services you will need to consider: Hosted or self-hosted. With a self-hosted blog you will typically purchase a domain and a web hosting package, set up the blogging software, and take care of all the details yourself. With a hosted blog, all you do is sign up for an account, select a blog name and start blogging. The company hosting your blog takes care of (most of) the other details. While this sounds nice, there are usually a lot of limitations that come with hosted blogs.

As with everything there are pros and cons. Be sure to understand what you are getting into before you commit to either blog hosting choice.

Pros and Cons of Hosted Blogs

Advantages of using a hosted blog service. There are many advantages to using a hosted blog service, chief among them is price. Many hosted blog services are free. The most common examples of free blogging services are Blogger and WordPress.com. Another popular hosted blogging platform is TypePad.com, which is a subscription blog service geared more toward people and businesses who do not want to mess around with the technical side of blogging. For most of these services, you simply set up an account and start writing. It’s that easy!

Disadvantages of using a hosted blog service. The biggest disadvantage is limited flexibility and control. Some blog services have a limited number of available themes (The “skin” that gives blogs their unique look), some do not allow advertising, and some do not have an easy way to back up your data. Ownership is another issue. While you own the content you have written, you do not own the domain – such as “mybloggerwebsite.blogspot” – and you will not be able to sell your site should you want to.

Lastly, should the host cease to operate or randomly delete your blog (this has happened to many people), you are out of luck. To sum up, you are at the mercy of your blog’s provider.

Other notes regarding hosted blogs: WordPress.com is free but does not allow advertisements. TypePad.com requires users to pay a monthly or annual usage fee (however, this may be the perfect solution for your business).

Who should you hosted blogging? Hosted blogging is a great solution for people who are looking for a free or inexpensive blogging solution and don’t want to hassle with many of the technical details of blogging. However, they should be aware that there may be certain limitations regarding the design of their blog, the ability to earn money with their blog, or the ability to sell it in the future.

The Pros and Cons of Self-Hosted Blogging

Cash Money Life is a self-hosted blog and is what I recommend for anyone who is serious about building a website with staying power and earning potential.

Advantages of using a self-hosted blog. Control. You control everything. While this might seem daunting at first, this is actually a blessing. With full control of your website, you can change the look or feel of your site whenever you want. You can place advertisements, back up your data, export data, run analysis, or even sell your blog. You own the domain and all the content within it.

Disadvantages of using a self-hosted blog. Control. A blessing can also be a disadvantage. When you run a self-hosted blog, there is a learning curve involved. Thankfully, most of the software is very easy to use, much of it is free, and there are hundreds of free resources available if you know where to look (more details on that in a future article).

The other disadvantage is cost. You will need to buy a domain and a web hosting package to host your domain. Fortunately, the cost is not prohibitive. You can get started for under $100, including the domain and your first year of web hosting service. Just look for Go Daddy coupon codes when you register your domain and use an inexpensive and reliable web host like LunarPages. LunarPages also gives customers a free domain with the purchase of a year’s hosting plan, so you may be able to skip using a registrar like GoDaddy.

Who should use a self-hosted blog? I recommend using a self-hosted blog for anyone who plans on making a serious attempt at blogging, has plans on making money with their website, wants total control of their website, or wants the option of selling their website in the future.

Interested in running a self-hosted blog? Get a package deal from GoDaddy and get started today!

Should You Choose a Hosted or Self-Hosted Blog Plan?

The choice, of course, is up to you and you should get the blog setup that best meets your needs. If you only plan on sharing your blog with close friends and family, then a free hosted blog plan like Blogger or WordPress.com is probably sufficient. TypePad would be a good solution for a business that wanted an inexpensive hosting solution but didn’t want to take care of many of the technical aspects of the blog.

But if you have plans on starting a blog that will be highly trafficked and will hopefully make money, then I strongly recommend purchasing your own domain and web hosting package. For less than $100 you will have 100% flexibility and save yourself a lot of headaches down the road.


Published or updated September 23, 2014.
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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Miranda

Great information! You really cover the essential points. It is important to think about how you want to go about your blog before you get started. Having a plan is vital to success.

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2 Jules @ Money Feuds

Great comparison and analysis of the two options for hosting a website!

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3 FFB

When I started I was using Blogger. It was a great introduction to getting my head around what blogging was all about. After some months I was starting to see the limitations of Blogger in what I wanted to do and took the leap to self-hosting and using wordpress.org. Best move I’ve made! The difference was light and day.

Still, there is a lot more you can do on Blogger since I’ve moved and if you aren’t too tech savvy (not that’s it’s too difficult) you may want to get your head around a hosted platform first.

I’d say if you can handle a hosted platform after a few months and you still have a passion for blogging then make the leap to self hosted.

You may want to get your own domain name early on (not one with a .blogspot at the end). Domain names are pretty cheap and at least the site name is yours.

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4 jamus

“The difference was light and day.”

lol I don’t think that was what you wanted to say.
sorry I had to say something. :P

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5 Ryan

Thanks for the info, FFB. I’m an advocate of just jumping in with both feet and going straight to a self-hosted blogging platform. That will be much better in the long run, especially when it comes to links, SEO, traffic, and other factors. Building your brand and then moving it can be a larger setback than most people realize.

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6 FFB

@ Ryan – I agree with what you say but I think it also depends on why you are blogging in the first place. If it’s just for fun then a hosted platform could be better. I also know from my experience that if I jumped right into self hosting I would have been confused to no end. Having some time to get around code in Blogger helped enormously.

You have to know why you’re blogging and how well you can play with the code (not too hard but some folks aren’t very tech savvy).

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7 Ryan

Ha, I’m not too tech savvy either! I didn’t have a clue when I started. But now I know some great people who can, and do, help me out frequently. They have helped me tremendously over the past two years. :)

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8 Monevator

Deep analysis, nice work.

I can think of lots of successful bloggers who went from hosted to self-hosted, but I can’t think of one who went the other way, which sort of illustrates which option is better for serious bloggers I think?

Really, with the effort blogging takes a few dollars on a URL and hosting is going to be the least of your commitments.

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9 Ryan

Very true, Monevator. The initial investment is small in terms of cash outlay, and if you later switch to a self-hosted blog service, it will set you back a few months. I think free hosted blogs have great uses though – many people just want a small personal or family blog, or have no intention of growing a large site or earning money. Free can be good. :)

But for a business, it is usually best to go with a self-hosted blogging platform, or a hosted platform such as TypePad.

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10 Stingy Student

Great advice. This is very helpful for those of us who are blogging and considering one or the other. Continue the good writing!

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11 Ryan

Hi Kristy: You basically only need to know how to navigate a folder structure on a computer (My computer –> C:Drive –> Documents –> My Special Folder –> My Special File). If you can do that, you can set up a self-hosted blog on WordPress. (This will also be the next article in the series).

As for knowing html – you won’t need to know a lot to set up a blog, but it will help to learn how to recognize certain aspects of it. Most of what you will do with it will be very basic and you can often find an example on the web and copy/paste.

Design help usually isn’t included with a hosting package, but there are many forums and other free resources where you can find assistance. (for the record, I am very poor at design and I only know very basic html).

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12 Kristy @ Master Your Card

This is great information for those considering their own blog, and putting it into a series is extremely helpful. Just curious, but if you go with the self-hosted platform, do you have to have any kind of familiarity with HTML code, or can you get design help included with the domain and hosting services?

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13 Sushant

I feel self-hosted wordpress is a good option even for a beginner. Most of the hosting companies now offer one click blog hosting which makes it even easier.

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