10 Benefits of a Self-Hosted Blog
10 Benefits of a Self-Hosted Blog
First, let me start by saying that this post is a reflection of my experience with self-hosted blogs. If you’re a die-hard defender of free blogs, more power to you. If a free blog works best for you, then by all means, keep it up. However, I’ve found that self-hosted blogs fit my overall mission and strategic plan for my online business ventures. With that being said, let’s check out the ten benefits of a self-hosted blog.
What is a self-hosted blog?
Simply put, a self-hosted blog is a blog that you have 100% control of. The reason for this is because you’re hosting the blog with a web hosting service like HostGator or Bluehost, rather than having a free blogging service like Tumblr, Blogger, or WordPress.com host your blog.
When you use a free blogging service, you’re required follow their guidelines when you build your blog. They control the layout of your blog, what ad’s go on your blog, the content of your blog, whether or not you can monetize your blog, and even your domain name.
On the other hand, a self-hosted blog gives you a wide range of functionality and freedom when building your online presence. Yes, you have to pay a small monthly fee to self-host your blog (roughly $8 per month). However, having the ability to monetize your blog allows your blog to potentially pay for itself. That’s just one reason why I use the self-hosted blogging platform, but here are a few other reasons why I recommend you start a self-hosted blog as well.
10 Benefits of a Self-Hosted Blog
1. 100% Control
This is probably the most important factor in my opinion. When I’m starting a blog, I’m building a brand. If I don’t have control over my brand, then my blog is not “my blog”. This is why I recommend against the free blogging services. Sure, they won’t cost you anything. However, a free blog restricts what your blog looks like, it decides whether or not you can monetize your blog, and it determines the content you publish. A self-hosted blog won’t hold you back like a free blogging service will. A self-hosted blog gives you 100% control over every single aspect of your blog.
If you want your blog to earn money, you’ll need to monetize your blog. This can be done in various ways, and a self-hosted blog gives you the freedom to decide how you monetize your blog. Free blogging services typically won’t allow you to monetize your blog, they won’t let you sell ad space on your blog (unless you have 25,000 views per month), they’ll slap whatever ad’s they want on your blog, and they force you to pay an annual fee to take their ad’s down. Plus, they take 50% of all your earnings. Self-hosted blogs allow you to monetize your blog anyway you see fit, and you get to keep 100% of your earnings.
3. Personalized Domain Name
As I mentioned earlier, my blog is my brand. This includes my domain name. A self-hosted blog allows me to use any domain that I want (as long as it’s available). For example, blogwithben.com is the domain for this blog. If I were to use a free blogging platform like Tumblr, my domain name would be blogwithben.tumblr.com. This takes away from my branding efforts and doesn’t look professional in my opinion. A self-hosted blog let’s me choose the exact domain name for my blog, and it allows me to build brand recognition.
When it comes to self-hosted blogs, this is a huge selling point for me. Analytics is basically data analysis that allows you to view how your blog is performing. This is a huge competitive advantage, and a necessity, if you’re serious about the future of your blog. Google offers a free service called Google Analytics that gives you detailed statistics on the visits to your blog, among many other things. However, with a free blogging service, you’re unable to run any type of analytics or data analysis on your blog. This puts you at a huge competitive disadvantage. Having the ability to run analytics on your self-hosted blog let’s you see what is working and what isn’t working. It also allows you to know who you audience is, and helps your blog’s overall performance.
5. Custom Themes
The layout of your blog, and how your blog looks, is a driving factor in your bounce rate (sessions in which the person left your site from the entrance page without interacting with the page). Custom themes are key components to user interaction, and definitely play a vital role in the success of your blog. With a self-hosted blog, you’re able to implement any type of custom theme. This let’s you mold your blog so that it matches your overall vision. Free blogs restrict your design capabilities (no modifications allowed) and they decide what themes you can and can’t use. Your choices are limited to what they approve. Self-hosted blogs on the other hand let you modify, customize, and implement any type of them you want.
6. Custom Plugins
The user experience of your blog relies heavily on the functionality of your blog. Plugins are a key component to how your blog functions. Take for example the sharing icons to the lefthand side of this screen. That’s the handy work of a plugin. A very helpful plugin I might add. By using a self-hosted blog, I’m able to implement whichever type of plugin I want. Free blogs DO NOT ALLOW ANY PLUGINS WHATSOEVER. That’s crazy talk! Plugins give you so much more variety in terms of what your blog can do, and they maximize your blogs overall potential.
7. Private Email
One of the many benefits of a self-hosted blog is that you can set up an email account to accompany your blog. This is yet another factor that helps build brand recognition. For example, HostGator allows me to set up an email account (email@example.com) that is attached to my blog for free. This not only keeps my personal emails separate from my blog’s emails, but it also looks more professional.
8. Marketing Capabilities
Lead generation is extremely important when starting any type of blog. I don’t care if you’re blogging about the weather or the hottest celebrity, you’ll still need the ability to market to new and potential readers. One way to do this is through building an email list. Self-hosted blogs allow you implement different email marketing applications like AWeber and MailChimp. These are instrumental in building an email list, and they’ll help generate traffic to your blog. Free blogs don’t permit these types of email marketing capabilities. This ultimately prohibits you from generating large amounts of new leads.
9. Technical Support
Let’s say you’re building a new blog and you have a question about how to install a particular theme. Oh, and it’s 2AM in the morning! Who you gonna call? Well, if you have a self-hosted blog, you can call, email, or text your web host’s technical support team 24/7/365 days a year. Unlike free blogs, a self-hosted blog offers trained, in-house experts that are willing and able to guide you through whatever it is that you’re having trouble with. Some web hosts even offer one-on-one coaching sessions to guide you through the entire process. You won’t find this in a free blogging platform.
Search Engine Optimization (or SEO) is vital to a blog’s long-term success. In order for your blog to be found on the Internet, it will need to be built in a way that is search engine friendly. Self-hosted blogs allow you to optimize for SEO. Whether it’s your top-level domain, building your permalinks, or optimizing your images; a self-hosted blog gives you a distinctive advantage when it comes to SEO.
Are you still with me? Good! Hopefully this gave you some insight as to why I use the self-hosted blogging platform. Bottom line, a self-hosted blog gives me 100% control over every aspect of my blog. I can’t stress that enough. It might cost a small fee, but I’ll pay $8 a month for creative control any day.
Disclosure: Some of the links on my blog are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you decide to make a purchase. Please understand that I have experience with all of these companies, and I recommend them because they are extremely helpful when starting a blog. Plus, by using my affiliate links, you are helping me keep this blog up and running…and for that, I thank you.
Written by Ben Cummings
Founder of blogwithben.com
Ben is a Digital Marketing and CMS Specialist for Bridgepoint Education who holds an MBA with a specialization in Entrepreneurship. He enjoys teaching, blogging, startups, a hoppy IPA, and college basketball. Whenever he’s not blogging, you can find him cruising around sunny San Diego with his amazing family.