How To Blog: Why Hosting Matters And When Free Is Not Good Enough

There are plenty of ways to publish a blog for free. Completely free. No setup fees, no domain name charges, no regular hosting fees.

There are so many free providers it’s hard to keep count. WordPress.com, Blogger, Blogspot, LiveJournal are some of the most popular examples. If you find a service does not match your wishes, there is sure to be an other free one that does.

There’s also a new vein of blogging sets that stand out with their ease of use, such as Posterous, Tumblr, Typepad and Xanga.

You are spoiled for choice, clearly. Why then, should you already consider hosting your own blog?

Before we dive into the Pros and Cons, let’s take a look at the resources you’re likely to use on a self-hosted blog.

First of all, the money.

  • Domain name. You’ll need one – you won’t get a free one such as “myblog.blogspot.com”. No-frills cost about $10 a year.
  • Hosting service. You’ll pay space and bandwidth on a server that will deliver the content of your blog to the viewers. Basic cost about $10 a month.

Good news is that you won’t have to pay for the actual software. WordPress.org, Drupal, Movable kind, or in any case you choose, are all free.

All in all, about $130 a year, versus free.

Second, time.

You’ll have to figure our how to install blogging software to the above server, then point your domain name to it. There are plenty of videos on YouTube on how to do this. Some hosting sets, such as HostGator provide automated installation. I’d say 2 hours additional over free sets, if you’ve never done it before (10 minutes if you have).

OK, so with a self-hosted blog we’re looking to use $130 a year and 2 additional hours in set-up. Why would you want to do that when it can be avoided?!?

For freedom and for control.

Do you want to give up control over your site? Hand the keys over to some faceless corporate entity? No? Read on.

Let me tell you a story.

Some time ago, the #1 ranking site on Google for “make money online” was a hosted for free on Blogger.com. It made more money per year than the average American.

Did you know Blogger deleted it?

Why?

Because they could.

They were the owners, and they got to call the shots. Maybe it conflicted with the site policy. Maybe it had some content or HTML code they didn’t approve of. Maybe a Blogger employee got jealous. We’ll never know.

In any case, it’s pretty messed up, I think. A source of income, and all that hard work gone in an moment.

The web is complete of stories like this one, and not just about Blogger.com. All free hosts can, and will do this if they decide to “unlike” you.

You’re only defense is to take matters into your own hands and obtain your own hosting. Which is precisely what I recommend you do.

I found it liberating when I made this step with my blog.

I know from experience that the free great number can feel like an authority standing between you and your audience. Carefully watching what you write, checking the code your site, looking for Terms of Service violations.

Very much like how the government in China and some Middle East countries censors web content.

Why subject yourself and your readers voluntarily for something similar with a free service?!?

You can not put a price on freedom of speech, after all.

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