WordPress Free Blog Vs. WordPress Self Hosted Blog
If you’re starting out in Blogging, or just looking to start a new blog as an experiment, this can be an important debate to have with yourself, do you go with WordPress’ free hosting and stick to a .wordpress.com domain, or do you go all out, pay for hosting, download the software from wordpress.org, get yourself a domain and self host your wordpress blog? There a pros and cons to both, and it definitely depends on what you’re looking to do with your blog, here’s my take on the best course of action.
The first question to ask is “how serious am I about this?”, if the answer to that question is based on you just wanting a hobby or to write a few thoughts and share with your friends, then a free WordPress blog is completely sufficient. Unless you actually want to learn more about the art of blogging, drive a lot of organic traffic or create a brand about your webspace, free is probably the route for you.
The flip side of the coin is of course, wanting to dominate with your blog. You’ve researched your keywords and the market for the information you want to provide, you’ve got advertising options planned or a product to sell (affiliate or your own) and you’re hell bent on number one spot on google, I’ll tell you right now that a free wordpress domain probably wont get you to where you need to be, and certainly wont be as good (certainly in google’s eyes) as if it is on it’s own domain. The benefits of it being on its own domain are clear. Firstly, you have the option of putting keywords in the domain, for example a website on tropical fish may go under the domain of tropicalfish.com, which will help it rank highly on Google. You can of course try and get tropicalfish.wordpress.com, but wordpress.com will always be the main domain, and your tropical fish section is always a subdomain within. From a branding perspective, a self hosted wordpress is 100% better, you can have your own email address, and a domain you’ll be happier to share and create a brand out of, it’s all about image and you might well feel better about sharing a .com domain than a wordpress one.
Of course, it’s not always this simple and black and white. For example, you may already have a few blogs, and be doing some keyword research on other niches. I remember times when I’ve found a keyword which I’m not quite sure whether warrants paying the money for hosting and domain. On these occasions, it is sometimes good to have a wordpress for research purposes. If you create the content and start to promote your wordpress free blog and start to see results, you’ve got more of an indication that it’s worth moving on to a self hosted blog. You can even migrate everything you’ve done on your free blog over to your hosted. Of course, the disadvantage of this is backlinks – if people have linked to your wordpress site, and you then move over to a new domain, those links will be redundant and will damage both your traffic and your SEO backlinks.
In my opinion, if you’re in any doubt at all in this debate, it is best to take the plunge. If you’ve done your research, the chances that your website will make a loss are slim. Look at it this way, if you go and take advantage of an offer on my web hosts of choice 1and1(usa, UK link here), you’re going to spend a few dollars a month on hosting, and a few dollars a year on the domain. Do you have faith that you’ll at least make 30 or 40 dollars over a YEAR (10 cents a day) to cover these costs? It shouldn’t be too much of a challenge, and justifies taking the plunge and going for it. You can even go for a middle ground. 1and1 often offer .info domains (not quite as good for SEO but better than a wordpress domain) for a bargain price of £0.99 here in the UK or $0.99 in the USA, what have you honestly got to lose?