Something that new bloggers or those that have been blogging on a free blogging platform often ask is whether or not they should go self-hosted. Most experienced bloggers will tell you without flinching to go with self-hosted. But, do you really need to be on a self-hosted site?
Yes, you really do! Especially, if you have any plans to monetize your blog.
This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase using one of these links, I will make a commission. Please see my disclosure for more information.
That being said, I completely understand that having a self-hosted site is not in everyone's budget, especially at the start. If this is the case for you, don't worry, many bloggers start off with a free site and switch to self-hosted at a later time. This is what I did with my first blog. However, my recommendation is, if it is possible, start with self-hosted. Especially, if you are starting your blog as a business - make the investment!
The Benefits of Being Self-Hosted
You are in control.
When you are using a free site, the site controls your content. They own your blog, not you. This means that if for some reason, the site were to shut down your content would be lost. When you aren't self-hosted you are also not in control of the ads on your site because, well, free is not really free. The way that the company is able to offer you this “free” site is through selling ad space and you have no control over what ads are being placed there.
You can monetize more easily (or at all).
You can’t embed affiliate or ad links (like Google AdSense) on free blogs. This is something I didn’t realize and actually wasted money on upgrades only to find out that the only way to use these was to be self-hosted. By the way, this is another way your “free” platform makes money through selling site upgrades.
Hackers could get into your site and even take your domain name (even “small” blogs). If this were to happen on a free site, all would be lost. Self-hosted sites are much more secure. Often times you wouldn’t even be aware of hackers because they handle it before it becomes a problem. In the event, that there is a larger security issue, you have the provider’s support. Again, they handle it. And, most importantly, all is not lost.
When choosing a host there are two main things to consider: speed and uptime. If your page is slow you will lose readers. Also, “uptime” refers to the amount of time your site is available.
So, there’s my case for self-hosting.
However, as I said earlier, I know it’s not always in the budget for everyone when starting a blog. Here’s the good news… you absolutely can switch later. If you plan to do this, though, make sure your platform can be easily transferred.
Also, when choosing a host make sure they handle the transfer for you. If you want to transfer an existing site (or if you want to use WordPress), I recommend going with Siteground as your host. They have excellent customer service and will make the transfer seamless. You can even chat with them prior to becoming a customer and they will answer any questions you have.
This blog is on Squarespace but I have used SiteGround in the past and my reasons for starting this blog on Squarespace had nothing to do with SiteGround whatsoever I would (and have) happily start another website with SiteGround!