Saturday, 7 March 2009

Self Hosted versus Externally Hosted Blogs

So you have decided you want to start your very own blog. Be it for recreational or business purposes, the decision has been made.

But there are so many variables and so many possibilities that just deciding on the one, supposedly simple thing opens a whole basket of questions

In the next few posts we will discuss a few of the recurring questions that newbie bloggers have asked me

Today the question is self hosted or externally hosted blog. Which is best ?

The answer to this depends on what you want to do with your blog. Now as this is an Internet marketing blog, I will target my answer at people who are into marketing online.

Before we get into the discussion we will go over the pros and cons of each type

Self hosted blogs.

These are blogs that you host with your own registered domain name on a hosting server that you have paid for.

Pros of self hosted blogs

  • Control. What you do with your blog is totally under your control. The limits to what you can do with your self hosted blog are dictated by the limits of your technical ability or that of the blog designer you employ. Limitations with regards to templates, design, bandwidth which could be an issue with externally hosted blogs are eradicated by self hosting

  • Domain name. Quite important for some, especially businesss blogs. Some would argue that it is easier to brand your own domain name than a dot blogspot or domain name. Also may have a more professional feel to have your own domain name

Cons of self hosted blogs

  • Money. You need to pay to register the domain name and for the hosting account

  • Set Up. Although you could get a free blogging platform and use this for your self hosted blog e.g the wordpress platform, setting your blog up is more technically difficulted thann the externally hosted blogs.

Externally hosted blogs.

These are blogs where you can create an account for your self but which are hosted on someone else's server, usually free, and which is partially controlled by them

Pros of externally hosted blogs

  • Free. Most of the external blog hosts e.g, blogger, typepad, livejournal are free to use. All you need is a valid email address

  • Easy to Set up. The blogging platforms for the externally hosted blogs are usually user friendly and come with a selection of pre-made templates. There is often also a short walk through introduction, making things really easy

  • Easier to run. Running a blog does not only involve putting up blog posts. There are also other factors like permalinks for each post, automatic pinging, comment forms, comment moderation, generation of RSS feeds. All these are done automatically with the external blogging platforms like wordpress and blogger

  • Leg Up. The externally hosted blogging platforms like blogger already have a wide network of blogs with reputation. By hosting your blog on this network, you blog gets a little leg up with regards to rapid indexing and getting some traffic

Cons of externally hosted blogs

  • Loss of content. Because these blogs are hosted on someone else's servers, they can and occasionally do delete blogs at little notice. Can be a problem because even if your account is re-instated the content is often deleted permanently

  • Unwieldy templates. The selection of templates for these platforms are rather limited and restrict what you can do with them when it comes to page lay out and add ons. If you are savvy with HTML, you can sometimes get around this but for most newbie bloggers, the option is to try and get the template that most closely fits your requirements

  • Domain name. The domain name of the free hosted blogging platforms is only partially within your control. They almost always have URLs that give them away as free hosted blogs. for example the blogger blogs tend to have .blogspot in the domain name

So how does all this apply to an Internet marketer. Again it really depends on what you want to achieve with the blog

Get Backlinks. If you have a primary money making site and all you are trying to do is get backlinks from the blog to your site, then I would suggest a free hosted blog as the ideal option. The advantages are

  • Free. You really do not want to spend money getting backlinks. Especially if you can get them for free
  • IP address. You want the links pointing back to your pages to be from a different IP address than the site you are trying to boost in the search engines. With a blogger or other externally hosted blogging platform, you can be sure that the IP will be different from the server your home site is hosted on
  • Replicate. Because they are free, you can build several different blogs on the different free blogging platforms all with links pointing back to your money making site. This means a bunch of links from different IPs all free, all with relevant content [because you have written the content] pointing back to your website.

Your main money making page

If you intend to make the blog your main online presence then I would recommend a self hosted blog. For these reasons

  • Domain name. You want a domain name that is unique and short and hopefully brandable. .blogspot is just not brandable except maybe for blogger and Google. But you want to have your own stamp on your main business page so a self hosted blog with your own brandable domain name is the way to go
  • Control. You really cannot afford for your business blog to disappear overnight. Just is not good for business. Self hosting your own blog ensures that your blog will be up at least 96 to 99% of the time [depending on which hosting service you are with]
  • Versatility. With self hosting, the variety if things you can easily do with your blogs is vastly increased. Opt in forms, scripts, databases, videos are just a few
  • Bandwidth. With free hosted blogs there is a limit to the bandwidth you are allocated. But if your blog becomes successful with a ton of visitors coming everyday, videos to watch and ebooks to download, your bandwidth will soon be used up. With self hosted blogs you can buy more bandwidth as the amount of traffic and usage of your blog increases.

Whatever option you decide on there are free video tutorials on setting up your blog at how to build a blog

Till next time

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