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If you started blogging on a free website such as WordPress.com you might be wondering what self-hosting means and how it can benefit you. And if you’d like to grow your blog and make money blogging, self-hosting will be something you are going to need to get familiar with!
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What Does it Mean to Self-Host Your Blog?
First, what does it mean exactly to self-host your blog? Self-hosting means you own your website and you choose a company to store (or “host”) your website.
With free platforms such as WordPress.com, you don’t actually own your website. If you want to move and go somewhere else, you need to abandon your site.
Generally, self-hosting can range anywhere from $2/month to $40+/month depending on what you are looking for, but for a simple blog, you’d likely only need a hosting plan that is under $10/month. On WordPress, when you switch over to self-hosting, you go from WordPress.com to WordPress.org.
So essentially, WordPress.com is the free version whereas WordPress.org is the self-hosted version!
What Are the Benefits of Self-Hosting Your Blog?
Self-hosting opens up a world of opportunity to customize your website and monetize your blog! If you are currently using the free version of WordPress (aka WordPress.com) let me explain how self-hosting will benefit your blog.
You Own Your Blog
When using the free version of WordPress, your content is owned by WordPress and they have the right to take your site down at any given moment. Just take a look at this snippet from their Terms of Service:
“[we] may terminate your access to all or any part of the Website at any time, with or without cause, with or without notice, effective immediately.”
If you plan to invest a lot of time and energy into your blog, you will want to make sure you actually own the content.
You Can Monetize Your Blog
You don’t have the ability to put ads onto the free version of WordPress to help you earn an income. In fact, WordPress puts ads on your blog, but you don’t get any income from it. You also don’t get to choose which ads are shown on your blog on the free version. You can remove these ads from your blog at a cost of $36/year, however, that’s nearly the same amount as it costs to self-host. So if you’re going to spend the money, you might as well use it for self-hosting!
You Can Customize Your Blog
WordPress.com has a limited selection of free themes that you can use to style your blog. While these themes aren’t terrible, they are certainly overused and don’t allow you to stand out.
If you self-host, you have thousands of themes to choose from and can customize your blog as much as you like. You can also hire a professional blog designer to design and stylize something that is totally custom to your brand.
You Can Build An Email List
Self-hosting your blog means you have the ability to add plugins to your website – which basically means a lot more functionality! With the extra plugins and customizability that come with self-hosting, you are also able to easily build an email list.
While it is possible to build an email list through WordPress.com, you can’t actually collect the emails right on your website, as it requires a bit of customization with your site to do so. Instead, you would need to direct email subscribers to a third-party landing page. Doing so could cause your opt-in rates to plummet (because nobody wants to be directed to several pages to input their email).
Self-hosting makes it incredibly easy to build an email list, as you can add sign up forms and popups directly to your blog, making it easy for your readers to subscribe and download content!
It’s Better For SEO
In terms of SEO, you have a much better chance of ranking higher in Google with a self-hosted website as opposed to using WordPress.com.
In your self-hosted site, you have access to helpful plugins such as Yoast that can help your SEO by allowing you to easily update your metadata, add Google Search Console and keep track of your keywords.
It’s More Professional
Aside from being able to design a more professional-looking blog through being self-hosted, using a free domain just doesn’t look professional. WordPress.com tacks “wordpress” onto the domain you are given, so instead of www.dananicoledesigns.com, if I was using the free version of WordPress, my domain would be: dananicoledesigns.wordpress.com.
If you’re a hobby blogger, that’s likely not a big deal! However, if you’d like to appear professional you will at least want to make sure you have your own domain.
Brands Will Be More Likely To Reach Out To You
Expanding on the point above about professionalism, brands want to work with bloggers who don’t have clunky, free websites. Afterall, they will be sending you product to promote to your audience on your blog and free blogs don’t have enough professional-flair to invite brands to collaborate with you.
If you are interested in working with brands, self-hosted is the way to go.
Which Hosting Company is the Best For Bloggers?
Whether you are a blogger or small business, there is only one web hosting company that I recommend to all my clients. In fact, they are the hosting company I have been using for myself since I started and I don’t have any plans of leaving!
Siteground* is my number one recommended hosting company and coming in at $6.99 per month, they are pretty dang affordable! Some of the reasons I love Siteground is because they are:
And they also help you migrate your old WordPress blog to the self-hosted version!
Their support is also top-notch and as a web designer, I don’t recommend my clients to anyone else.
If you are currently using the free version of WordPress and see the benefits of switching to self-hosting, Siteground will help you switch over and get you all set up on your self-hosted account!
Self-hosting your blog will allow you to:
- own your content
- make money from affiliate links
- advertise on your blog
- build an email list
- have better SEO
- appear more professional
- work with brands
What about you? Have you ever thought about self-hosting your content? Let me know in the comments below!
This article contains affiliate links. I only refer products that I love and use myself!
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Dana Nicole is an award-winning freelance writer for MarTech/SaaS who was rated one of the best SaaS writers by Software World. She specializes in writing engaging content that ranks high in search engines and has been featured in publications like Semrush, ConvertKit, and Hotjar.
Dana holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and has over 15 years of experience working alongside national brands in their marketing departments.
When Dana’s not working, you can find her dancing en pointe, cooking up new recipes, and exploring the great outdoors with her two big dogs.