There are many people who like to use free blogs not just for the enjoyment and personal satisfaction of writing down their thoughts and publishing them on the web, but also for Internet Marketing purposes in the pursuit of making money. Likewise, there are many people who prefer to buy their own domains and host them on a professional server, for much the same purpose.
So is one really better than the other?
As this is an Internet Marketing flavored blog, we’ll leave the bloggers who blog for enjoyments sake to their own and take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of the two options open to those that want to use these different outlets as vehicles for making money.
First up, lets take initial startup and running costs of the two sides of this debate.
A free blog will cost you zero dollars to acquire, zero dollars to set up and zero dollars to run. Ok, that’s pretty convincing for anyone without much cash to start their own online enterprise.
A hosted domain will cost you the price of buying and registering the domain, currently you can buy and register a .com for less than $10. Then there’s the cost of hosting, although currently you can get good hosting for as little as $4.95 a month, although you might want to pay a little more and get a package with more features. Either way, you can find very good professional hosting for less than $10 a month. The other running cost is the annual registration of the domain, which is currently less than $10. So for an outlay in your first year of around $130 you can have all the benefits and control that a hosted account will give you. Even if you are short of cash, that is one expense that is easy enough to cover as the hosting part isn’t paid all in one go, but spread over 12 monthly payments.
So far so good. Now lets look at the fringe benefits.
Free blogs have great, easy to use templates and are the simplest things set up and start writing. Ads are easy to include with Blogger blogs, although some platforms, notably WordPress won’t let you put any ads up at all.
A self hosted blog is also fairly straightforward to set up, with a huge selection of free templates. There is no problem over displaying ads, its your site so you can put up whatever you want.
Now lets look at the stickier point of control and ownership.
I’ve heard using free blogs as opposed to self hosted domains likened to the difference between renting an apartment and owning your own home. Nice comparison and it fits very well.
With a free blog, you’re only renting the space. If the owner (Blogger, for instance) decides they don’t like your face, they can at their discretion, suspend or even delete your blog. The content on that free blog may be yours in principle, but when it comes to what the search engines see, that content belongs to Blogger.
With a self hosted domain, you own that piece of cyberspace like its a piece of real estate. No one can take it away from you and the content is yours. If you’ve worked real hard on your site and gained a lot of authority, just like a home that you own you can sell that site with the domain for a hefty profit down the line.
With a free blog, as with a rented apartment, no matter how hard you work on it and how much authority and value it gets, you can never sell it.
There are other advantages and disadvantages to both, such as guaranteed uptime, storage space and bandwidth limits that self hosted beats free hosted hands down, but the main advantage of self hosted over free hosted has to be the real estate value, which, just as with the argument for renting or buying a property, you have to ask yourself this question. Do you want to have the option to sell it down the line and profit from it?
I prefer to own my own home rather than rent. Likewise, I prefer to own my own cyber real estate too.