Blogging is a fun activity – many of us know that by now. And you, of all people, should know that, considering that you’re currently reading this article on the internet.
With blogging, gone are the days that only prominent and professional people can speak their mind for the public to see. There’s just something about sharing your life and your experiences with other people that feels both fulfilling and satisfying. For some, it’s more than just a hobby. It’s a lucrative business all by itself.
But blogging is more than just fun and games, especially if you’re planning to take it to the next level. If you’re really serious about monetizing your site, there are a few things that you have to keep in mind before you can launch your new blog. If you are looking to start a new blog from scratch, I would head over to The Money Pig, they have a great step by step guide starting from scratch all the way up to writing your first blog.
Blogging as a Business
If you want to make blogging your business, you need to treat it like a real business. And like a real business, you need to have a plan that will help you make your blog profitable. In the case of blogging, your plan needs to answer several questions. What is your blog’s niche? Who is your target audience? How are you planning to monetize your site? What’s your hosting plan?
And when it comes to blog hosting, you have two options: free hosting and paid hosting.
Free Hosting vs. Paid Hosting
Thankfully for aspiring bloggers, there are lots of free platforms for blog hosting for those who want to start their own blog as soon as possible.
Some of the most popular free platforms are WordPress, Blogger, Wix, and Tumblr. These four platforms are tried and tested in the blogging industry, and there’s no wonder why. They’re all fairly easy to use and have plenty of customization options, at least for a free platform. Most beginner bloggers have used one, two, or even all of these platforms at least once in their blogging career.
WordPress is an especially popular option, since it looks nice, has a supportive blogging community, and offers a wide variety of options to help beginners get their feet wet in the world of blogging. WordPress also has its own paid subscription option, for those who started out with a free blog and would like to upgrade their hosting.
For those who are already past the beginner stage though, paid hosting is the better option out of the two right from the get-go, and for plenty of reasons too. In fact, here are five reasons why you shouldn’t use free hosting for your blog.
1. It looks unprofessional
If you want to become a professional blogger, then you should steer clear of free blogging platforms as soon as you can.
Nothing screams “amateur blogger” louder than a yourblog.freeblogplatform.com website. Not even the reused themes, the credits in various parts of your site, and the lack of custom features can top that.
After all, your web address attributing a free blogging platform is a dead giveaway that you’re not a professional blogger. When visitors see that, they automatically know that you’re a beginner or a hobbyist, since you obviously don’t have enough money or time to invest in your blog. And even if you do, it still makes you unprofessional, since you obviously don’t care enough about your blog to move it to your own self-hosted domain.
In the eyes of your audience, this means that you’re not someone credible or believable enough for them to use as a reference regarding your specific niche.
You might say, “But my articles are well-researched! I use reference links all throughout my article, I give credit to all the assets I use, and I make sure that everything I write about is 100% correct!”
Unfortunately, your audience won’t care about any of that. All they’ll care about is that this article is written by yourblog.freeblogplatform.com and can’t be used as a reference in school, or at work, or somewhere that they need something that looks reputable, at least.
As mentioned above, a free domain tells your audience that you’re not serious enough about blogging, so they probably shouldn’t take you seriously either. It’s probably not what you’re aiming for, but this is the message that you’ll be conveying to your audience if you don’t upgrade to a paid hosting anytime soon.
Changing your web address alone to yourblog.com goes a long way in making you look more credible and trustworthy to your visitors. This, in turn, can help you greatly in launching a full-time blogging career in the future.
2. You don’t have much control over a free blog
One of the biggest problems of using a free platform for your blog is the lack of control. With a free platform, you don’t have control over most of the elements of your blog. And as it happens, these elements are very important when you’re trying to build up your own professional website.
The truth is, when you’re hosting your blog on a free platform, you don’t really have much control over your own blog. In fact, you’re limited in terms of several aspects, such as themes, plugins, and bandwidth, among others.
While many free blogging platforms offer free themes to go along with your blog, many of these themes lack the customizations that most bloggers would like to have control over.
This goes for even the most basic level of customization, including personalized homepages. Some free themes don’t even allow users to change the colors and fonts of their own blog, which can be very limiting for aspiring bloggers who want to stand out from the crowd.
After all, how can you make your blog truly “you” if you can’t even change the generic font and color that everyone else who downloaded the same free theme as you use?
WordPress has hundreds of thousands of free plugins, but these are only available to users who have upgraded their WordPress plan or are self-hosting their own domain.
The lack of plugin availability is very detrimental to users who only have access to a free WordPress plan, since plugins are very helpful for running a professional website.
Granted, plugins are not entirely necessary–you can get away with a lot of things included in your theme without using a plugin for any of them–but they do make life a whole lot easier. You can install plugins for basically anything that you want to do, such as integrating your social media feeds into your blog, building an email list, or showing new features.
Free blogs tend to load slower than self-hosted blogs, and this is because the bandwidth allocation for a free blog hosting is usually much less compared to paid hosting.
Like any other website on the internet, a free platform can only host so many blogs before it gets bogged down by traffic coming from everywhere. Since you’re competing with thousands of other blogs on the same platform, this can obviously affect the loading times of your blog.
Sadly, blog loading speeds can greatly affect your blog’s traffic. According to online research, users tend to click out of a blog if it loads longer than 4 seconds. Time is definitely gold, and in a world where everything can be accessed in just a single click, even a few seconds can make a whole difference.
3. It’s usually poor quality
Free blogs are usually recognizable by one other trait: they usually don’t look as nice as paid blogs.
This is usually due to the fact that free blogs are limited in terms of themes and features, so oftentimes, free blog owners don’t have much choice. At least sites like Wix and Blogger allows outside themes to be used. In WordPress though, users who don’t have a paid hosting subscription are limited to a pool of plain themes on-site. They can’t download a theme from outside and incorporate it within their blog if they wish, and they also can’t use plugins to spice up their blog. They’re basically left with a blog that looks like every other free blog that uses the same free theme.
There’s also the fact that many free themes are simply not as well-designed or as feature-filled than paid themes, which makes a lot of sense. If most free themes are comparable to paid themes, why pay for a paid theme, right? Developers put a lot of hard work into the themes, and any other blog asset, that they’re selling, so that you can get the best value out of those products. That’s what you’re paying for; that’s why you need to upgrade to a paid hosting.
4. Lack of support from developers
And speaking of paid blog assets, owners of free blogs will also know that it’s hard to get support from developers if you’re not a paying customer.
Have you ever heard the saying, “if you want premium service, you have to pay premium price”? This saying applies even to
Of course, there are plenty of developers who are simply passionate about their products and will gladly answer any questions presented to them, even if the asker isn’t strictly a customer.
However, most of them wouldn’t go out of their way to help you out with your issue unless you paid for the product. In fact, many web developers include dev support in the package when you’re purchasing a digital product from them, be it a blog theme or a plugin.
5. You can’t monetize it
It’s safe to say that most, if not all, bloggers would love to make money from their site. After all, who wouldn’t?
We see all these bloggers all the time, traveling all over the world, leading their own businesses, and taking control of their own life, on their own terms. No more restrictive 9-5 schedules for these blogging celebrities! They’re literally living the dream, and that’s only because they chose to get serious with their blog.
Unfortunately for aspiring bloggers out there, it’s virtually impossible to monetize a free site. If you can’t even monetize your site, then you won’t be able to turn blogging into a job. It’s just not logically possible.
There are some free platforms that allow advertisements, such as Blogger, for example, but the vast majority don’t allow monetization on a free blog. In fact, you’ll usually find their own advertisements on your blog. Free WordPress blogs usually have WordPress advertisements on their pages, but the owner doesn’t get a cent from those advertisements. That’s partly how these platforms can earn from free blogs, even if they don’t get the money directly from the blog owners themselves.
If you’re thinking of applying for sponsorships or partnerships, then you better look elsewhere, because very few companies are willing to partner with a blogger who doesn’t even have his or her own domain. How will they trust someone who doesn’t even have their own brand attached to their blog?
Oftentimes, free blogging platforms will not allow you to implement third-party advertising or monetize in other ways. If you want to monetize your blog by selling direct ads or sponsored posts, or create a premium membership site, you’re probably going to be limited by a blogging platform’s terms of service or technical restrictions. With self-hosted WordPress, you own your site, so you can monetize it in any way you want.
6. Search engines don’t like you
Professional bloggers know that the key to gaining more traffic is to rank high on search engines.
If you’re not ranking on search engines like Google, you’re not going to see a lot of activity on your site, unless you put in a lot of active effort, as it’s very rare to get huge traffic with few organic visitors. If you’re highly-ranked on search engines, however, you can be sure that you’ll get blog traffic even when you’re sleeping soundly on your bed.
Ideally, most bloggers aim to get their blog on the first or second page of Google. If your page is on the third page onwards, it’s as good as invisible, as it’s very rare for people to venture into those pages.
Wondering how you can achieve that? Three words: search engine optimization, or SEO for short.
SEO is the backbone of organic blog traffic. If your blog is perfectly optimized for search engines, you’ll get a much higher chance at getting ranked on Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo, or other search engines out there. This translates to a higher organic traffic and therefore, the possibility to gain more followers on your blog.
Unfortunately, bloggers who use free platforms don’t get the same treatment from search engines. As a matter of fact, search engines are more likely to rank paid blogs much higher than free blogs, even if the latter is a hundred times better in terms of content.
That’s mainly because, like your target audience, search engines will not see you as a reputable and credible source, and thus not allow you to grace their front page results no matter how good your blog posts and articles may be.
7. You don’t own your blog
Many free blogging platforms include a clause in their terms of service that state that they can immediately delete your entire site without warning if you violate their terms of service. They may even have ownership of your content. With self-hosted WordPress, you retain ownership and control of everything posted. Still, you should make sure to back-up your site!
As you can see, there are many downsides to using a free platform to host your blog. In fact, there are so many downsides that even its price (or lack, thereof) isn’t worth all the hassle.
One of the best options for paid hosting is Bluehost. You can get their beginner shared hosting plan for as little as $2.95 per month, or $2.45 if you use this link to sign up. With this plan, you get one free domain, free SSL, and tons of customization options. Bluehost even lets you create free personal emails to help you look even more professional to your audience! The monthly price is less than the cost of a daily coffee cup, so what are you waiting for?
Even if you think that a free blog will do for now, the truth is, it’s really much better to start strong right from the get-go. If you’re really serious about taking your blogging career to the next level, then get away from free platforms and transfer your blog to a self-hosted domain as soon as possible.