Which Blog Host is Right for Me? | “So You Wanna Start a Blog?” Series

September 24, 2015

I am LOVING the feedback I’m getting from you guys on last week’s first post in my “So You Wanna Start a Blog?” series! I’m so excited about this series and I’m glad you are, too!

I really want to answer all of your questions, so make sure you’re asking them – leave them in the comments or shoot me an email. 馃檪

This week is going to be not super interesting, but it is聽extremely聽important because it’s, LITERALLY the foundation for your blog! Today I’m going to highlight some of the options that are out there for hosting your blog. This is where you’re creating your content, uploading your images, formatting your design… everything! Without your host… you have no blog! 馃檪

These are going to be the most common options out there for blog hosting… and while a lot of it is personal preference, the rest of it is really about what you want to do with your blog and whether or not you want to be a hobbyist or a career blogger.

Enough intro… let’s get to it!

WordPress.com

wordpresscom

This is actually where I started my blogging career. WordPress.com is free to use and very user friendly for getting a blog set up. It has a lot of different options and even ways to upgrade different features like design, URL, etc.

I blogged using WordPress.com for about two years before I finally made the switch over to self-hosted WordPress (which I will get to next…). I ultimately switched because WordPress.com does not allow a lot of features that you really do need when you’re going to be blogging full time. It’s not as easily customizable… You just have to think of it this way: it’s free, so you’re going to be limited in what you can do.

PROS

  • Easy to use
  • Quick to set up
  • A lot of theme options
  • Great for SEO (search engine optimization)

CONS

  • Limited customization (for free, you can pay to customize)
  • Inability to download plugins
  • Not compatible with Javascript
  • A lot of ad networks are not applicable

Self-Hosted WordPress.org

wordpressorg

This is the king of all blog hosting services. This is what I use. Yes, it does require a bit of a financial investment. Yes, it does have a bit of a learning curve… BUT, the CMS (content management system) is SUPER easy to use and once you get it all set up, you’re good to go.

There are A LOT of great basic themes that you can use off the bat, or you can invest in purchasing a fancier theme and customizing it how you would like.

For about the first four or five years I was on WordPress.org, I did everything myself. I was completely self-taught and just looked at online tutorials. Then, about a year and a half ago, I realized that I was just very limited in what I could聽actually聽do and I had maxed out my skill set with regards to design and coding of my blog.

I wanted to do more, but I knew that I had to get help. SO, my friend Garrett helped me with some development and my friend Johnna helped me with design and updating my branding. They were SO awesome and really helped me bring my vision to life.

I’m in the EARLY stages of planning another redesign and rebrand, and I know I will use Garrett and Johnna again!

SO, the moral of the story is… it depends on what you want to do. But WordPress.org gives you ALL the freedom and autonomy to REALLY do what you want to do when it comes to your blog. You can keep it as simple as you want or you can get incredibly intricate.

WordPress.org is, also, the most professional platform for hosting your website or blog. Nearly every blogger I know that really wants to make blogging a career eventually migrates to WordPress.org. So, I very much recommend (personally), just starting out so you don’t have to migrate down the road. Because migration is a PAIN.

PROS

  • Great for blogs of ALL sizes
  • Ability to REALLY customize and make the site your own
  • Open Source
  • HUGE community – there are THOUSANDS of forums, themes, support features, etc. out there specifically for WordPress.org users. It’s a very friendly community you can get help from.
  • Plugins!!

CONS

  • Can take a little bit of a learning curve (not always, but a little)
  • Possibly TOO many options out there
  • Can be prone to some security hacks
  • Costs money and definitely requires an investment… but if you’re just starting out, the investment is not much! You invest more as your blog grows.

Here is a FANTASTIC infographic that shows in a little more detail, the differences between .com and .org WordPress. (source)

platformcomparison

Blogger

blogger

A LOT of bloggers use Blogger. There are certainly successful bloggers who use Blogger. Blogger is free to use and is a great starting point for beginner bloggers. Since I don’t, personally, use Blogger, I reached out to a blogging friend of mine who DOES and had her share her thoughts and opinions:

“I’ve been using Blogger for a little over 4 years now. I chose to use Blogger when I first started my blog back in 2011 because of how easy it is to use. I still love Blogger for that reason, and because it’s really easy for me to tweak the layout of my blog on my own. What I don’t love about Blogger is it lacks plug in’s like WordPress has which would be really beneficial, such as additional analytics and SEO.” – Angela Keeley-White of聽HeadToToeChic.com

SquareSpace

squarespace

I actually know very, VERY little about SquareSpace. So, similar to Blogger, I asked someone who DOES have experience with it. My friend Samantha!

“I would say that SquareSpace works great for a small business, in particular. There are several great layout choices to choose from and a lot of examples of other businesses, consultants, and photographers that have used SquareSpace well. There is a yearly fee for it, but it is relatively small when you consider all that is included: the designs look professional and the domain purchasing and hosting come with that fee. There are less customization options, which is why ultimately I kept my primary blog on WordPress, but for someone who needs a good structure it’s actually better to have less customization options. All in all, a very easy set-up for a site I wanted to create and not have to worry about constantly updating and adjusting.

If you have more questions, let me know! Oh and if you want to see it:聽samanthagratton.com.” – Samantha Gratton, SamanthaGratton.com

Wix

wix

Honestly, here’s what I know about Wix: It’s easy to use… but Google HATES it. For some reason, Google is just not a fan of Wix and pushes any Wix site WAY down the list, if they can help it.

So, honestly, there are WAY more user friendly options out there… Forget Wix. It’s not worth it. Just trust me!

I realize this is my personal opinion, but in my experience… just skip it. 馃檪聽

I’d love to hear from you guys…

If you’re a blogger, what platform do YOU use? Do you like it? Why or why not? Are you thinking of starting a blog? Sound off in the comments!