Hosted vs Self Hosted Book Blog | Where to Go?
Planning to start a book blog but got confused between hosted platform and self hosted platform.
Both platforms have their pros and cons, and are used by book bloggers extensively. But let’s compare hosted vs self hosted blogs so you can begin book blogging on the right foot.
What is a Hosted Blog?
A hosted blog is a one stop solution for all your blogging needs. One company provides you the domain name, blogging software, blog design, marketing tools and other help to build and run the book blog. It is easy and fast to start a blog on a hosted platform.
You enter the book blog name, select a plan, and pick a theme for your book blog. From there you can write the book review, publish author interviews and make some custom changes to your blog.
But the biggest problem of hosting, domain name, managing the technical aspect is taken care of by the hosted platform. However, your blog is on someone else’s land, and they can bring it down if they feel you are violating their policies. So Zero Freedom.
Pros of Hosted Blog:
Low Cost: Most of the hosted blog platform offers freemium version. You can start blogging with the free edition, but there will be so many limitation restricting the growth. Wix, Bloggers and WordPress.com have a freemium version. The beginner plans are inexpensive, and you can easily find WordPress.com coupons to reduce the pricing more.
Easy to Use: Hosted blog makes it easier to start blogging by taking care of everything. The user interface enable technical newbie to build a full fledged blog in a few hours. The hosting, software, security, tools and maintenance is managed by the platform.
Cons of Hosted Blog:
Hidden Fee: Hosted blogs are free, but there are hidden charges. When you try to scale your book blog, you will find need various function which cost $$$. Every plugin and extension have a separate monthly charge.
Limited Functions: Hosted platforms come with popular functions. You cannot manually add any specific functions. So the functionality is limited and you can only use the tools offered by the platform.
Restrictions: The hosted platform has terms of services and content policies. There could be restrictions on what you can publish your content on, what ads you can show or what message you can send to your subscribers. You cannot violate them or they will remove your blog.
For example, this snippet from policy says that Automattic has authority to show ads on your blog, unless you pay them.
Control: Restriction, and limited functions. You are not completely in control over your blog. In exchange for inconvenience, you are giving away the freedom.
Moving Away: Many blogging platforms do not allow you to move away from their blog. You cannot just take your book reviews and move to a different platform.
What is a self-hosted blog?
A self-hosted blog means you are hosting the blog on your servers. Basically the servers you buy from someone else, but you have access and decision making power over the servers.
There are many freely available hosting applications and the most popular is WordPress.org. You have to install the free software on your server. As you would be responsible for each section of the blog – maintenance, security, design and speed – you will have complete control over it.
Pros of Self Hosted Blog:
Flexibility: With total control, comes the power to make changes. The best part of self hosted blogs are you can do whatever you can imagine with it. Your skills and creativity is the only limit.
Add-Ons: Plugins, extensions or add-ons — the open source software usually has many programs to enhance their functionality. Need an email marketing solution? A simple plugin would do that for you. This way you can only implement the functions you need, and avoid making the book blog bulky.
Designs: Similar to plugins, free application comes with many themes. The third party companies also make themes for these application. And these themes are customizable so you can make changes according to your liking.
Search Engine Optimization: Self hosted platforms are found to be more SEO friendly. Hosted platforms usually add the restrictions and only the premium buyer can have access to SEO tools. This is not the case with the self-hosted blog, and you can use the plugins to make your book reviews discoverable in Google search results.
Low Cost: Software is free to install, but you will need a server to install it on. And a domain name to access it. These things are not that costly. Once you have them, you can use the free options (theme & plugins) to run your blog till you start earning money with it.
Community support: Most of the freely available blogging softwares like WordPress & Joomla have great community support because they are built and maintained by the volunteers. People have been using them for years, and they have solutions for every problem you encounter.
Ready to Ditch: Whenever you feel like it, you can wrap up and move to a different blogging platform. This is what makes a self-hosted platform so cool. There is no lock in.
Cons of Self Hosted Blog:
Not Free: With Free means, the freedom to use in any way you like, not FREE to use. There are costs associated with it, starting from hosting and domain name to paid themes, plugins and email marketing tools.
Learning curve: You have to learn to use the new platform. How to use the software, managing the plugins, updates, upgrades, security and speed optimizations. This is the key differentiator between hosted and self hosted blogs. Hosted blogs let you focus on writing while taking care of everything else.
New responsibilities: More power and control means more responsibilities. Now you have to ensure your book blog is protected from hackers, and compliant with various government laws if you are collecting the user’s data.
What is best for your blog?
Self-host is always a better option for you. The hosting only costs less than $5 dollars a year, and domain name is only $8-10 a year. So basically it’s less than $20 a year for the entire setup.
But if you go with popular blogging software like WordPress, you will learn using WordPress, which is a great skill in this content creator economy. You will learn to make websites, marketing and many things with the self-host blog. The responsibilities upgrade you.
Or you can contact me. I am doing all of this for a long time and can assist you with this.
Also, there is no harm in making a hosted blog and testing the water yourself. But don’t do anything serious in a rented place.