What is self-hosting and why should you do it?
February 22, 2019
As a blogger, you’ve no doubt heard people mention self-hosted blogs many times but you might not be completely sure what this is and whether you need it.
We’ve put together an easy to follow guide on what self-hosting means and why you should have a self-hosted blog…
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, we may receive a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.
What does self-hosting mean?
Self-hosting is when you pay a web hosting company to store your blog on its servers – essentially your blog lives on servers they own and manage.
The web host will usually charge a fee to do this but paying a small monthly fee to have a self-hosted website gives you more opportunities to customise and monetise your blog.
Are there free blog hosting sites?
There are ways that you can blog without paying for hosting. A non-hosting website such as Blogger, Wix, Tumblr or WordPress.com will allow you to store your blog on their servers for free. However, these options will limit what you can do to your blog.
What is the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org?
You might be confused between WordPress.com and WordPress.org and unsure which one to go with.
WordPress.com is free to set up and is non-hosted. WordPress will host your blog for you for no charge but you won’t be able to make many changes or install custom plugins. You cannot install Google Analytics or adverts on a free WordPress.com blog.
WordPress.org is the version you need to use if you want to have a self-hosted WordPress blog and your own domain name. Various hosting companies such as Siteground will help you to install your WordPress blog on their servers. With WordPress.org you can install plugins, Google Analytics, customise your theme, and monetise your blog with adverts.
The difference between web hosting and self-hosting all lies in how much you are allowed to customise your own website.
How much does it cost to set up a self-hosted blog?
The cost of setting up a self-hosted blog depends on which hosting provider you use. You’ll see many different companies recommended by bloggers and it’s up to you which one you pick. Don’t just go for the cheapest though as this will usually be reflected in their level of service. Pick a host with good reviews and great ongoing support as well as a reasonable monthly cost.
We’ve used several different hosting companies since we started blogging 4 years ago and the most reliable one we have come across (and the only one we would recommend) is Siteground – we are currently in our second year of hosting 2 blogs with them.
The monthly cost to self-host a WordPress blog with Siteground is £2.75 per month. If you have a free WordPress.com blog, Siteground will also help you to migrate it to their servers.
What are the benefits of choosing a self-hosted blog
If you want to take your blog seriously then it’s worth spending a small amount of money each month to have a self hosting website.
Our top four reasons to choose a self-hosted blog are:
#1 You have full control
If you self-host your website then you own the site and all of the content on it. When you use a free blog hosting platform they own your website and can delete your content or close your blog down at any time. They can also place ads on your blog without you having a say in the type of ads or getting any share of the revenue.
When you own your blog you can make it look exactly as you want it to in terms of design, functionality and adverts.
#2 It looks more professional
If you want to get noticed by PR companies and brands, or even turn your blog into a business, then self hosted is the only way to go. It’s very easy to see at a glance which bloggers are using free platforms and companies will pick self-hosted blogs to work with where possible.
Most hosting providers will give you a free domain name when you start your blog with them which allows you to choose a unique name for your website. This is the difference between having a domain name like www.wakeupandblog.co.uk or a free domain such as www.wakeupandblog.wordpress.com – we’ll let you decide for yourself which one looks more professional!
#3 You can monetise your blog
As mentioned already, you can only monetise your blog with a self-hosted website. If you choose a free blogging platform it isn’t possible to make an income from your blog.
If you want a return on all your hard work, there are various ways you can make money from your website including adverts, affiliate links and sponsored posts.
So really it’s a no brainer to go self-hosted – you only have to part with a small amount of money each month but could end up generating a decent income stream.
#4 Self-hosting helps with SEO
You can’t blog without hearing about SEO and why it’s so important to get your blog noticed. A good SEO strategy is vital in getting your website appearing in the search engine results – take a look at our 7 easy SEO tips if you’re not sure where to start.
There are many more SEO benefits and opportunities with a self-hosted blog. You can optimise your content and install WordPress plugins to help with search engine optimisation.
Google puts more trust in websites with custom domain names and fast loading servers, both of which a hosting company such as Siteground can offer you. The more trust Google has in your blog, the higher it will rank.
Are you using a free blogging platform? Now might be a good time to go self-hosted. Here's what it all means and how it could benefit your blog... Click To Tweet
How to set up a self-hosted blog in 5 steps
So you now understand what a self-hosted website is and why it is important, but how do you get started self hosting a website?
It might sound scary and technical but going self-hosted is much easier than it sounds. Here are 5 steps to get your self-hosted blog up and running…
#1 Choose a host
First of all, you need to choose where you are going to self-host your blog. We would always recommend Siteground and you can start for just £2.75 per month.
#2 Buy a domain name
You will need your own domain name and can usually get a free domain with your hosting. If not, do a Google search to see which company has the best deal. If you buy the domain name separately, you can always transfer it to your hosting provider later on.
#3 Install WordPress
Next, you need to choose which platform you are going to use to blog. We have only ever used WordPress so we wouldn’t recommend anything else to manage your blog. It’s easy to get started with, good hosting providers like Siteground will help you to set it up, and if you already have a free WordPress website you can easily export it to your hosting company,
#4 Choose a theme
Before you start building your website you need to choose a theme. You can pick one of many free WordPress themes or you can pay to have a more unique theme to suit your style from a company such as ThemeIsle who have a wide range of well-designed WordPress themes to browse through.
Pick your theme before you do too much to your blog as switching between themes will create a lot of unnecessary work.
#5 Get blogging
Once you have paid for hosting, bought a domain name, installed WordPress and chosen a theme you are ready to start blogging!
Hopefully, this post has cleared up the differences between self-hosted and free blogs and has explained why a self-hosted website is the way forward.
If you have any questions, feel free to let us know in the comments below.