Are you split over whether to self-host or stay on a hosted blog site?
Have you heard there are advantages to self-hosting but are not sure what they are?
Have you already tried self-hosting but returned to the realm of the familiar, a hosted platform?
This post, which will weigh the pros and cons of a self-hosted blog site, will take a point-counterpoint format.
I will offer the advantages of self-hosting. I have invited Kaylaa from CommonsenseGal to present the disadvantages.
Are you ready for a blog post in the form of a debate?
Consider these comments from readers:
- I am on WP dot com so I don’t think banners work on my site? Am I wrong? And also, if I wanted to make a banner, where do I learn to code it? I usually just make an image and email it to a person or have them cut/paste and put it where they like. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each way? ~Memee’sMusings
- Is this also where you put the Pinterest web page confirmation? OR do I have to wait till I self-host? ~ Jem’sEclecticHome
- Why are you migrating to a [self-hosted] blog, if the theme remains as before, if you don’t mind me asking. Just curious to know, since you will need to gather followers again, isn’t it? ~ SweetyShinde
- I seem to still be following you, even with the change of address [to a self-hosted site]. When I tried moving, I lost all my followers and fled back to my original site. ~ NotesFromTheU.K.
Clearly there is confusion over whether or not to move to a self-hosted blog site. I hope this post will clear up some of the confusion, so bloggers can make an informed decision.
For the purpose of the point-counterpoint format, I will be referring to myself in the third person.
I have been self-hosting now for four months. I love it. I did not write a Thanksgiving post this year, but if I had, it would have been this post. I am that grateful I decided to self-host.
I originally blogged on Blogger, which I left after only one month. Then, I blogged on WordPress.com for nine months. I was so happy blogging on WordPress.com, I stayed there nine months.
I am even happier now that I am on WordPress.org for many reasons.
Reasons to Consider Self-Hosting Your Blog
- The WordPress Calendar I realize people pay for CoSchedule‘s calendar, but I am not sure why. The ease of the drop and drag calendar to schedule posts keeps me organized. I heard CoSchedule’s calendar provides colors for further organization, but the WP Calendar works effectively for me.
- Ahalogy Pinterest Scheduler My guest author Adrian recommended Viral Tag, but I am in love with Ahalogy, which is free. Since there is a nominal price for Viral Tag, I haven’t tried it. Pinners pin at certain peak times. Ahalogy schedules my pins to go on my community boards and my personal boards at those times. (Note: Our blog has a community Pinterest board. If you have subscribed to this blog, and you’d like to be invited to pin, please let me know in the comments section.)
- Click to Tweet When I blogged at a hosted site, I had to leave the site to go to ClicktoTweet. Once I started self-hosting, I installed a plugin called Better Click to Tweet. It enables me to install a Click to Tweet without leaving my blog post. Since I can install a Tweet with a click of a button (it’s a Twitter bird), the plugin expedites my blogging.
- Google Keyword Planner I’m now also able to use Google’s Keyword Planner without leaving my post while I am composing it. This saves me time while I am enhancing search engine’s ability to find my blog. I tag my post the keywords that the Keyword Planner recommends.
- SEO Coach I installed a Yoast plugin which is a color-coded SEO coach.
You can see my SEO coach has suggestions for me before I can publish this article.
The red bullets indicate the weakest part of my post so far.
Since I am not finished, I have not included a snippet for search engines or any graphics.
The yellow bullets don’t indicate problems as severe, but are warning signs I should listen to before publishing. When WordPress.com hosted me, I needed to make these decisions on my own.
- Google Trends The SEO coach also tells me what topics are trending in the Blogosphere.
- Money-Making Potential I have partnered with Google AdWords and started a Blog Critique and Coaching Service. I also have space available for rent in my sidebar. I heard if bloggers using WordPress.com accept money, they could get in trouble by WordPress.
- Rumors I have heard rumors that if WordPress.com, where I use to blog, doesn’t approve of what you are doing, they could shut you down. Jason Cushman was shut down for days.
- Comment Luv CommentLuv encourages comments since the blogger’s headline shows up. I actually clicked on a headline tonight which I could see since I have CommentLuv on my site. This, of course, leads to more traffic. CommentLuv is a plugin. Hosted bloggers can’t install plugins.*
- OptinBox I love my Sumo.me OptinBox. My MailChimp list has grown since I installed the plugin. Sumo.me also gives me statistics, so I know the optinbox’s effectiveness from week to week.
- Other people say it’s a good idea** There is an expression that goes, “Where there is smoke, there is fire.” Many people say self-hosting is the way to go, so it must have merit.
Why I Moved Back to WordPress.com from Self-Hosting on WordPress.org
Self-hosted WordPress.org gives a blogger a lot of flexibility and freedom to do what they choose with their blog. One of the main benefits of self-hosting is the ability to use a lot of open-source plugins, which can really give you access to all the bells and whistles. This helps improve the features and functionality of your site and can also work towards helping you to attract more readers in the process. Maxing out on SEO Tools, Sharing Tools and Tracking tools can really put a spin on your blog and help you to fire up your blogging platform. For a blogger like me, who is experienced with technology and loves the hands-on approach to change code, tinker, and experiment, it allows me to learn quickly on the fly. There are many more reasons why users choose to go with a self-hosted WordPress.org site, many of which Janice Wald from MostlyBlogging.com and other blog promotion experts such as Neil Patel can tell you more about.
I am new to blog writing and only began in June, after a prompt from a social media strategy class I was taking. After the class ended, I decided to get serious about it and keep the blog, so I could practice my writing. While I am new to the blog world, I do have in my arsenal expertise as an engineer, an ardent researcher with past success running my own web design and hosting company, as well as building and marketing my own ecommerce websites. So I jumped at the opportunity to self-host at WordPress, so I could start tinkering.
- No longer had first-hand access to the WordPress Community and Reader
One of the main reasons I moved back was that I missed the WordPress.com blog community. As part of the WordPress.com community, when you publish a new blog post, it automatically gets published to the WordPress.com Reader, so all potential readers, who have not subscribed to your blog as of yet, get to see it. This allows engagement from interested readers, who may eventually follow or subscribe to your blog.
However, when you move to self-hosted WordPress.org, this does not happen. Only WordPress.com sites appear in the Reader, except for your subscribers who, if transferred to your new self-hosted WordPress.org site, will continue to see your posts in the Reader.
- The Follow vs. Subscribe issue
While on WordPress.com platform, there are many WordPress.com users that may click “Follow” in order to Follow your blog when you were on WordPress.com. The mechanism of Following a blog and subscribing via email is also handled differently. Blog followers on WordPress.com are treated like an email subscriber, where they get notified of new posts when you publish new content. However, when you move to WordPress.org, you lose all the WordPress.com Followers, if they did not subscribe via email. So only email subscribers can be ported over, not blog followers. As a result, I lost a lot of my blog followers. However, when I moved back to WordPress.com, I was able to re-engage some of them, along with new people.
Consequently, both newbie bloggers just starting out and experienced bloggers significantly benefit from the WordPress.com community and the WordPress Reader to bring new traffic to their site. This is advantageous to any blogger at any level, but especially helpful when you are a new blogger. The WordPress.com community provides double exposure, while allowing new bloggers to grow their blog traffic organically.
I weighed the pros and cons of self-hosting, and felt that what I got on the self-hosted I could do without. So I went back to WordPress.com and opted for a premium package. This provided me with more flexibility to do a lot of what I wanted, to help my readers enjoy themselves and feel comfortable when they visit my blog. Plus, I could still work on SEO, while getting access to the WordPress.com community.
- Tags and Categories Option in WordPress.com
Adding relevant tags and categories does have a significant impact on helping the blog post to reach more readers very quickly in the WordPress.com Reader. It’s like having your own in-house visual search engine on wheels. However, this does not work for the self-hosted WordPress.org site, because it does not have access to the community WordPress.com Reader. In general, careful categorizing and tagging can help with blog usability and search engine optimization for self-hosted WordPress. However, this does not provide immediate results, but will prove effective over time.
- JetPack Limitations and Some Gotchas
Depending on what is important to you this may or may not be an issue for you, but its worth considering.
- To Like or Not to Like
The default Publicize plugin on WordPress.com that controls the “Likes” and Sharing feature cannot be transferred to self-hosted WordPress.org sites. However, you quickly become unconcerned about this, because they offer a JetPack plugin to help you transfer your blog readers’ information. It also looks and works just like the Publicize plugin with more pizzazz and feature options. However, red alert your “Likes” cannot be transferred from WordPress.com to self-hosted WordPress sites.
You could have a zillion “Likes” by readers on your posts while your blog was on WordPress.com but when you move over to self-hosted, you lose them all. The only thing that can be transferred with the Jetpack is user comments. While that is great, you and I both know that many blog followers show their appreciation more often with a Like, than a comment. So without that information showing up, your blog post visual popularity goes back down to zero and you look like you just got started. That means the credibility you built on your blog with the “Likes” is now gone.
Jetpack may not transfer the Stats to the self-hosted as you expect, but WordPress.com support will help you with the Stats transfer if push comes to shove ☺. However, the Stat information is displayed separately. You may think that you are transferring your blog from WordPress.com to WordPress.org, but it is not. What is really happening during the process is the transfer of the information only…that is then re-imported into a new blog created on the self-hosted WordPress.org platform. So the Stats from your WordPress.com blog cannot be combined with the Stats data of the new blog implementation on WordPress.org.
The problem with the Likes and Stats works the same way in reverse if you decide to move back to WordPress.com after your foray on the self-hosted platform. “Likes” and Stats that you gained on self-hosted will not transfer back to WordPress.com, as they are not interchangeable.
- WordPress.com Premium or Business option
You might be told that if you are a serious about blogging then a self-hosted blog is your best route. However, as a very serious blogger (though a newbie) after moving my blog to self-hosted WordPress.org after a month I moved it back to the free WordPress.com platform. Yes I lost out on the great tools that I loved. But after extensive research I discovered that if I moved to a Premium paid package on WordPress.com, I would have some degree of flexibility that would suit my appetite for my purpose and I could live with the restriction of not being able add the plugins.
As bloggers, we are artists who live for the word and the mere joy of writing ☺. If you ever consider later monetizing your blog or selling from an ecommerce platform as your reason for going to self-hosted, keep in mind you can still do that, by adding an ecommerce shop to your Premium or Business WordPress plan.
Please note: My choice may not suit everyone and self-hosted may be your best bet depending on the short and long-term goals for your blog.
Have you decided whether to consider self-hosting?
In conclusion, it just comes down to your immediate and long-term needs and what is more important to your personal and/or business goals for your blogging. Choosing self-hosted WordPress.org is still great, as it gives you a world of advantages and a myriad of choices. Staying on the WordPress.com will still provide you with a lot of advantages and great options to consider for the tinkerer or the enterprising or both. Upgrading to a WordPress.com paid plan, may give you the options you need. For example you can change the code or rebuild your WordPress.com site through CSS and satisfy the coder in you, like I have done. But you will still have access to the WordPress.com Community, which will provide you with a maintenance safety net. No need to worry about version upgrades and the possibilities of some plugins breaking your WordPress site. WordPress.com has that part covered.
Kaylaa T. Blackwell is an IT Professional working at Itron, Inc. and a student at Southern New Hampshire University with a penchant for writing, researching and helping others resolve real world issues. She has a great interest in technology, business, and psychology and how they impact each other. Learn more about her and check out her insightful and inspirational posts on her blog commonsensegal.com.
Tech trouble is a consideration when deciding to self-host since WordPress.com will not assist with tech trouble. Bloggers may be use to that support.
Merri Dennis provides wonderful tech support for my blog. You can access her information in the right sidebar and by clicking her link.
We really appreciate Kaylaa coming here today to share the virtues of staying on a hosted blog. Hopefully, between the two of us, readers who are considering self-hosting now have more information with which to decide.
Please share this post, so other bloggers weighing with the decision to self-host or stay on a hosted site can have more facts with which to make their decision.
Readers, what do you think? Are you considering self-hosting in the new year? Have you already tried it? Are you satisfied or considering going back? What platform do you use? I look forward to your views.