Is Going Self-hosted Right for You?

Is Going Self-hosted Right for You?

Is Going Self-Hosted Right For You?

Going self-hosted is a decision most bloggers will face. Sometimes, at the very beginning, and sometimes further into their journey.

I’ve seen several people on Twitter asking about this, so I thought I’d put together some information to address the issue.

I was self-hosted right from the start. For me, there was a very simple, psychological reason for it: I knew, if I spent some money on it, I’d be more likely to stick with it. It was as simple as that. I didn’t know of any other perks.

What does “going self-hosted” mean?

Self-hosted means you have paid for your domain and a hosting service. A hosting service rents online storage space to you so your website data is stored. Then you have to build your website, and take care of it, ensuring it runs smoothly. Most people use WordPress.orgΒ to create their site.

Hosted means you have signed up on a site, been given a free domain (for example, www.yourname.wordpress.com) to start you off, and are hosted through them. They take care of most of the behind the scenes things. Blogs created with WordPress.comΒ and Blogger are considered hosted sites.

And here’s why it’s sometimes confusing: WordPress.com and WordPress.org are different. While they are the same content management system, who owns the content is what differs. If you are hosted on the WordPress.com platform, they own what you put on there. If you are self-hosted, you own your content.

Which one is better?

Self-hosted – Pros

  • The power is in your hands – you are in control of your blog.
  • You can install custom themes so your blog looks how you want it to.
  • It’s possible to add Google Analytics to get in-depth statistics.
  • You can use plugins for all sorts – from improving page speed to helping with SEO.
  • It’s good for your domain authority.
  • You are able to create an online store.

Self-hosted – Cons

  • There are costs involved.
  • You are responsible for things like backing up your site and installing updates.

Hosted – Pros

  • Usually free.
  • Hosted sites are generally much easier to use and require less technical knowledge.
  • They are low maintenance.

Hosted – Cons

  • Unless you purchase a domain, your URL will have their name in it, and looks less professional.
  • They can be very limited in terms of functionality.
  • There are fewer themes available, so it may be harder to achieve the look you want.
  • Ads may be added to your blog by the host.
  • You have less options when it comes to monetisation.
  • The only stats available to you are those generated by the host.
  • Your files are stored on the platform’s servers, meaning your site is technically owned by them. So, if for any reason they deemed your content inappropriate, it would be removed. Worst case scenario, if they went out of business, your blog would disappear, too.

Which one should I go for?

The above pros and cons are facts. As you can see, there are actually more cons to being hosted than there are pros. The biggest benefit, of course, is that it’s free. Sadly, you pay the price in a different way in the lack of control and ownership of your site.

To look at it a different way, it’s like staying in a hotel versus being in your own home. In a hotel, you have access to the things you need, but they’re not yours. You can’t make changes. Whereas, in your own home, everything is yours. You can do what you want (within reason, of course!)

Because of this, a lot of people will encourage you to go self-hosted. I am, for the most part, one of those people. I feel like the pros to going self-hosted are compelling enough to make it worth while.

However,Β you need to look at your own circumstances.

What do you want from blogging? If you just want to see if it’s for you, definitely try the free version before spending any money! If it’s a hobby, then it’s perhaps not worth putting money into it. Can you afford it? If you want to start a blog but finances are tight, go for the free option. You can always switch to self-hosted later!

Some of the features you get through self-hosting are available on WordPress plans. BUT I’d strongly urge you to go self-hosted rather than spending money on any of the plans on WordPress.com. By all means, try it for free, but don’t get tricked into upgrading. I have made this mistake in the past. They’re expensive for what you get! Self-hosted is a much better use of your money than those plans.

If you’re coming into blogging with the intention to monetise your blog – even in the future – I’d encourage you to go self-hosted at the start. It’s not impossible to make money from a hosted blog, but you do have fewer options. Also, I believe your own URL looks much better to brands, if you’re hoping to work with some once you’ve got started.

Okay! I’m going self-hosted! Which host should I use?

It’s important to do your own research and find a host which feels right for you. Things to consider when choosing a host:

  1. Price – it goes without saying it should be something you can afford.
  2. Reliability – the last thing you want is your blog going down if there’s a surge of traffic!
  3. Speed – a slow site drives an audience away and harms your SEO.
  4. Security – you want your data to be safe.

That’s just about it. I hope this has helped to clarify things! If you have any questions, let me know and I’ll try my best to answer them.

Going Self-hosted

Is Going Self-Hosted Right For You?

38 Comments

  • Leah 19th September 2018 at 11:15 am

    Great informative easy to read post.

    • ruthinrevolt 19th September 2018 at 11:20 am

      Thank you πŸ™‚

  • Cordelia Moor 19th September 2018 at 11:25 am

    Your posts are always so well written and informative Ruth, I always enjoy them. I’m currently debating switching to WordPress self-hosted – I currently host my blog through Squarespace but own my own domain, so it’s almost a combo of the two. But I think I’ll have more flexibility with design if I switch. Oh, the decisions!

    Cordelia || cordeliamoor.com

    • ruthinrevolt 19th September 2018 at 3:34 pm

      Thank you! I considered Squarespace when I was starting because their designs look really sleek and impressive, but I decided to go with WordPress in the end.

  • Cici Ward 19th September 2018 at 11:34 am

    Very well written post as usual, Ruth. You have some great tips here for anyone just starting out or someone trying to decide whether or not to make the switch. Well done!

    • ruthinrevolt 19th September 2018 at 3:34 pm

      Thank you! πŸ’›

  • Lisa McLachlan 19th September 2018 at 12:19 pm

    Great post, as usual, Ruth. I think your definition of hotel vs. home is spot on! I went self-hosted from the start but that was because I didn’t know about the free alternatives (DOH). In my defence, I’d been a Digital Manager for nearly 11 years, managing domains and hosting for other clients, so WordPress and self-hosting was the natural way for me to go when I thought I’d dip my toe into blogging. I agree with everything you say about the flexibility and autonomy self-hosting offers too. I’ve heard very good things about SiteGround’s reliability but also that they massively increase their renewal fees – so you might want to shop around nearer renewal time πŸ™‚ BTW, loving your new site look shop! xx

    Lisa | http://www.lisasnotebook.com

    • ruthinrevolt 19th September 2018 at 3:36 pm

      Yeah, that does make sense, but it seems to have been worth it for you in the end so it maybe wasn’t too big a mistake after all! 😊 I’ve heard the same of SiteGround, so I’ll definitely need to keep an eye on it. Thanks for the tip and I’m glad you like the new look! πŸ˜€ xx

  • Jessica 19th September 2018 at 12:48 pm

    Great post, and I agree fully! I am self-hosted and I love the freedom and options that come with it!! πŸ™‚

    • ruthinrevolt 19th September 2018 at 3:36 pm

      Thank you! πŸ™‚

  • Jess 19th September 2018 at 3:39 pm

    Ruth this is great advice! I feel a lot better about the situation i’m in currently and I think I will look into going self-hosted within the next month!

    Thank you so much 😁

    Jess

    http://Www.mybigfatgreeklifestyle.wordpress.com

    • ruthinrevolt 19th September 2018 at 3:56 pm

      Awww, that’s wonderful, Jess! Good luck if you decide to go for it! πŸ˜€

  • Bexa 19th September 2018 at 7:44 pm

    This is such a great post Ruth! Going self-hosted was one of the best blogging decisions I made. I started with a free WordPress site but it didn’t take long to be tempted by all the pretty themes and customisation. I’m also with SiteGround and have had no problems so far. Their affiliate scheme is amazingly generous too! Thanks for sharing your advice, very well written and helpful <3 xx

    Bexa | http://www.hellobexa.com

    • ruthinrevolt 20th September 2018 at 9:56 am

      I think I would have been the same as you if I’d started with a free site, too! It wouldn’t have taken me long to want all those extra features. The SiteGround affiliate scheme is amazing! πŸ˜€ xx

  • Lacey 19th September 2018 at 7:50 pm

    Thanks Ruth. A really well written and easy to understand explanation of what can seem quite complicated to beginners.

    • ruthinrevolt 20th September 2018 at 9:52 am

      Thank you! It definitely can seem intimidating at the start!

  • Jane Frith 20th September 2018 at 2:23 am

    Wish I had read this before I set up my blog. Thank you though for explaining so clearly.

    • ruthinrevolt 20th September 2018 at 9:51 am

      Aww, that’s okay! πŸ™‚ Thanks for reading and commenting!

  • Hannah Workman 20th September 2018 at 8:02 am

    Such a well writen post Ruth! You always manage to word it so well! Siteground seems a tad expensive, I went with Google Domains Β£10 a year!

    http://www.hannahblogsmh.com

    • ruthinrevolt 20th September 2018 at 9:51 am

      Thanks Hannah! Sounds like you got yourself a bargain with Google! πŸ™‚

  • Macey 20th September 2018 at 5:22 pm

    So informative, thank you! I do actually have a question, and it might be a bit silly & obvious, so please bear with me haha. I’m about to go self-hosted at the end of this month, and I’m also going to be using Siteground. Would you recommend also purchasing the SG site scanner?

    • ruthinrevolt 21st September 2018 at 9:34 am

      I didn’t purchase the SG site scanner, but if you think it would be good for your own peace of mind, then sure! What I would recommend doing before you make the purchase is looking at security plugins and comparing them with the site scanner – you might be able to find a plugin which does a similar thing for free. 😊

      • Macey 23rd September 2018 at 6:46 pm

        Thank you so much!!

        • ruthinrevolt 25th September 2018 at 10:24 am

          You’re welcome! πŸ™‚

  • Stephanie Bartlett 20th September 2018 at 5:54 pm

    This post was really helpful – I’m trying to decide whether to change and you’ve explained in on really easy terms to understand – so thank you x

    • ruthinrevolt 21st September 2018 at 9:34 am

      My pleasure – glad I could help!

  • Surabhi 22nd September 2018 at 1:52 pm

    Very detailed and informative post Ruth! Thanks for putting it up.It really helped me decide.

  • Emma 22nd September 2018 at 5:02 pm

    Nice breakdown.

    I went self-hosted because I like to tinker with all the “webby stuff” and you get full control that way. It’s a larger up front cost but broken down monthly it’s really not so bad, and you can use all of the free plugins and things (if you want)

  • TRACY JACKSON 28th September 2018 at 2:03 pm

    Interesting… I went self-hosted from the start, but unfortunately I didn’t really know what I was doing and have been winging it ever since!

    This is a MUST READ for any would-be bloggers.

    Tracy xxx

    https://www.bloggerbythesea.com

    • ruthinrevolt 28th September 2018 at 8:10 pm

      There’s nothing wrong with winging it – sometimes, it works! Thank you for your comment! πŸ™‚

  • Atlas Griffin 30th September 2018 at 11:30 pm

    I wish I had been smart and read things like this before I bought a plan on WordPress.com 🀭😱

  • Mark 14th October 2018 at 3:13 am

    Great explanation. Nicely done

  • ELISABETH BASFORD 13th April 2019 at 7:34 pm

    This is such a helpful post and has helped me to decide what to do now. Thank you so much Ruth

    • ruthinrevolt 22nd April 2019 at 3:49 pm

      No problem at all – happy to have helped!

  • Michelle Davey 13th April 2019 at 7:47 pm

    Great read Ruth with clear pros and cons outlined and explanation to what self hosting is. Thank you❀️

    • ruthinrevolt 22nd April 2019 at 3:49 pm

      My pleasure! Thanks for reading and commenting!

  • Hannah 13th April 2019 at 9:32 pm

    Thank you for this! What’s your opinion on Bluehost? That’s the one I’m looking at right now (I was previously considering Site Ground but was put off by the massive increase in price after a year)

    • ruthinrevolt 22nd April 2019 at 3:50 pm

      I’ve heard mixed things on Bluehost… I think from a cost point of view, they’re great, but it may be a case of “you get what you pay” in terms of service. SiteGround were brilliant but their renewal costs definitely shoot up!

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    After being diagnosed with depression and anxiety then receiving treatment, I wanted to turn my situation into something constructive. So, with a lifelong passion for writing and a renewed sense of determination, I took a step out of my comfort zone and began putting all my efforts into creating a positive space online.

    I talk openly about mental health and also share blogging/social media tips to help others on their journey.

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