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.

Please be aware that this page contains affiliate links, which are marked with an asterisk. At no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you purchase the product through my link (yay!).Β 

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?

Going Self-Hosted - SiteGround Pricing

Personally, I use SiteGround*, so that’s the only one I can recommend! I chose SiteGround after doing a lot of research and finding plenty of people singing their praises. So far, I’m happy with my decision. I haven’t had any issues.

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.

Is Going Self-Hosted Right For You?

32 Comments

  1. 19th September 2018 / 11:15 am

    Great informative easy to read post.

    • ruthinrevolt
      Author
      19th September 2018 / 11:20 am

      Thank you πŸ™‚

  2. 19th September 2018 / 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
      Author
      19th September 2018 / 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.

  3. 19th September 2018 / 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
      Author
      19th September 2018 / 3:34 pm

      Thank you! πŸ’›

  4. 19th September 2018 / 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
      Author
      19th September 2018 / 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

  5. 19th September 2018 / 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
      Author
      19th September 2018 / 3:36 pm

      Thank you! πŸ™‚

    • ruthinrevolt
      Author
      19th September 2018 / 3:56 pm

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

  6. 19th September 2018 / 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
      Author
      20th September 2018 / 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

  7. 19th September 2018 / 7:50 pm

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

    • ruthinrevolt
      Author
      20th September 2018 / 9:52 am

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

  8. 20th September 2018 / 2:23 am

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

    • ruthinrevolt
      Author
      20th September 2018 / 9:51 am

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

    • ruthinrevolt
      Author
      20th September 2018 / 9:51 am

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

  9. 20th September 2018 / 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
      Author
      21st September 2018 / 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. 😊

      • 23rd September 2018 / 6:46 pm

        Thank you so much!!

        • ruthinrevolt
          Author
          25th September 2018 / 10:24 am

          You’re welcome! πŸ™‚

  10. 20th September 2018 / 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
      Author
      21st September 2018 / 9:34 am

      My pleasure – glad I could help!

  11. 22nd September 2018 / 1:52 pm

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

  12. 22nd September 2018 / 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)

  13. 28th September 2018 / 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
      Author
      28th September 2018 / 8:10 pm

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

  14. 30th September 2018 / 11:30 pm

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

  15. 14th October 2018 / 3:13 am

    Great explanation. Nicely done

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