Most new bloggers will ask themselves “should I go with a free or paid web host for my blog?”. There are pros and cons to both, though the only real pro to a free host is the lack of cost (a fairly big pro!). What is right for you depends on what you want to do with your blog, and obviously your financial situation. There is no right or wrong, but hopefully after reading through this post you will have a better understanding of which is right for you!
Some of you (if you are like me) are asking yourself “what is a web host?”. You need to understand that most blogs are not self hosted (especially if you’re new to the game). This means that unless you are a tech wiz and independently wealthy (I am not!), you will likely need a company to host your blog on the internet for you. An online or “web” host is a company that provides space on their server for you to use to house your blog or website. Think of a host as a sort of online hotel for your blog. Each hotel will offer slightly different rates, amenities, benefits and limitations. A free hotel is obviously going to offer less than one you pay for! Here are a few things to consider when deciding between a free or paid web host:
Keep in mind that with free hosting sites, like WordPress or Google’s Blogger (two major players) you don’t get a domain . You get what is called a “sub-domain”. This means that your blog is a small part of a parent website as opposed to a stand alone website. So, if your domain would look like this, “yourdomain.blogger.com” or “yourdomain.wordpress.com”. If someone typed in “yourdomain.com” they would find another site, or get an error. You don’t OWN your website, you borrow a small part of a larger website. This can actually hurt your rank on search engines (how likely a person is to find you via keyword searches). It can also make it more difficult for people to find their way back to your site! On the Flip side, being a sub-domain, your name choices are only restricted to other free blogger/wordpress users as opposed to the whole of the internet. (i.e. yourdomain.com is different than yourdomain.blogger.com is different than yourdomain.wordpress.com).
With a paid hosting option, you will likely be required to own/buy a domain name. This might require a little more money up front, though with many paid hosting sites, the first domain name is free. In this case, you own your domain and your blog will be a stand alone website. While it exists on and is supported by a hosts server, your domain would be “yourdomain.com ” This increases your search engine ranking (slightly at first), and allows people to find you more easily. Important factors if you ever want to turn a profit with your blog! The cons, of course are a higher cost to you and choosing your domain can be a little more time consuming and complicated (but at the end of the day no one else can have it!).
Limitations and Restrictions
- Customer Service: As far as I know, the customer service with these free hosting options is fine. What I have heard, is that being free, they are not always as quick to address any concerns or issues you are having in a timely fashion. The issues will usually get resolved, but since you’re not paying them….they don’t really have much of an obligation to be quick about it. Just something to keep in mind!
- I chose Bluehost for a few reasons:
- First, they were middle of the road for basic costs. As low as $3.95 a month (for the 3 year option).
- Also, they came up over and over in every list I viewed (usually top 5), which meant they were likely a reliable and decent company.
- They offer a full refund within the first 30 days, and after that they offer partial refunds based on time remaining on your hosting option. So, if you used 3 months of 36, they will refund you 33 months (minus a few fees, but you will get MOST of your money back). I haven’t tried this, but that’s what they tell me!
- Your first domain name is free as part of the hosting cost (~ $10-$14 value).
- They offer unlimited space and will host unlimited domain names for the same hosting price. Meaning you can add domains (meaning BUY them and have them hosted) and make each site as large as you would like!
- Finally (and most important to a beginner like myself) multiple sources were giving praise for “ease of use”. Easy? YUP, I’m sold!
- So far, I’m very happy with my choice! This does mean that the set up portion of my blog WILL focus on Bluehost, as that is what I know!
2) Domain Name
Choosing a domain name is often one of the most difficult tasks when you are looking to start up a blog! Of course deciding on a name that represents your entire brand/philosophy/genre is hard enough, but then you have to cross check your name(s) with availability! I hate to break it to you, but the internet has been around for a while now, and even if you have the perfect name already picked out for your blog….chances are someone else has already claimed it. In some cases (and most frustrating to ME), the person that owns it, only owns it to sell it. These are called “Premium” domain names. They are usually based on common phrases, word play and common sense names. One I personally checked out was up for auction and currently sitting at $6000….?
So, here are a few tips for navigating and choosing your domain name:
- Your domain name does NOT have to be your blog name! They should be tied to one another, but they don’t have to match completely. For example, if you wanted to start a blog about Dogs called and call it “Puppy Love”