Getting into blogging is an easy task, you sign up on wordpress.com and presto you can begin blogging away and telling us all about your travels. But what happens if you want to move beyond telling your family and friends at home that you slept in till the afternoon after a major night out partying with a bunch of locals?
What if you want to take it a bit more seriously and help other travellers plan for their own travels (it’s what got me started). A simple wordpress.com blog is great to get your feet wet and not have to outlay any costs but it leaves you somewhat knee-capped in your ability to really use the power of WordPress to its full potential.
A free blog with no financial outlay will have you working off a web address similar to travelblogsupport.wordpress.com and provide you with a limited array of themes to use and no access to really develop your blog with plugins, themes and advanced techniques that web developers can offer.
It’s not all bad, a free blog does offer some more advanced features for a cost so see below for a basic comparison on what you get with free vs self hosted blogs.
|Features||Free WordPress Blog||Self-Hosted WordPress Blog|
|Own Domain Name||Yes – $17 For registration and setup||Yes – Can be bought for as little as $5|
|Edit Theme Code||Edit the css code (14.97 Per Year) which affects styling||Yes|
|Backup||Only via Export Tool||Yes via plugin to email or download|
As you can see it’s not all bad on a free account with a couple of upgrades but you still miss out on plugins which can do great things and custom themes which really go a long way to helping you brand yourself in the travel blog scene.
Going self hosted isn’t easy thought, you need to pick a web host to store your website on and have it accessible on the internet. Register a web address so everyone can find you, actually install WordPress so you can start blogging and also deal with faults that happen all on your own (daunting to anyone not tech minded). To make that easier I’ve listed the three hosts that most other travel bloggers seem to be using. While all have their faults if its good enough for everybody else then you should be ok.
|Cost||$6.95 Per Month||7.96 Per Month||$6.5 per Month|
|Features||Unlimited Everything||Unlimited Everything||Unlimited Everything|
(Note links are affiliate links, some prices are listed as specials and I have chosen plans that all offer equal features)
I have no personal hosting experience with any of these providers but have logged into their systems to help other travel bloggers out. If you are un-decided on who to go with then hit up some travel bloggers for their personal thoughts or if you use one of the above hosts please leave your comments below to try to help others decide who to go with. (A side note, I host my own sites on my own server but that’s just because I’m a tech nerd and like to have full control of my sites)
Now these plans above are your bare bones get up and going hosting accounts. For the price above you could easily get a couple of cups of coffee each month so in the grand scheme of things your almost getting it for free anyway.
With cheap as chips hosting comes some problems. You may have issues if you get carried away with plugins (read my Speed Up Your Blog – Simple Tips post for plugin best practices) or peaks in traffic and if you upload large picture’s to your blog. As long as you keep in mind that if your blog takes off and becomes popular you will want to upgrade and spend a few more dollars than you will be fine. You might even be making a few bucks from your blog to cover costs anyway.
As for registering your domain name there is a million and one places to do it. Personally I’ve found name.com to be the best, partly due to having a rather large collection of domains registered and because the site is just so damn easy to use. Options that take forever to find on godaddy are easily sorted with these guys. An added bonus is there is normally a discount coupon available if you do a quick search on google which brings down the usual cost of $10 per registration.
Keeping my domains registered with a separate company than my hosting provider also allows changing hosts if needed much easier. You can just grab all of your data and go, where as a domain needs to be transferred from one registrar to another which is just plan old annoying.
So…. there are pro’s and con’s for free and self hosted WordPress blogs. In my opinion if you are serious about blogging, start off with a self hosted setup from the start. It saves you the pain of migrating later on and just opens up so many possibilities for you to really brand yourself.
If I wasn’t running a self hosted blog at theaussienomad.com I’d struggle with linking in my facebook page, monetizing it, tracking stats, playing with the design (yes I know my theme looks like everybody else), building up my brand and so so so much more. When you consider WordPress currently powers around 12% of the worlds web sites I kind of have a point right??
Finally if everything I have said above doesn’t make sense or you have more questions contact me and I’ll do my best to explain. Oh and if you are currently on a free WordPress blog (can be blogger as well) and want to move over to your own hosted setup I can walk you through the entire process for a small fee.
Happy bogging everyone and remember this is just my opinion if you differ from that please leave a comment below.
(Photo by ChrisDag)