Start A Blog: Free or Paid? WordPress or Blogger?

by John Hoff on October 20, 2008

This article is for those of you who want to start a blog but aren’t sure what the best way to start one might be. We’ll look at helping you answer the following questions and end with an open discussion for questions.

  1. Should I go with a free blog OR spend a little money and purchase my own web hosting?
  2. Which program should I use – WordPress or Blogger?
  3. Where should I host my WordPress Blog?
  4. Conclusion and open discussion.

I. Starting A Blog: Free or Paid Web Hosting?

If you’re thinking of starting a blog I can almost guarantee this is what’s going through your head:

I want to start a blog but I’m not sure if I’ll like it or not. Maybe I’ll sign up for a free blog on either WordPress.com or Blogger and see how it goes. Then after about a year or so I’ll decide if I should purchase my own domain name and web hosting.

Sound familiar? If so, here’s what you need to consider.

Free hosting, whether it’s for a blog or a normal website is never a good idea unless maybe you’re a kid just fiddling around on the Internet.

Do Not try to build a business online using free web hosting, that just doesn’t make much sense. Don’t get me wrong, as an experienced entrepreneur I do like to get things for free, but not when the deal ultimately will hurt me.

So how can having a free blog hosted on WordPress.com or Blogger hurt you?

Drawbacks To Free Hosting In General

Awhile back I wrote an article entitled, 8+ Drawbacks to Free Web Hosting (link opens in a new tab) which you might find informative. The article shows how free web hosting is limited by such things as:

  • Bottlenecks – Your hosting/website is shared on 1 server with LOTS of other websites.
  • Low Bandwidth and Limited Disk Space.
  • No Personalized Domain Name.
  • Little Support and more . . .

You’ll Lose All Your Momentum & Lose Backlinks When You Upgrade

If you really feel the need to experience blogging before you purchase a hosting account and are dead set on testing first with a free account, give it no more than two or three weeks tops. If you blog for too long what you’ll find is people will start reading your blog, bookmarking your pages, subscribing to your articles, and linking to your website.

That’s great, right?

Of course! But what happens when you realize you’ve grown beyond a free account? What happens then?

I’ve been blogging for only a year now (update: years now) and have attracted tens of dozens (update: a heck of a lot more) of links and I’m indexed well on Google for a few searches which brings our company business. Could you imagine what would happen if my blog was hosted on a free account and today I decided to move over to a real hosting account with a new web address? I’d lose any search engine traffic I had achieved, dozens (if not hundreds) of websites linking to me would now have broken links, and people who have bookmarked my site may lose touch with me.

Ask any blogger who uses a free account and wants to switch to a paid hosting account what the #1 thing is which holds them back from making the move. I can almost guarantee the above scenario is it!

Free = Bad SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

To better index your website, search engines look at your domain name’s DNS hierarchy. Basically what this means is search engines like Google and Yahoo will look at the web address to your website and translate it into a binary code it can read (0s and 1s).

It then breaks down your web address and assigns an order of importance for the purpose of locating and addressing your website in the search engine. Let’s take a look at this hierarchy.

For this first example, let’s say you decided to pay for your own web hosting and domain name of www.your-blog.com. Here’s how your domain’s DNS hierarchy will be indexed by search engines:

DNS Hierarchy Paid Hosting

Alternatively, if you choose to host your blog on WordPress or Blogger, your web address will look something like www.your-blog.wordpress.com and here’s how it will be indexed:

DNS Hierarchy Free Blog Hosting

This means you’re doing a lot of work to help WordPress index their site better first and then work to help index your website in search engines.

II. Should You Use Blogger or WordPress?

Well if you just read the information above then by default you would go with WordPress as Blogger is only offered free and not bundled with any paid hosting (as far as I know).

But to give you a more adequate answer as to why you should use WordPress vs. Blogger as your blogging platform, I’d like to point out 5 good reasons.

  1. The majority of bloggers use WordPress. It’s ok to be different (in business), but because so many people use WordPress it will be much easier to find help (and you can always email John and ask questions).
  2. Simplicity of commenting on articles. Have you ever tried to comment on a blog using Blogger? It makes me want to pull my hair out! With WordPress your visitor will simply read your article and comment using the form at the bottom. Nice, easy, simple, and promotes comments and community.
  3. You can do a lot of cool things with WordPress. Because of the popularity of WordPress and being that its source code is open, thousands of people constantly write programs called plugins which you can use to make your site truly unique and fun. With Blogger, you’re pretty much stuck with what they give you and a few customized themes.
  4. Your blog can be converted into an actual professional-looking website for a business very easily, not so with Blogger.
  5. When you host a WordPress blog (i.e. you purchase web hosting), you can do some pretty cool things with your .htaccess file, such as setting up redirects.

III. Where To Find WordPress Web Hosting

Well you’re in luck, because Blog Training Classroom provides blog hosting for people just like you. As an added bonus, you’ll also get a ton of free videos I’ve made to help you with WordPress and your blogging endeavors, all using our control panel.

IV. Conclusion & Discussion

I think I’ve made a pretty good case that the best choice for starting a blog in most cases will be to go with a paid web hosting account using WordPress as your blogging platform. Hosting costs what, under $80 per year. If you can’t invest that in something you’re dedicating a huge chunk of your time to then you might want to think twice about starting a blog.

There are other blogging platforms out there which I did not mention in this article, like TypePad, Movable Type, b2evolution, etc.; however, at this time the two most popular are WordPress and Blogger.

If you’re wanting to start a blog and have questions, please comment below. If you’re a current blogger, which blogging platform do you use and do you like it?

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