If you’ve read some of my work here at On Blast Blog, then you’ve probably heard me promote self-hosted blogs over free ones. Sure, I’ve covered it all in detail, and explained why free blogs aren’t the right way to go, but there’s still so many questions out there begging to be answered.
That’s why today I’m going to answer the most burning Blogging FAQs on starting and growing a self-hosted blog.
Any possible concern or misunderstanding you may have will be resolved, I guarantee it.
Here’s what we’re discussing today:
- the difference between free and self-hosted blogs.
- the most burning questions people commonly ask about self-hosting.
- My recommendation for your hosting provider
Free Blog vs Hosted Blog: Why the Big Debate?
The reason we constantly debate between free and self-hosted blogs is because people naturally will gravitate towards something that is labeled “free,” but in this case, the term doesn’t apply to the the long-term.
Yes, a free blog begins as such, but the reason you’ll find that myself and almost every other blogger out there recommends self-hosted over free, is that it’s required for your blog to succeed.
A free blog isn’t given as much credibility by people or search engines, and you’ll end up spending more money trying to make a free blog viable.
These free options will get you off the ground, but as you grow, the tools and resources of a free blog will slowly constrict you and any potential you have. With this approach, you’re trapped in a cage instead of being able to move freely.
Why you can’t live without a self-hosted blog:
- You actually own the website when you’re self-hosting (alternatively, you share the URL with the provider www.yourwebsite.wordpress.com for example).
- The only ads on a self-hosted blog are chosen and placed by you.
- Self-hosting allows you to make all of the design choices without any restrictions.
- Self-hosted blogs make money (whereas, free ones cannot)
Beyond these simple facts, let’s tackle the big questions people have about self-hosted blogs.
Frequently Asked Questions About Self-Hosted Blogs
You have questions, I have answers. Let’s get started, shall we?
How can I start my own blog?
It’s actually really simple. All you need is a website to call your own (also known as a domain) and a program to create and post all of your content (A.K.A a blogging platform).
With these two things, you have a website that is yours and yours alone. You have total control of everything that goes into it. It’s an awesome feeling, to call a piece of the internet your own, like staking your own claim of an exciting new frontier.
I’m not very tech-savvy. Can I do this?
The concept of designing and running a blog sounds daunting, but with my help, it won’t be. I’m going to show you the best programs and services the internet has to offer, all of which are designed to make the process quick, easy, and fun!
In other words, tech-savvy isn’t a requirement. You can rest easy, anyone can do this!
How much does having a blog cost?
Normally you would have to pay for the website address and pay a yearly fee for the hosting service to keep your website up and running, but today I’m going to show you how to cut out that web address fee completely for your first year!
So essentially, the cost of running a blog is less than the price of your morning coffee at Starbucks. Not to mention, this investment has the potential to make you full-time profits each month, enough to quit your day job even! I’d say that kind of return is worth the investment.
Why don’t you recommend using a free service like Blogger or WordPress.com?
The problem with free blogs is actually quite simple: they’re not yours. That’s the catch when you boil everything down.
Free blogs allow you to have a piece of their servers in exchange for playing by their rules and only using the amount of space they give you. Think of it like the blog equivalent of a bicycle with training wheels, only those training wheels never come off.
You’re always held back by the limitations and the strict rules of the company that owns your blog. You’re essentially renting space when you could have your own instead. The worst part? If they feel like you’re not following their rules, they can pull the plug on your blog without even giving you notice. You could lose everything in the blink of an eye.
It’s not worth it, plain and simple. It’s your blog, you should be the owner of it.
What’s the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org?
The simple answer here is that the “.com” version is the free blog website where you have limited access and features. The “.org” version is where you can download the actual WordPress program for free to be used on a self-hosted blog (the kind I can show you how to make).
That’s the short answer, the long answer goes into more detail about what I mean by “limited access and features.” It’s quite the eye-opener if you’re on the fence between doing a free or self-hosted blog.
What’s the difference between a blog and a regular website?
Technically a blog is a website, but let’s not get existential here. The different between a blog and a website comes down to how it’s structured. Both are web address on the internet (www.website/blogname.com). The difference comes from the purpose and construction of the page when you land on it.
A blog is a series of “posts” which are essentially articles of varying lengths, organized by date or category. A website is more of a jack-of-all-trades. It will have a main page, a product or services page, a contact page, and so on. Many of these things could also appear on a blog, but the main difference is that a blog is updated far more often than a website which is more of a static design.
Think of a business or a restaurant. Now, think of their website. It’s usually the same, and it very rarely has new or drastically different content. Now, think of a blog you like. It can be about anything, but the difference is that when you visit the blog, you expect a new article or post.
What if I don’t want a blog but just a website? Who are you and why should I listen to you?
The only reason you would want a simple website is if your an established company or organization, but even those websites have blogs attached to them in many cases. Do you know why? Blogs engage with customers, they bring people together, and they build a loyal following. That’s something anyone, business or not, wants to have in their arsenal.
Now, on to the second part of the question. My name is Matt Banner. I’ve been doing this blogging thing for over a decade now, and I’ve been through the ring more times than I can count. It’s left me with a few scars, but mostly it taught me how to start a blog and make it successful.
That’s why I’m here, to share with you the things I’ve learned on my journey thus far. I’ll help you avoid certain pitfalls and take advantage of best practices to ensure that your time is well-spent and never wasted.
What hosting service should I use?
Your hosting service is one of the most important decisions you’ll make as a blogger. As the host, they will be responsible for keeping your blog running at all times on the internet.
By choosing the right one, you can rest assured that your blog posts are safe, and your website is always up and running. It’s certainly not a decision to be made lightly.
What makes one hosting company better than others?
One word. Reliability
Have you ever come to On Blast Blog and found that the site was down? Didn’t think so. They are reliable, which is a huge factor.
Imagine what a search engine would think when they come across your website and it’s down for some unknown reason. Yea, that’s sending a terrible impression.
On top of that, Web Hosting Hub has a variety of plans on offer that allow you to pay what you want for the features and capabilities you need.
They also have incredible support and customer service. When you set up your plan, they will call you to ensure everything is going smoothly and will walk you through any steps you may or may not be having trouble with. They’re awesome like that.
Pricing is also an important factor. They won’t charge you an arm and a leg like other companies. You get a fair deal on a great service. In short, if you want to set yourself up for success, you it all starts with the right service, and this one has it all.
What platform should I use?
You may asking “Wait, what’s the difference between hosting and my platform?” Your hosting service is responsible for putting your blog online and keeping it there, but that’s where they’re responsibilities end.
The platform is the program you’ll use to create, design, and publish posts on your blog. If the hosting if your heart, the platform is the body, bones, flesh, and blood.
Now that we’ve made the distinction, it’s time to choosing your blogging platform. Most of the internet uses WordPress, but that alone shouldn’t be enough to convince you. What will push you over the edge though is how simple, easy, and intuitive it is.
If you’re familiar with word processing programs like Microsoft Word, then you’ll fit right into WordPress.
Hard to believe it, but all of that fancy HTML coding and formatting is simplified down to “bold”,”Italics”, and so on, just like you would see in one of those other programs.
If you have a knack for those kinds of things, you can instantly switch over to the manual mode to enter the codes yourself and tweak as you would like.
Beyond this, WordPress also offers something called plugins that allow you to add additional features like share buttons or email capture boxes without handling any scary coding or development. There are over 30,000 of these things, and they are an incredible reason to choose WordPress.
How long does it take to set up?
Oh, I don’t know, about five minutes? Ten if you’re internet is slow I suppose.
If you need some help, I have a step-by-step guide that will help walk you through the process. Once you have the hosting set up, WordPress installation is a snap (or automatic if you’d prefer). You’ll be on your way to writing the first post on your blog in no time!
How much will this cost me?
Surprisingly, it’s not an arm, nor a leg. Yep, you can keep all of your limbs and spare organs to yourself.
Let me ask you: how much do you pay for a cup of coffee in the morning? Anywhere from $3 to $6, right? What if I told you that you could pay that once for an entire month of hosting?
That’s right, just a handful of dollars a month. Any other expenses like plugins, premium themes, or advertising all come later and on your terms. Besides, once you get off the ground, you’ll be making enough money to let the hosting pay for itself and more!
What do you mean by “Self-hosted?”
This is a big one.
You see, many people will see an option to start a free blog and jump on that opportunity because it’s advertised as free.
These types of blogs are not self-hosted. Instead, you’re given space on another website’s dime which means they own the blog, not you. You can’t do whatever you want, you’re limited in space, and it’s almost impossible to make any money.
Yeah, it starts free, but it holds you back ultimately. Don’t waste your time, take a bet on yourself. You’ll be glad you did.
Which service plan do you recommend?
Web Hosting Hub offers three plans for you to choose from. The basic Spark plan is a great one to start with. It has the benefit of multiple website capability, several domains, and free transfers if you have sites on other platforms.
That being said, the Nitro and Dynamo options give you more unlimited features to expand your blog or business.
In short, there’s not a single plan that beats the others, but Spark is a great place to start for all of the first-time bloggers out there.
What else do I need besides hosting?
You’ll also need a domain, which is your website address (but you don’t have to pay for it!).
My Domain Name: www.OnBlastBlog.com
By going through this website, Web Hosting Hub will give you your domain name absolutely free!
On top of that, your platform (most likely WordPress) is totally free, and Web Hosting Hub will install it automatically for you.
So, really, you don’t need anything else.
What is a niche?
A niche is where you live. It is the basis for everything you do on your blog. Often people will tell you that you need to “find” your blog’s niche. What this means is that you need to start with a broad topic that you’re passionate and knowledgeable about, and then narrow down that topic to a very detailed point.
Let’s say you like cooking. Okay, start with that and narrow it down. vegetarian diets, alright, but how do we get deeper? Vegan diets, there we go! Now we’re at the heart of the topic in a place where you can cater to a very specific subset of people. That’s your niche.
What is bounce rate?
This is one of many ways that Google decides how helpful your website is, therefore it’s something you have your eye on at all times. The way a bounce rate is calculated is by looking at the number of people who visit your site, and taking the percentage of them who left after only looking at one page. Furthermore, bounce rate in Analytics is determined by whether a user actually made an interaction with your website.
So, let’s say I go to your blog and read the homepage, then leave to go somewhere else. I would be considered a “bounce” and if I was the only person to visit your site, your bounce rate would be 100%. Instead, if I saw your homepage, found a cool post, clicked on it and read that before leaving, I would no longer be considered a bounce.
The lower this number is, the better your impression is on search engines. You can keep it down by making sure that people who visit find a lot of reasons to stick around.
What is a theme?
A theme is the layout of your blog. With WordPress, you can choose from a huge number of both free and premium themes. This will set up every aspect of the bog’s design from the font, to the background color, to the way menus look. It’s important to find one that stands out from the rest.
If you invest in a nice premium theme, you’ll find that these are more interactive and eye-catching than the free ones.
You also want to make sure that regardless of which kind you use, that it looks good on both a computer, and on a mobile device since more and more people are viewing the internet on their smartphones and tablets these days.
What’s the difference between a domain and a URL? What is SEO?
Your domain is part of the larger web address known as the URL. So, if I look at a full website like www.onblastblog.com, that entire string of letters and dots is a URL. The domain is the part of it in the middle and end. When you choose your blog’s domain, you’re picking the name that goes in the center of the URL, and which extension is has on the end (.com; .net; .org).
The term SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization.” It’s the process of designing and creating content on your blog in such a way that it will rank higher than other websites on Google when someone searches for your topic. That’s the broad definition.
Instead, you should learn about SEO in small bursts, and implement those practices into your blog. Once you’ve mastered them, try something new, and continue building your arsenal of tactics. The world of SEO is always changing, new updates to search engines constantly change and redefine what are considered best practices.
Stay on the forefront, don’t bite off more than you can chew, and you’ll have a hold on this stuff in no time.
What happens if I run into trouble?
Email me immediately! I personally respond to everyone. By self hosting your blog through me, you have access to around-the-clock customer service WITH ME.
I basically come with your website, for free.
That being said, you can save yourself some trouble by avoiding a lot of the common mistakes that rookie bloggers make. Other than that, just play it cool and remember that my help is always there.
I don’t know anything about HTML, is this going to be difficult?
Many new bloggers will have little to no experience with HTML coding (including me!), and learning it can take a lot of time.
Luckily, you won’t need any knowledge of this to start your blog. WordPress is structured with simple and easy to use buttons that you’ll recognize.
These buttons will handle all of the coding for you, and additional plugins will fill in the gaps. So don’t sweat the complicated stuff, but if you do have experience with it, you can go into the background and work your magic.
What if I don’t have the money?
If you’re short on cash, consider trying out the starter level plan known as Spark. If that’s still too much, don’t jump on a free blog unless you’re doing WordPress.com which will let you transfer to the self-hosted .org at a later time.
My advice to you is to start building your ideas around the topic and niche of your blog. Maybe start putting together some posts and save your pennies until you can bring that blog to life.
I already started a free blog, can I switch?
Making the switch is actually easier than you’d think. With Web Hosting Hub, you’ll get 3 free website transfers and platforms like WordPress offer plenty of tools and guides to help you with the process.
Everything will move over and you’ll be set up on the new host and platform before you know it!
How do I figure out what to Blog about?
Coming up with blog post ideas isn’t an easy task, but it’s possible. The best way to figure out your focus is to ask yourself what you love and why you love it. Find a subject, then narrow it down to a specific little niche that you’re passionate about.
Do your research, check out the competition, and just remember that it needs to be something you love. That’s the key right there.
Can people hack my blog?
Anything online is vulnerable to hacking, it’s just a simple fact of life.
That being said, you can significantly lower your chances of being hacked into by creating a complicated username and password combination. Just keep yourself safe by being smart and always backing up your content.
You’ll also find some great plugins that will help secure your blog, so keep an eye out for those.
Do I have to use my own personal email address?
Actually no, you don’t.
For example, I have a contact here at On Blast Blog: Matt(at)OnBlastBlog(dot)com. You can have all of your correspondence come through here, which will eliminate the need to give out your personal email address.
If I start another blog, do I have to pay for more hosting?
Nope! Depending on your hosting plan, you can have as many different websites as you wish! Of course, you’ll want to keep in mind that more sites will cause more load on your server space, but even so, you don’t need to purchase multiple plans for multiple websites.
Who owns my blog if its self-hosted?
That’s right, the domain, the website, and everything on it is yours to control and create as you see fit. This is one of the many benefits of self-hosting. It allows you to be control of your content.
No one can tell you what to do, they can certainly give you advice, but ultimately it is your blog and your website.
What’s the difference between shared, VPS, and Dedicated hosting?
These three terms refer to how your blog is hosted. With shared for example, you are sharing space on a single server with other websites.
VPS is the same idea, but your server space is separated (virtually, not physically) from everyone else, which pushes more power towards your blog’s speed and loading times.
Finally, dedicated hosting allows you to have your very own server and all of the power it wields. While you may think this is an obvious choice, remember that you won’t need that level of power in the beginning. An entire server is for an online business or major blog that needs it.
Can I backup my site in case something happens?
Yes, absolutely. Web Hosting Hub offers automatic backup services each month, or you can use plugins on WordPress to back up your content. Finally, you can just keep all of your posts saved on your computer or in a cloud service like Google Drive, which is absolutely free.
Can I really make money by choosing self-hosting?
People constantly ask how to make money blogging, and I’m happy to show them the various ways it can be done. It all revolves around a self-hosted blog though. Without that crucial piece of the puzzle, there’s no way to make the kind of money that you want or need.
Is making money blogging legitimate?
Absolutely! The methods by which you make money blogging are the same methods that massive corporations and companies have been doing since the dawn of business. Things like advertising, product sales, and affiliate programs are all real ways that companies make money.
Nothing is stopping you from using the same tactics, they aren’t exclusive to massive corporations, anyone can sell ad space or join an affiliate program so long as they own the website, which is true when you self-host your blog.
How do people make money blogging?
There no single way to do it, but that’s actually a good thing! People who make lots of money blogging do so by utilizing multiple methods of generating income. Here are a few examples:
- Selling ad space on their blog using programs like Google AdSense and other similar sites.
- Joining affiliate programs to promote products or services (and making money each time there’s a sale!)
- Writing their own e-books, or selling their product/service through their blog.
These are just a few examples, but successful bloggers utilize multiple income streams to bring in thousands of dollars each month, sometimes even tens of thousands! There’s no real limit to how much you can make.
How long does it take to make money as a blogger?
It’s honestly different for everyone. For some people it can happen in less than a year. For others, it takes time to set up the blog and make it known. The first goal you have shouldn’t be to make money. Instead, you should focus on gathering a steady and loyal following of people.
Then you should focus on creating new and exciting posts on a consistent basis. Once you have the framework in place, multiple methods of income can be employed to start making you money.
There you have it, 20 FAQs on starting a self-hosted blog. With these questions finally answered, nothing is stopping you from going out there and making blogging history.
Don’t forget, if there’s a question I didn’t cover in the post, feel free to ask in the comments below or by contacting me: Matt(at)OnBlastBlog(dot)com. I’m always here to help.