Hosted vs Self-Hosted – How to Choose the Best Host for Your Blog

You’ve probably come to this blog post because you want to start a blog but have absolutely no idea where to start. Or maybe you’ve…

by 

You’ve probably come to this blog post because you want to start a blog but have absolutely no idea where to start. Or maybe you’ve already got a blog but are not happy with the way things are going.

When I first started blogging, I had absolutely no idea what any of this meant. I wanted to just write my blog and hopefully get a few people to read it.

hosted vs self-hosted. which is best for your blog pinterest pin

I initially went with Squarespace as this was a hosted website. This meant that all the backend stuff of blogging was taken care of (like my domain name, hosting and the software to enable me to blog) and I could concentrate on writing my blog posts and building a following.

Although I love Squarespace and I am very impressed with how easy it is to use, I quickly realised that I had no real control over my blog or design.

So, what is the difference between Hosted and Self-Hosted?

There are so many host options to choose from, it can be a little overwhelming. WordPress, Squarespace, Wix and Blogger, to name a few, are all popular choices and all have their advantages and disadvantages.

Hosted Website

This is where your blog is hosted on the website builder, such as Squarespace or WordPress.com. These are called Software as a Service (SAAS) platforms and they are a one stop shop to providing you with all your blogging needs. This includes hosting services (servers where your website files are kept) and the software to help build your blog.

Self-Hosted website

These are an open-source software which means you can download the software and change it to suit your needs.

WordPress.org is by far the most popular website. It is free, but you must pay to have your domain name registered and choose a company to host all your blog files on their servers. Good websites include SiteGround (the one I use), BlueHost and GoDaddy.

The best analogy for a hosted and self-hosted website which most people use is to see it like owning a home vs renting a house.

A hosted website is like renting a house. You are paying someone else to rent space where you can host your website but will have limited freedom to do what you want.

A self-hosted website is like owning your home (albeit with a mortgage). You are paying someone to host all your files (the “mortgage lender”) but you have full control over what you do with your website.

Hosted vs Self-Hosted. How to choose the right host for your blog Pinterest Pin

What is the best hosting solution for me?

As with anything, there are pros and cons to both options. This should help you decide which is best for you.

Cost

Hosted Blog – You can start a website for free via sites like Wix, WordPress.com or Blogger and Squarespace for as little as $12/£10 per month.

You will still need to pay for your domain name and any extra features you want on top of this.

Self-Hosted Blog – although creating a blog isn’t free, it is extremely cheap to find a good hosting package.

I pay SiteGround $50/£43 per year which gives me a basic hosting package.

Difficulty

Hosted Blog – it is extremely easy to set up and use. All you need to do is create your blog domain name and content and the hosting software will sort out all the other technical details like software updates for your blog, maintenance, and hosting.

Self-Hosted Blog – this means you need to do a little more on the technical side of things, but it is relatively easy to do.

All good sites will talk you through how to set it up and there are plenty of YouTube tutorials to help you get on your way if you ever find yourself stuck!

Flexibility

Hosted Blog – you do not have full control over your website and the flexibility of your blog will be at the mercy of the hosting website.

This is one of the reasons I left Squarespace and went to WordPress.org. Although I liked the design of my website via Squarespace, it looked like 1000s of other blogs out there and I wanted full control.

Self-Hosted Blog – I think the biggest advantage of having a self-hosted blog is complete control. If you use a website like WordPress.org, there are thousands of plug-ins and themes to choose from so you can really create a unique website.

There are no limitations as to how your blog looks and you can monetise your blog more successfully.

SEO

Hosted Blog – you can still optimise your blog for SEO, but you will be limited to what the host will allow you to do.

You will not have access to all the amazing SEO tools out there to help you be seen by search engines.

Self-Hosted Blog – this is where a self-hosted blog comes into its own. As you have full control over your blog, you can use many plug-ins that are available to help you get maximum SEO.

My favourite and the one I use has to be Rank Math, but Yoast is also a fabulous SEO plug-in

Support

Hosted Blog – the big hosting platforms, like WordPress and Squarespace, have support options. However, I found them extremely slow to respond and at times, very frustrating.

If you are not happy with the level of support and service you are receiving, it is quite difficult to move to another blogging site.

Self-Hosted – I have been extremely impressed with the support from SiteGround. I had to move this website from another self-hosted platform, and they were very informative, helpful and responded to my questions quickly.

If you are not happy with the service of a self-hosted site and don’t get answers quick enough, it is quite easy to move to another self-hosted platform without having to move your whole website as well.

Monetisation

Hosted Blog – you can still monetise your hosted blog, but your options are limited. As your theme is predetermined, there is less space to put ads (if you wish to go down that route).

When my blog was on Squarespace, I used Google ads, but the return was quite minimal

Self-Hosted Blog – probably the biggest reason to go self-hosted – monetisation! When I moved my website over to WordPress.org, it had a huge impact on my SEO by using the Rank Math plug-in and maximising advertising space on my blog.

I was able to join Mediavine – the Ad Management Agency and start earning a decent wage from my blog.

More on Monetising your Blog – How to Start a Money Making Blog in 10 Easy Steps

The Verdict

I think it all depends on what you want your blog to do for you.

If it is just a hobby or somewhere to showcase your work to lead to other things, then a Hosted Blog is absolutely fine. It will take all the technical pressure away; it is quick and easy to set up and you can have a professional looking website for very little cost.

However, if you are looking at monetising and growing your blog, self-hosted is 100% the best option.

You will have full control over your website, you can create and tweak the design and add plugins to make it unique. WordPress.org is used by 40% of all websites on the internet, so you will be in good company!

More on Blogging…

Blogging – 20 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Blogging

How to Start a Money Making Blog in 10 Easy Steps

hosted vs self-hosted. How to choose the best host for your blog pinterest pin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.