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

You’ve probably clicked on this blog post because you want to start a blog but have absolutely no idea where to begin. Or, you’ve already…

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

When I started blogging, I had absolutely no idea about hosted or self-hosted blogs. I wanted something that was quick and easy to set up so I could concentrate on the content.

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Which type of hosting is best for beginners?

There was plenty of information about how to choose the best host for your blog, but I was impatient. I wanted to start publishing blog posts with the hope that a few people would read them.

I initially went with Squarespace which is a hosted website and one of the best web hosting service for blogs.

Using Squarespace 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.

Therefore, Squarespace is great for beginners.

Squarespace logo

However, 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.

I started researching the best web hosting service for blogs and this is when I realised the huge difference between hosted or self-hosted blogs.

What is the difference between Hosted or 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.

So, how do I choose a host?

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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 for 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 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.

Read more >>>

How to Choose a Blog Name That Will Help Grow Your Brand

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

How to choose the best host for your blog

As with anything, there are pros and cons to both options. Which type of hosting is best for beginners?

When you are weighing up the pros and cons on how to choose the best host for your blog, you need to take a few things into consideration.

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 – If you use a self-hosted website like WordPress.org, you have complete control. 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 in what you can do.

You will not have access to all the amazing SEO tools and plug-ins 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.

More on SEO >>>

How Important is Keyword Research for Bloggers? A Beginners Guide to Finding Keywords

SEO in colourful lettering

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, and 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 quickly 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 income.

Read More >>>

How to Start a Money Making Blog in 10 Easy Steps

girl sat on a bed with a laptop and a latte

The Verdict

How do I choose a host?

I think it all depends on what you want your blog to do for you when you are considering the best web hosting service for blogs.

If it is just a hobby or somewhere to showcase your work to lead to other things, then a Hosted Blog is 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

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hosted or self-hosted?

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