Tracy S. Morris

Quirky Mysteries, Screwball Fantasy and Sassy History

Monday Musing: Blogging for Fun and Profit. Part 2 – To Self-Host or Not to Self-Host?

Written By: Tracy - May• 02•11

As I discussed in last Monday’s post, you need to pick a theme for your blog and come up with a regular schedule for posting.

Once you have done this, you should determine if you want to host the blog yourself (which is called self-hosting), or to place your blog with a blogging platform that will host the blog for you. If you decide to go with a blogging platform that hosts a blog for you, you can probably skip the rest of this blog and go straight to next Monday’s blog, which describes the different hosting platforms.

Pros of self-hosting:

Branding

There are pros and cons of self hosting vs. placing your blog on a hosted site. The largest reason that most bloggers choose to host their blogs themselves is for branding purposes. As a writer, you are building your name as a brand (for example, I began writing when I was single under my maiden name, Tracy S. Morris.  Although I got married and legally changed my name, I continue to write under the name Tracy S. Morris. My legal name is Tracy Godsey, but my brand is Tracy S. Morris).

By self hosting, you can claim your domain name as your brand name (tracysmorris.com). If you go with a company that hosts your blog for you, the company will add extensions into your domain name. For example, when you host your blog through WordPress, your domain has the extension wordpress.com (if I let WordPress host my blog – which I don’t-, the blog would be tracysmorris.wordpress.com). When you host through Livejournal, the extension is livejournal.com (for example, my old Livejournal blog before I migrated to the branded, self-hosted WordPress platform was writertracy.livejournal.com).

Freedom of Speech

If you self-host your blog, you can put up anything you want. By contrast, if you are hosted by blogger or a company such as Livejournal, you may be subject to censorship. Livejournal has begun asking its users to indicate if the blog is pg-13 or not. If the blog is rated mature, anyone who has not signed in and indicated their age must click a link that tells the blogging company that they understand that the blog has mature content before they can see the content. Additionally, platforms such as Blogger monitor your blog to ensure that you don’t have too many ads or too many links to the same website. If you do, they may take your blog down as a “spam blog.”

If you write what falls into the hosting company’s parameters of “acceptable,” then this won’t be a problem. But if you write graphic horror or erotica, you may run into some issues (fanfiction writers of Yaoi, slash and similar fiction have encountered problems with livejournal in the past).

Freedom from Change

If you host through another company, your blog is subject to the changes of the company. In the past 10 years, Livejournal has changed hands several times (they are currently in the hands of a Russian company).  One fact of being hosted through a blogging company is that they are a business and you are a client. When they choose to change their product, you as a client have little say so in their decision (Just ask the people of Facebook every time the company changes their look).

Pros of Other-Hosting:

No Fees

Hosting your blog through the blogging companies is a great option for beginners. You pay nothing (or almost nothing) to get a blog started. You may have to endure ads, but that’s the price you pay for a free blog. When you self-host, you will need to pay for your domain and server space from a hosting company. Other fees self-hosting blogs may incur include blogging software (such as the self-hosted version of WordPress), individual template designs, anti-spam software or other programs designed to make your blog run smoothly.

Marketing Done For You

Companies such as Livejournal have a built-in social networking platform similar to Facebook’s friending option. You can choose to follow other journals, and they can choose to follow you. Followed journals are usually compiled into a daily newsletter that you can read. If you choose to self-host, you have to do more to get your name out there. You will also have to learn how to optimize your site for Google search engines and burn your RSS feed to make it more accessible to readers (I’ll cover how to do this in future posts).

Getting Started Self Hosting

If you choose to blog through a company that hosts your blog, all you have to do to get started is to go to their website and click on a link. Most blogging companies have a user friendly sign-up process that will walk you through all the steps.

If you want to self-host, you first need to choose to register your domain. Registering a domain is very inexpensive and simple. Use a company called a domain registrar. The fee to register a domain is very low. My husband the computer techie tells me that it’s anywhere from $5 to $20 (well-known registrars may charge up to $35, but you can get the domain for much less than that if you look around). Once you’ve chosen a registrar, check the availability for your chosen domain name. (If you choose a blogging company, they may offer to register your domain name for you). Plenty of companies will appear in a Google search if you type in the words “Domain Registrar”. Most of these companies have a very user-friendly process for registering a domain name.

Most domains will give you the option of your extension (.com, .org, .net etc.)  For each extension you grab, there is an additional charge since it’s an additional domain. .com is the most common one, so if it’s available grab it. If you anticipate becoming the next Stephen King, you might want to grab .net or .org as well so that others can’t take it.

Then you need to choose a host company. One of the most famous of the host companies out there is Go Daddy. But if you don’t like their commercials or the CEO’s policies there are plenty of other companies out there. The company that I’m currently using is called Host Gator. Just like the other services that I’ve discussed here, host companies usually have a user-friendly interface for signing up with them.

Now that you have your domain claimed and a place to put your blog, you’re ready to get started. Next week, I’ll go through the merits of various blogging platforms, including WordPress, Blogger, Typepad and Livejournal.

I’ve noticed on the web that there are writers who are charging for e-books with this information in it. I’m putting this information up for free. If you feel like showering me with money, feel free to purchase one of my books through Yard Dog Press, or Baen Books.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.