There are basically two ways of hosting a blog. One is to use an “all-in-one” package. These typically offer everything you need to start, run and/or grow a blog (or e-commerce store). The other is to self-host. This means that you choose and manage your blogging tools yourself. Making the right choice here is very important. Here are the key points to consider.
How IT-literate are you?
Do terms like VPS, HTML, and SSL actually make sense to you? If not, are you willing to take the time to skill up so you can make sense of the technical side of blogging? Alternatively, are you willing and able to pay someone else to manage the technical side of things for you?
If you’re not particularly IT-literate then using an all-in-one hosting package is likely to be the simplest and most cost-effective option for you. You can always change to self-hosting later if it becomes appropriate for your blog.
In this situation, the main benefit of an all-in-one hosting package is that your provider will take care of your security. The fact that all-in-one hosting packages tend to be much easier to learn than self-hosting tools is a useful bonus.
What’s your budget?
You can start a blog for absolutely no outlay. Realistically, however, if you are to have any hope of monetizing it, then you will need to spend some money. If money is really tight, then your best option is probably just to buy a domain and link it to Blogger.
Blogger has very limited functionality but it will get you off the ground. If you write great content and promote it well, you can reasonably expect to be able to grow your community. Once you reach the point you can seriously look at monetization, then you can switch to another platform.
If you have a bit more budget, then it’s definitely worthwhile looking at a paid hosting option. Self-hosting often works out more economical if you can do at least most of the work yourself. There are, however, two key points to keep in mind.
Firstly, your time has value. If you’re really struggling with the practicalities of self-hosting, then it might actually be more economical to use an all-in-one hosting option. Secondly, the best self-hosting deals tend to require users to pay for at least a year’s worth of service upfront. Relatively few of them offer monthly payment options and if they do they tend to be a lot more expensive.
What are your plans for monetization?
The main routes to monetization are adverts, affiliate links, sponsored posts, and selling your own products. If you want to sell your own products you can either do so via your own blog or use a third-party platform (e.g. Amazon, eBay, or Etsy) and use your blog to promote them.
As a rule of thumb, sponsored posts and selling your own products are possible on any package regardless of whether you go all-in-one or self-host. If you’re interested in adverts and/or affiliate links then you may get more options if you self-host. This situation is, however, constantly changing so it’s advisable to do your own research when you’re on the point of monetization.
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