The use of “site building for dummies” platforms is widespread, but they are not really what you need if you want to take blogging seriously.
Simply put, free hosted blogging platforms like Blogger, Tumblr, and WordPress.com are not capable enough for a standout website. Although these platforms can help you build and run a professional-looking site in less than a day, they lack the flexibility and firepower needed if you want to create a blog that people would see as an authority.
What is a Self-Hosted Blog?
An alternative to using free hosted platforms is to create a self-hosted blog. For most bloggers, this setup requires two things to run: a web host and a content management system or CMS.
Today, aspiring bloggers have several options when choosing a web host they want to work with. Remember that your web host directly affects the performance and dependability of your website when it comes to uptime.
Sure, a new blog will barely have any traffic at all, which is why any cheap host would work at that point. However, once you start getting substantial traffic, a subpar host will lead to unexpected downtimes and slowdowns. Affordable hosting solutions also aren’t exactly security powerhouses, which is why they can leave you vulnerable to cyber-attacks such as DDoS, malware injection, and brute force login attacks. All in all, these problems will negatively impact user experience and your blog’s reputation.
When it comes to a CMS, most experienced bloggers recommend WordPress.org. It is the most popular CMS that bloggers use due to its smooth learning curve, versatility, and scalability.
How to Start a Self-Hosted Blog
To start a self-hosted blog, you need to sign up for a web hosting plan and install WordPress on your account. Fortunately, most web hosting companies already include a WordPress installation app that’s readily available from the web server.
Although installing WordPress can be a breeze, coming up with a domain name requires research and can be more time-consuming than getting your site ready. Just remember that a good domain name is brandable and will give your audience an idea of what your site is about.
To help you learn more about the process of starting a self-hosted blog, below are some FAQs you need to know:
#1. What Blog Hosting Plan Should I Choose?
When signing up for a web hosting plan, new bloggers are usually given three options: shared hosting, VPS hosting, and dedicated hosting.
The shared hosting is the “starter pack” of hosting solutions as it suits new blogs with little traffic. It is also typically the most affordable. Still, you need to pay attention to the reliability of your hosting provider to make the most out of your investment.
However, once the volume of traffic to your site increases, you must consider upgrading to a VPS host. Just like shared hosting, your site will be run on the same server as some other clients. However, you will have a set allocation of server resources to keep your site unaffected by the excessive usage of others.
Dedicated hosting, on the other hand, best fits websites that accommodate a ton of traffic and an extensive database. The capacity of a dedicated host is enterprise-grade, and it is not viable for bloggers due to its price, even to those who cater to thousands of traffic per day.
#2. Why WordPress?
In addition to ease of use, WordPress is by far the most robust CMS. It does not matter if you need to build an eCommerce store, an online portfolio, a travel blog, or a booking website — WordPress will provide you with all the tools you need to get it done.
One of the main advantages of using WordPress is the sheer number of plugins you can use to add functionality and visual features. By installing plugins, you can add image sliders, interactive calendars, contact forms, call-to-action buttons, and everything else you need in a site without writing a single line of code.
Customization is also a breeze for WP-powered websites. All you need to do is to choose from a vast selection of themes and use the visual editor to personalize your site’s design.
#3. Do I Need to Learn How to Code?
The short answer is no — anyone can build a functional blog with no coding knowledge with a CMS like WordPress. Getting your site up and running only requires basic computer skills like registering accounts, verifying your email, and interacting with a visual interface.
#4. How Secure is WordPress?
Security is a major factor that concerns would-be site owners. Thankfully, WordPress is a very secure platform by itself. Besides, there are plenty of security plugins you can use to tighten your digital security — from web application firewalls to anti-spam filters.
Don’t forget that your web host also plays a significant role in your site’s overall security. To lessen the load of watching over your blog’s security, try to opt for a hosting solution with integrated security features if possible.
For example, Bluehost offers the SiteLock service, which equips web servers with malware monitoring, site verification, app scanning, and other features designed to prevent security breaches.
#5. What is the Minimum Investment Needed for a Basic Blog?
Some bloggers get into the activity purely as hobbyists. They blog just for the joy of writing; not with the ambition to make a profit. If you belong to this group of individuals, then you are better off with a free blogging platform.
However, what if you do not want to dismiss the idea of monetization altogether? Then the minimum investment required would be the amount you need for domain registration and web hosting — that is it.
Fortunately, WordPress is completely free to use. You do not have to pay for anything to unlock all the essential features of WordPress such as writing blog posts and creating menus. There is also a wide selection of free themes and plugins you can use without spending a dime.
#6. Do I Need a New Host for a New Site?
No. You do not need a new host or hosting plan whenever you build a new website.
Most web hosting solutions allow for some different domain names at once. In fact, a lot of hosting companies brag about offering an “unlimited” type of hosting. Just remember that there is no such thing as unlimited, and using a single hosting account for a certain number of websites will eventually exhaust your server resources.
#7. Is Changing Platforms Going to be a Big Problem?
Suppose you made the mistake of signing up for a cheap hosting service that failed to deliver acceptable performance. Your best bet is to migrate from one host to another. Moreover, although it is not impossible, it can be a tough task to accomplish.
Of course, you can hire someone to help you ensure all your data gets transferred correctly. Site migration can also be a very time-consuming task, but someone who can implement a methodical approach should be able to speed things up. However, it does not mean you cannot perform the migration yourself. Just make sure you follow a well-detailed, thorough guide for web hosting service migration, and you should be fine.
Running a self-hosted blog is a tremendous responsibility. Hopefully, this post answered all of the questions that aspiring bloggers may have regarding self-hosted blogs. Just remember that the best way to learn is to get your hands dirty and test things out yourself.