I’m assuming since you’re reading this article, you decided to host your blog with Host Gator. If not, you’re in the wrong place. Visit the How to install WordPress parent article and choose the right install WordPress article for you.
Installing WordPress on Hostgator
Installing WordPress on HostGator is incredibly easy and is one of the many reasons I recommend hosting with them. HostGator uses a software package called Fantastico. Fantastico is a commercial scripting library that automates the installation of web applications to websites. Fantastico is used by HostGator and they have a script that automatically installs WordPress for you. Here’s how you do it:
Login to control panel for your HostGator account. This information would have been provided to you by HostGator when they set-up your account.
Find Software/Services, then click on the Fantastico De Luxe icon (it’s a blue smiley face)
When the Fantastico screen opens, click on the WordPress link located in the left hand menu.
In the left hand window, some information on WordPress will appear. This will tell you the version being installed. Click on the New Installation link.
Next, the installation screen will be displayed. Choose the domain that you would like WordPress installed to. If you have only one domain on your hosting account, than only one will be listed.
For the Install in directory field, leave it blank if you want WordPress installed to the root or enter a directory if you want it installed to a sub-directory. In most cases you’ll leave this blank; however, if WordPress is only a portion of your site you should install it to subdirectory. For example, if you already have a site on your domain and want to add a blog using WordPress, you would install WordPress to say the blog directory. Again, for most of you, this field will just be left blank.
Next we’ll complete the admin access data. The admin account is the primary administrator account for your new blog. Put whatever name here you would like in the Administrator-username field. In the Password field, enter a password. Use something that is easy for you to remember. Personally I suggest using a combination of letters and numbers as this makes the password harder to guess.
Next we’ll fill in the Base information. For Admin Nickname, either put the same admin name you entered above or you can chose a different name. For Admin Email, enter your primary email address where you want emails from your WordPress site sent to. These emails include comment notifications, new user notifications, etc. For Site Name, put the name of your blog. For my blog it would be: Side Income Blogging. Then enter a description or a tagline for your blog.
Click Install WordPress.
The next screen will show a summary of the installation. If everything looks accurate (it should be), than click on Finish Installation.
That’s it! Yes, it was really that easy. Like I said, HostGator makes the process simple.
Now that you have WordPress installed, we’ll get it set-up and ready to go. I’ll walk you through the set-up process in my next article in the Start a money making blog series
In the six years that I’ve been blogging, I’ve learned a number of things about blogging. I thought I would share with you the 10 most critical things that you should never forget when blogging. These are core values and attributes that you should always keep in the foresight of your mind whenever you are working on your blog.
1 – Put your readers first, without them your blog is nothing
Many bloggers make the mistake of not putting their readers first. Sure search engine traffic is great, but without readers your blog just isn’t a blog. Readers comment, they come back day after day, they support you, they promote you and most important for me is they encourage you.
As your blog grows, don’t forget your readers. They helped you to get where you are. They are large part of what makes up your blog.
2 – Never ever plagiarize, especially from another blog
As I became more active in the blogging community I was surprised to find that there were bloggers plagiarizing other bloggers. Let me tell you straight out, there is one real quick way to be blacklisted by the blogging community and that is to plagiarize. Don’t steal other bloggers content and don’t use other bloggers content without their permission. Frankly, I always tried to avoid even making my articles seem similar to theirs to avoid the perception of plagiarizing.
3 – Be honest and don’t lie
Trust is incredibly important when blogging. If your readers trust you, they tell others about you and your blog grows. If your readers trust you, they click through on your affiliate links and buy the products you recommend and you earn money. If you lie and get caught, your readers lose that trust, your growth stops and so does your income.
I’ll share a personal story just to prove that you never know who might be reading your blog. My wife and I were out to dinner one night in the small town we live in. At the restaurant was a couple we had met a few weeks before and enjoyed talking to. We were just chatting about hobbies, work, etc. I mentioned that I was a blogger and earned a decent side income blogging. Maggie, the lady, said she read lots of blogs and asked which blogs I wrote on. I wasn’t fully anonymous at the time, but I also wasn’t openly telling everyone who I was either. I decided to tell her, I mean what are the chances right?
I mentioned that I ran a Christian Personal finance blog. She replied “Really?? I read lots of personal finance blogs. She then went on to explain that she had found this great new blog called “Gather Little by Little” that she had been reading and loved it. *GASP*
I hesitated for a bit and told her it was my blog. Of course she laughed and didn’t believe me. I ended up convincing her that I was indeed the author and she was shocked, as was I. Fortunately what I wrote about was all true and what I said I did, I really did. We’re now really good friends with Charlie and Maggie.
4 – Rarely delete comments
If you don’t have thick skin (read #5), develop it real quick. In my early days of blogging, I deleted comments I didn’t like or that I found offensive. My blog right?
As my readership grew and I started receiving more and more comments, people started noticing that I was deleting certain comments. Those people started calling me out for censoring my blog. They accused me of trying to hide the bad and show only the good. What?? But after I thought some about this, I realized they were right, that was exactly what I was doing.
I learned pretty quick to only delete comments that were really bad and that might question the family friendly environment I had going on my blog. Even in those cases, I usually edited the comment some rather than delete it.
One of the things that makes a blog a blog and that people sincerely value in a blog are the comments. Be respectful of any and all comments. Reply with integrity and professionalism and just ignore the ones that are trying to bait or troll you.
5 – You have to have thick skin
The internet is full of people. Most of them are very very nice and reply with thoughtful and sincere comments. Others though…well let’s just say they can be vicious, mean and cruel. The trick to dealing with these types of people is to just understand and know that some people like attention and will do whatever they can to get it. When these types of people make comments that are offensive or hurt your feelings, you just need to either ignore them or respond in a nice way. Don’t ever make the mistake of lowering yourself to their level, it just makes you look bad.
I always follow a simple rule:
If a comment makes me mad, and I’m feeling inclined to respond immediately with an equally negative comment, I walk away for a while. Just take some time and let your emotions calm down. Once you do, you’ll find you can respond better to the comment.
Always remember that you blog reflects on you and that includes your articles, you comments and your interaction outside of the blog. All of these are part of your personal brand.
Be prepared though, their are some real winners out there and they will eventually find your blog. When they do, well think of it this way: You’ve reached the big time.
6 – Socialize
One of the things that surprised me about blogging was how social it was. Want links from other bloggers? Get to know them by spending time talking to them. One of the best ways I found to get to know other bloggers was to participate in social media (you can find me on Google+). Socializing with other bloggers helps you to know them and helps them get to know you. Once you are socially active, you’ll start getting links and recognition from other bloggers and sometimes even big ones. Links from large blogs can really drive a large amount of traffic your way.
Don’t make the mistake of not recognizing the importance of relationships. Like any other business, blogging is more than just running the business, you have to market yourself and participate in the blogging community to help grow your blog. I’ve met a bunch of really great friends through blogging, and while I’ve never met most of them in person, I consider some of them great friends.
7 – Write often
Write and publish articles as often as you can. On my personal finance blog, I published an article a day. Some other bloggers I was working with published 2 and 3 articles a day. Their blogs grew more quickly than mine. Why? Search engines hasve something called bots. Bots visit your site and look for new content. When they find it, they index that content so it shows up in the engines search results pages. The more often you publish content, the more frequently those bots visit your site and the more articles you have in the showing up in the search engines search results pages. Those search results pages equal content.
Additionally, people visit blogs to read content. If you’re publishing often, people visit your blog more frequently and tell others about your blog more through social media. More people reading your content, the quicker you grow.
Now not everyone has the time or ability to publish 2 articles a day let alone 1 and some of you may only be able to do 1 or 2 articles a week. That’s okay, just know that your blog will still grow, just not as fast as a similar blog publishing content more often. The important thing is to establish a routine. As your blog grows, your readers will have expectations about how often and when you will publish articles. Set a schedule and stick to it. If you publish once a week, always publish on the same day at the same time, that way people will know when to visit your blog.
When I was writing on GLBL, personal things would come up and I would occasionally skip a day or two. I would get emails from readers worried about me because they know I published an article a day. My readers were awesome.
8 – Relate to your readers and be personal
GLBL grew quickly and many of us in the blogging network I was in spent a great deal of time discussing what made some of our blogs grow and others not grow.
We all felt like the blogs that shared a more personal side of the blogger grew more quickly than bloggers that didn’t share personal details. My articles were often about some personal experience or story that happened to me related to personal finance. I shared stories about my kids, my family and my friends. My readers really enjoyed hearing about my life. Yea I know, I couldn’t believe it either…but they really did!
Some of my most popular articles were story articles. One in particular was incredibly popular where I shared the story of going to a homeless shelter with my kids one evening and the life changing experience it had on all of us.
Don’t be afraid to share personal stories and details about yourself. Doing so helps your readers connect with you and relate. Also, don’t be afraid to admit your mistakes. Those were also some of my most popular articles. Everybody makes mistakes, and seeing that someone running a popular blog makes mistakes too just makes people not feel so alone or stupid.
Relate to your readers and they will reward you for it. Be real.
9 – Grammar, spelling and readability matter
Grammar and spelling are my #1 biggest weakness when it comes to blogging. Grammar wise I’m pretty good, but my spelling is horrible. While you might not think it’s important, your readers will call you out in a heart beat for a typo or spelling error. Also, making numerous spelling or grammar errors reflects on how professional you are.
If you struggle even in the slightest with grammar or spelling, I strongly advise you to come up with some way to get help or mitigate your weakness. As an example, here’s what I do: I write the initial draft, save it and let it sit for a few hours or even days. Then I come back and I completely re-read the article. This step in and of itself finds most of my grammar or spelling errors. I also occasionally ask my wife or a friend to proof read my articles as well.
Don’t under estimate the importance of grammar and spelling, it will bight you.
(yes I know it’s bite…just seeing if you were paying attention)
10 – Blogging is a journey
I’m not sure why I didn’t recognize this early on, as with most things in life, blogging is a journey. You won’t spend a year blogging and find out that one day you just suddenly know everything there is to know. There are constantly new things to learn. The internet changes extremely rapidly and just trying to keep up with the change is challenge enough.
As you just dive in and start blogging you’ll learn things as you go. Your writing will become better, you’ll learn little tricks, learn about cool software that will help you make your blog better, you’ll learn techniques for attracting visitors and techniques for writing articles that are successful on social media. You’ll continue to learn and grow and it won’t stop. I’ve been blogging now for 6 years and I still learn new things about blogging every day. I love that aspect of it actually.
Don’t make the mistake of trying to learn everything there is to know before you start, you’ll never start. Just dive in and begin, learn as you go. One day you’ll be like me and look back on your early articles and think to yourself “What in the world was I thinking…”
Are you a blogger? What things would you recommend new bloggers not forget? What important advice can you share that would benefit others. Join in and add a comment!
3 incredibly irritating things you will have to deal with as a blogger
I’ve been blogging since 2006 and while 99% of the time I love it, I have learned that there a few things I find incredibly irritating and painful to deal with. Unfortunately, these are things that you as a blogger will also have to deal with. These things will interrupt your plans, try to ruin your day, and often just make you really angry.
All of these things will happen and there isn’t a whole lot you can do to prevent them from occurring. What you can do is understand and accept that they will occur, often at the worst times, and when they do, undertand how to deal with them.
A troll will find you
I’m not really sure why and I doubt even the most educated of psychologists can explain the behavior, but eventually a troll will target your blog. Perhaps they are jealous, angry, lonely, bored … who knows?
I was targeted by a blog troll about a year after I started my personal finance blog. This person would disagree, in the most disrespectful way possible with pretty much everything I wrote about. Why? Just for the sake of disagreeing and stirring controversy.
My big mistake was responding. Yes, I admit it,I fed the troll… for far too long.
Once I realized this person was intentionally trolling me, I started deleting the comments and blocking them. Only to find another set of comments the next morning from the same troll, angry because I tried to block them and accusing me of censorship.
While it took me far too long to figure this out, the best strategy for dealing with the troll? Ignore them. Once I did this, a few weeks later the troll just disappeared. Of course another just showed up a few weeks later, and another after that…
The good news is that if you get a troll, it’s a sign that your blog is doing well. See, trolls like attention and only attack blogs and posts that get a decent amount of visibility. When you finally get a troll (and you will), the bright side is that having a troll is a good sign you’re successful. I know, sad, but true.
Tip: Ignore the troll and they will go away. So very easy to say, but so very hard to do. But trust me, it works.
Not only will your site go down, it will go down on a critical day when you’re linked from some big website or blog.
I spent almost a week crafting a blog post I was planning to publish onGet Rich Slowly. For those of you not familiar with the personal finance blogging space, Get Rich Slowly is one of the “big boys”. I must have proofread that post 50 times, before I finally got the nerve to send it to JD Roth via email. I didn’t expect to hear back from him, but it was worth a shot.
A week or so later, I received a reply letting me know that my article would be published. I was thrilled!! I immediately crafted up a “Welcome Get Rich Slowly Readers” post that I would publish at the same time my guest article went live. The day came and myguest post went live (I was blogging anonymously at the time under the pen name glblguy , GLBL, or Gibble asLynnae McCoyso named me). I hit the publish button for my “Welcome” post and pulled up Sitemeter to start watching the big traffic rush.
Not 10 minutes later, I started seeing error messages: “DB Connection Error”. Dreamhost, the terrible company I was hosting with at the time, had some big database issue that was impacting a very large number of their sites. Something to do with their storage arrays. Regardless, my site was down.
I opened a ticket with Dreamhost, only to be told that they were aware of the issue and working as quickly as they could. 8 hours later, my site came up. But even then was up and down for a few hours after that. I lost a significant amount of traffic and exposure. I was livid, but there was really nothing I could do.
While this was certainly the worst outage I’ve ever had, I’ve definitely had others since. I did end up moving toMedia Temple, which has proven to have a much higher up time, but even they’ve had issues that caused my sites to be down. The internet runs on computers, and we all know, computers aren’t perfect.
Ok, so Macs are really close to perfect, but I digress…
The bottom line is, your site will go down. Sometimes in the middle of the night when it doesn’t matter, and other times at the absolute worst possible time. Know that it will happen, be prepared for it and accept it.
Tip:The single most important thing you should be spending your money on is high quality hosting. If your blog is down or slow, you are literally turning people away at the door. Invest in high quality hosting upfront and know that it’s going to cost you, but in the long term it will save you.
Some jerk will steal your content
Having your content stolen and republished on some lazy jerk’s site that is trying to make a quick buck is another sign that your blog has reached the “big time”. On my personal finance blog my content was stolen almost weekly. Unfortunately it’s recently started here on Side Income Blogging as well.
See, there are these lazy good for nothing jerks out there who like to set up websites that subscribe to your blog’s RSS feed. These sites then republish your content on their blog (commonly called scrappers).
The big problem is, these lazy jerks often pay some SEO guru to get their site to rank high in search engines, so the scrapper ends up out ranking you for your own content and make money from it. Fortunately for us, Google has recently done some things with the Panda updates and with authorship that really help this, but it still occurs.
Let me tell ya, I go after these jerks like bees on honey,every single time. I didn’t care how small their site is or how much of my time it takes – I am ruthless about it. I work very hard tobuild up my blogsand work hard on my content. I am notgoing to allow some freeloading thief to get rich from my hard work. Not gonna happen.
Oh, and a pet peeve of mine, and forgive me as this might seem a little harsh:
There is NO excuse for stealing someone’s content.
I see “bloggers” republish content from other bloggers every so often, claiming they were just trying to promote the author’s great article. They’ll claim they didn’t mean to steal the content and thought it was ok since it was a blog.
Uh…sorry, but common sense should tell you this is wrong. I mean, would you copy an article from your local paper, magazine, or from a media site like CNN and repost it? No, of course not, because lawyers would be all over you and you may face copyright charges. Someone’s blog is no different and I really don’t get how people would think they are.
Here’s how I handle scrappers and content thieves:
I send them an email telling them to take the content down. That email includes a link to the content on their site, and a link to the content on mine. I explain they are infringing copyright law and that they have 48 hours to remove the content or I will escalate my efforts. If they scrapped my images too and are linking to the images on my site (this commonly happens when they scrape your RSS feed), I redirect their image request to an image that says something like “THIS IS STOLEN CONTENT”. If the content is not down in 48 hours, I proceed to step 2.
I file a DMCA take down notice with their hosting company and domain name provider. In the DMCA takedown, I include a link to my original article, and the copied article. 95% of the time, this does it. If the content isn’t down in 48 hours, I file another DMCA and I email the hosting companies support to make sure they got it. I will escalate this to the head of the hosting company if the content isn’t removed.
If that doesn’t work, I’ll have an attorney send them a letter. If I reach this point, the letter almost always does the trick. Attorney’s are expensive though, so I don’t like to take it to this level. I’ve only had to do this twice.
For sites housed in foreign countries, much of the above won’t work and these jerks know it. So they will ignore you. The good news is that most of these jerks make money using Adsense. If they ignore me and run Adsense, I hit them where it hurts. I report them for Adsense Terms of Service violations.
You do this by visiting their site, finding an Adsense ad and clicking on the small arrow often in the bottom right hand corner. Right now it says “Ad Choices”, but Google changes this sometimes. That link will take you to a page where you can report the site for violating Google’s terms of service. This works, as I’ve received a number of very angry and harsh emails from the scrappers because they’re Adsense account was banned.
Don’t let people steal your content and take it very seriously.
Murphy’s Law states: “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong“.
Yes, this applies to blogging as well. Knowing this certainly doesn’t make you feel better when it happens, but it does help you plan for it. Here’s just a few tips to help you mitigate your impact:
Keep multiple and frequent backups of your blog. This single item has saved me SO many times, I’ve lost count.
Keep the support contact information for your blog and any other pertinent information handy. I keep my information inEvernoteso I can access it anywhere.
If you aren’t technical, foster a relationship with someone that knows WordPress and blogging that you can rely on when you get in trouble. If you don’t have anyone like this, I would be more than gladto be that person for you. I do this for a number of my clients.
Set-upGoogle alertsso you can see when people mention or link to your blog. This is often a great way to spot stolen content.
Review your site onCopyscapefairly often or sign-up for their alerts.
Most importantly– When a troll leaves a nasty comment … when you get an email from some reader calling you stupid or worse…when your site is down and it’s out of your control …just walk away. Go play with your kids, or talk to your wife. Go for a walk, play your favorite game or read a book. This kind of stuff happens to all of us. Just walk away and calm down. Your blog, and it’s challenges will be there when you come back.
Now that you have your own blog name and domain and hosting set-up, there’s one little thing we need to take care of: pointing your domain name to your hosting company. First a little background.
What are domain name servers?
You use domain name servers each time you access a website, click on a web link or send an email. Domain name servers work magically behind the scenes. Every server on the internet is given an IP Address. An IP Address is unique number in the form 999.999.999.999. Right now while reading this article, your computer has a unique address assigned to it. The address is used to know where to send data too.
Can you imagine having to memorize these unique addresses for every website you want to visit? Fortunately domain name servers solve that problem for us. Domain name servers map IP Addresses to names we recognize like: SideIncomeBlogging.com, CNN.com, and Google.com. When you enter a web-site name into your browser, that name is mapped by domain name servers to the IP Address for that web-site and that IP address is then used to contact the server and return a web page to your browser.
Neat huh? I know this is a bit technical, but it will make sense in a second. See, when you set-up hosting your hosting company set-up a server for you and assigned that server an IP address. You also have a domain name, but right now your hosting company and domain name aren’t associated with each other. We need to update the domain name server database so the internet can map your domain name to your server and people actually see your website.
Update your name servers
Seeing as you’re now a domain name server guru, it’s time to log in to your domain registrar (the company you reserved your domain name with) and update your domain name settings. Unfortunately each domain registrar has different screens for updating your domain name servers. I’m going to walk you through how to do update them using MyDomain, the company I use. If you elected to use GoDaddy, you can find instructions here.
To update your DNS settings using MyDomain, do the following:
First find the welcome email sent to you from your hosting company. In that email will be 2 or 3 of the hosting companies domain name servers. For example, mine are ns1.mediatemple.net and ns2.mediatemple.net. Keep these handy, we’ll need them in a minute.
After logging in, you’ll be at the Manage Domains screen where all of the domains you own and that are registered with MyDomain will be listed.
Click on the domain name that you want to update. You’ll now be on the Domain Details page.
In the Name Servers section, click on Update Name Servers.
You’ll now be at the Name Server Update screen. Here’s where you will enter the domain name server names provided by your hosting company.
Enter the first name, the one proceeded by ns1 first and hit the Add button.
The second one will default. Verify that it’s the correct one and press the Add button.
If you have a third, enter it as well, but most hosting companies will only have two.
If you would like a confirmation email sent to you, enter your email address.
Press the Continue button to apply your domain name settings.
That’s it, your done! In generally takes 48-72 hours for your domain server changes to fully propagate across all of the domain servers in the internet. You’ll know when your settings have propagated when you enter your domain name in your browser and you get a default page for your hosting company rather one for MyDomain or GoDaddy.
As a blog consultant, one of the most common questions I get asked by new bloggers is whether they should use Blogger or WordPress? My answer as with most answers I give is: It depends. Additionally, most people need a little more information in order to understand what they are really asking.
What is blogger?
Blogger is a free web based blogging platform owned and operated by Google. Blogger allows people to quickly and easily start a blog with no initial cost. Here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons of blogger:
Free – This is the most attractive feature. Free is always good right? Uh no…nothing is free, see below.
The technical details are taken care of – With blogger, all you have to is blog. Google takes care of all the underlying technical details for you.
Adsense integration to monetize your blog is trivial. Makes sense right since both products are owned by Google.
Fast Google Indexing – Content on blogger blogs is indexed fast. While hotly debated, it’s also theorized that they get higher rankings, at least initially, on Google search result pages.
Very nice and easy to use interface – The Blogger interface is very slick, making it easy for even the most technically challenged people to easily create and set-up a nice looking blog. Blogger includes a number of ready made and really nice looking themes.
Flexibility – Blogger blogs are far less flexible and you’re constrained to what the Google blogger interface will allow you to do. For the things I like to do on my blogs, Google doesn’t work for me. While blogger can be customized, the flexibility on the look and feel of your blog isn’t near as robust on blogger.
Upgrading – If you decide to upgrade to a stand-alone blog later, upgrading can be a bit tricky and you might need to pay someone to help you.
Not taken seriously – Whether legit or not, blogger blogs are not taken as seriously by the blogging community as stand-alone blogs. Even though blogger now allows blogger blogs to have their own domain names, there’s just something about blogger based blogs that make it seem less professional.
Two additional, and in my opinion significant concerns with blogger, are found in the terms of service and specifically in the area in bold:
6. Intellectual Property Rights. Your Intellectual Property Rights. Google claims no ownership or control over any Content submitted, posted or displayed by you on or through Google services. You or a third party licensor, as appropriate, retain all patent, trademark and copyright to any Content you submit, post or display on or through Google services and you are responsible for protecting those rights, as appropriate. By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through Google services which are intended to be available to the members of the public, you grant Google a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license to reproduce, publish and distribute such Content on Google services for the purpose of displaying and distributing Google services. Google furthermore reserves the right to refuse to accept, post, display or transmit any Content in its sole discretion.
10. Termination; Suspension. Google may, in its sole discretion, at any time and for any reason, terminate the Service, terminate this Agreement, or suspend or terminate your account. In the event of termination, your account will be disabled and you may not be granted access to your account or any files or other content contained in your account although residual copies of information may remain in our system for some time for back-up purposes
I’m not sure about you, but it doesn’t make me feel real good that Google can use my content however they want without compensating me. Additionally they can refuse to publish your content and it’s based solely on their discretion. Meaning if they don’t like what you wrote, they won’t allow it on your blog. That’s enough to make me not want to use it.
The icing on the cake is found in article 10. They can terminate your blog and account whenever they want. Meaning you could write content everyday for 3 years and Google can just terminate your account meaning unless you’ve made backups, you lose all of your content. Sure, if you go with stand-alone hosting you run the risk, but what makes me a bit nervous is that Google has it’s hand in some many things these days, they could just terminate your blog if you write something they don’t like. For example, I’m a bit vocal about them owning the internet and having so much control these days. I would be a bit hesitant to write that on a blogger blog.
What is WordPress?
Answering this question gets a little confusing as their is a WordPress.com and a WordPress.org.
WordPress.com – Is similar to Blogger in that it’s a hosted blogging service. The big thing with WordPress.com blogs is you cannot run a number of very popular advertising options. For specifics, read their TOS.
WordPress.org – This is the site for the open source blogging software called WordPress. WordPress can be downloaded (for free) and installed on your own server. WordPress press is an awesome piece of blogging software and is the software used by most of the blogs on the internet. This site, Side Income Blogging is hosted at A Small Orange and is running on WordPress.
The advantages and disadvantages of WordPress.com are the same as blogger. Here are the advantages/disadvantages of self hosting and using the WordPress.org software:
Full control – This option gives you full control of how your blog looks. If you’re technical, you design and build your blogs look from scratch. If not, you can download any of the literally thousands of pre-built themes available on WordPress.org. Additionally, the WordPress software contains a “plugin” feature that allows you to install plugins to WordPress that extend and enhance it’s functionality. There are plugins for everything and new WordPress plugins coming out daily.
Free Software – As I mentioned above, WordPress is free. You’ll only need to pay for your domain name and your hosting. There are no additional expenses required.
Your content is your content – You own your content. This is a huge benefit in my opinion, as your content is what makes your blog. You should always maintain ownership and copyright for you content.
Set-up – Installed WordPress from scratch can be a bit daunting, especially if you aren’t technical. Fortunately, many hosting companies support a “one click install” feature that makes installing WordPress really simple. If you aren’t technical, I suggest that you look for a hosting company that provides this feature.
Hosting Issues/Problems – In a self hosted environment using WordPress you’re bound to have some technical issues related to your hosting company every so often. Having to deal with these problems is a con, especially when compared to hosted plans such as Blogger or WordPress.com. This isn’t a huge deal, as the companies I recommend provide great support, but it is something additional you’ll need to deal with.
Site Maintenance – Again, since you’re self hosted when running WordPress, you’ll have to deal with upgrades backups, etc. Fortunately with WordPress, there is an auto update feature that handles 99% of the upgrades you’ll need and there are numerous plugins for performing upgrades, performance tweaks, etc.
Higher Cost – Compared to Blogger or WordPress.com, being self hosted is more expensive as you’ll have monthly hosting fees to pay for. Generally these are small for small blogs, ranging from about $5 upwards to $15 a month or so. Not a significant cost, but something to be aware of.
Deciding on the right choice for you and your blog can be tough. Here are a few things you should consider:
How technical are you? Self hosting and using WordPress requires a fair amount of technical knowledge. Nothing that couldn’t be learned of course, but it is enough to where this should factor into your decision making. Fortunately there are lots of blogs (like this one) that will help you.
Are you blogging as a hobby or professionally? What are your goals or intentions for your blog? Are you just playing around or are you serious about blogging. If you’re just playing around, than blogger or WordPress.com are great options. If you’re serious though, I’d highly recommend going to the self hosted option.
Do you plan to monetize your blog (i.e. place ads on it)? If you plan to monetize your blog, the most flexible and best long term decision is to self host. This gives you the most flexibility for adding the various types of ads and affiliate offers available. Remember too that WordPress.com doesn’t allow many types of ads.
What is your budget? While the cost for self hosting is minimal, for some even paying a small monthly fee is too much. You need to factor into your decision how much cash you have available to put into your blog initially. Reserving a domain name and getting a hosting plan is typically going to run you around $50.00.
The Bottom Line
So I’ve provided you with lots of information and hope you’re not asleep at this point. The bottom line is:
If you’re planning to blog professionally and make money blogging I would strongly recommend self hosting using the WordPress software. If you’re not technical, don’t worry, just head over and following my Start a Money Making Blog series. This series will take you step by step through the process of getting your blog going.
If you’re just playing around and blogging as a Hobby, than Blogger or WordPress.com would be a good option for you. Both of these are great options for family blogs, sharing information with friends or even running temporary blogs.
The right or wrong choice really boils down to what you think is right for you. While many will say there are clear cut rules, there aren’t. There are many very successful and professional blogs running on Blogger.com and there are many small personal blogs that seldom ever get updated running stand alone with WordPress. Make the decision that feels right for you.