If you’re looking for the right place to set up your blog, then this article has got you covered!
We’re going to walk you through your options, cover the pros and cons of hosting, and explain the difference between WordPress .com and WordPress .org. So that you can make the best decision possible for your blog.
Let’s get to it!
First, you have to think about your blogging goals and what you truly want to accomplish after setting up your blog.
If your blog is just a hobby that is not all that important to you, then you can throw all the rules and suggestions out the window. But if your blogging goals include growing an audience or making money, then you’ll need to do a few foundational things that will set you up for success.
Some of these foundational things include choosing the right platform for your blog and choosing a good website host.
WHAT IS A WEBSITE HOST?
Every website needs a place to live online. For the sake of this article, we’re going to think of your website like a house. Every house must be built on a plot of land, right?
Well, your website HOST is essentially the virtual plot of land where your blog is going to live.
A website host provides everything you need to store your website on the internet. They host your website on their computer servers, and they make sure that it’s visible to people online.
In other words, you need a website host in order to have a blog.
There are many different website hosts to choose from, but they all fall into two main categories: hosted and self-hosted platforms.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HOSTED AND SELF-HOSTED PLATFORMS
Let’s talk about the difference between a ‘hosted’ and a ‘self-hosted’ website.
This gets a little techie, but I’m going to do my best to keep it simple. I’m not a website developer either, so we’ll be talking in layman’s terms here today.
These are websites where the host company provides the software to build your site and also hosts it for you.
This can be considered an “all in one” option for bloggers who want to use a certain host and use the software that they provide. As such, it’s a pretty straight forward and simple way of setting up a blog.
Examples of hosted website platforms are Wix, Blogger, Squarespace, and WordPress .com. The host company provides the software for you to set up your site, and they also host your site for you on their servers. It’s all done in the same place.
Remember, your host is like the plot of LAND and your website is like the HOUSE that we build on that land.
With hosted websites, the host owns the land and owns the house – you just get to live in it.
Since they own the land and the house, there are some limitations and restrictions for you.
They also have full control of the software that you’re using to build your site on their platform.
That’s right… When your blog sits on a hosted platform like Wix, Blogger, or WordPress .com, you don’t own your website, they do. And if you’re unhappy with your host for any reason and want to move elsewhere, you have to rebuild your site from scratch.
Your written content is still yours, of course, but you don’t own the website you’ve built on that hosted platform and you can’t take it with you when you go.
Let’s go back to that illustration of the house for a second: think of your blog content like the furniture in your house. If you want to leave your hosted platform, you can take your furniture with you, but you can’t take the house.
You’ll have to rebuild EVERYTHING when you move to your new plot of land.
A self-hosted website is one that a person can build by their own “self”, using the software they choose (software like WordPress.org).
They just pay a hosting company to store their site on their servers. The host is what allows your website to be visible online, but the website itself belongs to YOU.
Yes, a self-hosted website is allllll yours. The house belongs to YOU. You build it how you want it and you can move it around from any host company that you want. As you grow, you might need to switch to a more robust hosting company, so this is important for most bloggers.
If you build your website on a self-hosted platform using software like WordPress .org, you will be able to do anything you want with your website and maintain 100% ownership of it.
WHAT HOST SHOULD YOU CHOOSE?
Ohhhh, the controversy of hosting options.
If you spend any time in Facebook groups, you’ll hear so many conflicting opinions about hosting.
“This company is the best, this other company sucks.”
“Don’t EVER use company X for your website hosting, they are the worst!”
“I have used company X for many years and have never had a problem with them.”
The bottom line: there is no one perfect website host for everyone. They all have their good points and their bad points. They all have happy customers and those customers that had a terrible experience.
Hosting is one area that we have to rely on the specialists to tell us which one is best (because the non-techie person that has limited experience with hosting will not know which option to choose).
Here are the top two hosts that my tech guy recommends:
Siteground – great for beginners, great customer service, and one of the best hosts out there (this is also the host that I have used for my blog for 5 years, so I’m a bit biased to them). I do have had 100% uptime on my site for the entire 5 years, so I’m very pleased with that!
NameHero – also great for beginners, great customer service, and supposedly one of the fastest shared hosting options (I personally have no idea if this is true, I’m just the messenger passing along what my tech guy said).
A third option, for those that prefer to pay monthly:
Lyrical Host – monthly payment options, great customer service, and monthly bonus tools + resources to help you grow your blog.
Note: Lyrical Host servers are located in the UK, and as such, some people (including my tech guy) will say that the load times will be slower if you use them. With that said, I do know the company owner and have discussed this at length with her.
They have many happy customers and their servers are faster than some other US-based companies like Bluehost, so they are worth consideration, in my opinion.
If you’re a newer blogger with traffic under 25,000 monthly page views, I would not choose any host outside of these three options.
To check your website traffic, you’ll need to install Google Analytics on your site after getting set up.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WORDPRESS .COM AND WORDPRESS .ORG
Based on everything we just talked about, you might already know that WordPress .com and WordPress .org are two different things. But just in case it isn’t clear, let’s clarify that. We’re going to focus on these two because they are the most popular options for most bloggers.
WordPress .com is a hosting platform. It’s one of those all-in-one platforms we talked about earlier – they own the land and the house, your blog just gets to “live there”.
It’s an okay platform if you’re just interested in setting up a hobby blog and you don’t really NEED to customize your site, monetize, or grow an audience.
Prime example: if you want to use plugins, you’ll have to upgrade to their business plan, and that option is more expensive than a self-hosted website. It’s more expensive, more restrictive, and it doesn’t belong to you.
If you take nothing else away from this article, take this away: DO NOT upgrade to a WordPress business plan (or premium plan, or whatever they’re calling it these days). It isn’t worth it.
On the other hand, WordPress .org is the free open source software that allows you to build and OWN your website. You own the “house” and WordPress .org provides the tools you need to make that house beautiful and functional.
Here are a few of the benefits of using WordPress .org.
It’s 100% FREE with your hosting service
It’s fully customizable, anything you can imagine is possible on your website
It allows you to monetize your blog to the fullest extent, no restrictions
It gives you access to thousands of plugins to improve your website and help you make more money
The vast majority of online businesses use WordPress.org (for good reason)!
Hosted website platforms (like WordPress .com and Wix) have limitations that WordPress .org just doesn’t have. This includes the inability to enable rich pins for Pinterest and the inability to download super useful plugins like Yoast SEO.
Bottom line: if you want a successful blog that makes a lot of money, save yourself from hassle and headaches, and set up on a self-hosted platform using WordPress .org.
BACK TO HOSTING
Alrighty. Now we know that using a self-hosted WordPress .org website is the best foundation for monetizing your blog.
You’ll have full ownership and full control, which is super important! Every business owner wants to own their business and have the ability to do whatever they want with that business. WordPress.org makes that possible.
Anyone can download and use this free software to build their website and manage their content. But if we take a step back to the intro of this article, you’ll remember that your website needs somewhere to live online, a host.
This is where our hosting company comes in. Remember the best options, in my opinion, are: Siteground, NameHero, or Lyrical Host.
I personally use Siteground.
Here are few perks of hosting with them:
Their servers are up and running 99.99% of the time! This means your site will probably never experience downtime (mine has had a 100% uptime rate for 5 years).
They have a 3-step setup process that is insanely easy to use. You can set up your hosting within minutes. And the WordPress .org auto-installer allows you to set up your actual website in a few easy clicks as well.
On the Grow Big plan, they offer free website transfer if your blog is currently on a different platform. Siteground does everything for you, so you don’t even have to stress. I used their free migration when I moved from my free WordPress .com website over to my self-hosted website.
The cost is just $3.95/per month. It’s a small and worthy investment for your own self-hosted website. Save even more with this little trick!
And most importantly, they have great customer service, which will become important as you venture into various blogging efforts. You get 24/7 support, a quick and easy Live Chat option, and absolutely no wait time when you call their customer support line. Highly recommend!
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
Ready to build that house for your blog?
I know you are!
Remember, the host is the plot of land for your house (and we all need it). WordPress .org is the software we use to build our website (our house). And after that part is setup, we can get to work on adding the furniture and décor. The fun stuff like themes, plugins, and blog posts.
If you want to make money from your blog, you need to know the difference between WordPress .com and WordPress .org, and you need to make the right decision between them.
Hint: the right decision is WordPress .org.
It’s the best way to customize, monetize, and grow your blogging business. You can start on another platform, like I did. But you will eventually outgrow them and have to deal with the hassle of switching and losing your website design.
Don’t waste your time.
Once you’re setup on your own self-hosted platform, you’ll be ready to start writing some kick-booty content for your blog readers. Here’s how to write fun and engaging blog posts that your readers will love.
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