If you are an avid reader of news and blog articles about blogging, then you know that pretty much EVERYONE says to get your own domain and have it self-hosted. Having a custom URL adds to the professionalism and perceived trustworthiness of your blog.
There are a lot of options to buy your domain name and get website hosting inexpensively. But what if you already have a blog on a free site like Blogger or WordPress.com and you don’t want to have to transfer all that work to a new platform?
Well, first I would say DON’T BE LAZY! But then I would say that I definitely TOTALLY RELATE.
Some Basic Info
Just in case you have NO IDEA what I am talking about right now, let’s go over some basics.
A blogging platform is the software or service that you use to publish your content onto the internet in the form of a blog. A blog platform is a specific form of a content management system. For example: Blogger or WordPress
The domain name for a blog can be anything (assuming it isn’t already being used) — a company name, a nickname, or your favorite food group. A domain is the address, or main URL, that people type in the browser to get to your Web site. (For example, right now you are reading this on niccoleawrites.com which is the domain name for this blog.)
OK. So now that we have that out of the way. What is the actual deal?
Free vs Paid
Let’s just look at it like this: If you have an AWESOME blog that is youareawesome.blogspot.com or myexcellentblog.wordpress.com, that’s great. However, if your goal is to MAKE MONEY BLOGGING, then you may want to rethink things.
If you pay for a domain, then you have youareawesome.com or myexcellentblog.net and it immediately ups your cool points with web readers. Plus if you want to do anything like eCommerce (a store on your blog site), then you pretty much have to have your own thing going.
The main argument against staying on the free platforms is that YOU DON’T OWN YOUR CONTENT OR THE PLATFORM so they can shut you down at any time with a change in their policy.
Impossible to Make Money on a Free Platform?
CAN you make money using myawesomeblog.wordpress.com? Sure.
If your blog isn’t specifically a click bait for a string of affiliate offers (stay tuned for a post about this), then you can on SOME free platforms add links to your blog for products or services that you offer and even affiliate links.
For example, let’s say your blog is about all of your favorite dog breeds and dog care. If your free platform allows it, you could review that book you read about keeping your dog healthy and link to a program that will pay you a percentage of the sale if someone buys from your link.
Or if your platform allows it, you could just put totally unrelated things in your posts that if the link gets clicked, you get a commission. Read the terms carefully, though. Most free platforms have restrictions on this kind of thing
FULL DISCLOSURE: The links in the section above are Amazon Associate links that if you click them and buy anything I will get about 2% commission. (I’m not getting a Ferrari any time soon!)
Domains on the Free Platforms
Some free platforms like WordPress.com have upgrades where you can have a custom URL (.com and whatnot) for a small annual amount.
Some people prefer to do this because they have had their free blog for a long time and don’t want to have to transfer all the content or start over from scratch. I did this with my poetry blog. It just seemed easier at the time and I was used to the back end dashboard etc.
I am currently trying both free platform and self-hosted for different blogs. Once I have more data on this from personal experience, then I can give you a better idea of how they compare.
If you do a Google search on the topic, you get a LOT of opinions and reference information (as well as a lot of affiliate links).
I think this article on ProBlogger sums it up about as well as anything else I’ve found out there. Basically, the same things I’ve said here but with different words. Worth reading to get a different voice on it.
Are you using a hosted platform like Blogger or have you branched out to a standalone platform like WordPress.org? Let me know in the comments what your experiences have been.
Thanks for reading,