The first part of my journey covers my sojourn as a newbie blogger from a basic blogspot blog to a custom domain blog on blogger. You can read part I by clicking the link above. By now, I began to understand a little bit about blogs, widgets, looks etc. Another important milestone for me was setting up my startup, Tranquil Software Solutions Pvt. Ltd. that happened 3 years ago. As I worked on content for my website and also created a blog for it, I began working on WordPress. And that helped me gain first-hand experience on WordPress. I must say that I found many appealing features on WordPress. Mind you, I worked on free WordPress that does have a restraint on the themes and the customization that you can do with the themes. Another important thing to note was that free WordPress does not allow advertisements of any sort from the blogger though they carry their own free ads on your website. Another hitch is every minor change you need on WP has to be paid for. But, the dashboard had some robust features including scheduling of posts, editing of comments, a better look and feel, a reply feature to each comment (blogger subsequently incorporated that), great stats (blogger introduced that as well), and a fabulous spam control in-built plugin among others.
But, I was almost 3 years on blogger and had built a reasonable readership. Migrating to WP would mean all those links that were high on organic search losing out. That was a dilemma. I wasn’t really sure what problems moving incorporated and how much time it would take. So, I was in two minds. As I was inching towards moving to WP, I also toyed with the option of self-hosted blog. I did some subsequent research then.
Self-hosted blog offers you complete control over your blog. You don’t rely on any other blogger platform like WP or blogger for hosting and hence you don’t have to worry about their terms and conditions. The reason why I used WP on self-hosted is because I really feel that it is the best out there for blogs. I could, of course, get a site designed from scratch, but being a non-techie I wasn’t sure that I wanted to hand over so much control to a third party for maintaining the website. For hosting, I could use the same server that hosts the company website. The biggest plus point is that my husband is a techie and could come to my rescue if the server went down or if I faced technical issues. He helped me a lot when the actual migration happened.
Let us look at some pros and cons of doing this:
- Excellent control
- Great WordPress features yet the freedom to play around
- You own your data. You are not at the mercy of a host who can delete your blog if you violate terms and conditions.
- You can modify theme files which you cannot do with free WordPress
- Have your own advertisement and monetization model
- You can use custom analytics software
- You can upload any plugin that you desire and not only those allowed by free WordPress
- Cost: It is costly to pay for your custom domain name that comes to $10 per year as well as hosting that will be another $100 per year. Remember that one has to pay for a Premium theme from WP as well. And these are recurring costs. You may rope in one of the online companies that can help you with all of the above in a package at a reasonable cost, throw in a free theme, maintenance, custom domain etc. The most important reason why you should actually opt for it is because they will help you migrate everything that will keep your blog legacy intact. So your URLs or permalinks are taken care of, your feeds are redirected, and everything is done smoothly and without hitches. Trust me, it takes a lot of time to do it yourself and there is a learning curve there.
- Time: To move things around takes time. I did a lot of plugins and migration of feed etc. myself. So, yes if you don’t have time to spend at least initially then you will have to hire professionals to do that for you. There are many tutorials on the web, good ones too but they need time to understand and try out. Not understanding your site will also mean you running to your professional team for every minor glitch.
- Maintenance: You have to take care of any maintenance issues, backups etc. on your own.
Finally, I would like to say that if you are a recreational blogger and only blog for fun, then free blogger or WordPress works perfectly fine for you. If you want an exclusive identity go for custom domain. And, if you really want more out of your blog – a professional look, a distinct identity, and better monetization – go for self-hosted WordPress blog. Five years into blogging, and this is where my blog has landed!
You can read Phase I of my blogging journey here.
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