Blogging Sites Vs Owning a Blog: Which is Better to Make Money?

Last Updated on by Michael Brockbank

The Internet is full of ways to make money writing, and one of the more common centers around blogging. However, there is a bit of a difference between using blogging sites and owning your own blog. So, which is better if you’re looking to make some cash?

Today, we’ll take a look at sites like Vocal.media, Hubpages, and Medium vs having your own, self-hosted website.

I’m not going to include free blog sites because they are extremely limited in how you can monetize your content. I’m also not going to include blogging for a website as a freelance writer as that would be an article in and of itself.

Though, it is a great way to make some easy money if you can find a few blogs that need you to write for them.

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Primary Differences Between Blog Sites and Owning One

Sites like Vocal, Hubpages, and Medium can be quite attractive. You get a chance to write about a huge variety of topics while potentially making a bit of money without spending more than just a bit of your time.

However, these sites aren’t without their drawbacks…especially when it comes to generating a decent amount of income.

How Traffic to Your Content is Handled

For most blogging sites, the people who will read your content are those who are members. With the exception of Medium, you’ll be hard-pressed to attract an audience through search engines.

In fact, I’ve never seen a Vocal article rank on Google for any topic.

This means you’re quite limited in who is going to appreciate your work. And if you don’t write something that appeals to those specific blog site users, you won’t amass a large following or reader base.

When owning a blog, you can potentially reach a worldwide audience. That is as long as you practice good SEO strategies and focus on search intent. Sure, you’ll have more competition to gain visitors. But there is far more potential to engage readers.

How the Pay Works for Both

In most instances of blogging sites, you’re paid for the number of people who read your content. Some will offer tips, donations, or even allow you to add an Amazon affiliate link here and there.

Each one will have some kind of payout platform that is slightly different from the others. However, most rely on being able to attract readers to your content. And this isn’t as easy as you might think. As I said, you need to be hyper-focused on users of the specific platform.

When owning a blog, you can essentially monetize it any way you want. Affiliates, ad revenue, eCommerce, sponsored posts, and platforms like Buy Me a Coffee are just some of the ways you can start making money right now.

As with the blogging sites, though, you’ll make far more money if you’re able to bring in more visitors. This relies heavily on the things I mentioned earlier: SEO and search intent.

Still, you have absolute control over what you add to your own blog to make money.

The Amount of Work You Have to Put In

Perhaps one of the more attractive points of using blogging sites is that it takes very little effort to maintain your account. Well, outside of creating regular content.

All of the maintenance and updates fall squarely on the shoulders of the blogging site.

When you own a blog, you’ll have to keep up with making sure it’s running efficiently, updating any tools or plugins you use, and experimenting with the layout for the best results for keeping your visitors reading.

Though, once the initial setup process is done, it’s much easier to manage a blog. Especially if you use a self-hosted WordPress website. Most things can be set up automatically, which takes a lot of work out of maintenance.

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Yep, there’s nothing wrong with shameless promotion. While I do earn a commission from GreenGeeks, I still love their service.

How Much Control Do You Have?

While every blogging site and web host does have its own content guidelines to follow, you have far more control over what you can do when you own your own site.

When owning a blog, you have control over:

  • Publishing and editing
  • The appearance of your site
  • What you can publish and when
  • Monetization
  • Marketing of your content
  • Adding plugins and apps to improve the user experience
  • Owning your content
  • Moving your content to another server or location
  • Extensive analytical data

For those who don’t mind micro-management, owning a blog is far more flexible in what you can do.

The Publishing Schedule

When using blogging sites, you submit your work. Then, an editor will go through it and make sure the content is following the site’s guidelines. In the event of using Hubpages, the editors may even greatly alter the content for readability.

If you use Vocal, it could take days before your post is published.

When using your own blog, the post is live as soon as you click the “Publish” button. Though, you could set up a publishing schedule if you plan on releasing blog posts on specific days.

This can be a double-edged sword, though. While you could immediately publish that blog post you’re working on, it could be riddled with errors. This reduces how professional you appear to the visitor.

On the other hand, you could use tools like Grammarly’s Chrome Extension to catch a lot of those errors in your content.

My point is that you don’t have to wait to publish an article on your own blog. What if you have something that is time-sensitive? Are you willing to chance Vocal or Hubpages publishing it a day or two late?

The Monetary Investment

Here is where the biggest difference between blogging sites and owning one is noticeable. Signing up to write on Vocal, Hubpages, or Medium doesn’t cost you anything. You can create an account and start writing immediately.

Owning your own blog, though, will require a bit of a monetary investment. However, it’s not nearly as much as you think or as much as some “experts” say it is.

In fact, I spend more on coffee every month than I do on my blogs over three years.

If you find a good niche for your site and create some awesome content, you could make that investment back within a year. Case in point, my top three blogs bring in roughly three times what it costs to host every year just from the money I make on AdSense.

That’s not including affiliate sales, sponsored posts, or book sales. In reality, I made more money in sponsored content in 2021 than I did in AdSense.

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How Much Does it Cost Per Year When Owning a Blog?

I’ve actually done a breakdown of how much a blog costs per year to own. If you do the work yourself, it’ll only cost about $107 for three years and then about $20 for the second and third years.

I know, it’s a bit convoluted. Let me break it down better.

If you use GreenGeeks, again a shameless promotion, you can start your own blog right now for $107. That’s if you pay for three years in advance. Currently, you’ll also get a free domain for a year, which is the address people type to find your site.

After that first year, you’ll have to pay for the domain, which costs around $20 per year depending on the extension, such as .com, .info, .net, etc.

So, right now, you could make your own blog for the upfront cost of $107.

However, you can easily rack up additional expenses depending on what you want to add or if you want others to help you along.

Common expenses for a high-performing WordPress blog could include:

  • Content writers to help you write blog posts, which you could do yourself like I do
  • Premium plugins and themes, which aren’t absolutely necessary but helpful
  • Advertising should you decide to add eCommerce
  • Writing tools, such as Grammarly or Pro Writing Aid
  • Graphic designer or premium stock photo subscriptions for images

Now, none of these are absolutely necessary. In fact, I built this website without any of the above as I do everything myself or use free plugins and image sites. Though, I do need to point out that some premium tools can be worth the investment.

For example, I love Yoast SEO and plan on upgrading to the pro version again as soon as I have the extra cash. And I’m highly interested in using Canva, especially for the YouTube channel.

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The Trick to Getting More Out of Blogging Sites

What if you want to get more out of writing for sites like Vocal, Medium, and Hubpages? Well, you’ll need to crank out a great deal of content specific to those particular readers.

Of course, that’s also true when making your own blog.

When I say “particular readers,” I am referring to those people who are on the specific platforms to read the content. Not every topic is going to land well depending on the site.

For instance, I’ve had articles on Vocal that did exceptionally poorly. But their video or blog counterpart on another site became one of the more popular pieces. That’s all thanks to Google search results, though.

The audience on blogging sites is mostly extremely focused. So, you need to write about topics that cater to subscribers and followers. That’s because in most situations, those sites are not crawled by Google or other search engines. You’re limited to a select few potential readers.

That is with the exception of Medium, which is shown in search quite often but is more difficult to make money.

Now, it’s possible to generate an interested audience and make quite a bit of money on blogging sites. It just takes a bit longer to find topics that are going to land well with the people reading your content.

Not to mention the pay could be much lower than if you create your own blog. For instance, I’ve never made more than $0.70 in a single month from “reads” on Vocal.meda.

Earnings from Vocal
Earnings from Vocal

On the flip side, I consistently make more than $0.70 per day just from AdSense on WriterSanctuary.com.

So, is it Worth the Effort of Owning a Blog?

There’s no doubt that making your own blog is going to take a lot of effort. Especially if you plan on doing everything yourself, which is the cheapest route.

However, in my case, all of the blogs I maintain make far more money for me than anything that Vocal, Hubpages, or Medium has offered. Then again, I haven’t really put a lot of content on those platforms.

I just like the idea that I have absolute control over my content and website while being able to add any method of monetization I want. Not to mention that I can reach a much wider audience through my own blogs.

If you’re looking to replace a full-time income, it’s going to take you several months regardless of what you use. But the pros of having your own site far outweigh the cons, in my opinion.

You just need to make sure you’re creating great content that Google will show in the search results. Of course, there are other ways to market your site, such as social media.

For many people, though, it’s probably going to come down to two distinct elements: cost and effort.

Blogging sites are free to use and you can potentially start earning right now. Your own blog is going to take a bit of time to generate traffic and interest in Google search.

Did you know I have a book on Amazon about how I became a success as a freelance writer while developing my blogs? It’s a story about dealing with impostor syndrome and depression while striving to become more than I was.

Get Your Copy of A Freelancer’s Tale Today!

What’s Your Favorite Aspect of Owning a Blog?

For me, having absolute control over my websites is perhaps my most favorite aspect. I can essentially do what I want to the site and add a variety of ways to make money. The hardest part is writing something people will want to read according to what they search for on Google.

Still, there are a lot of benefits to blogging outside of making money.

What kind of things interest you most when it comes to operating your own website?

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Michael Brockbank

Michael has been a freelance writer since January of 2012. He has completed more than 8,000 jobs for a variety of clients ranging from animals to travel. Currently, he is the Content Marketing Team Lead of GreenGeeks Web Hosting.

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