Last Updated on by Michael Brockbank
Initially, free blog sites are not all that bad to get you started. However, you’ll soon learn that they can be ultimately restrictive. Today, I’ll go over practical reasons why I’m not a fan of these platforms.
But keep in mind this is all based on personal preference. A free platform might be perfect for you at this point in time.
However, these are points you may want to consider as you spend hours building up your blog.
Why I’ve Never Really Used Free Blog Sites
Since 1998, I’ve used a number of platforms to build websites. Starting from Angelfire’s free platform, I’ve worked with a variety of HTML development tools and WYSIWYG editors.
Yes, there are times when I miss coding everything in Dreamweaver. Sites were simpler then.
Out of all of the methods I’ve used, I prefer self-hosting WordPress over free platforms even to this day. Now, a lot of this has to do with personal preference. But the main gist of this post centers around owning a domain regardless of the management system you use.
Here are 9 reasons why you may not want to use free blog sites.
1. Completely Owning My Content
First of all, I completely own my content. If you look at the fine print of many free blogging platforms, the materials you create have to remain with the system you use.
This means that if you want to move your content to another host or want to import your articles to a self-hosted site, you can’t.
Many of the systems that allow you to move your content make it incredibly difficult to migrate. All it takes is for me to make a copy of my website and move. And I can do all this easily and free in WordPress.
2. Complete Control Over My Websites
Most free blog sites do not give you access to root files. This means that you are unable to change a lot of things when it comes to customizing your pages or content.
Not to mention that I can install any plugin or theme I want, regardless if it’s free or a paid premium tool.
Also, consider how a lot of free platforms are quite restrictive when it comes to the type of content you can create. With a self-hosted WordPress site, you only have to adhere to the web host…which is often far less restrictive.
For instance, if I wanted to add Google Analytics to my site, I just drop in the code snippet or use a free plugin. With something like a free Wix account, you can’t add Analytics unless you pay for a premium site.
And the cheapest version of Wix is still more than three times what you’d pay for self-hosting WordPress.
3. No Restrictions About Monetizing
When you own your own blog, you can monetize it any way you see fit. You don’t have to join “preferred ad” programs and can utilize virtually any money-making method you want.
With some free blog sites, you can only monetize a certain way if you pay for their “premium” services. This often costs five times more than if you were to simply use a web host.
If I felt that I wanted to add eCommerce to my website, I can do so for free and it would take less than five minutes to set up.
4. Less Parties to Share the Income
In most cases of free blog sites that share ad revenue, you split the earnings. Meaning you get a portion after the free host takes their share.
In other words, you’re sharing that ad revenue with a lot more people than if you were to split it with just Google.
If I decide to set up an online store, the only fees I would have are that of PayPal, Stripe, or any other payment processing platform I wish to use.
No one else has their fingers in my pie.
5. Potential to Make Far More Money
Because of having fewer parties to share the income and having vastly more potential for monetizing, I can easily make far more money than if using free blogging sites.
In some instances, I can remove the middle-man altogether. For example, I can set up selling ad space directly to clients and cut Google out completely.
Of course, all of this also increases the level of responsibility to find methods to make money that are effective for my websites.
6. More Self-Promotion and Branding
My content works for promoting the brands I own. Instead of drawing an audience to the free blog sites, people associate the materials with their respective websites.
When you look at the address bar of this website, the only brand present is “writersantuary.com.” I don’t share the credit with any other platform.
Every time I try to write on a free site, even if it’s for an experiment, I always think to myself, “I’d rather post this article on my own website.”
7. Google Prefers Self-Hosted, Well-Written Blogs
When you search for something online, how often do you come across free blog sites that offer the information you’re looking for? In my case, it’s not very often at all.
And I research a lot of different topics.
Google prefers actual domains that are relevant to search terms. This is why a lot of the free platforms have subdomains that are geared towards specific topics and niches.
But, the search results will still usually focus on self-hosted domains specializing in explicit content.
8. Clients Take You More Seriously
Whether you’re a freelance writer, blogger, graphic designer, or creator of any kind, clients tend to take you more seriously when you use a self-hosted website as opposed to free blogging.
In fact, there are a lot of business owners, managers, and supervisors who don’t take business inquiries seriously if the email comes from gmail, Yahoo, or another free email service.
For example, all of my professional emails come from my own domains. In fact, I’ve found client and business interactions to improve when doing so.
9. Not As Expensive As Many May Think
Lastly, setting up a self-hosted WordPress site is not as expensive as many people think. In fact, I spend more money each month going out for coffee than I do on my websites.
In the grand scheme of things, I spend just over $100 per year for hosting seven domains. Though, only a handful of them are active. The others are currently parked.
My point is that if you wanted to set up your own website, it’s actually far less to go with self-hosting than to simply upgrade a free blog to a premium account.
As you can see, it’s simply cheaper to use self-hosted platforms if you’re serious about setting something up in the future.
Are Fee Blog Sites Pointless?
Now, don’t get me wrong; free blog sites are not pointless. In fact, it was free blog sites that began my interest in website development. In fact, they can serve a variety of purposes that are probably more ideal for the average blogger.
For instance, free sites are preferable if:
- You don’t have money to invest in something you may not have complete interest in.
- You want to be an occasional blogger and not ready for a full-time commitment.
- There is little time in your day to go through maintaining your website.
- You just want to get a bit of content out there to share with the world.
- Making money isn’t really a concern for you at the moment.
- You’re just looking for a writing hobby of some kind.
- You’re setting up marketing for a future project and want to get started building up an audience.
The bottom line is that free platforms do have a purpose online. I would just rather own my sites outright than adhere to someone else’s guidelines and restrictions.
I know a lot of people who use free blog sites and enjoy the experience. It’s just personal preference that I’d rather have complete control over what is allowed, added, and monetized on my own.
The Downside of Owning Your Own Sites
Now, it may sound like a great idea to jump into self-hosted websites. But, there is a lot more work to creating something successful.
Content development, marketing, SEO, and site maintenance are all your responsibility.
Think of it like the difference between renting an apartment and owning your house. If your dishwasher breaks, it’s usually the renting landlord’s responsibility to get it fixed. If you own your house, it’s all on you.
So, although you have the freedom to do what you own when you own, you have far more responsibility when it comes to overall functionality.
This is why a lot of people prefer to rent than to buy. And the same mentality is apparent when it comes to free websites versus a self-hosted platform.
Because in the cyber world, your website is nothing more than digital real estate.
All of the developments, costs, and expansions are all expenses you’ll have to cover. However, this also means you can do far more with the property.
Free Blog Sites Can Be Useful
If you want to explore what blogging can do for you, then a free platform works out great. You don’t have to invest money into something that you may not have an interest in maintaining.
Just remember that if you decide to expand what you can do online, many of these systems make it exceptionally difficult or are far more costly down the road.
What free blog sites have you used in the past, and how well did the experience work out for you? I’d love to know your thoughts.
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