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The Problem with Hosted Blog Platforms

Emily reflects upon the problem of starting a blog on a hosted service like TypePad and relying upon the subdomain URL you are given when you do in a post rather appropriately titled Starting a new blog? Get your own domain name! Do NOT use a subdomain.

‘The irony here is that I actually own a lot of domain names and I genuinely can’t fathom why I didn’t just use a domain of my own when I started this blog. Don’t make the same mistake as me or you could end up feeling trapped like I do right now. Consider yourselves warned.’

My main advice to new bloggers on this topic is to attempt to think ahead as much as possible. While it’s difficult to see too far into the future and it might feel a little excessive to fork out for a domain name and hosting (and it seems difficult to set up) i might save you quite a few headaches in the future.

Of course if you are trapped on a subdomain it’s not the end of the world either. There are some very successful blogs out there on them or who have used different methods to move to new set ups from them – all is not lost – but if you are in start up mode think carefully.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. jim says:

    A domain costs $9 from godaddy, hosting can be as cheap as $5/mo, if you’re serious about bloggin why wouldn’t you get your own domain? Use a company like dreamhost and you can get a one-click install of wordpress so your blog can be up in minutes.

    Why use blogger when it can be down for hours?

  2. Mr. Football says:

    As a blogger on a subdomain, I’d like to note that there are potential benefits for NOT having your own domain.

    For example, although I startyed my blog only a month ago, I rank VERY well on Google for some targeted terms (for example, google: super bowl spread). If I had my own domain, I’d be sandboxed for quite some time, but under a respected domain, I was found on Google within days of starting the blog.

  3. Hexxenn says:

    Looks like Mr. Football and I are hosted at the same place!

  4. Cary says:

    It just took one incident where I was shut out of all of my Blogger blogs to realize that letting someone else control virtually everything was a very bad idea :(

    Yes, it was a bit of a pain making the switch to WordPress, but I’m sure sleeping better at night, and I know that I actually OWN the domain name I’m putting so much work into.

    There’s nothing wrong with starting with a free service, but I recommend you at least pay for your own domain name and server space, and then you can host your blogger blog on your own terms, and if you ever decide to move to something more robust you still have that domain you’ve been puting so much effort into.

  5. I had a pretty bad incident just at the beginning of this month with my hosted blog. It was down for a week after their server went down and when it finally came back up it was missing all my posts since November.

    Just today they managed to get all of the posts back, which was good otherwise I would have had to have put them all back in manually.

    When I first set-up my blog I never expected it to go the way it did. I just figured that I would be writing about my family and stuff, but it kind of grew as I started to write more about what I do and what I have learned about running and IT Department in a non-profit.

    My biggest worry about if I change now is that I already rate on Google with some search terms, not many, but enough that I don’t want to loose it.

    If I had to do it again, and I knew what my blog would have turned into, I would have set-up with a WordPress Blog hosted under my own domain name, as I did with my http://www.renovateaustralia.com blog (which is still sandboxxed).

  6. HostingDiary says:

    I don’t see her problem. I use Typead with my own cname-mapped domain http://hostingdiary.com but my blog still exists at the subdomain http://hostingdiary.typepad.com
    If I need to leave Typepad I can export my posts and keep using my hostingdiary domain with all links intact.

    Am I missing something?
    Andrew

  7. Duncan says:

    Andrew
    you’ve hit in right on the head, you can do hosted blogging but you should get your own domain. Some hosted blogging platforms don’t give you this benefit. I’d also be concerned if you had two listing on the web, for example your domain and the typepad one because if you had to leave you’re going to lose half your links (because half will be at the typepad url)..again I’m not sure exactly how TypePad does this but to the others: you only assurance long term is control over your name. Its not like the old days when it cost $100 + for a .com name, its now $8.88 and sometimes cheaper. Spend the money, its worth it.

  8. Nick says:

    I’ve just recently sorted out a domain name and hosting, and have set-up WordPress on there. This will be my fourth blog in about six months, firstly switching from blogger to a hosted WordPress solution for reasons of functionality, and then recently switching from the hosted solution to my own domain after the WordPress host became overloaded (my RSS feed was never available and it was hit and miss as to whether or not I could log in to actually write anything).

    This works for me because I can do whatever I like with the server space – I’m just in the process of developing my own site, in which the blog will be a part. I figured if I’m paying for hosting to get the reliability of service, then I’d pay for hosting that I can use as I choose.

  9. Scott says:

    Sorry I am a bit of a control freak when it comes to web hosting, but anyone who is serious about publishing content on-line *should* have everything prepared.

    You’ll need full control to your domain’s DNS and delegation, all files under your hosting account, raw SQL backup, etc. Just in case your host, or their data centre/bandwidth providers gone belly up all of a sudden, you can still quickly re-apply another host, reassign the DNS entries, re-upload all files, restore database and continue your business. That can still mean up to a few days of off-line, but much better digging through Google cache and Way Back Machine for old entries.

    As of sandboxing on a new domain — everyone (well, almost) has to go through that! I started two new blogs last year and they were only penalised for less than 2 months. Some promotion and link love from my main site helps.

    Domains and shared-hostings are a dime a dozen these days. The question is no longer “why should I use my own domain”, but why SHOULDN’T I.

  10. Andy Merrett says:

    I know this article sets the context, but I think it’s worth noting that we’re talking primarily about subdomains on third-party hosted accounts.

    I see a real benefit from having a domain hosted with a provider that allows unlimited subdomains. So x.domain.com and y.domain.com and z.domain.com are different spaces and can be used for different purposes.

    I remember being with paid hosts that either had no subdomain support, or had a limit. These days, that’s simply unacceptable. This kind of subdomain use is IMO very useful.

  11. James says:

    And for MY 2c worth? I happily joined Blogger. Never had any problems. Maybe it only went down while I was sleeping. Living in South Africa definitely has quite a few benefits.

    But for Christmas I decided to buy myself a domain, and move my main blog to there. It was easy enough to decide as my blog was only really active for about 2 months, though Google had finally indexed my pages and I was worried I was going to lose my 15 visitors a day. But it was definitely worth it. Apart from not relying on other people to host your blog, I REALLY wanted to be in control of how my blog looks and works. WordPress is really good for that.

    Still learning, but still having fun.

  12. Mike says:

    Moving to a hosted domain is fairly painless, although it does take time for PR to get transferred.

  13. I’m currenly using Blogger and I love it. I control the design of my blog, the content. Everything. I’ll stick with Blogger. Why not? It’s free!

  14. brem says:

    What happens when they start charging fees? :)

  15. CetaMac says:

    Yes, I agree it’s the first step to act as a pro.

  16. Sherman Cox says:

    What you think of a subdomain that you own? For example I created a preaching site at http://www.shermancox.com and then I added a lectionary resource that put at http://lectionary.shermancox.com. The lectionary site is now getting 10 times the hits of my original site. Do you think that I should move that lectionary site to a domain that is totally its own?

  17. Peter Davis says:

    A lot of the blogs that I read on a daily basis are not using their own domain. I really see it as a non-issue. Sure, domains are cheap but in the end who cares what is the url you have to type in the browser! Your blog is going to sink or float based on your performance as a blogger not based on whether you shell out a few bucks for a domain and hosting. Blogging is about the person, not about the domain. Brand yourself, not your url.

  18. If people are using an RSS feed then a domain name becomes somewhat irrelevant in my opinion.
    I use Blogger and have had few problems with downtime. And I haven’t heard they are going to charge for the service.
    My site is a personal site so maybe I just don’t know what I’m talking about here, ha,ha..

  19. Guy says:

    Amen Peter!

  20. I had a hosted blog at blogger for about a month, then started reading ProBlogger… switched to my own domain and my own host and have never looked back. Honestly, this was such a good thing to do.

    When I read some articles here I could tell Darren didn’t like blogger so much so I did more research on SEO and domains and decided it was worth losing some people and disrupting the search spiders to make a move to my own host and to WordPress. I mean, what is easier for people to type and remember http://officehumor.blogspot.com or http://www.officehumorblog.com?

    Obviously it wasn’t as hard a decision for me to make the move since my blog was very new (only about a month) so I wasn’t fully indexed by search engines yet and my readership was still very low. I don’t know if I could have done the move if my blog was a year or so old.

    Oh and a big fat thank you to Darren for pushing WordPress and to discouraging use of Blogger!

  21. Kevin says:

    I own webgoonies.com and all of my other blogs are subdomains. This seems to work out for me currently and allows me to maintain the “Goonie Family” feeling that I wanted. I wanted a place where people could find links to other blogs of mine and still know they are within my realm.

  22. Mike says:

    I think there are advantages to going either way. I have a blog at wordpress.com as well as one I host myself. My only regret (so far) with the hosted one is the lack of control over plug-ins and the template…so I can’t make extra cash on it – but if you just want to blog, then it’s quick and EZ.

  23. What about having your own domain and having some blogs as subdomains of That domain?

    Like, I have two blogs hosted as subdomains of “crazyredpanda.com”. Is that considered bad?

  24. brem says:

    Aviad: Google’s pagerank will not like that and possibly penalise your ranking as a result.

  25. brem says:

    I guess my comment is only valid if you redirect from this “common” domain to another, such as blogger.

    If you keep blogs inside the same domain, I guess it’s alright. Although what would appear on your main page? A selection of the blogs is a bad idea as the pagerank will suffer.

  26. Brem: Seriously? So what is better? I host both blogs on the same host service. Since they don’t require a lot of bandwidth, it works for me. I’m not sure if that service provides for virtual hosts…

    So what are options?

  27. The original post seems to confuse two issues, using a free host and using a subdomain.

    Most, if not all free hosts do use subdomains, though. I made the mistake of using Blogger for a few blogs. My most profitable blog at one point was on blogger, and it went bye-bye. I was able to use the google cache and MSN’s cache to retrieve all the old posts, and I moved them to my own Dreamhost account. (Props to DreamHost!) Needless to say, I’m not putting any additional sites there.

    Subdomains in and of themselves have issues, even on your own domain. While that falls outside the realm of this discussion, let me just say that it is harder to promote subdomain sites, as most web directories won’t list them (unless you’re willing to pay).

  28. Hi Darren,

    I’m honored to see that you’ve not only been reading my blog but that you’ve referenced one of my posts :)

    To clarify to the many who have commented, my original post should have stated “Do not use a subdomain off of a hosted service”. I.e., do not get something like myblogname.typepad.com or myblogname.blogspot.com or myblogname.wordpress.com

    The post was not intended to suggest that using a subdomain of YOUR OWN domain was problematic. The intent of my post was purely to say that wherever your blog is hosted, it’s URL needs to be based off of a domain that you own. I’ll have to update my post to clarify that.

    Thanks to everyone for the editing help :)

    And for those who have ever made the switch from a URL they didn’t own to their own domain on an established blog — how long did it take to recover your traffic, SE rankings, pagerank, backlinks, etc? Did you feel that it was worth the move? I am dying to move ‘How to Blog’ to a WordPress blog running on my own server but I’ve got hundreds of links in, PR 6, etc on my typepad subdomain…

  29. What I’ve done to mitigate the pain of moving a blog from a free host is this:
    Make a final post, announcing the change. That will stay as the new index page of the old site. Then, as I move each post, I backdate them on my domain to match the original date, and in the old blog, ireplace the content of each original article with boilerplate to the effect of:

    I am proud to announce that my blog, xxxx, has graduated to a new domain of its very own! The post you were looking for is now at hxxp://www.newdomain.com/permalink.

    A good number of people will click through (I was surprised how many did) and the spiders will find you, too. There may initially be a duplicate content penalty, but when the spiders eventually realize the old site no longer has the info, it should eventually clear up.

  30. brem says:

    aviad: it’s hard to tell what is better to do because every case is different and I don’t know exactly what is your situation.

  31. quaisi says:

    I`m on a .blogspot.com domain. One advantage that I can see is that if it were to suddenly get a large influx of visitors, it wouldn`t go down as a site hosted on a cheap package might.

  32. Crafty Cat says:

    I started using wordpress and other blogging tool and found myself listed in the to 10 search engines in less than a month. If you want to find out how I did it log onto http://www.craftycat.org This is a new blog and I will leave a 4 part startegy on how I did it and what tools I used. This blog is new and as soon as I recieve a few comments from your strategies or questions I will post the rest of my 4 parts on how these power tools work together. Leave a comment, This will be a new forum on SEC strategies.

  33. Eric Scalf says:

    What about when you have your own hosting that allows subdomains?

    Through a twisted quirk of fate, I now have free web hosting for my domain. Unfortunately, I am unable to add any new domains to that hosting plan. Rather than pay for additional web hosting and domain names, I’ve started two additional blogs using subdomains. One is http://politics.fyreplace.com, a political blog. The other is a yet-to-be-opened blog co-authored by myself and my fiance, on the topic of our moving across the country, finding jobs, and starting our lives together.

    To me, this seems a perfectly reasonable alternative. You can build a name for yourself with your base domain, and the subdomains can make your “brand” immediately recognizable.

  34. adria says:

    I just started my wordpress.com blog about a month ago, but it is already gaining steam, averaging about 40 visitors per day. I was initially confused about the difference between wordpress.org and wordpress.com, and I just now realized that I will not be able to monetize my blog unless I move it. I am really worried about losing the momentum I have, does anyone have advice for moving a blog (I have to change the domain), without losing my readers. I don’t think wordpress lets you map your domain, but maybe there are other options here?

  35. Emily says:

    Hi and thanks so much for linking to my blog on ‘How to Blog’!!

    My site has moved, so I am writing to ask if you could please update your link to reflect the new permanent URL?

    Whereas ‘How to Blog’ used to be located at http://blogging.typepad.com, it has moved permanently to:

    http://www.emilyrobbins.com/how-to-blog/

    Can you please change your link to How to Blog to reflect its current URL (http://www.emilyrobbins.com/how-to-blog/)

    Thanks so much in advance!!

    Best regards,

    Emily from How to Blog

    How to Blog: Blogging tips, tricks, templates, tutorials, and more!

    http://www.emilyrobbins.com/how-to-blog

Trackbacks

  1. [...] There’s a bit of discussion around the blogosphere about subdomains and what to do when you’re tired of the restrictions. So here’s Syntagma’s two cents. [...]

  2. [...] As is common in the blogosphere, one rant begits thousands. I’ve read a few of them,here, here, and here. The rant of the day seems to be “buy a domain, don’t under any circumstances blog with a subdomain of blogspot, typepad, or any other service you do not own. Bah. Poppycock. I think you missed the train. It’s not about what domain you use, really. Of all the things to worry about, getting your own domain for your blog is not something that need to be a huge priority. [...]

  3. [...] The Problem with Hosted Blog Platforms: Should you get your own domain name or use a free hosted service? [...]

  4. [...] The Problem with Hosted Blog Platforms: Should you get your own domain name or use a free hosted service? [...]