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Hosted or Standalone Blogging Platforms – Which is Best?

One of the most common questions that I get asked around blogging platforms is whether people should go for a hosted blog platform like Blogger, TypePad or WordPress.com or whether they should go for a stand alone platform that you host on your own domain and server like WordPress.org, Drupal or Movable Type.

I’ve talked previously about some of the Pros and Cons of Hosted and Standalone blog platforms – but thought it might make an interesting open mic discussion (or debate).

So what do you think?

  • Do you use a hosted or stand alone blog platform? Why?
  • Do you wish you’d made a different choice when you started?
  • What are the Pros and Cons of the two options?
  • What would you recommend to a new blogger?
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. Darren — My blog is about 8 months old and I’m ready for more features that wordpress.com does not offer. So I’m in the process of moving my blog to wordpress.org on Bluehost. Not an easy task for someone with limited HTML and “backroom” knowledge. One of the upsides will be a better URL — TravelswithTish.com. Plus I can put in ads, a forum, and a more flexible and subject-appropriate theme. I’m excited to get it set up but am struggling with understanding the files. So it’s not for everyone and certainly not for those who are not persistent. But I think the prize is worth it.

  2. I am currently in the process of moving from Typepad to a WordPress-based platform. I loved Typepad because it is like the Mac. Drag and Drop with no worries about coding unless you wanted to get involved in CSS and stuff like that (which you can).

    The reason I am moving to WordPress is that I want to bring The Rock and Roll Report to a whole new level of presentation and content after using it for years as just a creative outlet for myself. I am lucky to be working with a web developer who can create the things I envision for the site on WordPress. The flexibility and power of the platform, the open source factor and the sheer number of developers working on and with WordPress made the decision a no-brainer.

    I do not have as much time as I would like to to learn the intricasies of WordPress but I would HIGHLY recommend working with a web developer who does if you are confused about things like web standards, SEO and tracking your stats, all issues that you must understand to get the most out of your blog. If you are more of a content/creative type person, the money spent is well worth it, especially at the beginning.

    Typepad is a great product with a lot of benefits but WordPress, in the right hands is the way to go from what I can see.

  3. I have the hosting space and abilities to host my own wordpress blog, but I use wordpress.com for several reasons:

    I can get a URL that seamlessly works with all my posts and pages with no work
    I can host as many images as I want
    I can take charge of my CSS if I want to (but don’t have to)
    it doesn’t have obvious branding (like the blogger navigation bar)
    it has an excellent RSS and commenting system

    but most importantly: It gives me access to an enormous network.

    wordpress.com is made up of millions of users who like to surf other wordpress blogs. the tags are all connected providing constant traffic and if I get a great traffic spike my blog is very well publicized by wordpress on several pages including the home page and member’s dashboards. the networking capabilities of wordpress.com have shot my traffic up substantially and provided me with excellent comments as well. this is well worth it in my books!

    a note to n00bs, it’s really easy to set up and get going. it can be as simple as you need to and has features that you can grow into as you progress as a blogger. it also imports your comments and posts from blogger (where I started) and other major blogging services.

  4. mike says:

    WordPress’s software is killer. if you can spare the money (essentially the equivalent of a couple of cups of coffee a month) for your own hosting package and the URL, it’s worth it. the pro of having your blog’s name be the URL is huge when starting out and getting people to remember who you are. i started a blog for my company’s web series about life in baghdad called Hometown Baghdad using wordpress’s software on a 1and1 host package. it has been fantastic – letting me add lots of plugins that facilitate a vigorous dialogue in the comments. using advice from problogger and bokardo.com, i have been create a nice launch pad for our web video series (which is getting a ton of press internationally! and is beginning to get noticed in the US) that i have complete control over.

  5. Nicolas says:

    I recommend WordPress, it has a lot of plugins and it’s very easy to change /modify the templates.
    I have my own hosting and I’m offering hosting for free to everyone who want to rotate Adsense ads.
    [ES] Tambien ofrezco dominios .com.ar para bloggers de Argentina.

  6. It all depends on your experiance with the web. Those who don’t really know any programming or mark-up will most probably benefit from using a hosted service but those of us who do understand the web should deffinately host our own. It gives much more flexibility and options.

  7. Brad says:

    I use Typepad with my own domain name. Right now, I don’t have the time or technical expertise for a stand-alone blog platform. Typepad is perfect because it’s easy to maintain and I just have to worry about writing quality content.

    Perhaps when my blog readership grows and I’m looking for more flexibility, I might swtich to a stand alone platform. But right now I’m happy where I’m at.

  8. Shaun Carter says:

    I have never utilized stand-alone blogging except for MySpace, which I do not use for the blogging feature. I have been very happy running my WordPress blogs through Dreamhost’s one-click install system. It really makes it a no-brainer and even a child could create a blog using that system.

    For someone with a little bit of tech knowledge, host a blog yourself. For the complete newbie… try standalone to get your feet wet first.

  9. Martin says:

    I use blogger for my student finance advice blog, can’t compain really, had a stint with wordpress but just preferred the simplicity of blogger

  10. I have both and here’s why.

    New blogs should start out hosted, somewhere like Blogger or WordPress.com that allows you to set up your own domain name. A hosted blog gets free traffic and usually gets indexed by search engines. This way, you can test the waters without investing too much money, effort, or time to learn about blogging. Your efforts can be spent finding the “voice” of the blog and gauging readership interest. Later, the blog can be moved to it’s own free standing platform where the blogger has much more control. Ultimately, though, a successful blog should not be hosted. A freestanding blog just gives you so much more freedom and opportunity for the future.

  11. Andrew says:

    I started with Blogger, experimented with lots of other hosted platforms, went to standalone WordPress, am now mainly at WordPress.com. I use the paid extras of domain mapping (changingway.org > changingway.wordpress.com) and custom CSS.
    Having said that, WordPress.com probably isn’t a good long-term home for a problogger. You pretty much can’t carry ads.

  12. I use a custom-built application. It’s flexible and portable.

  13. In my point of view, new bloggers should try either blogspot.com or wordpress.com
    There are numerous blogging platforms, journals to launch your blog. But, For the newbies i think blogspot is a heaven b’coz
    1. Blogspot and wordpress both are easy to use or we can say user friendly, one can start as a fresher just by registering on these sites and booking their domain name its As Easy As Apple Pie.
    2. There is no need of having knowldge of html and other computer languages as one can easily make changes in their blog by following the instuction on blogspot.
    3. There is no tension of hosting and other problems as your blog is hosted by blogger.com or powered by blogger.

    Cheers!!

  14. Thejesh GN says:

    I have a standalone blog running wordpress. And then a hosted blog on blogger. I use custom domain on blogger. Hence its cool.

  15. Steve Nguyen says:

    My first website was a standalone. It was made using Apple iWeb and I hosted it with GoDaddy. Soon after, I found the iWeb design and features to be severly lacking and slow so I made the jump to the CMS, Joomla. This was much better but after about a year, it became drudgery to manage the site using the Joomla backend.

    Throughout this period I set up blogs (hosted) on Blogger and on Vox. I didn’t like the look and feel of a hosted blog because, let’s face it, you get what you pay for. I found that if I wanted to be taken seriously and have a “brand” that it could not be hosted on a free service like Blogger or Vox.

    So I deleted my Blogger and Vox account, bought a new domain name (because I wanted a fresh start) and made the switch to WordPress. I can’t say enough GREAT things about WordPress. I hear people rave about it but until I started using it, I now know why it’s so nice. Powerful, yet deceptively simple.

    I am much, much happier now with my standalone site now running WordPress. :)

  16. Chris Lodge says:

    I went with WordPress self-hosted straightaway with my first blog, and it’s not hard to get started with at all.

    I think it’s way out in front of the other blogging packages, not least because it’s free, but mainly because of its almost unlimited flexibility.

    Blogger serves a purpose, but really it’s just horrible to use and interact with-it’s whole commenting system sucks.

  17. C says:

    Do you use a hosted or stand alone blog platform? Why?
    Stand Alone – Flexibility – I like my domain name! – Ability to easily add in plugsins and themes to make the site pop.

    Do you wish you’d made a different choice when you started?
    Nope, I choose standalone for a reason. I wanted to control everything about the site and that was the best way to do that.

    What are the Pros and Cons of the two options?
    I like the idea of Hosting for a beginning blogger or someone without the time or know how to have their own site.
    However, for future portability, flexibility and long term Standalone is the best.

    What would you recommend to a new blogger?
    If you can at all afford the $30 or $40 dollars a year + the domain name which can be had for as little as $9 at godaddy.com then go ahead with stand alone. If you can’t afford it or want to test the blogging world go with wordpress.org or blogger.com.

    C

  18. Gayla McCord says:

    I use both Blogger and WordPress.

    Blogger for the topics that I’m passionate about and that are more a labor of love.

    WordPress for the blogs that earn my living.

    I see clearly where the difference is between the two each month when the money starts coming in.

  19. Amanda says:

    I use a standalone since I’ve owned webhosting companies and domains for many many years I cannot go back to being hosted under anyone

  20. There is a big downside to a self-administered blogging platform that nobody seems to emphasize. If you set one up, you are assuming responsibility for monitoring bugs and applying security patches on a semi-regular basis.

    In the year I have been using WordPress, at least five different updates have been released! Installing these, and responding to subsequent problems with incompatible themes/plugins/etc has been a real drain on my limited blogging resources.

    If I had chosen a hosted service, someone else would be handling this problem for me.

  21. I started with Blogger and am keeping it for the great Google juice, the age of my URL, excellent search-engine and Technorati rankings…

  22. Mitchell says:

    I just started using WordPress as my platform for my 2nd blog, I will like to know the highest pr for a WordPress site?

  23. Do you use a hosted or stand alone blog platform? Why?
    I use a stand alone (WordPress) because it gives me the versatility that a platform does not.

    Do you wish you’d made a different choice when you started?
    Yes! I started on the Blogger platform and found it extremely difficult to get my readers to switch after I found that the platform did not meet my needs.

    What are the Pros and Cons of the two options?
    Preset hosted, like blogger, are easy to set up, but hard to develop into a unique experience.
    Stand alone is more difficult to set up, but easier to accomplish what you have set out to do. The difficult thing is the management and maintenance of you blog.

    What would you recommend to a new blogger?
    Prepare. Lay out your goals and really look at what each has to offer. After you know what your goals are, you can see which will best suit your needs. Blogging for business entails a commitment that needs to be addressed. Will Blogger be able to provide for long-term use and growth, or will I have to set up my own platform?

  24. Jeff Mills says:

    It depends on the purpose of your blog.

    Is it for personal journal, nothing more? Then host it on blogger or wordpress servers, no need to pay for it.

    but if it is a marketing or money making blog, you’ll need to use your own domain and host.

    WordPress terms and conditions won’t allow their free hosted versions to be of a commercial nature and will turn off sites, that are focused on money making options.

    Bottom line, it comes down to your purpose of blogging. As I have read everyone’s comments, it seems most go for self hosted sites, cause of the freedom, customizations, flexibility, and non-regulation on what goes on there.

    Jeff Mills
    http://www.jeffmills.com

  25. Vix says:

    I am currently using both a hosted and stand alone blog platform: Livejournal for my fandom pursuits and WordPress on a virtual private server for my domain and other projects.

    A lot of people have mentioned that the skills needed to run your own website is a barrier to going it alone.

    One thing that helped me before making the plunge to my own self-hosted domain was to be hosted on someone else’s server. This gave me time to learn more about setting up blog platform, understanding about FTP and other things.

    If you have a friend who can has extra space to spare, why not have that kind of hosting.

    New bloggers, don’t hesitate to use a hosted service because you can then concentrate on what is important – getting your writing out there. But also take the time to learn more about what you need to manage a blog by yourself because the time will come when you will want more freedom.

    * What would you recommend to a new blogger?

  26. Numeric Life says:

    The answer for me is very simple – from the ROI perspective, any stand-alone service is NOT worth the time and money for 99.9999% of bloggers. Content is the King, Queen and Soul of the bloggering. Why don’t spend all your energy on blog contents ? Do you know any A-list blogger being famous for their web template ? Hosted service like Blogger provide enough flexibility to make most bloggers unique in terms of web page design. In term of service, do you trust Google’s engineers ? or small vendors ( yourself included )? Enough said. Thanks.

  27. Jim Lane says:

    I would suggest than anyone new to blogging start with a hosted service and then, once they have spent a year or so learning what is going on (and continuing to blog) think about a stand alone service.

    I started with Live Journal and moved to VOX because it is far more flexible, allows more things to be done and is continually improving what it offers. I do have a blogger account, but have not implemented it.

    What I would like in a hosted blog is the ability to have multiple authors writing articles with me having control of who can post articles.

  28. Rick says:

    Stand alone, your own domain. WordPress. ‘Nuff said.

  29. Andrew says:

    I’m a happy user of hosted Blogger service. Sometimes when the amount of control they give you over your blog isn’t enough for me, I use NucleusCMS blogging platform with my own hosting. But Blogger is really great in some ways. Zero costs, allows custom domains for free, etc.

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