This post is part of the ‘What we wish I knew when I first started Blogging’ Series. In this post I’ll share readers comments on the topic of Blog Hosting, Domains and Platforms and will share some of my own experiences and advice.
There is always a diversity of opinion over which blogging platform and hosting method is best – but there were some recurring themes in the reader discussion on this particular topic. Let me attempt to summarize the main theme:
The most common regrets seem to have been starting out with some of the free blogging platforms (particularly Blogger.com) and using the free subdomain URL that they provide instead of starting out with one’s own domain and hosting.
While there is some real wisdom in getting a taste for blogging using some of the free platforms my advice to anyone who suspects that they might end up blogging on a serious level it is worth securing a good domain name and getting set up on a platform that you think you’ll stick with for the long term.
In terms of blog platforms – there is no right or wrong answer and while my personal preference is for WordPress the blog platform that one chooses needs to match with the blogger’s own preferences. Try a few out and see which you’re most comfortable with – but be aware that the choices you make early can impact your future blogging. There are import features to migrate from many platforms to others – but it’s easier to choose the right one up front.
My Own Experience with Domains, Platforms and Hosting
I started out on a blogspot.com (blogger.com) domain and platform. While this was a great way to test my passion for blogging (I was hooked within hours of starting) I did quickly move on from this set up to my own blog, with a professional design and a standalone blogging tool (I went to Movable Type initially). When I made this move I noticed a significant increase in traffic and got a lot more respect from other bloggers and readers. Whether this was due to the design, having a blogging platform with more features (Blogger.com was very primitive back in those days – it didn’t even have integrated comments) or being on my own domain I’m not sure – but I suspect it was a combination of all of them.
As I began to start blogging on a more serious level and started attempting to make money from blogs I began to start new blogs. My ‘mistake’ (yet ironically a reason I had some success) was that I started the new blogs on the same domain as my first blog (a domain that had nothing to do with the topics I was blogging about). This was a big mistake in some ways in that it makes branding those blogs difficult and makes selling them almost impossible. On the flipside of this ‘mistake’ is the fact that because they shared the domain of an established and popular blog they did very well in the search engines from their first weeks of existence and as a result they grew readership very quickly.
I learned from my ‘mistake’ in later blogs. For example ProBlogger and Digital Photography School. Of course there are some regrets here also. I couldn’t secure Problogger.com so went with .net (and eventually secured the .com at a significant cost). While I’ve still built a significant blog on the .net version I wish I’d pushed harder to get the .com earlier. With DPS I don’t like having dashes in the URL – however again the owner of the other version of the domain is asking a crazy amount for it – so I make do.
My advice is to set yourself up with the best setup that you can afford to do IF you’re wanting to do blogging on a serious level. Doing it ‘right’ from the early days will cause you less pain later. However – keep in mind that despite my mistakes I’ve managed to build some reasonably successful blogs. The domain name and platform you choose are just two elements of many that go into making a blog successful. They are important – but if you get it wrong you are not dead in the water.
If you’re looking for a blog hosting option you might like to read this reader discussion on the topic.
Reader Comments on Blog Hosting, Domains and Blogging Platforms
Here’s what ProBlogger readers said they wish they’d known on the topic of hosting, domains and blog platforms when they started out.
tejvan writes – “Use the best blogging software and try to avoid wasting time messing around with design and getting the blog to function. I learn’t through experience WordPress is the best blogging software”
Leszek Pawlowicz writes – “Sometimes you really do get what you pay for. Blogger was free, some aspects of layout are easy, and it lowered the barrier to start blogging. But ultimately it just wasn’t powerful or flexible enough to do what I wanted. I wish I had bitten the bullet and gone with WordPress from the start.”
Heraldo writes – “I wish I’d started out on WordPress rather than blogspot.”
Mike writes – “I wish I had been smart enough to start the blog using a dedicated blog platform….”
Terra writes – “I wish that I’d skipped over the whole free blogger to wp.com sites and just gone straight to my own domain.”
Trula writes – “I’ve always had my own domain name, but I wish I had started using a blogging program from the start. From 02-05 I hand coded my blog, every single entry on it’s own old-school html page. Ultra duh!”
Antonio writes – “There are about 5-10 very successful blogs that use blogger and other free blogs like for example (seth godin, postsecret, etc). They are not on wordpress and still have tons of readers and subscribers. I think that content is what makes the blog not the platform.”
betshopboy writes – “The one thing I’ll do differently if I could start my blog all over again is to get my own domain name and host the blog on wordpress instead of my current blogspot platform, with subdomain name. Blogging with subdomain will always be a poor cousin to blogs with own domain name, no matter how ‘killer’ your blog posts are.”
What do you wish you knew about hosting, domains and blogging platforms when you first started blogging?