Every time I speak or teach, I get asked the same question: Why do you recommend a blogged book be on a self-hosted blog? I also get asked why I recommend WordPress over other blogging platforms. These questions are answered in depth in Chapter 5 of my book, How to Blog a Book, and on this blog in a previous post, but I’ll answer again here with a bit of new information.
I recommend WordPress because it is the Gold Standard among bloggers. By that I mean that most professional bloggers use WordPress. Why wouldn’t you want to use the type of blogging technology used by the majority of professional bloggers?
I recommend a self-hosted blog because once your blog becomes successful, you’ll wish you had one. It’s okay to start with a free, or hosted, blog, but eventually you will outgrow it. Plus, free blog platforms tend to lack some of the bells and whistles you will want, like plugins and the ability to run ads. Seriously, I don’t know what I’d do without all the plugins, which allow you to automate a lot of functions on your blog and to customize its design.
The difference between WordPress.com hosted and WordPress.org self-hosted blogs is explained in my book (and here on this blog). Here’s an excerpt from the book:
“WordPress.com, like other free blogging platforms, hosts your blog like a hosting company hosts your website. Hosted means the files and software used to build your website have somewhere to live on the Internet, and you don’t need to worry about maintaining the software that runs your blog. WordPress.com hosts blogs of millions of people. As the blogger, you are in control of the content, but your site resides at the WordPress location. That means that the traffic you generate—the readers who show up to read your blogged book—show up at a YourBloggedBook.WordPress.com, for example. Having a hosted blog with any blogging platform is a bit like housing it in a commune or an apartment building. Everyone shares the same address.
“WordPress.org, on the other hand, is free software you download and install on your own Web host. You pay for hosting from a hosting company of your choice, such as GoDaddy.com or HostGator.com, but your blog lives at the location you choose at a specific address on the Internet that you and you alone host. Your blog or website is the sole tenant living at that residence. No other blog has the same address.”
I’ve mentioned previously that there is an expense in converting hosted blogs to self-hosted blogs. Not only might you need a webmaster or WordPress expert to help you, you might end up wanting to keep your old blog “alive” in an “unseen” format to make sure no links become problematic. WordPress.com lets you delete your old blogs, make them private, or forward the old address to a new one. I didn’t want to just delete mine for fear that this could cause problems with the new self-hosted blogs. I didn’t want to make them private because they remain visible on the Internet; readers find them and get a message saying they are private. Nor did I want to leave them up and running; this takes traffic away from the self-hosted blogs and allows readers to leave comments there. (I did do that for a while before I realized this.) Now I pay $12 per year to have the old hosted WordPress.com blog addresses forwarded to my new self-hosted WordPress.org addresses, but you can avoid these fees by starting out with a self-hosted blog.
If you can’t afford to self-host your blog, however, the free hosted ones work well until you’re ready to convert—or forever if you so choose. Plus, WordPress.com now offers the option (for $18) to purchase a URL of your own or to use one you have already purchased. Plus, the company has upgrade options that allow you to have premium themes (now on the popular Genesis framework, from what a client told me). I do not see that this puts you into the self-hosted category, however; in fact, I saw an option for help from WordPress.com service reps converting to WordPress.org, should you decide to do this.
There you have it. I still say go self-hosted, but, if necessary, you have some good hosted options at WordPress.com that weren’t available a few years ago. (Sorry, I don’t know much anymore about Blogger and nothing about other blogging platforms.)
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