We can easily get caught up in the planning stages of professional blogging but it’s time to get practical. Once you have chosen and qualified your niche, planned your chosen blog monetization strategy and invented a great blog name, next job is to find your blog a home!
What you need
You absolutely need your own domain name and to be able to earn money which means adding advertising and stats code at the very least.
You need excellent uptime and customer support, whenever the site is slow or unavailable you are losing money. The hosting solution also needs to be able to cope with a sudden influx of visitors, for example if you get slashdotted. There have been many cases where what should have been a joyous event, something to take a blogger to the next level, instead turned out a disaster. Usually their ISP pulled the plug and slapped them with grotesque bandwidth charges.
For your blog to be entirely your own and completely unique you will need to be able to edit the code and add modules. While many might disagree, here at Performancing we believe you really do need to have complete control over your blog to make it the very best it can be.
While we would definitely encourage you to go with your own hosting, initially it may be enough for you that you can have your own domain and tweak templates to include advertising. Hey, it’s your blog. Even Andy uses this route and (other than a hiccup earlier) is quite happy with it.
The blog service with the most control seems to be TypePad Pro account which gives you unlimited weblogs and full HTML editing.
At $14.95 a month though you really ought to consider your own hosting arrangement, read on and you will see it sounds harder than it really is.
Hosting difficult? Too geeky?
It doesn’t have to be difficult and you do not necessarily need to bring in your pet geek right away. If you take a look at your choice of blogging software website there will be a section pointing you to hosts who either give you easy wizards (such as those hosts incorporating the Fanstastico system) to set up the blogging package for you or will help you do it. Many are offering all in one packages that include registering a domain name, setting up email and installing your blog, you just need a credit card.
While you can have your own domain and select from a choice of templates on a free or “premium” service from the blog companies these will not give you 100% control. Finding an ISP and setting up the software exactly how you want it is the only way to have a blog that is completely how you want it.
- You are in control – this is the most important reason to go with your own hosting agreement. You choose a host that is right for you with a price and SLA you can live with knowing full well that if it doesn’t work out you can switch within 24-48hours.
- You can switch software – with a bit of redirection your visitors and webbots do not need to know which software you are using so it might be a hassle but you can change your mind about what software you run.
- Upgrades happen when you want them to – if you want to run the latest beta it’s up to you, you haven’t got to wait for everyone else to be happy to upgrade.
- Complete customisation opportunity – as you can see from Performancing, if you have the skills on hand why should you stick with a generic install when you can have it exactly how you want it?
- As many blogs and bloggers as you like – many blog host packages restrict you to how many blogs or user accounts you can have or charge a lot for unlimited. With your own hosting you can have as many as will fit your space allocation which usually runs unto hundreds of megabytes even at the lower end.
- As robust as you can afford – if your blog empire really kicks off simply upgrade to a better SLA, better backups or even webfarm hosting.
- Add non-blog additions you might not just want a blog, you might want to have all the features of a big web community such as subscription area, ecommerce, forum, gallery etc
- Whatever webstats you choose – many blog packages don’t have any webstats, with your own hosting you get your own log files and included stats, plus the flexibility to use whatever you like.
- You get to choose geography – for some search engines the geographical location of your hosting can determine if you rank in a local search engine. Also you might want to have your tech support in your own time zone for quicker response.
- No tie-in to one provider – once your blog becomes popular on a fully managed blog host they have you by the nuts. They can put up prices, close down, change the software .. and there won’t be anything you can do about it.
- Attacks – with your own hosting you can usually ask or control the banning of IP addresses to prevent denial of service or spamming attacks
How to choose
Looking around the blog software vendors sites will give you some early ideas but don’t just select the first on the list then go. Ask around. Personal recommendations will always be best, after that ask on the forums.
You can’t really trust testimonials and even forum responses might be more motivated by potential affiliate income than good advice. Get many recommendations before you go with an option and see if there is a trial period available. Within the trial period make sure you get everything working and you use the technical support. Even if the hosting is in a different country you need to get a quick response to any problems, just imagine your site is down, do you want to wait 48 hours? Also make sure they explain things clearly and politely.
Be wary of hosts who offer unlimited bandwidth. This could mean that any one user of their service could slow down everyone else. I would rather be capped at a good generous level or throttled knowing everyone else was but your mileage may vary.
Hosting can often cause arguments (what is new, heh) but I hope I have given you some things to think about when next selecting where to host your blog.
How did you choose your blog host and are you happy with your choice?