I can’t think of a more common concern or question among both beginning and veteran bloggers alike: what blogging platform should I choose? Aside from learning how to blog, it’s an almost universal concern.
And there is no simple answer. All bloggers MUST own their URLs, but choice of the platform is mainly dependent on the indivudal blogger’s requirements. That said, I’ve compiled a list of advantages and disadvantages of the two main platform options below.
Hosted platforms refer to services whereby a service provider gives you access to their software, hardware, and network connection, and you setup a blogging account to use on that service. With a hosted blog, you have access to a control panel for your blog, and nothing else.
Common hosted platforms include solutions like Typepad, LiveJournal, and Blogger.
Advantages of Hosted Platforms
- Cheap: many are free; some (like TypePad) are offered with multiple price points
- Easy to setup: just signup for an account and then quickly learn how to create blog posts
- Automatic updates: you needn’t worry about keeping hosted software patched and updated.
Disadvantages of Hosted Platforms
- Inflexible: there are fewer cusotmization options with hosted platforms.
- Not as many design options: you usually only get to choose from a limited number of mediocre designs, and you often can’t make improvements to them
- Generic URL: some hosted platforms don’t have the option to use your own URL
- Lack of control: you are at the mercy of the platform
- Migration issues: migrating from many free hosted platforms results in a lot of effort and often the temporary loss of search engine rankings
Self-hosted platforms consist of your own web hosting account with a host, and the blogging software you install on the data center’s server. With a self-hosted blog, you have access to a management panel for your blog, but you also have access to a server account and the blog software where you can do just about anything.
Common self-hosted software includes WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal.
Advantages of Self-hosted Platforms
- Design flexibility: you have complete control over layout and design
- Great software: the best software exists on self-hosted platforms
- Custom URL: custom URL’s are common on self-hosted platforms
- Adaptability: you can change your blog as your needs change
- Easy migration: should you ever need to migrate to another platform or another server, migrating is a snap
Disadvantages of Self-hosted Platforms
- Difficult setup: setup can sometimes be difficult, but this can be overcome with a good blogs how to
- Cost: while the blogging software is free, the hosting platform will cost you money
- Hosting issues: unless you choose a good host, you might have to suffer from down-time or poor support
- Upgrades: you will need to keep your software patched
Most of of my blogs are self-hosted, and that’s what I generally advise anyone looking to create a professional blog. There are just too many benefits to turn down, and you usually have the choice to host many domains and blogs on one account, driving the cost per blog down to a negligible amount.