What is a Self-Hosted Blog? Should I Choose a Free or Self-Hosted Blog Platform in 2020?

We’re here to answer the question, what is a self-hosted blog? So, let’s do it.

What is a self-hosted blog?

A self-hosted blog is a blog that lives either on your own personal server (not common) or on the server of a third-party hosting company like Bluehost or Dreamhost (most common today), where those servers power your blog and keep it live on the Internet.

Most important to the discussion of whether or not you should self-host your blog (using a hosting company like Bluehost or Dreamhost), are the benefits you stand to gain from going with self-hosting—when compared to the alternative of choosing a one of the many more tightly controlled blogging platforms like Medium, Weebly, Wix or otherwise.

For several years here, I’ve been teaching over 500,000 monthly readers how to start their blogs—and my recommendation has always been to start with a self-hosted blog, powered by the free WordPress content management system (CMS) and a reliable hosting company that’s keeping your blog online.

What is a Self-Hosted Blog? Should I Choose a Free or Self-Hosted Blog Platform?

  1. What is a self-hosted blog?
  2. Should I choose a free or self-hosted blog platform?

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links and at no additional cost to you, I’ll earn a commission. When you purchase cheap web hosting using my one of my affiliate links, the company compensates me, which helps me run this blog and keep my content free of charge to you. Know that I also only recommend products I personally stand behind.

Alright, now let’s dig a little further into this discussion to help you determine whether or not a self-hosted blog—or free blog platform will be the best fit for your blogging goals.


Should I choose a free or self-hosted blog platform?

Before making this (big) decision, it’s important to take stock of what your blogging goals are.

  • Are you going to be blogging with the goal of earning some income or eventually building a business?
  • On the other hand, will your blog purely be a hobby or journaling exercise without financial aims?
  • Perhaps your blogging goals are something else entirely…

If you eventually want to make money from your blog, or leave that possibility open for the future, then going with a self-hosted WordPress blog is your only real option if you want to get your blog off the ground the right way and avoid a ton of costly transition work (in getting your blog to eventually be self-hosted) in the future.

That’s because the free blogging platforms of the world either prohibit or severely restrict your opportunities for monetizing your blog content.

Should I Choose a Self-Hosted Blog or a Free Blog Platform (Screenshot of Comparison)

You’ll only be able to effectively monetize your blog if it’s self-hosted

That’s the reason why I always recommend new bloggers go with a self-hosted blog as they’re getting started.

Even if you’re not launching your blog with the primary goal of making money today, leaving the door open to that possibility in the future is the smartest option right now (if you have the budget to spend around $5/mo for your blog’s hosting plan).

Now, if you’re instead blogging as a creative exercise, journaling activity or simple hobby that has no financial aims—opting for a platform like Medium, Weebly or Wix could actually be a great move, because it’ll be completely free of charge to you.

Regardless of your ultimate goal though, there’s nothing wrong with starting out on a free platform if you need to keep your expenses low or at zero, especially if you’re focused mainly on practicing your writing craft and getting more comfortable with what it’s like to operate a blog.

Just keep in mind though, that at some point in time you’ll eventually need to move over to self-hosting your blog if you want to transition it into an income-generating project.

How much does it cost to self-host your blog?

Thankfully, it’s become increasingly affordable to launch a your own blog in recent years. It’s attainable even on the tightest of budgets.

Self-hosting your blog with an extremely reliable (and affordable) hosting plan through Bluehost (my #1 recommendation) will cost you around $3.00/mo to $5.00/mo, billed annually.

You can expect to spend between $34.50/year and $65.40/year to keep your self-hosted blog running.

The exact amount your hosting plan will cost, depends on the package options & add-ons you select, based on your needs.

How Much Does it Cost to Start a Blog This Year? Infographic Answer

For a much more in-depth breakdown of all the blogging-related expenses you can expect to incur (as your blog grows over the coming months and you want to upgrade your tools), check out my guide about how much it costs to run a blog today.

How do you get a self-hosted blog going?

The process of getting your self-hosted blog off the ground is actually very straightforward and simple:

  1. Pick a name
  2. Choose your hosting plan
  3. Design your blog (with a free WordPress theme)
  4. Write your first post
  5. Promote your content

If you’re ready to get your self-hosted blog off the ground, then head over to my step-by-step guide and follow along to get started today.

Ready to Start Your Blog Today?

Check out my ultimate guide How to Start a Blog (on the Side).

Hi I'm Ryan Robinson

Full-time blogger, podcaster and side project aficionado. Join me here, on ryrob.com to learn how to start a blog, make money blogging and grow a profitable side business. I also write for publications like Fast Company, Forbes, Entrepreneur, Inc, Business Insider and more. Let’s chat on Twitter about business and side projects.

Jump into the conversation

Leave a Reply:

2 replies to “What is a Self-Hosted Blog? Should I Choose a Free or Self-Hosted Blog Platform in 2020?”

  1. Hi Ryan, I’m Daniel from Nigeria currently in the university and i love blogging, especially your blog. i would love you to walk me through this big decision of mine i think i would leave monetizing my blog as a decision for the future

    i sure hope to hear from you, THANKS

    Reply