What is a Self-Hosted Blog?Should I Choose a Free or Self-Hosted Blog Platform? + How to Get Started

What is a self-hosted blog? A self-hosted blog is a blog that lives on either your own server (not common) or the server of a third-party hosting company like Bluehost or Dreamhost (most common), where those servers power your blog and keep it live on the Internet. Here’s how to decide which kind of blog will be best for you (and how to get started).

What is a Self-Hosted Blog? Should I Choose a Free of Self-Hosted Blog
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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 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 blogging site will be the best fit for your blogging goals.

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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. Quick aside: check out my guide—how much do bloggers make? to see a niche-by-niche breakdown and get a sense of how long it takes to make money from a blog.

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 or slightly more if you go with a true monthly 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. However, the best content management system (CMS) is far and away, WordPress, where you’ll have limitless growth & customization opportunities.

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.

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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 Graphic for Bloggers (Optimized)

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. And check out my guide about how much bloggers make to get a realistic idea of your path to generating income over time with a blog.

Plus, they offer the option to go with (cheaper) shared hosting or to choose a more robust managed WordPress hosting plan that handles more of the technical aspects of running your blog.

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—and check out my list of the best blog examples to get some inspiration now.

Ready to Start Your Blog Today?

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

Hi I'm Ryan Robinson

I'm a blogger, but I'm not my blog. I am not my business either. Occasional podcaster and very-much-recovering side project addict. Co-Founder at RightBlogger. Join me here, on ryrob.com to learn how to start a blog and build a purpose-connected business. Be sure to take my free blogging tools for a spin... especially my wildly popular free keyword research tool & AI article writer. They rule. Somehow, I also find time to write for publications like Fast Company, Forbes, Entrepreneur, The Next Web, Business Insider, and more. Let’s chat on Twitter (X?) and YouTube about our feelings (and business, of course).

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

  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

  2. Hi thainks for all the great info!

    I’m going to change the name of my website and move my content from Wix to Wrordpress. I already bought the new domain with GoDaddy. Do you think it’s ok to kep it with them? I’m already going to have to lose money moving to Wordpress so just tryign to save a bit on the domain if possible

  3. Is there free domain hosting or/and subdomains or custom domain end free self host hosting that is not only free for one year.


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