Web Hosting

Why You Should Host Your Own Blog

Q: With all the big, easy-to-use, function-rich, free blogging services that are available why should you go to the trouble of hosting your own blog..?

A: Better SEO, total control, more traffic and more sales – although those reasons won’t apply if you’re not blogging for business!

When I started out blogging I opened a blogger.com account. That worked fine for me at the time because I was new to blogging, knew even less than I do now and didn’t even realise that I could host my own.

Even if I had realised that, it’s not something I would have given a moment’s thought to at the time. I was too new to working online, I was (still am) totally non-techie and (in my mind) it would have been too daunting a task.

So I happily blogged away on my blogger account until I logged on one day to find that Google had translated all the admin pages (in fact everything except my actual posts) into Chinese. I live in Hong Kong so Google, thinking they were being smart, used my IP address as the basis on which to make the decision to translate it.

Not being able to find the help link (because I can’t read Chinese) I logged into my Google account (Adwords, Gmail, etc,) to raise a request for them to translate my blog back to English. Luckily they only translated my blogger account, not all the other services I have with them!

After a week nothing had happened. I hadn’t received a reply, I still couldn’t read my admin screens, and I was seriously frustrated that Google should unilaterally decide to translate my blog, so I kissed the big G goodbye and shifted my blog over to WordPress.com.

By this time I had learned enough about blogging to have heard that WordPress was the place to be. So with some anticipation of great things to come, I imported all my blogger posts (click of a button in WordPress) and set about learning the new admin screens.

One thing I noticed immediately was that my posts were suddenly figuring much more quickly in the natural search results, so it looked as though at least some of what I’d heard was correct.

And I happily blogged away until…

… one day I tried to log on to be met with a notice telling me my blog had been suspended for infringing WordPress’ terms and conditions.

DAMN..!! Twice inside a month I’d been blind-sided by my blogging platform and the second occasion was even more damaging than the first. (It doesn’t give a great message about your professionalism when your visitors are met with a message that you’ve infringed T’s & C’s and had your blog suspended).

So, finally, I was pushed into the realisation that I had no option but to set up my own blog and host it myself.

So off I clicked to WordPress.org to see what I could find out. And I was pleasantly surprised.

Firstly, the instructions they’ve set out for downloading and installing a WP blog are delightfully clear and easy to follow.

They set out a few minimum requirements, which I passed on to my hosting provider. Once I got the confirmation back that there would be no problems I printed off the instructions and got going.

First step is to set up the database. Easy to do – the instructions are very clear, include screen shots for every step of the way and are written in simple, non-techie language.

I then downloaded and unzipped the blog files, entered my newly created database details into the config file, (just followed the instructions), uploaded the files and accessed the installation screen via my browser (the URL is provided in the instructions). That kicked off the installation script and I was all done.

It was, literally, a 5-minute exercise.

However, the majority of hosting providers now give you an even easier method than that:

One click installation.

I’ve never done a 1-click installation so I can’t confirm whether it really is one click or whether a few more are involved, but it’s definitely very easy and it doesn’t involve any downloading, unzipping and uploading of files.

So what are the benefits of running your own blog on your own server?

You have total control. You can write what you like, you can drive traffic to affiliate programs, no one is going to translate it into Chinese, and no one is going to lose your database.

You can customise it as much as you like. Customisation is done through plug-ins, and there are plug-ins for just about anything you can think of. You decide what you want to do with your blog, then you can either go to the WordPress plug-in directory or do a Google search for a plug-in for the function you want.

Download the plug-in, unzip it, upload it and activate it through the blog admin screens. It’s that simple. Really.

But of all the sexy things you can do with your self-hosted blog, probably the biggest benefit of all is the SEO tweaks you can make.

This really turns your blog into an incredibly effective way of figuring strongly in the natural search results.

Optimising your blog for the search engines is simply a question of installing and activating the appropriate plug-ins. And you can find probably the best list of SEO related plug-ins in Jack Humphrey’s Authority Blackbook.

If you’ve gone to the trouble of setting up your own, self-hosted blog then you should absolutely download this book and follow the guidelines in there for optimising it properly for the search engines.

Firstly, the Authority Blackbook is free and secondly, if you don’t set up your blog properly then you’re wasting an enormous portion of its SEO potential.

It would be like buying a Ferrari but never taking it out of the city centre.

Since I’ve been working online I’ve always struggled with getting targeted traffic to my site. Traffic, loads of it. But targeted traffic is what pays – and that’s much tougher.

Having spent a lot of money in the past on Adwords and other paid advertising campaigns, with not a lot to show for it, I decided a while ago to change my strategy.

I’m now using my blog as my primary means of drawing in traffic. I haven’t (and will not) spend a single penny on promoting it.

And yet my blog is now attracting a little over 50% of the total traffic I’m getting on a weekly basis – that’s traffic to my blog plus traffic to all my other sites – and that’s almost totally due to the SEO effectiveness of my plugin-rich, self-hosted blog.

Within the next year I’m aiming for that to be well over 80%.

It’s so easy to set up a self-hosted blog – and the benefits are enormous.

Do you host your own blog..? Has it been worthwhile? Have you tried it and run into trouble..? Leave a comment to tell us about your experiences!

Update 27 April, 2009

Since writing this original post I’ve added a new one that gives a more detailed description of how to install a WordPress blog on your own domain.

It includes how to configure it so as to achieve the best balance between control, efficiency, search engine friendliness and community building.

You can find it here.

Web Hosting

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Walt Goshert 27 February, 2008, 12:52 pm

    Hey Martin,

    You wake up and Google translates your blogger blog into Chinese? Welcome to Hong Kong!

    I have a few remote blogger blogs that I’m always kinda feeling I’m looking over my shoulder to see what Google will do. One of them actually has a PR 3 on some pages and ranks of first page of Google for some of my keywords.

    So, the transfer is a little tricky.

    Good information and an enjoyable read on a topic I really didn’t wanna read.

    Thanks,

    Walt

  • WealthyDragon 27 February, 2008, 2:44 pm

    Walt, hi,

    Thanks!

    Yes – Google periodically translate things into Chinese for me: they’re currently putting Chinese character modules on my home page, despite that fact that my home page url is the International one specifying the language as English!

    Glad you enjoyed the article!

    Cheers,

    Martin.

  • Rowell 27 February, 2008, 8:11 pm

    hey martin,

    what is your experience using the ‘all-in-one’ SEO wordpress plug-in?

    regards,
    rowell

  • WealthyDragon 27 February, 2008, 9:48 pm

    Rowell, hi,

    I have to say that I’ve only recently started using the All-in-One because I was using a couple of other SEO related plugins previously. They covered some, but definitely not all, of the functionality that’s in the All-in-One – so I’m definitely better off now.

    Firstly, it activated with absolutely no problems.

    Secondly, I really like it so far, because it’s enabled me to easily set up META keywords and descriptions for not just the blog, but also for each individual post as I write them.

    It was possible to do that before by editing the theme files but that was a real pain!

    It offers a lot of configuration options, mostly relating to titles for the blog, individual pages, categories and tags, but I’m currently just using the defaults throughout.

    Basically I’m delighted with it so far, but I’ll be able to offer more thoughts on how it’s benefitted my traffic in a month or so.

    If you have any specific questions on it let me know and I’ll do my best to answer them!

    Cheers,

    Martin

  • John Santiago 28 February, 2008, 1:14 pm

    Well-written article on blogging and for beginners like me. I blog but I post a article about 1 every two weeks. Also using Web 2.0 sites (Youtube and Squidoo) to increase rankings.

    Thanks for the info.

    John

  • WealthyDragon 28 February, 2008, 8:41 pm

    John, hi,

    Thanks! I’m glad you found it useful and I’m glad you’re using the web 2.0 marketing approach. I think you’ll need to post an article more often than once every 2 weeks, though, for your efforts to be effective.

    Either way – enjoy and good luck..!

    Cheers,

    Martin.

  • Barton 3 March, 2008, 1:21 pm

    Thanks Martin,

    I have had the same experience only Google shows up in Japanese.

    I am off to Word Press now.

    I will be following your blog……

  • WealthyDragon 3 March, 2008, 3:03 pm

    Thanks Barton!

    Google clearly hasn’t tumbled to the fact that some people live outside their country of origin..!

    Glad you found it useful and good luck with setting up WP. By all means drop me a line if you get stuck – I’ve just escorted someone else through the process of migrating their blog from Blogger to self-hosted WP, so I may be able to help if necessary.

    Cheers,

    Martin.

  • kerslyn 22 April, 2008, 11:44 am

    hi Martin! thanks for the visit to my site. Yes, I did found your post helpful in upgrading my wordpress 2.3 to 2.5. Anyway, I like this post re: own domain hosting. I got a domain name for my other wordpress blog and a hosting as well though I really don’t have an idea on how to go about it to set-up my blog. The technical support of my hosting service provider suggested to install wordpress thru fantastico. Now, I’m done with it. My next question is….how will I start with my blog after the installation. Hope you can help me with this. Thank you!

  • WealthyDragon 22 April, 2008, 2:51 pm

    Hi Kerslyn,

    Thanks for your comment, and I’m glad you found this post useful as well!

    I’d be delighted to offer any help I can on setting up your new blog but I’ll need some more info first – especially as you say you’ve already set it up with a one-click install via Fantastico.

    What exactly do you mean by ‘how will I start with my blog after the installation’? i.e. do you mean the blog settings? Plugins? Themes?

    Give me more details and I’ll give all the help I can,

    Cheers,

    Martin.

  • Lynn ("Mommy" to the TB's in the blog listed) 10 September, 2008, 1:45 am

    I’m a bit behind on everything (again), including keeping up with my Site Reference enewsletters, so am writing this a little while after you had it published there.

    I LOVE this article, particularly now! One small correction, which is understandable that you didn’t know – often bloggers, who aren’t marketing, need their own platforms, too. Matter of fact, that’s part of the reason I enjoyed your timely article, the owners of the platform my blog is on, occasionally like adding banner ads over it. The blog is about the lives of two Teddy Bears. “Teddy Bears” is also a term used in reference to male homosexual sexuality. See the problem?! Yeah, so do the parents, who bring their kids to visit, and I have no control over it.

    I’ve known this for a while, and even bought my own URL and hosting package, but, even though I’ve never accomplished my original fear of computers (pushing a button and the thing explodes, destroying my whole house and family LOL), I’m STILL terrified of new technology, including setting up programs! I too know about WordPress, and have read about it on their site, BUT I just KNEW I have no idea what to do with databases, and spend a long time on the learning skill bell curve going up hill! It seems simple, but something will go wrong, and I’ll have some terrible virus on my computer, which will eventually blue screen the thing, losing all my files and programs. (Is it still a phobia, if you can rationize it to yourself?! LOL)

    About the same time this article was forwarded to SR subscribers, I started a thread there about how to create something, that, ultimately, was answered, “…create a blog using WordPress on your own URL.” I’ve been hyperventilating ever since! After reading your article, I’m still hyperventilating, but, this time, I really believe if you can do it, I can do it! LOL

    Thanks. I have a revised plan for my site that I can work on after gardening season is over. 😉

  • WealthyDragon 10 September, 2008, 7:27 am

    Lyn, hi,

    I never knew Teddy Bears also referred to male homosexuality – you learn something new every day..!

    Good luck with your plan for your site. There’s a lot of information both on- and off-line that will provide you with support and information on installing and operating a Wordpress blog.

    Plus – most hosting providers now offer a 1-click Wordpress installation service.

    I emailed you separately with some more details but, if you do get really stuck, drop me a line and I’ll give all the help I can.

    Cheers,

    Martin.

  • Brad 13 October, 2009, 7:03 am

    Hi and thanks for the good information.

    I see you are an advocate for WA.
    I am looking at them and wondering about their hosting feature.
    Your statement about it is far different from what they promise.

    Would it be possible to host a wordpress blog with them??

    I would think that having 3 blogs hosted with them would not only be an excellent selling feature but also one that would keep membership active for a long time.

    Thanks for your time man.
    And I’m a Canuck so,…Happy Thankgiving,…EH!
    Brad

    • WealthyDragon 13 October, 2009, 11:22 am

      Hi Brad,

      Yes – you can definitely host WordPress on WA hosting and they even offer a 1-click installation service for it.

      The 1-click install, though, currently installs WordPress 2.0 – an archaic version in WordPress terms – so you need to upgrade it as soon as you install it.

      If you compare WA hosting to hosting provided by a dedicated hosting company, WA hosting doesn’t match up in terms of the number of SQL databases, the number of email accounts and so on, that come with a package.

      But for someone just starting out it fits the bill perfectly because it’s a way of getting going without having to hunt around for everything – everything you need is available in WA. Then, once you’re up and running and making money, you can move to a dedicated hosting provider and get the extra email accounts etc.

      They’ve just seriously upgraded their underlying platform (it’s now called Wealthy Affiliate Platinum) and I understand from their updates that they’re going to focus attention now on upgrading some of those features that have slipped behind over the past year or so.

      Thanks for your Thanksgiving wishes, but I’m a Zimbabwean living in Hong Kong, and we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving (which I always thought was the last weekend in November, rather than mid October) 🙂

      Cheers,

      Martin.

  • Brad 15 October, 2009, 3:55 am

    Thanks for the reply Martin.
    You may be the only blog owner I’ve met that actually does that.

    I was in WA for a while but they messed around with my account and I must either re start ,….or not.

    What I wanted was a good system to not only learn from but to promote.
    Not only as a money maker but a place to send the people on my list that are asking the most “how-to” questions.

    I’ve tried three of the others and it looks like WA is the best by far even though it is such a low price,….in comparison.

    Hey listen Martin, where would I go to learn things like,…why I would even need to have more emails in my hosting like you mentioned??

    I am a decent writer and research is a joy to me but at this time website building is a nightmare,….not that i don’t want to learn because I do see the advantage of having the ability to put what I want on the Web.

    I’ve tried SBI but that was easily the most confusing experience I’ve had so far.

    Did you learn bit x bit or was there a program, ebook etc. that put it all together for you?

    Thanks for your time, it is much appreciated.

    By the way, we here in Canada have Thanksgiving earlier so it’s not so close to Christmas.

    Take care.
    Brad.

    • WealthyDragon 15 October, 2009, 8:20 am

      Brad, hi,

      I learnt website building originally with a course from Jim Edwards called Minisite Creator (I think – something like that). Initially I learnt to use only the HTML editor which lets you format web pages the same way you do in Word.

      I eventually decided to teach myself HTML and CSS to the point where I now either build ‘traditional’ sites in HTML/CSS or I use WordPress as the platform on which to build them.

      WA has a site builder called Site Rubix which, like many of their offerings, is great for beginners but I think you’ll soon grow out of it and start looking around for something more powerful. If that’s the case you’ll probably have already made some sales and be ready to invest the time in learning a more powerful tool anyway.

      Happy Thanksgiving – although I guess that’s already passed now if you have it earlier than in the US..!?

      Cheers,

      Martin.