If you want to start a successful blog from scratch to make money online, you’re in the right place. Starting a blog is a big project and you have a lot on your plate, I know. One of the biggest questions is: Can you start a blog on a free blogging platform or should you invest a few bucks into a self-hosted blog?
Trust me, if there’s one thing that will help you save time and make money from blogging, it’s a proper technical setup for your blog.
And don’t worry if you have no technical experience with blogging so far. In this post, I’ll walk you through a few critical reasons why you should avoid free blogging platforms if you want to make money as a blogger.
Also, I’ll show you exactly how you can set up your blog the right way from the beginning, step by step.
By the end of this post, you’ll know the exact benefits of self-hosted blogging and how much easier and quicker you can start making money from your blog that way.
If you still choose to use a free blogging platform, let’s just say that you’ll need to put in a lot more effort and hours to see results.
So, if you’re serious about starting a blog that’s going to help you make money online, keep reading!
Let’s get started!
Here are a few related posts you may want to read, too:
- Why Start a Blog? 12 Essential Reasons to Start a Blog TODAY
- 101 Profitable Blog Niche Ideas That Make Money
- How to Stay Motivated When You Start Blogging
Please note: This post contains affiliate links to products I use, trust, and recommend. If you choose to purchase a helpful product using these links, I may receive a small commission for referring you – at no extra cost to you. These funds help me keep this blog up and running.
What is a self-hosted blog?
If you’re new to blogging, you may have heard about self-hosting before. But what does it mean exactly to have a self-hosted blog?
Well, when you start a blog from scratch, you can choose between two different setups:
- First, you can start a blog on a free blogging platform, like WordPress.com or Blogger, for example. It’s obviously a cheap way to do it. But if you’re serious about starting a successful blog to make money online, free platforms have a few serious limitations.
- The second option is to start your blog using a self-hosted option, where you register a blog domain name and sign up for blog hosting. The self-hosted option is the only way to make sure you can make money from blogging and that you’re in full control over your blog.
I often get asked if self-hosting is worth it and if it’s necessary when you’re just starting out with blogging.
And my answer is always a very loud and clear “YES!”.
Self-hosting is the only way to build a successful online brand around your blog that your readers can trust and fall in love with.
How much does a self-hosted blog cost?
Before you start thinking that a self-hosted blog is a big investment, let’s get one thing straight:
Self-hosting costs less than a coffee at Starbucks.
Yep, I’m not kidding. Through Blogging Explorer, you get access to an exclusive self-hosting deal with Bluehost starting at less than $3 a month.
I use Bluehost for my blogs and I’m happy to recommend them to my readers and my website clients. They’re the only hosting provider I’ve never had any problems during the past few years.
We’ll look at how you can set up your first self-hosted Blog with Bluehost in a minute.
Why isn’t everyone running a self-hosted blog?
Ok so if a self-hosted blog is the best way to make money from blogging AND it’s so affordable, why isn’t every blogger doing it?
Here’s the deal:
Most beginner bloggers can’t see the big picture when they’re just getting started. They tend to think about that very moment where they’re at right now, without figuring out their long-term plans and goals. The questions they’re asking most often are:
- What’s the easiest way to start my own blog and share my thoughts with the world?
- How can I get it done for as little money as possible?
That’s the general way of thinking about blogging. And those are important questions, no doubt about it.
But what many of us fail to think about are questions like:
- What if WordPress.com or Blogspot are closed down and I lose everything I’ve created?
- What if I didn’t read the fine print in the Terms of Service and they can use my content without my consent?
- Am I giving away the rights to use my content so that someone else can make money with it and I don’t get anything?
See what I mean here? I understand there’s a lot to think about when you’re starting your first blog. I was you not too long ago, after all.
All I want you to do is to be aware of how your blog will develop in the long run. If you’re planning to make money blogging, you want to be careful about how you set it up. Because what may seem like a good choice today might be a full-on disaster for you in the long run.
9 reasons why you should self-host your blog in 2020
If you’re serious about blogging and you want to build a successful online business and make money online, you want to make sure you’re in control of whatever you work so hard for.
The last thing you want is to see your blog shut down without a notice, losing everything you’ve worked so hard to create.
That being said, let’s look at the most important reasons for starting a self-hosted blog instead of using free blogging platforms.
#1: You have full control over your blog
The biggest problem with free blogging platforms is the lack of control over what you do. No matter how well you brand your free blog, you’re still not in control over what you create. You don’t own the content you create nor the traffic your blog generates.
And even worse: your blog could get shut down overnight without a notice. If the blogging platform is sold, for example, all your hard work could be gone just like that.
Now, the best way to make sure you have full control over your blog is to go self-hosted.
When you start a self-hosted blog, you own everything about it. The blog name, the domain, the content, and the traffic. It’s all under your control and you can do whatever you want with it.
With a self-hosted blog, you can build your blog into the business you’ve always wanted to have. You can create a successful online brand around your blog and monetize it the way you want.
In short: Free blogs are great for hobby bloggers. But if you want to make money blogging and earn an income online, going self-hosted is the only viable option for you.
Recommended post: 6 Secrets to Successful Blogging For Beginners
#2: You don’t want to give away your content for free
Alright so this is the point that really makes my blood boil. You see, when you use a free blogging platform, you’re practically giving away your content for free to the service provider.
All the hard work you do to create great content for your blog is serving one purpose only: to generate more traffic to that specific blogging platform.
Because at the end of the day, the platform will make money off of your blog by displaying ads at random, often intrusive spots within your content.
In short: When a service is “free”, you are the product they sell.
I don’t like the sound of that, it’s just such an absurd idea to me. Why would you donate your valuable time to a platform to allow them to monetize your content?
I mean, if you’re already creating something valuable, why would you give it away for free and let someone else make money with it?
Thus, the only way to make sure you’re the only one making money with your blog is to start a self-hosted blog. That way, you own and control everything about your blog: the content, the traffic, the brand, everything.
After all, if you want to make money blogging, it’s not about charity and giving away your content for someone else to profit from, right?
#3: You can decide how your blog looks like
When someone visits your blog, you have exactly 2 seconds to make the perfect first impression. In those first moments, your readers will decide whether they’ll stay on your blog or leave it.
The best way to make sure your readers are willing to spend time on your blog is to customize the look and feel to fit your target audience, right?
The design of your blog should reflect your brand and what you want to offer your readers. Also, it should be on par with your competition, of course.
Now, the problem with free blogs is that they all tend to look the same, more or less. I mean, if you’re not willing to spend a dime on designing your blog, why should anyone offer any customization options in the first place?
You may have a few different design templates to choose from, but that’s it. With millions of bloggers out there, a handful of templates isn’t much to choose from.
But with a self-hosted WordPress blog, you have full control over your blog’s design. Your customization options have absolutely no limits.
The best part?
You can choose from thousands of 100% free, customizable WordPress templates and themes.
And when you’re just starting out, it’s perfectly OK to use a free theme. Later on, when your blog starts to grow, you should go for a paid, premium theme. They allow you to use even more powerful customization features and tools.
Simply put: Going self-hosted means that you can make your blog look exactly the way you want. You can build a distinct online brand with a very small initial investment and create a beautifully designed blog – for years to come.
#4: You look professional
The most important part of your online blog brand is its name, right? The name of your blog will also be a part of the URL or domain name of your blog.
Related article: How to Choose The Perfect Blog Name in 20 Minutes
With free blogging platforms, you’ll always have a URL that includes the name of the platform itself. For example, if you’re using WordPress.com for blogging, the URL will be something like yourblogname.wordpress.com.
That means everyone can tell you’re using a free platform for blogging. It just makes your blog look like a hobby thing – not professional. How could your blog ever turn into a proper online brand if you’re always carrying the name of your blogging platform with you?
A unique, personal domain name is the only way to make your blog look professional and unique, trust me. You’ll stand out from your competition and your readers will take you more seriously with a self-hosted, custom domain name.
With a self-hosted blog, you’re free to choose whatever URL you wish. When you start a blog on Bluehost, for example, you can register a domain name for your blog for FREE.
#5: You build trust with your readers
Not only does self-hosting help you create a distinct, unique brand, but it also builds trust with your readers.
You’ll stand out from the crowd with your own brand and self-hosted blog URL. It’ll help you gain more trust from your readers and also from your fellow bloggers.
With a self-hosted blog, everyone can immediately see that you’ve made a small investment into starting a proper brand. You’ll look much more trustworthy in case other bloggers want to team up with you, for instance. They’ll simply know that you’re serious about turning your blog into a successful business.
Recommended: 4 Powerful Blogging Strategy Tips for Beginners
#6: You have better options to monetize
If you’re reading this, I assume you plan to make money from blogging in the future.
But the biggest problem with free blogging platforms is that they have very limited monetization options available (if any!).
For example, displaying ads on your blog is one of the best ways to earn passive income. When you use a free blogging platform, you will see ads on your blog. But the bad news is: you won’t make a dime from them and you can’t control which ads to display and where.
Free blogging platforms control the ads on your blog. They use that ad income to pay for the tools that you can use for free.
If you start a self-hosted blog, you have a whole range of monetization options to make money blogging in the future. Even if you don’t plan to become a full-time blogger, you can still make a nice side income with a fairly small blog.
What would you do with a few extra $100 a month?
In short: Self-hosting your blog will cost you a few bucks now, but you’ll also have much better tools to earn that money back sooner than you think.
True story: I paid for 2 years of blog hosting up front and made that money back within 2 months after I launched my blog.
Recommended article: Blog Hosting Review: How to Find The Best Blog Hosting?
#7: You have more SEO benefits
If you want to start a successful blog and make money online, your #1 priority is to generate traffic to your blog. Without readers, you can’t monetize your blog at all.
Now, the best way to generate a steady flow of traffic is through search engines like Google. You know, people search for something on Google and your blog post appears in the search results. They click on the link and land on your beautiful blog.
Thus, the higher your Google rankings are, the more traffic you can get through search engine results, right? There’s an entire range of methods to help you improve your rankings, called search engine optimization or SEO.
A robust SEO strategy will help your blog attract the right kind of readers who are actually interested in what you have to say.
The best part?
SEO traffic is 100% free. You don’t have to spend a dime on search engine optimization.
If you’re not familiar, check out my free beginner’s guide to SEO with a handful of easy but powerful SEO tips you can use right away.
Now, what you need to know about free blogging platforms is this: you don’t own the traffic. Nor do you own the domain, because it always has that suffix with the name of the platform at the end, right?
That means you can’t control any SEO measures when you’re using a free blogging platform. No matter how hard you try, Google will never treat your blog like a trustworthy source of information to their users.
Therefore, the only way to make sure you benefit from the massive traffic potential from Google is to self-host your blog.
When you own the domain name for your blog, you are in full control lover which SEO methods you use. Google will see that you’re serious about your blog, rewarding you with better rankings and more traffic. That, in turn, means that you have better opportunities to convert your traffic into income.
#8: You can use over 50,000 free plugins
Even if you’ve never started a blog before and don’t know what plugins are, don’t worry.
Here’s what you should know: plugins are like add-ons to your blog. You can use them to add new features and functionalities that help you build a more solid online brand and business.
For example, you can use a plugin to speed up your blog website or to add a contact form in case your readers should get in touch with you.
You can also add an email subscription form to your blog and collect email addresses from your readers. Later on, you could use those contacts to sell your own products to your most loyal readers who trusted you with their email addresses.
You could even add an online shop to your blog someday and sell your own products (worldwide).
In short: plugins will help you build a better, faster, and more user-friendly blog. You’ll save time and money when you can be sure there’s always a helpful plugin available. Also, your readers will have a smoother experience reading your blog when it’s loading fast and has just the right functionalities they need.
Sounds good, right?
Well, here’s the deal: All of these plugins are only available for self-hosted WordPress blogs.
Self-hosting your blog is the only way to make sure you’re not missing out on followers, traffic, subscribers, or sales.
How to start a self-hosted blog in 2020?
Are you still with me? How’s the whole self-hosting solution sounding to you? Worth a shot?
Even if you’ve never started a self-hosted blog before, don’t worry. I’ll walk you through every step you need to take to make sure your blog has a solid technical setup from day one.
Here’s the best way to start your self-hosted WordPress blog in just three quick steps:
Step 1: Get your domain name and blog hosting
The first thing you need for your self-hosted blog is a blog name. You’re free to choose whatever name you want – just make sure it reflects what your blog is about and that it’s easy to spell and read.
Here’s a helpful article to help you find the perfect blog name in just 20 minutes.
When you’ve found the perfect blog name, you can register a domain name for it. That’s the URL that people type into the web address bar in their browsers, like this:
The best way to register a domain name for your blog is to do it while you sign up for blog hosting with Bluehost. They’ll give you a free domain name for the first 12 months, so you’ll save money right from the start.
I use Bluehost for my own blog and I’m happy to recommend them to my readers. I’m not shy about teaming up with them after everything they’ve done for me. I just believe they’re an excellent choice for beginning bloggers.
In fact, I’ve teamed up with Bluehost for an insanely affordable, exclusive self-hosting deal starting at just $2.95 per month. That’s less than a coffee at Starbucks – and yes, this deal includes a free domain, too.
First, head over to Bluehost.com (opens in a new window).
Next, click on the green button that says “Get Started Now”:
On the next page, you can choose between three different blog hosting plans:
When you’re just getting started, it’s perfectly OK to choose the Basic plan on the left. You can always upgrade to Plus or Prime anytime in the future.
Once you’ve selected a hosting plan by clicking on it, you’ll see the next page where you can register a domain name for your blog:
Here, you can pick your free domain name by entering it into the field under “New Domain” and clicking on the blue button that says “Next”.
If the domain name isn’t available, try to alter it a little. Bluehost will also show you suggestions for similar domain names to help you out.
When you’ve found and chosen a domain name, you’ll be taken to the next page where you can enter your account info and payment details to finish up the signup process. (I told you this would be easy!):
Then, choose the duration of your Bluehost blog hosting plan. The longer the plan, the cheaper it is on a monthly level. Also, the longer you’ll have access to the exclusive package deal price:
After that, you can choose from a few additional services for your blog under “Package Extras”:
If you ask me, you don’t necessarily need any of them. What I usually select is Domain Privacy Protection for all my projects. It’s a handy tool to protect my privacy and prevent my contact details from being visible for the entire world to see.
Finally, just enter your payment information. Also, don’t forget to read and accept the Terms of Service before you click the “Submit” button:
Congratulations! You now have a solid self-hosted blog all set up – for years to come!
All that’s left to do is to make sure you have the right blogging software installed in your blog hosting dashboard. Don’t worry, this will be super easy if you followed the steps above.
Step 2: Install WordPress
Ok so once you’ve signed up for blog hosting with Bluehost and registered your blog domain name, there’s just one more little thing to do: You need to install WordPress in your blog hosting account to build and manage your blog with all of your posts and pages.
Now, if this sounds a tad technical, don’t worry. Bluehost actually installs WordPress automatically for you during the signup process.
Thus, if you followed the steps above, you’re all set!
When you finish the signup with Bluehost, all you need to do is to choose your password for your hosting account:
Click on the green button that says “Create your password” to get started.
You’ll be taken to a page when you set your password. Just type it into the marked fields and click “Next” to proceed:
And you know what? You’re all done now!
Your WordPress blog has been installed in the background and you can start writing your first self-hosted blog post right away if you like!
In the final screen, you can pick a WordPress theme for your blog. However, feel free to skip this step by clicking the button at the bottom of the page:
This will take you to your Bluehost account dashboard. Here you can manage your blogs, domains, and other settings:
Now, all you need to do is to log yourself into your WordPress blog and start blogging!
Step 3: Log in and start blogging!
In your Bluehost account dashboard, you can see your self-hosted WordPress blog right there in the center of the screen. To log in, simply click the blue button that says “Log in to WordPress” to get started.
Alternatively, you can access your self-hosted WordPress blog by typing your domain name into your web browser’s address bar. Use your blog’s URL that you registered above and add “/wp-admin” to it. so, if your blog domain name is “myblog.com”, simply type
into your browser’s address bar.
Hit Enter and you’ll see the login screen of your self-hosted WordPress blog:
Just enter your login details, click “Log In”, and you’re ready to start blogging!
If you’re not sure about your username and password, check the email you just received from Bluehost a few minutes ago. You’ll find your login details to your hosting account at the bottom of the email:
When you’ve logged in, you’ll see your WordPress dashboard where you can start blogging and learning your way around WordPress right away:
We’re all done here! Congrats, you now have a fully-functional, self-hosted WordPress blog to build a successful business and make money online!
Final thoughts: Why you should start a self-hosted blog in 2020
These days, there’s no reason to settle for the poor and limited features you get with free blogging platforms.
If you’re serious about starting a successful blog from scratch to make money online, self-hosting is the only way to go.
Even if you’ve never started a blog before, this article is all you need to set up your blog the right way from the beginning. Once you take the big leap into self-hosted blogging, a whole new world of monetization and business opportunities will open up to you in the long run.
So, if you haven’t already, you can head over to Bluehost to start a self-hosted blog right away in just 10 minutes. I’ve teamed up with Bluehost so that you get access to an exclusive hosting deal for less than $3 per month.
If you’re anything like me and you’re ambitious about your blogging goals, this small investment will help you keep focused and motivated when you start working to achieve your goals step by step.
It’s your turn now! What do you think about self-hosting your blog? Do you think it’s worth it? Let me know in the comments below! I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Here are a few related posts to get you started with your self-hosted WordPress blog:
- 7 Critical Things You Must Do Before Launching Your Blog
- How to Find the Best WordPress Theme For Your New Blog?
- What to Blog About? Simple Tips to Find Blog Post Topics That Generate Massive Traffic
If you liked this post about why you should start a self-hosted blog, just drop me a line in the comments below!
P.S. If you found this post helpful, feel free to share it so that others can find it, too! Thanks so much!
I’ll see you in the next post! Happy blogging!