Tuesday, 17 November 2015

To Self-Host, or Not To Self-Host

That is the question!

I started this blog back in January and have been really getting into it, posting daily and suchlike, since August. Part of my reasoning for setting it up in the first place was it would help with my comping - it means I can enter all those 'write a blog post for x' competitions. Not that I've actually won any of those yet but, still, I live in hope. What I have had is the chance to host competitions for other people which has been exciting, enlightening, and, er, some other adjective which keeps up the alliteration.

But I want more of it - lots more!

The problem is that even as my stats have improved, my blogspot subdomain address has been a millstone around my neck. Lots of people rave about WordPress self-hosted, so I looked into the pros and cons of taking the plunge:

Pros - 

  • Top level domain - and the professional perception which goes alongside it. 
  • More control over appearance. You can tinker with every part of the code, use more advanced templates, and WordPress.org offers plenty of plugins which bypass the need for manual coding. 
  • No or fewer restrictions on type of content, advertising, etc.
  • Your content won't be removed without notice for contravening T&Cs.

Cons / Counter Arguments -
  • The cost of hosting - any ongoing cost is not a cost I want.
  • Blogger templates can be modified to do most things WordPress can do, without worrying about third party code and plugins screwing things up.
  • Blogger doesn't stop you putting affiliate links on your blog.
  • Going self-hosted isn't a fail safe way to keep your content safe, and you can easily back up your blog yourself for free.
  • I like the traditional blog look as opposed to a website - I didn't grow up on LiveJournal for nothing. 

This exercise confirmed that I didn't want to go self-hosted for various reasons, primarily the cost side of it, and my own understanding of myself. The web is littered with blogs I was once just as passionate about, forever festering in the back-up engines of Livejournal and its long forgotten brethren. If I went self-hosted my fear is that when (not if) I get bored and can't be bothered to keep paying up, all my content would be lost from the net.

A tiny little screenshot I found on the web of a former blog of mine. Ah, nostalgia.

Then I heard about a halfway option. I could stay hosted with blogger and their user-friendly interface, but still have a shiny top-level domain address. This 'vanity url' is like slapping on a coat of fresh paint - everything is exactly the same underneath, it just looks better for the visitors. Even so I ummed and ahhhed over it for weeks, worrying that it would be a nightmare to implement and I'd just end up out of pocket for nothing.

Yesterday I finally took the plunge! I bought a custom domain name from 123-reg.co.uk and got my blogspot redirect all set up with help from the geekalicious blog. It took about ten minutes from start to finish, and cost under £10 for three years ownership of www.babiafi.co.uk. So far, so good!

Are you self-hosted, vanity url-ing, or happy with your subdomain?

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  1. Vanity URL and nice template on Blogger. Cost me a tenner and the price the template. I looked into self hosted and decided against it

    1. I might go for it one day in the future, but not any time soon :)

  2. There's a lot of arguments for self hosting. I'm happy with blogger and don't intend to change that any time soon. You see all those arguments for self hosting can be solved by simply learning html and CSS. So that's where I'm focusing my energy.

    1. Good idea - it's so much easier if you can do it yourself

  3. I am still learning to navigate and so cannot comment. I just stumbled unto self hosting as a friend was helping me. So I don't even know what the differences are actually. But I'm sure you have made the right decision for yourself! Hope to see you again at #abitofeverything

  4. There are pros and cons to it all. You just have see what you what your space online to be a document of memories and life or turn into jobs, sponsored posts and more??? Thank you for stopping by LTM and linking up to SWM. I hope to see you again tomorrow for another great round of #sharewithme

    1. Definitely - you have to tailor it to your own needs. x


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