Monday, October 4, 2010

Blogging for beginners - Free blogs or paid domains?

I received a comment the other day talking about the only way to really do well with blogging is through a custom domain.  Or a paid blog, you may call it. 

So, it got me to thinking, what is the real difference I have noticed between free blogs and paid blogs?  Because I do also have blogs I pay for.  But I really do believe that free blogs are not so shabby, especially for individuals who are just learning the process and concept of blogging.

So, whether you are blogging with the intention of making money or just blogging for the fun of it, I thought I would explain in a little bit of detail the pros and cons of both free blogs and paid blogs.

Take this blog for example.  This blog would probably do very well as a paid blog.  I have given it quite a bit of love in order to place fairly well in the search engines.  And at times it does seem to be a bit of a waste of time to keep pumping hours and hours into a free blog.  And why is that you ask, well, lets break it down really plain and simple like.

Pros of a free blog
1.) There is no financial strings attached.  If you do something that negatively effects your blog, you really have lost nothing, except some time in order to try and fix what you have done.

2.)Wonderful place to really learn the art of blogging.  Free blogs are a great place to test your technique.  That means your writing style, and your SEO practices.  You can use them to determine what works and what sells and what just completely fails.  I have used my free blogs for just that purpose.  And in the process, I have had some serious failures.  I, in fact have one blog right now that has been slapped by google and taken right down....for, SPAM.  They are calling it a spam blog.  And although it may skate along that hairy edge of being legit and being a little questionable, none of my content on that blog would be something I would consider SPAM.

But I think that is a perfect example of the learning process you may face when beginning to blog yourself.

3.)Blogger and Wordpress.  How you may wonder am I going to call these sites pros?  Well, because they are power houses with huge communities, and that along can generate some traffic. And while having the Term Wordpress, or Blogspot within your url can hinder your place in the search engines.  The reality is, people see these and respect these names.  People who spend time reading blogs are very aware that there are hundreds and thousands of quality bloggers using these tools to start their own blogs.

And what are the CONS of free blogs
1.)You are under the thumb of a larger entity.  Case in point is the blog I mention above.  If I was under my own url with that blog, It would not be wiped out by google.  They would pull my adsense account, but they could not just delete it.  And that is a big deal.  That blog had about 100 posts and tones of content that is now just gone.  Hundreds of backlinks just wasted.

2.)Your URL is a sub domain of a bigger site.  What this means is, search engines give it less value than if it was your own URL.  A site called is going to rank better on url alone than my blog, if all other factors are equal.

3.)Customization.  This is a big one, artistic freedom with your content is really big when it comes to proper page layout and structure.  And while both blogger and Wordpress offers a lot of options, they can never compare to the freedom you get with a custom URL.

So, what about a paid blog?  How does a paid blog stack up to a free blog?

Reality is, there is no comparison.  It is so much easier to build a successful blog with your own URL.  One of my paid blogs already has a better page rank than this blog and it has only been around for two months and I have given it almost no attention as far as SEO is concerned.  It just naturally ranks better.

1.)So, Number one Pro would be just that.  Google gives more weight to a paid URL.  It shows a level of commitment that is just not there when you use free blogs.  This means that more time and effort will have to be placed in a free blog in order to rank it within Google.  And this is big, because you will find that you will be spending more time trying to improve your standings in the search engines than you will writing content for your own blog.

2.)Worpress software.  Wordpress is by far and away the best blog software out there.  And it is free.  They have such a large community of great programers and code writers that you will be able to find an limitless amount of templates and widgets for your blog.  Everything you can imagine.

3.)Since of responsibility.  This is of course going to vary from person to person.  But if you are investing your own money into a blog, you will want to see it do well. And you will spend more effort in making sure it is as good as you can make it.

Cons of a paid blog
1.) There really is none, except maybe the fact that it is not free.  That you will be paying for hosting and you will have to pay for a domain name.  Sites like GoDaddy and Host Gator make the costs as reasonable as possible, but you will still be looking at a monthly investment.

Other than that.  I really see no downside to owning your own URL.  So, am I telling you to go out and get one?  No.  I am telling you to look at it all as a bigger picture.  The way I look at this process is, The paid blog is the top of my food chain.  but off that I have several smaller micro niche blogs, I have Hubpages, I have Bukisa articles and other article sites, and I link from all these places.  Some go back to the main blog, some don't.  But my goal and intention is, to create a web of information, because the longer my readers spend reading MY content, the more likely they are to click on something that in some way will make some money for me.  And that is really my intention with the efforts I put into my blogs and other online properties.  I try to provide value with the hopes that I will get something in return. Not asking for anything in return, because that is just not my style.

Thank you for reading blogging for beginners.  I have appreciated the increase in traffic.  It has really been a breath of fresh air in a time when I have had trouble finding ideas for writing.


  1. Using either two definitely have their advantages. But if you really want to monetize blogging, I suggest investing in a hosting service and domain.

  2. Thank you for your article. You sound very knowledgeable but I don't know half of what you are referring to . I read SEO expecting to get what that stands for. I got all the way to the bottom of the article and then saw that it stands for Search Engine Optimization.
    I really am looking for the real basics. I don't even know what HTML means. The problem for me is in the language. Maybe I will not ever be able to do this.:o)

  3. I definitly think, if you are serious about earning money with your blog, that you should go with a self hosted blog. A domain + hosting is relatively cheap and will be worth it, as higher search engine rankings = more visitors to your site = more money