I can’t think of a more common concern or question among both new and veteran bloggers alike: what blog platform should I use? Aside from learning how to blog, it’s an almost universal concern.
And there is no stock answer. All bloggers NEED to own their URLs, but platform choice is mainly dependent on the individual blogger’s requirements. With that stated, I’ve compiled a list of pros and cons of the two primary platform choices below.
Hosted platforms refer to services whereby a service provider grants you access to their software, network connection, and hardware, and you setup a blogging account for use on that service. With a hosted blog, you have access to a control panel for your blog, and that’s it.
Typical hosted platforms include solutions like Blogger, TypePad, and LiveJournal.
Advantages of Hosted Platforms
1. Economical: many are free; others (like TypePad) are offered with multiple price points
2. Easy to get started: just signup for an account and then quickly learn how to create blog posts
3. Automatic updates: you don’t have to worry about keeping hosted software up-to-date and patched.
Disadvantages of Hosted Platforms
1. Inflexible: there are fewer customization options with hosted platforms.
2. Fewer design options: you usually only get to select from a limited number of average designs, and you often can’t make improvements to them
3. Generic URL: some hosted platforms don’t have the choice to use your own URL
4. Less control: you are at the mercy of the platform
5. Migration issues: moving from some free hosted platforms results in a lot of effort and often the temporary loss of search engine rankings
Self-hosted platforms consist of a web hosting account you establish with a host, and the blogging software you install on the host’s server. With a self-hosted blog, you have access to a management panel for your blog, but you also have access to a server account and the blog software where you can do nigh anything.
Commonly-used self-hosted software includes Movable Type, Joomla, and WordPress.
Advantages of Self-hosted Platforms
1. Design flexibility: you have full control over layout and design
2. Great software: killer software exists on self-hosted platforms
3. Custom URL: custom URL’s are ubiquitous on self-hosted platforms
4. Adaptability: your blog can change as your needs change
5. Easy migration: should you ever need to migrate to a different platform or another server, migrating is a snap
Disadvantages of Self-hosted Platforms
1. Difficult setup: setup can sometimes be difficult, but this can be overcome with a good blogs how to
2. Cost: while the blogging software is free, the hosting platform will cost you money
3. Hosting issues: unless you choose a good host, you might have to suffer from down-time or poor support
4. Upgrades: you will need to keep your software patched
Most of of my blogs are self-hosted, and it’s what I generally recommend to anyone looking to create a professional presence. There are too many benefits to turn down, and you usually have the choice to host many blogs and domains on one account, driving the cost per blog down to a small amount.