When I finally decided to switch to paid blog hosting, I received tons of questions from friends and fellow bloggers, who are looking into stepping up their blog game, about its benefits and should they do it? Well, here it is!
It goes without saying that it’s impossible to know exactly how many blogs exists on the web, but the answer is certainly in the hundreds of millions, with thousands more created every day. The majority of these blogs are hosted on free services like Blogger, WordPress, Tumblr and the like. It’s easy to see why.
You get your website — your slice of the internet where you can post about anything you want — without paying a dime. These platforms come with templates, a generous amount of pages and simple interfaces. Why would ever you need anything else?
Free website hosting certainly has its place on the internet and is perfect for personal bloggers. But, once you start to expand your readership and evolve your blog, it becomes less of a blessing and more of a hindrance.
The 5 Problems with Free Website Hosting
As your blog moves forward, you are going to need a bit more flexibility in your website. In this respect, free website hosting can lead to some pretty major issues. You get what you pay for, after all.
1. Unsolicited Advertising: Free hosting platforms need to make money. If they aren’t making money off you, they need to make it off somebody else: your viewers. Free hosting often means unsolicited adverts will appear on your website, which can be bad for two reasons.
The first is that this is revenue you could be enjoying yourself. If you have decent traffic numbers, the cost of paid website hosting is likely negated by the income you receive from advertising.
The second is that you have no control over what is being advertised on your blog. It could be something you dislike, a competitor, or products totally inappropriate to your website. The last thing you want is for your blog to look spammy.
Paid web hosting allows you to take control of your advertising space. Sell it to the highest bidder or use platforms like Google AdSense to offer something with the ‘you’ seal of approval.
Make money and keep up credibility.
2. No Tech Support: Having a website crash can be a nightmare. You could have a giveaway going that you need to keep updated, you might have some important news you want to share, or maybe you just hate the idea of people not being able to reach your blog.
When technical problems occur on a paid service, you have support available to help you resolve the issues straight away. It’s all part of what you pay for. However, free website hosting isn’t going to offer the same customer support. This is a free service, so they aren’t going to be on hand to make sure everything is working for you. They may have an email contact or a premium phone line, but there is no dedicated support on offer and you could be waiting hours or even days before your problem is resolved.
3. Fixed Bandwidth: Bandwidth can be a bit of a mystery for newcomers to the blogging world, but it’s actually incredibly important. Bandwidth is the amount of data that can be transferred to and from your website over a period of time, usually per month.
With a free host platform, you’ll be given a set bandwidth limit. If you reach this limit, your website is offline until you pay for more or the limit resets. Bandwidth is used when somebody visits your blog. They use your data in the form of cookies, image views and video hits, page loads and so on. If you have a high-traffic website, this means your bandwidth limit can be reached pretty quickly.
Once capped, you are offline. Nobody wants a downed website. It makes you look bad and it loses viewers.
Paid website hosting usually offers unlimited bandwidth. Without a cap, you can keep traffic rolling in without fear of a crash.
4. Non-Customisable: Free hosting platforms come with pre-made templates, which is great for the less tech-savvy among us. But as your blog evolves, you might want to ramp things up a notch, integrating tools like widgets, plugins, embeds, custom code, bespoke templates and more.
Options for customisation on free host platforms are incredibly limited — often completely non-existent. However, paying for your website hosting service means you have complete control over your website and its code. You can put any widgets you want into it, change the code to fit your needs and use whatever website design you want.
You are essentially free to build your website — not a templated site similar to millions of others on the web.
5. Limited Storage: As your blog expands, you’ll start to upload more images, videos, graphics and more. Soon, your website will be incredibly exciting, full of amazing posts, alive with colour and eye-catching visuals. But, these visuals come at a cost.
Every word and every pixel uploaded to your website needs to be stored somewhere. This will be on the servers of your website host.
Free hosting platforms aren’t getting paid to store your data, so they aren’t going to give you a lot to play with. It’s enough for most small-time bloggers, but once things start to get more serious, you’ll encounter problems.
Limited storage space means you might not be able to use the visuals you want, and that you end up having to delete old blog posts in order to free up space for new ones. When you want a lively, well-established blog, removing content is never a good idea.
More content is directly linked to more views. The more you can post, and the more posts you have, the better.