Most amateur bloggers create their blog using a free blogging service such as Wordpress, TypePad or LiveJournal. While these free services have their benefits (i.e. they're free), they also have some major disadvantages.
Before you sign up for a free blog, make sure you understand the advantages and disadvantages of using a free blogging service. That way, you can be confident that you're making an informed decision that's right for you - before you set up your blog. It's much easier to set up your blog properly from the beginning than to come back and change it later. If you don't create your blog properly from the start, you may regret it later!
Here, I'll explain some of the advantages and disadvantages of free blogs. Then I'll show you the best way to go about getting a free blog.
What Exactly is a Free Blog?
Before I go any further, I'd like to point out what I mean by "free blog". By "free blog", I am referring to the free, hosted services such as Wordpress, TypePad, and LiveJournal. These services allow you to set up a blog simply by filling out an online form.
By using these services, your blog is hosted with the free blogging service - you don't need your own web hosting account. You also don't need a domain name as your blog is accessed as a "sub-domain" of the blogging service's domain name (for example, "myblog.blogspot.com").
Advantages of Free Blogs
OK. So now that we know that we should create our blog properly right from the beginning, let's look at the advantages of free blogs - blogs that are built using a free blogging service such as Wordpress, TypePad and LiveJournal.
- They're free!
- They're usually quite easy to set up
Disadvantages of Free Blogs
Here are the main disadvantages of using a free blogging service.
- You don't get your own domain name. This can cause major problems in the future - especially if the blogging service goes out of business or decide to change the format of their URLs. The future of your blog is at the mercy of the blogging service!
- Less flexibility with your blog's design. Free blogging services tend to present all their customers' blogs in the same format. Therefore, your blog will look just like everyone elses blog. It will be harder for your blog to stand out visually from the rest.
- Less flexibility with other factors. You will find that there are so many things that you can't do with a free blogging service. Things that most professional bloggers take for granted, you won't even know that it's a possibility!
The Domain Name Problem
In the long term, the disadvantages of free blogs can far outweigh the advantages. Especially with regards to the domain name. Without your own domain name (i.e. your own "web address"), your blog is in danger of disappearing in a flash.
Just think about this for a moment.
Imagine you spend say, the next 6 months blogging your little heart out. Suddenly, your free blogging service send you an email:
"Sorry, but we're discontinuing this service. Thank you. Have a nice day!"
How would you feel if this happened?
I know how I would feel. I'd feel ripped off. I'd want my money back. Hang on... what money?!
And, even if the service wasn't completely shut down, the blog service might decide to start charging - exhorbidant prices.
Another thing that could happen is that they decide to change the way URLs are displayed. This would effectively break all your existing posts. Any links pointing to your existing posts would no longer work.
For example, http://myblog.blogspot.com/my-1000th-post could turn into say, http://myblog.newurl.com/my-1000th-post
Imagine getting to your thousandth post, only to see your free blogging service to go and change the URL format on you!
Overcoming The Problem... Free Blog with a Domain Name
There is a way to prevent these kinds of problems from ocurring. All you need to do is register a domain name. More specifically, you need to register a domain name with a web host that provides a free blog.
This is exactly what ZappyHost offers - register your own domain name, and you receive a free blog (among other freebies).
By registering your own domain name, nobody can change the "web address" of your blog. You have full control over your blog's URL.
Having your own domain name means that your blog's "web address" will remain for as long as your blog does. It doesn't matter if you change servers or hosting providers. Simply configure the domain name to point to the new server. Your blog will continue to function as though nothing happened.
The downside to these free blogging accounts is that they usually display advertising on your blog. But the most important thing is that you own your own domain name. That way, later on, when your blog becomes more popular, you can upgrade to a more professional account and still keep the same blog URL.
Also, by upgrading to a more professional account, you'll be able to own the blog's advertising space. This means you'll be able to earn money from the traffic that your blog is receiving.
Here's more information to help you decide which blogging option is right for you.
- Create a Blog Explains the various options you have when creating a blog.
- Create a Professional Blog Explains how to create a professional looking blog at a minimum cost.
- Blog Hosting Explains two types of blog hosting and where you can find a good deal.
- WordPress Hosting Discusses hosting for WordPress - the world's most popular blogging platform.
- Create a Website - FAQ Explains some of the key concepts about web hosting, domain names, and websites in general. Although it is geared towards creating a website, most of the information is also applicable to blogs. This is because, technically, websites the same as blogs.