There is no more common concern or question among both new and experienced bloggers alike: which blogging platform should I pick? Aside from learning how to blog, it's an almost universal concern.
And there is no simple answer. All bloggers NEED to own their domain names, but platform choice is largely dependent on the specific blogger's requirements. That said, I've compiled a list of disadvantages and advantages of the two main platform options below.
Hosted platforms refer to services whereby a service provider gives you access to their network connection, hardware, and software, and you create a blogging account for use on that platform. With a hosted blog, you have access to an administrative panel for your blog, and that's it.
Popular hosted platforms include solutions like LiveJournal, Blogger, and Typepad.
Advantages of Hosted Platforms
- Cheap: most are free; others (like TypePad) are offered with multiple price points
- Easy to setup: just signup for an account and then quickly learn how to create blog posts
- Automatic updates: you don't have to worry about keeping hosted software up-to-date and patched.
Disadvantages of Hosted Platforms
- Rigid: there are fewer configuration choices with hosted platforms.
- Not as many design choices: you typically only get to choose from a limited number of standard designs, and you often can't make improvements to them
- Generic URL: some hosted platforms don't have the option to use your own URL
- Less control: you are at the mercy of the platform
- Migration issues: moving from many free hosted platforms results in a lot of effort and often the temporary loss of search engine rankings
Self-hosted platforms consist of your own web hosting account with a data center, and the blogging software you install on the data center'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.
Common self-hosted software includes WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal.
Advantages of Self-hosted Platforms
- Design flexibility: you have complete control over layout and design
- Great software: the best software is available on self-hosted platforms
- Custom URL: custom URL's are ubiquitous on self-hosted platforms
- Adaptability: you can change your blog as your needs change
- Easy migration: if you ever want to migrate to another platform or another server, migrating is a snap
Disadvantages of Self-hosted Platforms
- Difficult setup: setup can sometimes be difficult, but this can be overcome with a good blogs how to
- Cost: while the blogging software is free, the hosting platform will cost you money
- Hosting issues: unless you choose a good host, you might have to suffer from down-time or poor support
- Upgrades: you will need to keep your software patched
Most of of my blogs are self-hosted, and it's what I generally advise anyone looking to create a professional blog. There are too many advanatges to ignore, and you usually have the choice to host many blogs and domains on one account, lowering the cost per blog down to a small amount.