No matter where you blog, blogging is an asset to your business.
Kinda vague, isn't it? But consider this... I just spent a day at a motivational seminar in Chicago. One of my favorite speakers was Rudy Guiliani, who I consider to be a man-of-action - a problem-solver. So I was very interested in what he had to say about motivating yourself to success. He stressed the importance of setting goals, in writing. After you've made that list of goals, make another list with ideas on ways to achieve those goals. Then take it one step further and write down the pros and cons of each idea in your plan of action. This will help you sort out the good ideas from the bad and prioritize your steps.
We've already determined that blogging is an important step in your online business. So let's look at the pros and cons of hosting your own blog versus writing a blog on a hosted platform, like WordPress or Blogger.
The Pros of Hosting Your Own Blog:
- Customization: The free sites offer an array of templates to create your blog, but to develop something unique, you'll need the freedom of owning your own domain and site.
- Monetization: Placing specific ads and affiliate programs is accomplished more easily through a paid site. While the free sites allow you to monetize your site, the ads your viewers might see are not always governed by you.
- Credibility: You'll be taken more seriously if people see that you've invested in your blog.
*** I am not sure I whole-heartedly agree with this, but let's place it as a Pro for the time being.
- Cost: I love free, (just sayin'). There are many options for web hosting and I've investigated a few, which we'll talk about below, but suffice it to say that you can expect to pay a minimum of $5 per month, and up to $20 per month, depending upon your choice of plans. Are you ready to shell out $60+ dollars to start a year of blogging? If you're a beginner, or someone who is not truly committed, this may not be the avenue for you.
- Computer Literacy: Ok, so some hosting plans offer WordPress automatically installed for you, but if they do not, your level of computer skills may hinder your progress. Do some research and find a plan that you can work with, without needing to take web-development classes.
One topic of discussion on many forums is the search ranking of blogs. Some adamantly argue that self-hosted blogs offer better ranking results. I disagree, as do many others. With proper SEO and good keywords, any blog can rank high in search engines. What do you think?
The other argument is credibility, mentioned above. Let's say, for example, that your business is web design. Then yes, it will be expected that you will have the knowledge, and the creativity, to wow us with a self-hosted blog. Online sellers, however, have other skills, and products, that quantify their importance in the online marketplace. A blog, free or otherwise, is just an added tool. It's that simple! Just get out there and write... remembering that content is king. Good content will get any blog noticed.
Things To Consider:
Is your store on a personal website or a venue, like OnlineAuction.com? I ask, because while you cannot add a blog on outside venues, you can easily add WordPress to your existing personal site. It's free, as long as you do not need to upgrade your site size. WordPress requires 4.0 or greater MySQL and 4.2 or greater PHP.
- MySQL is a database management system, that runs as a server, providing multi-user access to a number of databases. SQL stands for Structured Query Language. This is a standard at most web hosting services, but be sure to check your site's availability.
- PHP is a scripted language, embedded into the HTML source document and interpreted by a web server with a PHP processor module, which generates the web page document. PHP stands for Hypertext Preprocessor. You should again, check your site's availability.
Another thing to consider is backlinks. If you are adding WordPress to your existing site, your site name will have one search result in the search engines. What I believe is advantageous for sellers at outside venues is the addition of a second link on the search engine results page! One for your store, and one for your blog, similarly named... at a free site or self-hosted. Think about it. Those backlinks support each other and as your blog grows, or your store grows, they each empower the other.
Lastly, if you're considering that self-hosted blog, you'll need to figure out which hosting service is the best for you. I investigated only three, based upon recommendations I found in forums and blog comments. They are:
- Domain Registration
You must choose a domain name. This can be done independently, for a cost of about $10-$12. Many plans offer you the option of choosing your domain along with your hosting plan, at a reduced price.
- Site Analytics
I always recommend analytics. Many hosting services offer analytics options for a cost of about $2.99 per month.
- Search Engine VisibilityThis is an add-on that I found at GoDaddy. The cost is $29.99 per year, and can save you the hassle of submitting your site to the search engines yourself.
- Social VisibilityThis is another GoDaddy option, which helps you stand out at popular sites like Facebook and Twitter. Available for $1.89 per month, I would certainly give this consideration.
- SSL Certificate
This is not necessary, unless you will be selling product, or accepting sensitive client information on your blog.
What about you? I'd love to hear your opinions in the comments section of this post! What kind of blog do you manage? And how did you choose?