I normally ask my friends to start a blog and write about things they are passionate about. Then they come up with the following questions.
- What is this blogging about?
- Can you start for free using Blogger or medium?
- Are you earning money from blogging? If yes, how long it will take me to earn money?
And there are many other questions. This blog post is to answer their second question. Can we start with Blogger or any other free blogging platforms?
I started blogging in googles blogger platform. I was not serious about blogging, I was just writing about “cloud computing” concepts which I was learning during my Masters. After two years I got little serious with blogging and I wanted more customizations in terms of design, contact forms and much more. One such example is that I wanted a great syntax highlighter and an opt-in email subscription widget.
It’s not like you cannot do those customizations in blogger. I knew HTML and CSS, however, blogger has its own HTML syntax which requires some level of learning to create custom themes.
Like many of you, I had the same thinking like, why would I spend money on hosting WordPress when I can use blogger for free of charge?.
One short answer for that is freedom of customization. As a techie, I don’t like being restricted for software usage or developing on top of that. I wanted my own customizations. I am not saying you should not start a blog on Blogger or WordPress, I just say the fact that, if you become serious about blogging, you will regret the decision of starting on a Blogger or any other free platform like I did.
WordPress.com vs WordPress.org
WordPress.com is a free blogging platform like Blogger which is backed by WordPress software. You can start a free account and you will get a domain name with wordpress.com extension (eg: comtechies.wordpress.com). You can setup a custom domain as well, as you do in blogger. However, You will not get any control over customization, plugins, or any other administrative features of WordPress.
Whereas worpress.org provides the WordPress software that can be installed on any server that you own. By doing this you will get the full control of your website. When you opt for a managed WordPress hosting, the hosting provider will take care the WordPress software installation for you. If you go for a cloud or VPS server, you will have to do the installation all by yourself.
For non-techies, the custom WordPress installation might sound intimidated, but trust me, you will get used to it very fast with the help of automation tools.
My Shift to Self-Hosted Wordpress
After some serious thinking and recommendation from other blogging communities and top bloggers, I decided to switch to WordPress. I was intimidated at the beginning because blogger was so easy for me. I had to start learning WordPress from scratch.
I searched a lot for cheap and best WordPress hosting. Everywhere I found Bluehost to be the best. So I migrated my blogger blog to WordPress hosting on bluehost.com(3 years plan $3.95/month). Site speed was pretty good and I never faced any downtime. Then I started devopscube.com, which was also hosted on bluehost.com.
Later I moved to both by blogs to AWS(>$20/month).I found Bluehost hosting to be very good in terms of speed and high availability. Also, it comes with a Free domain name and one click WordPress installation
If you don’t want to manage the server (security, backup, optimization) and just concentrate on your blogs, then Bluehost is the best option in terms of cost and services. All the security and optimization will be taken care by Bluehost.
Is WordPress Worth It?
Now, I cannot think of any other CMS than WordPress. Once you understand the power of WordPress you will never think of any other CMS. You can literally start a social media website or an e-commerce site using WordPress. It’s that powerful and backed by a huge developer community. Also finding a freelancer to do your WordPress customizations is very easy.
Also, you can turn any of your blogging idea into reality within 3o mins. All the hosting providers have one click WordPress install option. Once you sign up for a hosting account, it takes less than 10 minutes for WordPress setup. And theme and plugin settings would take another 15 mins. So basically you can give your blogging idea a reality in 3o minutes using WordPress.
How much does it cost?
You will have to purchase a domain name and a web hosting. A domain name will cost you $15 from GoDaddy for two years and hosting starts from Free (Cloud servers) to $200 per month (For managed WordPress hosting). It totally depends on the hosting provider you choose.
I am planning to write a blog post on how to host a blazing fast WordPress for completely free. Will update the link once complete the blog.
If you need any help or suggestion, please drop a comment below. I will get back to you on that.