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Choosing a blog hosting platform

How to decide whether to self-host you blog or use a blog hosting service.

There are essentially two ways to start a blog. The fastest and easiest way is to simply open an account with one of the large and highly popular blog hosting services. The more difficult, but also more flexible route is to host your blog yourself on your own web hosting account. This article will explain the advantages and disadvantages of each of these two options.

Using a blog hosting service

A number of popular blog hosting services make starting and publishing a blog extremely quick and easy. In a nutshell, all you have to do is sign up for an account, select a few options, and then start blogging. In fact, by going this route you can literally have your blog up and running in around 5 minutes, a big plus if you have limited skills in the area of installing, customizing and maintaining software and scripts.

But there are three primary disadvantages to using a blog hosting service as well:

  • You will not be able to use your own domain name unless you purchase one yourself. While this might not seem like a big deal, if you're planning to make money from your blog it really is.
  • You will have little control over the "look and feel" of your blog. While you can choose a theme from a collection made available to you by your blog host, you will be unable to customize it and make it "your own". Your blog will end up looking like thousands of others.
  • Your choice of plugins and widgets will be limited compared to those available to bloggers who choose to self-host their blogs.

If you decide to use a blog hosting service to set up your blog, the largest and most popular among them are WordPress and Blogger.

Self-hosting your blog

The advantages of hosting your blog on your own server are many, but the most important one of all is flexibility. Self-hosting your blog will allow you to:

  • Use your own domain name (which comes free with some web hosting packages.
  • Select from thousands of free, pre-written themes which can be customized to make your blog look unique among its peers on the web.
  • Choose from thousands of powerful plugins and widgets to add functionality to your blog.

One caveat: Self-hosting a blog should only be considered if you know how to install, maintain and modify scripts (or know someone who can do it for you). You can also hire a web designer to take care of all the technical details on your behalf.

If you do decide to host your blog yourself, your only real choice in a blogging platform is the super-powerful and extremely flexible WordPress (available separately from their hosted service at www.WordPress.org). Simply download the script from their website, install it on your web server, and then select and install a theme from the WordPress Theme Repository!

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