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Hosted or Standalone Blogging Platforms – Which is Best?

Posted By Darren Rowse 22nd of April 2007 Blogging Tools and Services 0 Comments

One of the most common questions that I get asked around blogging platforms is whether people should go for a hosted blog platform like Blogger, TypePad or WordPress.com or whether they should go for a stand alone platform that you host on your own domain and server like WordPress.org, Drupal or Movable Type.

I’ve talked previously about some of the Pros and Cons of Hosted and Standalone blog platforms – but thought it might make an interesting open mic discussion (or debate).

So what do you think?

  • Do you use a hosted or stand alone blog platform? Why?
  • Do you wish you’d made a different choice when you started?
  • What are the Pros and Cons of the two options?
  • What would you recommend to a new blogger?
About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

  • I use standalone blog platforms because it gives me more control over what I can do with my blog, and what not.

    I am happy with the choice I made so I won’t do it differently.

    The hosted platforms are usually free. But I think that’s one of the very few pros. The standalone platform does cost a little, but you have the freedom to add whatever plugin you like. The same goes for themes.

    When starting off with blogging, it is important to decide whether to use hosted or standalone before starting. Most of the time it’s a hell to move existing posts from one to the other. Your blog will be indexed in the search engines, so moving to another platform will mean doing everything from the beginning, when it comes to search engines.

    If you can spare $5-$10 a month for hosting and another $10-$15 per year for a domain name I would definitely suggest that you start using a standalone platform. If money is an issue, you can always start with a hosted blog and switch later.

  • I am using my own hosted WordPress platform for my blog. I started out with Blogger only to be frustrated with its shortcomings. So WordPress was the obvious choice when I wanted to shift.

    Pros of Blogger : No bandwidth & space issues, Image hosting space
    Cons of Blogger: Spam, No plugins

    Pros of WordPress : Plugins, Themes & many more…
    Cons of WordPress : None

    I would recommend that one should start out with some free alternative like Blogger.com or WordPress.com and then move to his own space after some experience in blogging. :)

  • I’ve been blogging for a couple of years now and I use Blogger, mainly because that’s what I started with and am most comfortable using. When I began exploring ways to generate some income from my blog, I thought about moving to a “stand alone” platform, but I’m not great at CSS and I don’t have alot of time to dedicate to the more technical aspects of maintaining a site. I’d rather use the limited time I have concentrating on writing. The cost was an issue as well, not just for hosting but paying someone for a custom template, etc.

  • Hey Darren,

    I think it depends upon the person. Me personally, I am on a hosted domain service, although I have it set up with my own custom domain (via Blogger.com).

    I actually paid to self host my blog, but then realized that I would rather spend the extra time that I had customizing the html of the blog (and writing on it) than mucking through the hosting of the site.

    Although one could easily hire a coder for the job, to get a decent one can be fairly expensive, not to mention insuring that they would be responsive within 24 hours if an issue ever came up.

    Also, if my traffic went up unexpectedly, (which happened once when my site was “digged”) then I would have to agree to a higher hosting rate or have my site offline.

    I love the new Blogger (even more than WordPress which is third to Vox IMHO) so having them deal with the issues of hosting was easier on me. That’s my viewpoint, how about everyone else’s?

  • The old theory of having a good domain name is still relevant today. So, for Search Engine, the first thing it get a clue of any site is by the domain name and the rest of the URL.

    Speaking of that, hosted blog does not give that flexibilty. If the budget and expertise are the constraint, have your blog hosted but make sure to have your own domain name. Domain only cost you as little as USD6 dollar per annum. If could get free hosting with that.

    Blogging platform is another choice you have to make. If you go with Blogger.com, you are stuck there. If you go with WordPress for example, you might have greater flexibility.

    I go with Blogger when I started but now I am running on my own server with WordPress Mu as the back end. I can churn out as many blog as I like in few minutes. I have the flexibility and full control.

    my 2 cents.

  • Hi Darren,

    When I first started blogging, I used a hosted blog platform. But I quickly became frustrated of it because I wanted more control.

    Having a stand alone platform and site is important to me because I want complete control over my domain, host, design, and blogging app.

    For new bloggers, I would suggest a hosted platform with a free account. No sense in wasting money on domains and hosting if the new blogger isn’t going to stick with it.

  • I started at typepad and quickly realized it wasn’t enough. I’m paying about $60/year for hosting now. Most hosting services have a point and click install of WordPress or other blogging software. Also I now have the availability to add other features to my site as I wish. Also for just a few extra bucks I can add a second domain and another blog if I find a new niche I enjoy.

  • A) I am using Stand alone for one big reason, i dont like to be controled by anybody anywhere. This give me more option to learn new things and see more on how it works. Since 4 mnths i have understood more about site , hosting seo and others.

    B) No

    C)
    Hosted: You need to worry about backups, they are more stable, no money to pay for hosting, vbery handy when your site is under digg affect or increases traffic day by day, no ned of change of plan, secured.

    Stabndalone: Reverse of what I said in Hosted, but there is more option of personalization, more control on what you want to use.

    D) I would recommend anybody to experiment first with hosted to understand how it goes.Then of he is not comfi, he can go for standalone.

  • i don’t what the best advice for new user. it’s depend to yourself.

    I’m using blospot services less than a week. After i knows about wordpress.org, i buy my own domain and web host.

    And i satisfied with wordpress script because it’s user friendly. I think new blogger should not afraid to try host a blog. It not too hard. Go and try yourself. you will like it because it’s simplicity and give you more power what you want to do.

  • Stand alone. All the way.

    One minor reason is it forces me to learn to setup my site. My site was “built” by me, meaning that I had to put the files for WordPress in place, set up the SQL databases, install the blog and all the plug-ins and widgets I use. I like the fact that I can look at my site and say, “I did that.” Of course most of the bits were actually designed by other folks, but the set up and design was all me.

    Another minor reason is by setting up my site I am able to choose the bulk of basic functionality. I can specify which plug-ins to use, and don’t have to have anything in place I don’t use. That cuts down on clutter.

    The major reason though is the domain is 100% mine. No trailing .blogspot.com or whatever. I have nothing against the content of bloggers who use hosted services per se, but I do have a personal reaction to those domains that I can’t help bu project onto others. Having a stand alone domain give the impression of independence. I like that in a blogger.

    Lastly, stand alone means I choose what advertisers are on my site and any profits come to me.

    The one con is that I do have to do the set up myself, which means the things I haven’t yet gotten my head around are unavailable to me. I could pay someone to build out the site for me, of course. But, that’s just not my style, nor really in my blogging budget.

  • How knowledgeable are you in hosting, fixing cms, html and css? You answer that question and you have half of the road traveled.

    You must add the time (how much you time cost?) you spend fixing things to the hosting cost. Or add the fee of a company to it for you.

    To some people that cost is affordable, because they make a profit by showing waht they do (In terms of influence, feedback, advertising, seo, …). Make your numbers and include the satisfaction of having a home desing for you with your needs and peculiarities.

    We always talk to our costumers in that terms. Some buy our products and services and some don’t. For those who doesn’t, we wait until it does…;)

  • Blogging Platform I use
    * Blogger

    Why? :
    * It was the first service I signed up for when I thought of moving to a blog.
    * It allowed me to host my blog on a free webhosting service back then.
    * My second option was wordpress but I shyed away from it because it requred installation onto the server – and free hosting would’t allow that.
    * I didn’t regret my decision !

    Pros:
    * It’s highly customizable and I can have a complete control of how my blog looks and performs.
    * I can edit any of the HTML code in the template unlike other hosted platforms
    * It’s also one of the few hosted platforms to allow users to manage their blog on a different domain.
    * When I moved to a paid domain, etiting my ftp configutation was a snap and my blog was resurrected within seconds on the new domain.

    Cons:
    * Customizing the look and feel can be a pain for users not familiar with CSS and HTML
    * Invalid HTML code formatting. Some features depend on Javascript
    * FTP hosting does not come with cool formatting options such as layout and layers.
    * Poor archiving – they only recently introduced “Labels” but its not as good as a tag-cloud
    * Need better code to display only partial posts on the first page. The present code simply uses hidden tag. Confuses people when they don’t find what the search engine displays !

    I would still recommend Blogger to a very new user. Its easy to sign-up.
    And as they progress, can customise their blog the way they like.

  • stand-alone, no question. I need to have complete control over it, otherwise it would drive me nuts. I guess it depends on your intentions, butI highly recommend stand-alone

  • One day, about a month or so into my first blog, I switched to a stand-alone WordPress platform. I wanted to make some changes to my site that I couldn’t make on blogger.com (though it is pretty flexible if you care to be daring).

    There are days when I miss blogger.com. The instant Google listings were nice, and I have a feeling that the plug-ins for blogger will surpass WordPress in the not to distant future.

  • I echo all of the above re: my reasons for starting and maintaining my blog on a stand-alone platform. The benefits of a hosted blog (I use them for my own personal blogging) are extremely few as far as I can tell.

  • I would recommened doing what I did to a new blogger (lol). I started on blogger with a ‘make money online’ blog (which I am still maintaining). It was the perfect learning experience. About 5 weeks ago I started my first hosted site, which uses wordpress. Because I used blogger I fully appreciate WordPress’ flexibility and I think its great! :D

  • I use both a stand alone (WordPress) and hosted platform (Blogger). The stand alone definitely gives you more control over how your blog looks but does involve more time. Ie. coding things they way you want, file transfers etc.

    Personally, I like both. If you are a beginner and don’t want to spend any money, then the hosted platform is the way to go.

    In my opinion, I don’t think it really matters too much if your blog is hosted or not. If you have good content people will find you. It’s like the best eating place in town, people will find it and people will find you. The battle between standalone and hosted is just similar to people who fight over light beer or real beer. Guess what, it’s still beer. Guess what, it’s still a blog.

    ‘Nuff said.

  • Standalone platform is better as you have complete control over it. Maybe it requires some php or sql knowledge to set it up, but you can hire some to do it for you and then change password if you are afraid for security. But why to be lemited on WordPress.org, Drupal or Movable Type? There are other free blogging tools like Nucleus and many others.

  • kat

    I really think new bloggers who are truly serious about blogging, should get their own domain and hosting, and their own stand alone blogging platform.
    While sites like blogger and LJ are good, they are not taken as seriously by people, advertisers etc.
    The free sites are also under much stricter rules as to what they can place on their sites, if they can even have ads. WordPress shut down the blogs of many users who started placing any kinds of ads on their sites, not just paid posts, so if people are serious, want to be successful, taken serious, have freedom of control, and maybe make money, then they should get their own sites.

  • I use blogger, cause of its free bandwith. I want to jump over to dedicated server (since I have over 3 million impressions monthly), but it costs arround 1,000$ which is ok now, but wasn’t cool when I started with my blog.

    However I’m willing to pay similar sum to somebody who can now help me move my blogger blog to wordpress and migrate it to dedicated server. I don’t know how to keep my blogger template and export all the posts with correct links and images….

    if someone knows how to do it, I’d be glad to pay additional 1,000$ for this info. thnks

    vurdlak

  • I use a hosted blogging platform, i.e. Blogger, and I am satisfied with this choice. The main reason is simplicity, both of use and maintenance.

    Although I do have a technical background, I am no longer a young geek and I no longer have time for extensive customization and maintenance. Life is short.

    I recommend a hosted platform to those who do not plan to become probloggers, or have limited time.

  • I have used both hosted and standalone platforms. I’ve used hosted ones at blogspot for very short-term projects where the blog won’t have more than two dozen posts. And I have my own standalone blogs – two which I killed once I realized the ideas did not have the right content generating ability, one which I just started in March which I think has legs if not readers.

    For a new blogger, I’d tell them to use blogger or wordpress.com and set up a project where they believe that they can do 15 posts on a topic in 30 days. If they enjoy the experience, then I’d discuss where they want to go with their blogging, including potentially moving to their own standalone domain and blogging software.

  • Tom

    I have always used stand alone blogging platforms with my blogs simply because I like the control you have with your blogs hosted on your own servers. I have experimented with Blogger and WordPress.com, but it always felt like I was limited in what I wanted to do with my blog. By hosting your own blogs, you not only have the power to change whatever you wish on your site, but you also have the power to add other features to your blog. If you are using Blogger or WordPress.com, you really have no option to add something like a forum to your site, or any other type of script that you may want to add. With those sites, you have to rely solely on widgets and code snippets to add to your site, and its often the case that if the main site of these widgets goes down, then your blog is left without that widget until the main site comes back online. In my opinion there are two main advantages to using Blogger or WordPress.com. First, is the monetary advantage. You are not paying anything for domain renewals or hosting by using these sites, and that can make a big difference for someone who just wants to try out blogging and just get started. The second advantage is for people who may not have the greatest technical abilities when it comes to the web. I come from a background as a webmaster, so I personally have a good knowledge of HTML, PHP, etc., but for someone who looks at code and gets a headache, Blogger and WordPress.com are good options because with a couple of clicks you can be up and running without any technical knowledge whatsoever.

    The one argument that I don’t buy whatsoever is that standalone blogs are more “professional” than hosted blogs. Blogger and WordPress.com get bad raps because of all the spam blogs that are hosted there, but in the end it is all about the content in my opinion. If you write quality content and have a Blogger blog, people are still going to read your blog. For any new bloggers out there, I think it is really up to them whether they want to use Blogger or WordPress.com or get their own hosting and domain. Neither choice is going to permanently alter their blog, and both offer the opportunity to switch at a later date if the blogger wishes to do so. The bottom line is just write quality content and the readers will eventually come – how you host your blog is not that big of a factor.

  • I have been with blogger and went over to wordpress. I liked the former being able to make changes but when I went to their new system I was not able to access my site, so I went with wordpress. They are not bad, but bland looking pages. You cannot change background color etc. You cannot open a complete new blog without having a new e-mail address and you cannot change your URL title.

    Like many have said you have more control over your own stand alone platform and I am thinking that this is they way I will go before too long.

  • I use the standalone wordpress platform and I love it. You can’t get pings/trackbacks from Blogger or on blogger. Makes me kinda sad really. :) But I don’t think I woulda used anything else when starting out in blogging.

  • I’m using Blogger and am quite happy with it for now, having your own domain name always gives a site a bit more look of credibility though.

  • Personally I like hosted blogs. I started out with a hosting account and learned how simple it was to setup a blog like WP.

  • Years ago I started with blogspot, but would never go with a subdomain type hosted solution again. Having your own domain name and hosting offers much more control of the design, links, knowing stats and SEO.

    I prefer WordPress for the flexibility and control. It’s extremely search engine friendly and now easier than ever to use. For people who are not technically inclined or just don’t want to mess with it, Typepad is a great choice even for beginners. At the Plus level you can use your own domain so there’s more control.

  • In response…

    * I host my own – I am an Internet consultant and want control of the application, as well as to understand the difference betwen the two so I can better serve my clients.

    * I had created a test blog with Blogger, so going with hosted was the wise choice for me.

    * I believe hosting your own is the best way to go, and if you are not technical yourself, partner with someone who is!

    * I would recommend new bloggers to think of their goals for blogging and if they can write at whatever frequency they determine is best for them, and if they are not sure, use a hosted blog and FeedBurner, then switch to hosting your own if it takes off!

    mp/m

  • iVi

    i have been torn on this issue. i am pretty proficient with coding and i have my own websites on my own server that i enjoy maintaining. my blog, however, is on wordpress.com. i have been agonizing over whether to move it to my own domain and host, because it really doesn’t cost very much, and i know i am going to stick with it since my current job pays me simply to blog news.
    i have made the decision to stick with a hosted blog on worpress.com for a few reasons.
    1. the digg effect – i know wordpress is set up to take big spikes in traffic without decreasing access to my blog
    2. backup, stability, spam – wordpress handles all of this and i don’t have to think about it.
    3. traffic – i actually get plenty of traffic from people surfing wordpress, so why would i want to give that up?
    4. more than anything, i don’t want to spend extra time worrying about my hosting and coding. i already spend so much time on content and presentation. i am about to take the next step and upgrade my wordpress features so that i can have complete control over the CSS. that way i can make my blog look exactly how i would if it were on my own server.

    the cons :
    thus far, the ONLY drawback of having my blog on wordpress is that i cannot have a flashplayer in my widgets. this would be nice since the blog is entirely about music. but i am able to display pictures, slideshows, flickr, audio with a play button and videos from youtube, google and a few others, in my blog posts. just not in the widgets for some reason.

    i realize that i am viewed as less independent or less serious because i am not on my own domain, but i can live with that. i think my content will prove my worth regardless of my domain address.

    ultimately :
    i am still debating whether this is the right choice for me, but for now, i would much rather focus on content than all the work required behind the scenes. especially the problems associated with high bandwith and huge spikes in traffic.

    Thanks for creating such a great blog, Darren! You have been a great source of information for me as i figure out this blogging culture.

  • Standalone blogs are the way to go. Freedom to do anything (legal or extralegal) with it. Sure you could come close to this with hosted blogs, but sooner or later you’ll need to get a standalone for your growing needs and plans.

  • Because the New Blogger is so powerful and has caught up and even surpassed WordPress in some ways the question is becoming moot. If you don’t want the hassle of hosting it yourself then the New Blogger is the way to go. Blogger also lends itself very well to hacking the code and is just as easy (if not easier) to set up with it’s widgets (WordPress calls it plugins).

    For myself I would rather not have the hassle of hosting my own server, and since New Blogger is completely free and even supports custom domains the choice became obvious. We had a similar discussion on my blog for those who are interested. And of course, the preferential treatment you get from Google isn’t bad either. ;-)

    Having said that, the bottom line is you really can’t go wrong with either Blogger or WordPress and my advice is for users that already have a blog to stick with what you’ve got, because the differences between them are so minor that it’s not worth switching and losing all of your backlinks and pagerank.

    Cheers!

  • Standalone blogs,of course!

  • Having had a Blogger blog stopped temporarily till it was ok’d as not spam, I do not think you can argue about having your own domain and hosting. As long as you are using a hosted blog they can change the TOS whenever they want.
    At the very least, you should have your own domain name.

  • I absolutely love wordpress and all of the options it gives you. It’s extremely flexible as far as design (which my blog needs a bit of work on at the moment), but it’s definintely worth having your own host in the end. I guess I would say to make sure any blogger can prepare for any unpexpected surge in traffic… like being dugg or featured on slashdot.

    If you are a new blogger… as everyone else… I recommend starting on blogger or something like that. It helps ease you into the process of blogging in a nice way.

  • Agree with much of the above:

    – Hosted is easier and more appropriate for folks with less time or tech savvy.
    – Standalone provides more control and more opportunities to learn about content management tools.

    For bloggers who are interested in generating revenue or projecting a professional image, a good domain name is essential. It costs very little and is important to set up early. You don’t want to be switching to a new domain name after you’ve got good traction with your first one.

  • As I write about Linux How to, setting up server, etc I think I should run my on plattform, on a Linux server (off course) Then I like to have full control of my site, from the first day I started at my own domain, with Joomla platform later i switched to drupal, which is the one I use these days, and it is great!
    But you are right about the hosting problems, one week ago I got so much traffic from Digg that my server went down, I had to move it to a better server.

  • Yeezum Crow! I got to this one late… # 37? Ouch.

    I use both. I have a WordPress blog on my own site (actually, there are 2 there, but one is still under construction… in development… not open for business) http://www.laffing-horse.com. Love it!

    I also have a LiveJournal Page… HA!

    And a Blogger page… nice.

    And a Vox page… nice, but ssslllooowww.
    There are a few others out there with my name on it, too.

    Why? I test ’em out to determine which is the best. I update them every once in a while and I point them to my primary site.

    However, if the web police come and break down my door and force me to choose just one… WordPress… simple.

  • Array

    I have one stand alone blogs (WP, updated frequently) and two blogs at BSP (blogspot & atom5) which are seldom updated.

    >Do you wish you’d made a different choice when you started?
    I don’t know the answer really. My stand alone blog fixed all the SEO bugs of WP, but I couldn’t update it anymore! The default WP has problem with it title, and it’s famous duplicated content issue. You can fix it by yourself but you can never use it’s update unless you want to fix it again!

    >What would you recommend to a new blogger?
    Blog for blog. Forget all these issues and even if you host your blog at geocities or somewhere.com/~name, you can make it better with good content.

  • It would be terrific to switch from free Blogger to self-hosted WordPress, but there’s all the lost traffic to worry about, and the impossibility of porting over… this is an issue that I continue to struggle with, no decison yet…

  • Standalone platform all the way, i’ve installed wordpress and never looked back. Sure there some cons like hosting fees, but you have way more control over your site as opposed to haveing a blog on a free service like blogger. To me having my blog hosted on blogger doesn’t cut it, the web based interface, i just can’t stand. Though a lot of people are using free services, i wouldn’t. Of course you need to have some basic knowledge of html, css, php, but if it’s not the case, there’s probably a couple thousand blogs out there you can read that will give you free infos :)

  • A word of advice I tell people when they are looking into buying a hosting package and a domain is be VERY careful. Some hosting companies will registar your “free” domain in their name as a method of locking you into a hosting package with them. If there is any problems with your domain you need to go through your hosting company to get it moved. Also if you are unhappy with your hosting company and you want to move your domain you can’t really as it’s not in your name.

    That said, I am far more in favor of a stand alone blogging platform. I have WordPress on a subdomain and I love the freedom I get with it. I love having control over what plugins and designs I can have. On Blogger it is possible to have your own individual design, but I find with WordPress it is much easier.

  • Start off with hosted (wordpress.com or blogger) but GET A DOMAIN NAME.

    Once you’ve decided if blogging is something you want to go pro with, then move your domain where ever you want it to go.

  • I have my own standalone blog.
    I think standalone blog is cool and I can control it completely.
    But it is very difficult to propaganda my blog.

  • Do you use a hosted or stand alone blog platform? Why?
    Standalone, because it is more flexible. Also I can get an email box with my domain name. And a place to upload files.

    Do you wish you’d made a different choice when you started?
    I started with Google Blogger and realized that I cannot do much with it, so right away I dropped the idea and switched to WordPress.

    What are the Pros and Cons of the two options?
    Hosted platform like Blogger is great because it takes minute to get beyond making a blog and start blogging, but it lacks flexibility.

    What would you recommend to a new blogger?
    For those who just want to try blogging without making a decision to do it longterm, stick with hosted platform. But for others, with some serious plans for their blogs, it is better to spend money buying a domain and hosting, and some time getting to know WordPress or MovableType, or some other stand alone platform.

  • * Stand Alone.

    * I went with WordPress from the start and haven’t had any problems yet.

    * Learning how to setup a blog on your own host can be tricky for a novice.

    * I would recommend a Blogger account for a new blogger.

  • I started with blogger…but it quickly ran out of all “newness” very soon. Plus, there were a lot of functionality issues.

    Moved to a standalone platform (WordPress) within a couple of months and it really made me happy. It does take more efforts to maintain standalone platforms, but it’s worth it. Especially, for less than what it cost for a day’s lunch…hosting is totally the way to go.

    However, I can understand the “inertia” people have in switching to standalone platforms. It took me a full month and suggestions from a lot of heavy duty bloggers to finally take the step forward.

  • I tried the Blogger route a couple of times. Whenever my blogs got to about 10 posts Google banned me from posting anymore because the blog looked like a spam blog.

    After emailing them, and waiting told the blogs were OK, by the time I got the reply I had completely lost interest in the blogs.

    WordPress for me hosted on my own server. WordPress seem to look more professional as well.

  • 2dolphins is Blogger-based but hosted on my own space with (obviously) my own domain name. Having never used any other blogging platform, I can’t draw a comparison, but I’ve often envious of the plug-ins that I read about for WordPress.

    There are many more Blogger-based blog authors who’ve commented on this post than I would’ve expected. That certainly makes me feel less like I made the wrong platform choice…

  • Darren — My blog is about 8 months old and I’m ready for more features that wordpress.com does not offer. So I’m in the process of moving my blog to wordpress.org on Bluehost. Not an easy task for someone with limited HTML and “backroom” knowledge. One of the upsides will be a better URL — TravelswithTish.com. Plus I can put in ads, a forum, and a more flexible and subject-appropriate theme. I’m excited to get it set up but am struggling with understanding the files. So it’s not for everyone and certainly not for the persistent. But I think the prize is worth it.

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