Free Web Hosting vs. Paid Hosting – Here’s my experience

Blogging is one of the most sudden things to have happened to me. I was sitting in the balcony of my home that day when I thought of writing something before deciding to start a blog to put it up there. That’s when I wrote my very first post, all within two hours. I was surprised to see people heading over to read it and leaving their views which eventually left me wanting for more. I kept writing, one post after the other, without paying much heed to where it would take me. And within the next ten days, I just knew this blogging bug is not going to leave me anytime soon which is when I started to take it seriously.

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I didn’t go for a self-hosted blog initially as I was really afraid of the technicalities that might accompany with self-hosting. I want to be as blatant as possible when I say that I’m a technophobic, so much so that I was initially googling the reasons for ‘why I shouldn’t be going for a self-hosted website?’ Despite knowing that I would be needing it at some point in future, I was kind of running away from buying a hosting plan because I had been reading that a lot can go wrong in the process.

I kept working within the limitations but with every passing day, I felt the need of some feature which I could be using to improve my blog performance. I was on a free plan earlier which hardly helped me in tackling any of the following issues that I came across during my 75 day long streak without a self-hosted blog:

1.  A need for Google Analytics to track the site stats – I was using Jetpack since the day I launched my blog but I always knew that there was something missing in my stats. I wanted a detailed view of the kind of traffic my blog had been attracting. Jetpack was working great for me but I needed a real-time approach to the site statistics and something that could show me the entire picture of how my blog was actually performing. Installing google analytics required me to install the plugins which only comes available with a hosting plan.

2. To make use of rich pins on Pinterest – We all know the immense power this little yet giant platform carries with it. I have been trying to know Pinterest for quite a while now and right from the day I learned about it, I knew I had to get rich pins enabled to be able to make the best use of this magical platform. I needed the Yoast SEO plugin to make these rich pins work for me the right way which is yet another reason for me to be heading to Bluehost.

3. To get Adsense Approval & Third Party Advertising – Motivation wasn’t hitting me at all when I realized that I needed a self-hosted blog to monetize my website. I signed up for hosting on 19th July and as soon as I received an intimation that the blog has been transferred from wordpress.com to wordpress.org, I immediately applied for Adsense. To my surprise, I received the congratulatory mail from the other end within the next 24 hours. To be really frank, I had not expected this to happen as the blog was merely two and a half months old by then and I had very little content to be able to attract any readers. Although getting an Adsense approval isn’t a big deal, but it sure made me hopeful of the path I was heading to. I don’t expect myself to be hitting all the targets at one go and I know that things will move on slowly, but who doesn’t want these slow and steady steps to be the ones in the right direction.

4. The Necessary plugins – In order for the blog to look appealing and to be optimized, I was required to get some plugins and features to address the need. Every little thing that could go a long way in making this blog look complete required a plugin. You want to edit the headers and footers? Get a plugin! Want to put up pop-up forms to get subscribers? You need a plugin! Want to get those pretty share buttons? Even those need a plugin! I kept wondering what the point of writing posts is if I can’t even retain my blog visitors. Having a self-hosted blog helps you with all these features by giving you an access to some must-have plugins which this blog was definitely missing before.

5. Professional look – It was obvious that if I plan to take this blog a step ahead, I need to make it worth the love I expect to get from it. After all, if I won’t take it seriously, how on earth can I expect you all to take me seriously. Some very small, yet important, things are of utmost need to make it all look professional. Self-hosting allowed me to get my personalized email IDs and helped improve the site loading speed. I now have my own custom theme which I can use in my own way with all the features readily available.

6. SEO Purposes– Signing up for a self-hosted blog helped me get more of Search Engine traffic, the absence of which was hurting me before going for a self-hosted blog. This part actually made me understand that Search engines love self-hosted websites as they know that these websites are optimized and carry a great value for users too.

After a good 75(!) days of blogging, I finally decided to get rid of the nervousness and signed up for Bluehost after thoroughly comparing many hosting services. Surprisingly, I was able to work through the transfer process without facing any trouble, courtesy the amazing team of Bluehost who are there for its customers through every step. It sure is a learning curve as I’m still learning about new plugins every day but it has left me with more freedom to experiment with what’s good and what’s not for my blog.

If you are planning to start a blog or are looking for a hosting service, I would definitely suggest you to go for a self-hosted blog right from the beginning. Now if you are looking to start your own blog or have made up your mind to finally make a shift from free hosting to a self-hosted blog, I’m pleased to say that Bluehost is running a special offer for the readers of my blog. You will get a discount if you sign up through my link. Avoid committing the same mistakes as I did and go for a self-hosted blog without any inhibitions!

If you have got any questions or comments, I would be happy to hear them in the comments below or you can reach me at richi@askmisswhimsical.com