I talk to authors all the time who are using free blog sites like Blogger.com and WordPress.com who want to take their web presence to the next level. I have always advocated having a self-hosted website with your own domain. But with so many hosting services it can be paralyzing trying to make up one’s mind or even knowing where to start.
Why Self-Host Your Site?
You may be wondering what does it matter if your site is on a free service or your own domain, if all that matters is your content and that people can read it?
First, many of the free services have many limitations, such as if you want to give people an option to sign up for your newsletter or email list, you may not be able to use the HTML code the way you want (WordPress.com strips any code you insert yourself) and you’re stuck doing things the way they want and allow.
Also, the credibility factor. If you’re a writer or an author and you’re serious about your craft, what do you think communicates that more? Yourname.com/Yourbook.com or YourName.WordPress.com/YourName.Blogspot.com ?
When it comes to your website, you don’t want generic, free or entry-level presentation. Your website is like an online business card. It’s a digital representation of yourself, your book, blog, business, or your ministry. Some people are willing to overlook a less-than-premium setup, but you’re still conveying a lot about yourself that you probably don’t intend when you use the freebie and cheap sites.
Every visit to your website is like a job interview; your resume (content) might be great, but if you’re disheveled or dirty looking (cheap website), your chances of failing the interview skyrocket. If you want to be taken seriously, then invest in yourself and get the deluxe package or hire a professional who can give the flare and touch of class that can make or break a first impression.
Let everyone know you’re worth it!
Listen to the Podcast discussion with Chris Wilson about stuff we wish we had known before we started blogging. Click on the above pic to be taken to the link.
What is a Host, Exactly?
Basically, it’s the real estate property on the internet where your website and all its information and images exist. Someone’s gotta store it and host it, and you get more storage space and bandwidth with a dedicated host than you do on a free site, if that kind of thing is important to you. It’s sort of like renting a physical storage space for your belongings, but instead this is an electronic storage space for your electronic belongings.
As you can probably guess, I use SiteGround for my hosting.
Free Site Transfer & Migration
I’ve been blogging since 2004, and I’ve gone through a few hosts, and when I finally gave SiteGround a shot, I was a little mad at myself for not having hosted with them sooner. The reason? Well, the first thing to catch my attention was how fast and responsive their support was!
SiteGround provided a free transfer back in 2015 when I made the switch (a lot of other hosts do not provide this for free), and they offer 24 hour online support. This has resulted in getting answers to my questions or help with problems within anywhere between five and fifteen minutes. My previous host would sometimes take 24 hours to answer me by email, and often tell me what to do and not give me so much as an arrow in the right direction as to what that required.
If you don’t know how to do something yourself, the help desk at SiteGround will often kindly offer to do it for you, or give you links to their blog with lots of pictures you can follow in order to duplicate the same results. Either way, I have saved a lot more time fixing things on my site since migrating to SiteGround.
Now admittedly, you can easily find a cheaper host than SiteGround, but the old adage that “you get what you pay for” is also true! The help desk alone is worth this hosting. I personally use Growbig, and LOVE how much faster my site is now, even with all the plugins I use which can normally slow a website down. All plans are paid yearly, and the first year I got an incredible bang for my bucks along with other things thrown in free like the SSL certificate I needed in order to safely receive encrypted payments through my site’s store and the services I offer.
Other things to Note
I’ve persuaded several blogging and author friends to try SiteGround out, and they all love it. I’ve not heard one complaint yet. Some who are starting a site for the first time, and others who already had a site and had grown frustrated with their host, and gave SiteGround a shot and have not regretted it.
And yes, I’m an affiliate for SiteGround, only because I really recommend them, and not to mention they’ve got a really good affiliate program where I get months knocked off of my bill for every person who signs up using my link. If you sign up using my link, we both benefit. Being a missionary and using my site to freelance and gain exposure for some of the services I offer to supplement my support levels, affiliate commissions are a simple way you can also support us on the mission field while making purchases you’d already make.
I hope you enjoy SiteGround and are as happy with them as I am!