Pros and Cons of Hosted Blog Platforms
- Cheap or Free to run – most hosted options are free (of the four I mentioned above, only TypePad charges).
- Relatively easy to set up – most of these types of blogs can be set up with a basic default template within minutes. The set up is usually just a matter of filling in a few fields with your options and choosing a template design.They are ideal if you know nothing or very little about the technological side of blogging.
- Simple to Run – Once you’re through the easy set up process hosted blogs are usually pretty simple to run. You will obviously need to learn some basics, but these days most blog platforms come with very user friendly features. Posting is as simple as filling in a few fields and hitting publish.
- Updated Automatically – if the blog platform updates it will automatically do so for you. Instead of having to upload new software onto a server, these updates happen much more seamlessly.
- Indexed in Search Engines Quickly – one of the advantages of many hosted blog platforms is that they are put onto domains that have good page ranks already. While your blog won’t be indexed in search engines when you start, most bloggers notice that their blogs get picked up and ranked pretty quickly. In the long run they probably don’t rank much higher than other blogs on stand alone hosting – but they are a quick way to get into SE’s.
- Less Configurable – My first blog was on a Blogger.com blog – the reason I moved from it within months was that it was so limited in terms of features and ability to design a professional running blog. Of course this was 3 years ago and Blogger.com has improved significantly – but one of the biggest frustrations with hosted blog owners are their limited options for customization. This does vary from platform to platform within the hosted options. For example WordPress.com has quite limited design options (for instance you can’t ad ads to templates making it a poor choice to make money with), Blogger.com doesn’t give the option for categories and TypePad has different options depending upon which level you buy in at.
- Default Design Limitations – While this can be true for standalone blogging systems also I find that many hosted blogs end up looking very similar to one another. This is because the default templates get used over and over again and if you’re a beginner they can be difficult to adapt. For instance with Blogger.com to make changes (and you can make your blog look quite unique) you need to know CSS and HTML to edit your templates (something you need to know with other platforms also it’s worth mentioning).
- Less Control – Another common complaint I hear regularly from hosted blog owners is that they are frustrated by not having ultimate control over their blog. While they do own the content, the URL is not technically their own and they are somewhat at the mercy of their platform in terms of whether their blog is working or not. For example there have been times in the last few months when TypePad bloggers have been frustrated by their blogs being down for periods of time (something Blogger.com struggles with from time to time also). To be fair on TypePad – they did compensate their bloggers for this down time.
- Generic URL – having your own URL can give a sense of professionalism and memorability to a blog that hosted options might well go without. While there are some very successful blogs on hosted platforms some bloggers believe that having your own URL is much more professional if you are using your blog in a professional way.
- Upgrading to Standalone can be Tricky – Probably the question worth asking before you go with a hosted option is what you’ll do if your blog gets big or you get the blogging bug in a way that won’t let you go? One of the issues of starting out with a hosted platform is that if there comes a day when you want to go with a standalone one that you have some work cut out for you in retaining any traffic that you’ve built up. I’m not saying it’s impossible to do (I’ve done it myself) but there are implications of changing domains later in terms of taking regular readers with you, having to climb the search engine rankings all over again and redirecting traffic from one blog to another.