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Choosing a place to host your blog is one of the very first decisions you have to make as a blogger. Some people use Blogger, WordPress, TypePad, or some other service to get started.

Personally I chose a self hosted install of WordPress because of the many WordPress plugins and the control I could have over the software and my content.

What blogging service did you choose and why?

Tags: CMS, blogging, blogging-software, tools

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I want to hear more on this subject... We started out with blogspot, got our own domain which is hosted through google, and I'm a little unhappy with the rigidness of google apps, i'd really like to make a main page... and have my most recent blog entries show up instead of the whole blog being the main page... does anyone know of a blogging software that will do this? I think its wordpress or typepad that allows you to have a menu bar at the top of your blog... that is something I'm interested in as well.
On google, I can't customize the web pages the way I want... it has a template that you use and there is no where to go in to customize the template even further... its more like piecing together shapes that they give you instead of cutting out your own shapes from scratch.
I need to hear more from typepad and wordpress users on this issue... and how easy is it to switch my domain name to another host that isn't ungodly expensive (right now we are blogging for fun, not revenue, so we don't really make enough to pay for hosting costs such as through bravenet or the like) If you have your own domain name with WP or TP does it find a host for you (like blogspot did for us?)
Thanks for any insight
Corinne,

First thing, for all the hard working food bloggers who are using blogspot, there is nothing wrong with that. A lot of people start out with a free blog for obvious reasons. The trick is realizing quickly that 1) it is something you will continue to do past the initial enthusiasm, and 2) it is something you want more control over.

The primary issue with hosting your blog on someone else's system is, it's someone else's system. They ultimately own the very thing you are depending your hard work and in some cases livelihood too.

Typepad is another option, but again. It is still someone else's system, even though it's a paid service. Whether it's Tumblr or WordPress.com or BlogSpot or whatever, it's still their's and subject to terms and services and design restrictions.

Don't confuse WordPress.com with WordPress.org. The .com offers free blogs just like Blogger.com. WordPress.org is the original open source blogging software site where you can download WordPress and install it on your own server.

Now, don't worry. You don't have to "install" WordPress these days because more inexpensive hosts offer a control panel that will let you "install" WordPress with one click of a button, no joke!

I recommend using WordPress over every other blog software or content management software (CMS) out there for three simple reasons.

1) You own the system it runs on. If you need to pick up your toys and move to another host, it is simple to do.

2) You have complete design control of the site. You can integrate, change, eliminate, or innovate any way you want. The code is easy to understand, even for a non-coder. There are a lot of hired guns out there that can do the job for you and you can buy premium WordPress templates that are optimized for ad placement and bringing your best content to the top of the blog.

3) There are an absolute ton of plug-ins for WordPress that let you extend the blogging software to make things easier on you as a blogger. There are plugins that help with WordPress Search Engine Optimization, inline affiliate linking, showing popular posts, automatically updating Twitter when you post new content, managing comments, and a lot more.

I know you say your not thinking of making money off of your blog at the moment, but consider this situation for just a moment. At first you write on your blog as a hobby, then over time you gain a bunch of readers. Pretty soon you find yourself writing more and doing more on the blog that takes time away from your offline activities. One day, two years later, you decide to flip on the money switch and try to make money off of your blog. But, you also want to make some changes to the blog. You want to add some features, but it's not possible on the free blog. So you decide to move your blog to a paid hosting solution. What you find out is that all your content is locked on your old blog and requires an export to WordPress, all your blog readers have your old RSS address, and the free domain name you are using, myblog.freehosting.com is ranked high for your topic, but your new domain, mynewblog.com is not even on Goolge's radar, so you have setup redirects, and wait for your Google love to catch up. That is where people are finding themselves as they make the transition from free blogs to blogs that they own as a business.

So my advice is to think long term and if there is even a faint chance that you might some day want to make any real money with your blog, then start it out with a foundation that you can save to a local backup and own. Then when you do flip the switch you won't have to spend additional time trying to move your readers and your content.

Also, if you ever decided to sell your blog for a profit, a self hosted version of the blog would make it a tangible asset that you could hand over to someone. This is not true of a blog hosted on a free service. You have certain guarantees that you can offer someone with a self hosted blog.

Hosting these days is extremely cheap and for around $7 to $8 USD a blogger can run a blog on a shared hosting plan with total control. Most hosts offer a full control panel that lets you manage your files like WordPress and email. There are also a lot of other features that I won't list here for simplicity sake. Consider that it could cost you more in lost time later on than the $7 a month today.

If you would like to see a nice example of a self hosted WordPress blog, check out Jill's blog at SimpleDailyRecipes.com. We started out with a $7 hosting account, the WordPress software, and a free WordPress template. Eventually we upgraded to a premium WordPress template, which is what is in place today.

We have total control of the blog and we can add in features anytime we want. We are continually discovering useful plug-ins that make the process of blogging 100 times easier and if we ever decided to sell the blog, we could hand someone a backup copy on CD.

I have included some of my affiliate links to the services I recommend. You can easily search out your own resources. We have had good fortune with the resources I've linked too. These are hard earned recommendations and I hope you can benefit from them.

If you have more question, please let me know if I can help.
Wow! That is a lot of information, thank you... I'm completely sold on being able to have it not on someone else's system... I would like to learn more about all this...we took the first step to independence in buying our own domain name...
Do you get your own email addresses and such? Right now, our original blog location (gourmetloveaffair.blogspot.com) is redirecting to www.gourmetloveaffair.com, which we bought from godaddy and is now being hosted through google for free (since google owns blogspot I assume) We've checked out packages from yahoo, bravenet, and the like, and just don't have that kind of money right now (we are both students).
I'm looking at the hostgator (as we speak) and it looks great! How hard would it be to move everything over? I'm thinking we would probably have to move our blog back to gourmetloveaffair.blogspot.com free account, then try moving it over to hostgator. If we own the domain (bought from godaddy.com) how do we get that over to hostgator? And how does our email work... right now, google is hosting our email addresses (eg name@gourmetloveaffair.com) through its gmail service... how does that work with hostgator and what happens to the stuff in our old accounts?
Basically, I'm understanding that we'd use wordpress.ORG software to blog out of, and it would be hosted on hostgator.com... so if we ever DID want to move to another server/host, we'd have all the archives and entries on our computer (through the wordpress.org software) is that correct?
Thank you for ALL the information you are giving... this is all new to me as I've only kept blogs at blogspot.com before all this. I appreciate everything :)
Great. There is some good news for all the Blogger/Blogspot bloggers who want to convert to a self hosted WordPress blog.

Starting with WordPress 2.5 it is possible to import your Blogger blog into WordPress and have everything pulled over (including images, and comments as well).

That simplifies the moving of content, and then all you have to work on is directing traffic to the new blog address (if you don't own your own domain) and getting readers on the new rss feed.

A good tip is to write a series of posts on your old blog that let people know you will be moving and when. Provide them with the new blog address and in your final post on the old blog, leave your new feed address and blog address to pick up the stragglers.

In your case, you also have email systems to consider. You should archive or download important emails from Google before you make the domain switch to self hosting. I personally route all my self hosted email accounts to Gmail for spam filtering and management purposes. Gmail will let you appear to send from multiple email accounts so you can easily manage everything through one system.

I'll put this offer out to anyone who is interested. Signup for HostGator using my affiliate link and I'll help you set up your new WordPress blog and import your Blogger, Typepad, or other blog content as well. It is a good ideas to clear your cookies before clicking the affiliate link, just to make sure I get the sale. That will make everyone happy.

The process is not complicated at all if you've done it before and know what and where to click :)

If anyone is interested, just send me a private message and we can discuss the details by email. For your privacy, don't post user names or passwords in this forum. You know what I'm saying.

Let me know if I can help.
"Personally I chose a self hosted install of WordPress because of the many WordPress plugins and the control I could have over the software and my content."

Same as you, bought a domain with hosting and installed wordpress. I wouldn't want it any other way. Great topic with alot of good information.
Superb topic to bring up here. I've been using blogspot now for approximately 4-1/2 months, and already am very frustrated with the limitations, etc. Since I am definitely here for the long run, I've been investigating other software options and agree wholeheartedly with your sound advice. I already own my domain name, so my next move will be along the lines you've outlined here. Thanks for posting such a relevant topic................."Doc"
Charles, this is great. I have been thinking to move over to Wordpress but I find it a bit difficult. I shall communicate with you and see what we can do.
I'm a die hard self hosted wordpress gal myself. I was on blogspot but when I started getting noticed, it was clear that a change needed to be made. You would be amazed at the plugins you can use to add cool features and check stats and all sorts of things!

I think you get more respect from advertisers as well by having your own self hosted blog.

I recently wrote a small ebook on 'How to Create a Self Hosted Wordpress Blog'. I did this because, at the time, I needed my hand held through the process. It's free but it does have my affiliate links in it. Just wanted to be honest with you guys;)
This is an Awesome topic. I love how we are working together and learning to grow!

Charlie, thank you for sharing what you know with my food blogging friends.

Lori, thank you for offering the ebook. Letting us know that you have affiliate links in the book is cool.

I just have to say this about affiliate links.
"There's nothing wrong with getting paid for work well done."

No one gets up to go to work from 9 to 5 and works for free. When
we go to a doctor, lawyer, or landscaper to get advice, we expect to pay for it.
We pay these folks because they know what they're talking about.

The same should be and is for blogging. As bloggers, we work
for free for the first six months, until we see our first penny from
google ads. I can remember the days I got excited about earning
5 cents then 25 cents for a whole day of blogging. woo hoo.

And most of us, write to no one for the first four months, except
to family members, maybe.

So when that long awaited day comes that our readers and blogging friends
respect us enough to seek out our advice, there should be no
awkwardness in saying,
"Here's who or what I use." and get paid for it.

We've worked long and hard to know what we know. And our readers and blogging
friends should understand that.

Maybe it's because I'm a pro-food blogger and I understand how affiliate programs benefit us or maybe it's because I'm a sole entrepreneur by heart, I just don't feel awkward about earning money for my hard work.
When I started blogging, I tried Squarespace (30 day trial) then sent what I'd written during that time over to WordPress which I used for a couple of months until I decided to take on my own domain. I love WordPress. Because I was in a sampling state of mind, for my food blog, I tried TypePad. I still use them and enjoy the quick service (although rarely needed) and spam free environment. There are huge differences between WordPress and Typepad, but TypePad is currently making some big changes that look very similar to some of what I see and use on WordPress. I tried Blogger very, very briefly, and didn't like the way it felt -- plus I'd heard that many people have trouble with it. I felt the design options with the other blogging services were much better.

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