I’ve got to be honest and say that now a self-hosted website may not be as important as it once was. At one time, self-hosting was a way to put you above the spammers. It was harder to create a website and make it look professional.
Please note that while this post was originally written for freelance writers, it stands for every type of freelancer.
Getting your own web hosting is easy and affordable. It costs just a few bucks per month, depending on the type of hosting you would like and the company you choose. SiteGround at the moment has an offer of just $3.95 per month for your hosting. That’s how cheap it is!
With all that said, I do believe there are times that a self-hosting website is important. There are times that it looks more professional. Whether it’s important to you will depend on what you want to gain from your site.
In the case of freelance writing, it’s worth having your own self-hosted site, even if it is just one page. You want somewhere that acts as your professional calling card. Sure, you can set up a free site, but I’m going to share nine reasons why I opted for a self-hosted website through Big Scoots ($).
#1. More freedom with your website
One of the biggest benefits is the freedom of your site. A free site on the likes of Blogger and WordPress is at risk. The companies can close you down instantly and there’s nothing you can do about it. And you won’t get any warning!
There are many cases of this happening. People have lost years of work and they don’t really understand why. The companies just decide you’re breaking some ambiguous rule and there’s no appeal process.
Could you imagine leading a prospective client to your site, only for them to find it’s closed? This could be your one shot at getting that client and it’s gone because of something that you could have controlled.
Setting up your own self-hosted website will give you more freedom. There are fewer rules (although some) to abide by and you’re not just going to see your site closed down. The companies will give you warning and help you act to keep the site up and running.
#2. More creativity for professionalism
I’ve used both Blogger and WordPress free sites. While they can have advantages for my smaller blogs, they can cause a problem for the more professional websites. You don’t have as many options for the layouts.
With a self-hosted site, you can choose to create your whole website from scratch if you’d like. If you choose a content management system like WordPress, you can opt for paid themes. These themes offer more customization for creativity (we’ll get onto a benefit about that next) and allow your site to look far more professional. In fact, many themes are geared for those with professional blogs.
For freelance writers, a professional and easy to navigate site is essential. You want to create the best first impression for your potential clients.
#3. More customization to stand out
Customization does more than create a professional site. You stand out from all the rest.
I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve seen the same theme or backdrop used on free Blogger blogs. Sure, they are beneficial in ways and I would never tell you to stop using them completely. But think again when it comes to your professional writer site.
When you host through a company like Big Scoots ($), you get more control over customization. You can include your branding colors and create a layout that is personalized to you. There’s little chance of looking like everyone else on the market, meaning you make a lasting impression.
#4. Add your branding easily to your site
With the free blogs, you’re stuck with their layout and theme colors. While there are some customization options, you’re limited. Trying to add your branding into your site is difficult.
When you host your own site, you get that creative freedom. It’s yours to do as you wish, making it much easier to stand out as your business. Your brand is the most memorable aspect of your site, so you need it there.
#5. Improve the functionality of your site with plugins
There is a drawback to free sites when it comes to functionality. You’re stuck with the plugins that are offered as standard. With a self-hosted site ($), you get to add far more functionality through the use of free and bought plugins.
Some of the plugins that I use allow for commenters to add a link to their most recent blog or add social media share buttons that stand out. I’ve been able to add my email signup form into the site and can add SEO quickly and effectively. Other sites have better menus and look more like websites than blogs.
Improving your functionality makes it easier for your audience to share and view. You want to keep it as simple as possible, right?
You want to avoid too many plug-ins, though!
#6. Better for communicating with your email list
Both free and self-hosted sites have the option for people to subscribe by email. With a free site, you have no way of contacting those people. They just sign up and are alerted when you share a new blog post.
With a self-hosted website, you get to communicate with your email followers. This is a powerful tool for building a relationship. It’s essential if you want to boost your ability to sell your product or services.
#7. You can get Google Analytics
If you want to see how well your site is doing in terms of views, you need Google Analytics. While WordPress has Jetpack and Blogger has its own tracker, Google Analytics is used by companies around the world. Yes, there are limitations to it but it’s a necessary evil.
You can’t add it to your free blogs. If you ever want to do something other than post on your blog, you’ll want to opt for a self-hosted site.
Getting Google Analytics does more than tell you your views. You’ll get a deeper understanding of the traffic coming to your site to help you advance as a freelance writer.
#8. The URL does look more professional
I’ve seen published authors and successful writers with a free Blogger blog. Personally I think nothing of it, but I’m not everyone else. For many people, the URL doesn’t look that professional.
You will have the WordPress, Blogger, Weebly, and other names tucked into your domain name. Most potential clients won’t think you’ll have that, so when it comes to searching for your site they won’t put the words in. They won’t be able to find you or will come across your competitors!
If they see the URL, they may wonder if you’re a professional writer. The free website suggests that you’re not professional enough to put money into your business. Why should they hire you?
#9. You’ll have more power to sell off your site
People aren’t going to buy a free blog off you. It doesn’t matter how successful the site is or what you do, the blog doesn’t have a value.
If you plan to sell off your website in the future, you will definitely need a self-hosted website. You can always start with a free blog and later upgrade (I just saw Blogger give me this option with a blog today) but that means extra work. You could just start off with the self-hosted site immediately.
There are many other reasons to get a self-hosted website, but those reasons aren’t directly connected to being a freelance writer.
Overall, free hosted sites have their benefits. But if you want to become a freelance writer, you need to think about investing into your business and starting off on the right foot with a self-hosted website. I highly recommend Big Scoots to get yourself started.
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