Four Myths About the Advantages of Self-Hosting

We’ve read the books like WordPress for Dummies  and the websites we find on gearing up to start a business using blogs.  In all of these we are told,  “self-host” !  and then the myths follow.  This advice needs a serious update.

I was totally taken in by the “expert” advice on self-hosting and had a self hosted blog for two years.  From that standpoint, I can say that this old advice is busted. Here’s why using the WordPress.com Business account has been better so much better for me than self-hosting — and where those myths came from.

Myth #1 – You Don’t Own Your Content

Myth #1 – You don’t own your content.  If the business goes belly-up, you’ll lose everything.  In the Olden Days, the first platforms for blogging were, well, funky.  And they did go belly up, especially between the mid to late 1990s and the early 00s.   Self hosted websites required that we Old Schoolers learn the intricacies of FTP, HTML, and weird stuff like hex-codes for colors–and table code. Gads, HTML table code was exhausting.  The first platforms took that burden away, but the business models were immature.  They would get popular, grow, and then collapse as they couldn’t turn a profit.  Those early platforms did not have any easy way to back up your files. Today, WordPress is the industry standard with a viable business model.  Anyone with a good FTP program and a little knowledge can back up their site fairly simply.  FTP programs are still a pain in the neck, to be sure., but you can grab your own files from your WordPress.com site if you like.  Here’s the help file for exporting your content. 

Bottom line: WordPress.Com will export to a WordPress.org host for $129.  You can also do it manually for free. That process is a bit fiddly, as the process doesn’t include the IMAGES which have to be managed separately.

You can and should back up your content regularly because it’s possible that things will break.  If you’re on the Business Plan, you can use plug-ins to make that process much easier.  Here’s a list of backup plug-ins I’m currently investigating. 

Myth #2 – You’ll Lose Your Content Because Reasons

On WordPress, that’s a bit rare.  I don’t think I’ve heard of a case yet.  I’ve tried researching this on the open web and didn’t get anything.  If you’re trying to create Nazi accounts, animal torture accounts, pornographic accounts–that is probably going to run afoul of their terms of service. And I for one am thankful for that.

Myth #3 – It’s Cheaper

I covered this earlier in a post on self-hosting and moving to the WordPress.com Business Account.    While it might be slightly cheaper, maybe, to self-host, you’ll have to pay for freebies (like Jetpack Premium) and then you’ll be slammed with a gazillion ads for “Must-haves” that you might not use or need.  I personally knew just enough to over-buy.  It was madness.  I am very satisfied that the excellent service is top-notch at WordPress.com.  Service at other hosts?  Well.  Opinions vary.

Myth #4 – You Won’t Be Able to Use all the Fabulous Plug-Ins! (SOB!)

Yes. You will.  WordPress.com Business Plans work with plug-ins. The problem is what plug-ins do we need?  Which ones are worth the return on investment?  Can we make do with free versions?   Researching plug-ins is a time-consuming task.  There are so many poorly documented ones–they can be hard to install, hard to understand how to use, and support may be iffy. This blog will be covering them more and more, to provide us all with a better understanding so we can know before we buy.

Making the upgrade to Business was simple and built my confidence.  I don’t have to buy all those wonderful plug-ins.  Having the engineers at WordPress.com committed to making my blog load quickly and watching out for the security takes a tremendous burden off of me.

Bonus Myth!  You’ll Be Able to Make Big Bucks in Advertising if You Self-Host!

You have to have mad traffic to earn money from advertising.  It’s going to be at least a year for most blogs to build up that kind of traffic.  In the meantime, because I’m a top-tier user of WordPress.com,  I’m fairly sure my blog probably gets more advertising in WordPress.com’s referral system.  I have 135 followers now, with about 2 referrals a day coming through the WordPress.com reader system.   That’s been very significant.

Why are These Myths Still Around? The Truth Behind the Myths

In the Olden Days of Blogging (before, say 2014), it was true that you needed a self-hosted blog to get access to the features needed to improve search engine optimization. In the Old Days, those were the “meta” tag areas where we could set keywords.    Back then, we used Notepad or even Dreamweaver for those functions and those early blogs had to be self-hosted.   Blogger and WordPress changed the game with much more flexible platforms and a much more stable business model to go with those platforms.

Business-minded website designers had two problems with the new platforms: the need to keep control of meta-data and the need to create the shopping carts and “funnels” that are today the basic equipment of e-commerce.  Back then, shopping carts and payment systems were home grown–and those early innovators needed the total control of the server to make their business magic happen.

When WordPress began offering the self-hosted option, Old Schoolers began to convert, especially with the development of “plug-in” code that was superior to the old home-made shopping cart systems.   Still, these early business pioneers stuck to their story: self-hosted is control and self-hosted is better!  And that’s the advice that circulates.

The new WordPress.com Business account option brings this back full-circle, so we can have some of the ease of use, security and support of WordPress.com but the options and capabilities of .a self-hosted blog.   Personally, I’ve done all of these in my time–the blog written on Notepad and Dreamweaver,  Blogger, WordPress.com and the self-hosted WordPress.org blog.   The Business account has given me back the joy of blogging without the headaches of self-hosting.   Your mileage, will, of course, vary, but these myths?  No longer valid.   Best, Lola.

By the by, here’s my new About the Author page!  Thanks for visiting!  I’d love to see a like or a comment!  I always reply.

 

 

 

Author: Lola

Recovering academic, real-life, honest to cornflakes anthropologist (Ph.D. and fieldwork and everything), tech-head and social media researcher.

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