One of the most important decisions to make when starting a website is whether it will be hosted or self-hosted.
Hosted platforms, such as WordPress.com, Blogger, Medium, Squarespace, and more provide hosting services for your website.
These companies manage all the technical aspects of running a website and store your content and files on a third-party server.
For example, if you set up a site on Squarespace, they own your site but grant you the right to use it.
It's like leasing an apartment rather than owning your own house. You get all the benefits of living there, but you don't own the property, and they can reclaim it at any time.
Self-hosting means you host your website on a server that you control, either at your company or with a third-party hosting provider.
You pay for this server space but have full control over your site and content.
Self-hosted website owners make the choices about what gets posted on their site and how that content is shared.
Most people start with hosted websites. It's easier, less expensive, and requires no technical knowledge.
But if you want to own your content and data, self-hosting is your best bet. Here's why.
1: Self-Hosting Gives You More Flexibility
One of the potential downsides of starting with a hosted website is you're limited in customization and flexibility.
If your host doesn't offer something you want on your site, you're out of luck. That's not true of self-hosting.
Self-hosting is an ideal way to expand your site's features, scaling up or down as you grow.
It gives you the flexibility to choose from hundreds of free plugins and themes, create content in any format, and mix and match widgets, plugins, and pages to create the website you want.
You also have full control over your website, so you can customize it in any way you want.
You can choose from thousands of options for designing the site with themes, templates, modules, and plug-ins readily available.
2: No Limitations in How You Can Monetize Your Site
Many hosts, especially free ones, place restrictions on the type of advertising you can use on your site (such as Google AdSense), while others forbid monetization entirely.
If you want to sell digital products or run an online store, they may not support those either.
If they do, they may charge extra fees for ecommerce functionality. That's a huge downside if you're trying to make money from your blog or website.
You can monetize self-hosted sites in many ways. Some popular methods include:
- Affiliate marketing
- Selling products or services
- Selling digital products (eBooks, software, etc.)
While platforms like Wix, Squarespace, and Weebly limit what you can do with your site, a self-hosted website allows you to add any ad network, monetization platform, or affiliate program.
You can even add a shopping cart to an ecommerce site, install security plugins to protect customer data, or create a multilingual website for global audiences. The sky's the limit.
3: You Can Have a Personalized Domain Name
A personalized domain name helps you build a brand.
If you use a free, hosted service, your website address will look something like this: mybusiness.serviceprovider.com.
That's not easy to remember or pretty to look at.
If you want your website address to reflect your business name, you'll have to invest in a personalized domain name (like www.mybusiness.com).
Not only does this look more professional, but it also makes it easier for customers to find you online because they can search for your business by name.
Having your own domain name also looks more trustworthy to customers.
The take-home message?
If you want to build a brand, look professional, and make it easier for people to find what you offer, self-hosting is the way to go.
You can place your domain name on marketing materials, so people can quickly and easily access your site and remember your site address.
4: Better Load Speeds
Your site will load faster if self-hosted than on a hosted site, especially a free one.
This means it may perform better in search results and with visitors.
This is because thousands of sites aren't competing for bandwidth and space on the same server.
Since Google uses load space as part of core web vitals to rank websites, having the fastest load speed is important.
Plus, people won't wait around for a webpage to load.
With self-hosting, you also choose your own web hosting company, which can mean better performance and more reliable uptime.
Speed is one of the most important factors in website performance. Having high-speed hosting means visitors will have a better experience, and they can find what they're looking for quickly and easily.
But do your homework.
If you pick a cheap web host with slow servers, your site will take ages to load.
This means people will click away from your site quickly, never to return.
This is bad for business; you'll lose out on sales and conversions.
Another important factor to consider is customer support. You want to ensure you choose a web host that offers 24/7 support via different channels such as live chat and phone. By doing this, you can get help whenever you need it and avoid any downtime on your site.
The Bottom Line
Self-hosting is an attractive option.
It allows you to host a professional domain name, completely customize the site to your specifications, and have much more freedom to design and build your site as you would like.
This is something to think about before you build your next online presence.