It’s easy to go to a hosted blogging or website service and start a website. But just because it’s easy doesn’t mean you should do it.
Hosted blogging services like WordPress.com are easy – we know that. You just go to the site, walk through a couple steps and just like that you’re up and running!
Sounds like a great solution, right? Well, if you’re only interested in sharing the occasional recipe, or anecdote about your grandkids, you may be right.
But if you’re trying to build a platform you want to avoid what can be a costly mistake because it can cause headaches and potential heartaches down the road.
It’s vital that you own it, control it and build it and be able to grow it. The only way you’re going to have that kind of potential is being in control of the whole situation.Here are five reasons why you need to build your platform on your own domain.
You Own Your Platform
It’s essential to own your platform. You and only you. As we’ll see in a minute this is something that may not look like a big deal at the beginning but can quickly become a big deal.
Ownership comes with responsibilities and rewards. Owning your own platform means that it’s yours. Using a free subdomain blogging website service means it is not. When you own it nobody can take it away from you. If you don’t then they can.
Ownership also means that you need to keep up with your own website and its updates, CMS, etc. but this is a small price to pay when you’re venturing in to business online.
When you don’t own your platform it can also mean that those who do own it may run advertising on it over which you have no control. WordPress.com states that they do in fact run ads on free blogs. If you’re cool with that, then great. But if you have a popular blog, they’re making money from your content and they’re not cutting you in other than by providing you a “free” service.
If you’ve not paid attention to what happened when Jon Acuff left Dave Ramsey’s organization you need to check it out. It serves as a dire warning about the things that can happen when you don’t own your own platform completely. Never relinquish ownership of your personal brand to anyone else, whether it’s an employer, or a hosted blogging service.
As an extension of this idea, you’re protecting your brand. When you build your platform on your own domain and maintain control over it, you isolate it from other parties who’s interests may be other than your own.
Bottom line – you createyour content and brand. Keep it that way. Own it.
You Control Your Platform
When you own your platform you have the ability to control what happens on it and it cannot be taken away from you. This is important for a number of reasons.
When you control your platform you have the ability adjust in the event something goes down. It happens. A service crashes and takes all its sites down. But if you own your platform you have the ability to take your latest backup to a new service and restore your blog without being at the mercy of someone else’s recovery team.
Control also means that you have the ability to add whatever extension, module or plugin that you want to add. Hosted services rightly restrict this because they can’t control it on a large scale.
It also means that you’re not in a bind if your service goes out of business. Remember Posterous? Heralded as a great way to get a site up and running fast like many others, it’s now gone. It was a great way to get started with your own platform, easy to use and early on it was highly popular. Now they’re out of business. If you own your own domain and platform you won’t have to worry about things like that happening.
You need to consider thefuture of your platform and when you control it, it’s much easier to manage. You want it to be as stable as it can possibly be. You don’t want to be in danger of someone else being in control of your platform.
You Can Build and Grow Your Platform
If you plan your website correctly it will scale with you. This means you can grow as much as you can possibly grow without limitations. If you use a free service scaling will become difficult.
Many times there is only so much you can do with a blog or website on a hosted service. Usually theming and design are severely limited. When you’re on someone else’s service you haveminimal control over the brand you present.Quality third party theming platformsaren’t usually available for hosted services likethey are for self-hosted blogs and websites.
Premium solutions are available at a premium, but then you have toask yourself if you’re looking at going this route is “how much would this cost me if I owned it all?” When you own it you control it and you have the full flexibility do whatever needs to be done.
Another thing about using a hosted service is that getting your content out is difficult, should you decide to use another platform. Some services like WordPress.com and Blogger make it a little easier where you can export your content in to an XML file and have the ability to import it in to another platform. However, that’s not the case with all of them. Some of them offer no export capability at all. Then you’re stuck copying and pasting info from one platform in to another. It’s a crazy mess that’s avoidable if you use your own domain and use a self-hostedplatform like WordPress to start your site.
You Are The Authority
Search engine optimization is within your control when you build your platform on your own domain.The authority that you build belongs to you and your domain, not the service. This is a huge deal. If you spend your time building a blog on a hosted platform like WordPress.com, or Blogger.com any authority you build for your platform ultimately belongs to that service’s domain and not yours. Hosted subdomains like yourblog.wordpress.com is just that – a subdomain of wordpress.com. The primary domain, not the subdomain, is the one to which the authority is conferred.
So if at some point in the future you decide that you want to move you cannot take that authority with you. Authority can be transferred via redirect rules in a file called .htaccess in your website’s structure for those who’ve built their platform on their own domain. However, if you’re building on a hosted serviceyou will not have the ability to change these rulesbecause they don’t allow access to those server settings, so you’d essentially be starting from scratch when you decide to move.
Think about it this way. Say you spend a year generating a ton of content, building a community, and establishing your authority. You’re doing really well, but you’ve grown enough that it’s time to branch out and do all this on your own domain now. You’ll lose all that authority you built with the search engines because you cannot take it with you. Ouch. Talk about a painful lesson!When you start from scratch you lose any authority you had previously. Definitely not what you want to do.
You also run the risk of having your blog’s authority devalued if Google decides to change how it views blogging services. Through no fault of your own, yoursite.tumblr.com could lose its authority if Google deems that it’s being used by spammy marketers to inflate their page rank.
You Are a Professional
The last reason you should build your platform on your own domain is professionalism. When you build your website on someone else’s platform using a free subdomain it gives the appearancethat maynot quite taking things seriously, you’re not quite committed, or you lack the connections, expertise, or desire to spend the small amount of cash needed to do it right. Owning your own domain name and setting up your platform in a way that you own it and control it demonstrates that you’re serious about your brand.
When you’re building it on your own domain you have the ability to use your domain for email too. I appreciate Gmail, and have my own account, but it just doesn’t quite get the job done for professionalism when your email address is [email protected]
It’s vital that you are able to completely own and control your platform and stay away from hosted services if you plan on building a platform online.
Is it harder? It’s actually a lot easier than you may think. And the opportunity cost vs. doing it on your own domain makes it a no-brainer.
But is it worth it? Without a doubt.