Business Blogging – Free Blogs vs “Your” blog

One of the great things about having a business blog is it allows people who visit to ask questions via the comments section.   Think of your business blog as an FAQ (frequently asked questions) page on steroids. Even if you have a “regular” website and even if that website has an FAQ page - a blog can still help you to illustrate all the  potential benefits consumers can experience by using your products and/or services.

That’s just one reason business blogs are great for growing your business.  They provide an opportunity for visitors to ask questions…. visitors who have found your business blog post while searching for information via the search engines.  Recently, a visitor to this blog asked: “Is it better to have the blog on your own website or blog on another site that lets you post your blogs there for free?”

What a great question.   It’s such a great -and basic-  question that surely it’s one I’ve answered before.

OOPS!!!

Maybe not.

Is it possible that over the course of 314 blog posts that I haven’t answered this basic question about business blogging? A quick search through the posts and pages on this site reveals that I haven’t addressed this topic previously and it’s definitely one that needs to be addressed.

Why would you want to PAY for a business blog when you can blog so many places for free??

Well – as in most things online – FREE rarely is truly “free”.  Often times – free comes with strings attached.  The same is true of  blogs.

While WordPress offers an incredibly easy, world famous 5 minute installation of the software – and if your hosting includes cpanel you can install WordPress without ever connecting via FTP – to truly set up your own self hosted WordPress business blog and use it as a powerful marketing tool requires a willingness to acquire a minimal level of technical expertise.   Not only do you need to possess (or be willing to acquire) a smidgen of tech savvy to set up WordPress on your own – you need to make sure you keep your installation of WordPress up to date to protect your business blog from hackers.

There is an easier way – and that’s to simply set up your blog on one of the many free blog sites. Free blogs are by far the easiest way to get started blogging.  They’re easy to use and easy to set up but because they’re free – but as anyone can tell you who has launched a blog – there’s a lot more to creating a success blog than simply creating a blog post or two.   To unlock the full power of blogging for your business- you need a to craft a business blogging strategy in order to create a successful blog.

Let’s say you are able to invest the time and effort needed to educate yourself on your own on how to create a successful blog to promote your business.  You might be thinking that it’s better to “learn the ropes” while blogging on a free site and then migrate your site to a self hosted blog – one which YOU control.

Which brings us to  one of the key “sticking” points with free blogging sites.  I liken it to building a house on land you do not own.

A while back, Yahoo decided to pull the plug on their free blogging site – much to the dismay of those who had come to depend upon the free blogging service.   This illustrates a key point which is when it comes to free blogs – there’s no guarantee that any free blogging site will either continue to operate or continue to remain free. (A quick read of  Tumblr’s terms of service agreement will reveal that they reserve the right to begin charging for the service at an unspecified point of time in the future).

With the more successful free blog sites, you can probably rest assured that they won’t pull the plug on your free blog site because they have developed a way to make money from your blog posts.  You might be surprised to learn that many free blogging sites can use a plugin which inserts a special piece of code into each blog post.  This bit of code will only display ads to visitors when they find your blog post via the search engines.   You might not be aware of these ads because the plugin can be configured to not display ads to the author – or to visitors who arrive at the blog via other means like when they follow a link from your business website to the blog.

In other words, when you use one of these “freebie” blog sites – very often the visitors who find your post via the search engines will also be seeing paid ads in the body of the posts.  Because of the nature of online advertising – those ads will most likely be run by you or your competitors.

It’s a brilliant easy money strategy for the free blog site owners because when someone finds your blog post via a search on a search engine -  they are usually very serious about finding the products and services you offer – and very likely to click on these ads.  If you’ve ever run a PPC campaign, you know that such ads can run as high as $20 or more per click. This is why these free blog services are willing to allow your quality blog posts live on their site for no charge, because you’re doing the work and they get paid from advertiser dollars instead of from you directly.

Still not convinced that starting your business blog under your own domain on your own web hosting account is the way to go?

Here’s the final item I’ll submit for your consideration – blogs obey the same “rules” that govern the web.  One of the “rules” of the web is that older sites (and blogs) do better than newer sites (and blogs).  The search engines LOVE blogs – especially older established blogs – blogs with loads of incoming links.  Most of those incoming links – when you create a blog on a free hosting service – will be linking  – for example – to yourblog.wordpress.com.

So when you decide to migrate your blog to your own domain name – you may be able to pull the database and migrate the blog posts – but you won’t be able to pull the incoming links with you.  Those links STAY pointing to the free blog – you’ll have to earn new incoming links to your newly migrated blog just the same as if you started from scratch.  I recommend that when a business blogger wants to migrate from a free blog to a self hosted blog that they leave the blog intact on the free site and simply start from scratch again – creating a text sidebar widget which directs visitors of the free blog to the new blog – where new information can be found.

Creating a successful business blog is a time consuming process that can yield great rewards for your business.   Blogging for your business is truly a numbers game. Each week – you can create just two blog posts which results in over 100 pages of content written each year.   As you create those blog posts, you’ll  be unintentionally targeting “long tail keywords” – low volume keywords which people tend to use when they are REALLY searching online for information about the products and services you offer.  As time goes on – those blog posts can more an more “authority” until most business blogs have literally dozens of blog posts – each bringing a trickle of prospective customers into the funnel.    As those trickles combine – they grow into a stream and finally a mighty river.  It doesn’t happen overnight – but it can and does happen.

Comments

  1. For me, there is no question whatsoever – I want to make sure I OWN everything in relation to my blog.

    That means my domain name.

    My server.

    The software I use.

    I own it all. Some things are great free…but if it impacts my business, I’ll go paid all the way.
    Barbara Ling, Virtual Coach´s last blog post ..Brilliant Way To Wow First Time Commenters and it’s free- too!

  2. You bring up a GREAT point Barbara – domain name registration.

    One “hidden” danger many brick and mortar business owners don’t recognize is the hidden danger in those “free domain name registration” deals offered by various hosting companies. Sure it’s “free” – but the domain name is under the control of the hosting company. In other words, you don’t own it. Many business owners don’t discover this until they try to CHANGE hosting providers. OUCH!

    Free rarely is truly free – and I’m with you 100% – it’s not a strong foundation for your business.

  3. Billigt Webhotel says:

    well written post! Many give up their blogs after just a feew weeks, its a pitty!

  4. emil@Start A Blog says:

    Great point about the domain age. I actually never thought of that. I just like to make sure I own everything as Barbara mentioned. And even though I know about the domain age being a factor, for some reason I never put 1+1 together that this was another great positive of the hosted blog vs a free blog. Nice post!

  5. Nathan Woodbury says:

    Thank you very much Kathy. I have learned a lot from this post. In time when I will put up my own blog I will remember all this things. This can help a lot to people who are planning to engage in online business.

    Great post! Keep it up.

  6. Eddie says:

    Create your blog and pay for it. It will give you more stability than a free one.

  7. Thanks for the tips man, I might just think about building a blog for my site ;)

  8. If you are using blogger there’s a feature that allows you to register a domain and automatically forward it to your blogger address.
    The benefit of this is that is actually easier to remember something like “myblog.com” than “myblog.blogspot.com” and also if you later decide to move your blog elsewhere you will not have to change your address at all (just redirect the users to the new server IP from your DNS panel)
    Mike Estrada´s last blog post ..movers VA

  9. We should really create our own blog so that we own it…
    Thomas´s last blog post ..movers Virginia

  10. True – virtually every “free” blogging site will allow you to “domain map” a domain name to their service. However, the point still remains that YOU DO NOT OWN THE BLOG WHERE YOUR POSTS ARE RESIDING!!

    Nothing – and I mean NOTHING on the internet is truly free. There’s costs to any web presence which must be covered. Many “free” blog sites use a special plugin which will show Google Adsense Ads within the content ONLY when a blog post is found using the search engines.

    So there you are – blogging your little heart out conveying the benefits of your business – and when you do happen to “strike SEO gold” with a blog post – when visitors find that post via the search engines – they’ll be seeing either your Google Adwords Ads – or your competitors.

    Blogging for your business is an incredibly worthwhile investment of your time – why would you do it on a site you don’t own? The same goes for Facebook by the way! :)

  11. Using free blogs is not a good idea if you plan to have it as your main peronal blog or as a money site. Just like your article mentions about Yahoo pulling the plug, you could lose months or even years of work in an instant. That’s way too risky for my taste. I do use free blogs for SEO purposes to help support my main websites. This does help my main site get more traffic.

  12. Nothing is really free. One day WP will decide that no more FREE and as all your work is on WP you will have no choice than pay what they ask for.

  13. Actually John, that is Tumblr’s business model – not WordPress.com.

    I believe WP.com is utilizing ads within the blog content to monetize their enormous site.

    There’s a WordPress plugin which allows the administrator to “hide” the ads from the authors but show the ads to people who find the post via search. It’s a brilliant strategy being used by MANY free blog sites. You get hundreds, thousands or even millions of people creating content -and when any of it reaches the top of the SERPS – the ads appear and when clicked on earn money for the blog site owner.

    You’re correct in the fact that the blog owner does all that work that can’t be transferred to another blog and there are a few – Tumblr comes to mind – which state in their terms of service that they reserve the right to require bloggers to PAY for their blog – in this case – WP and others will keep it free and let others create great content on their server.

  14. Free blogs are a great way to get started, but when using blogs for your business, blogs hosted on your own domain undoubtedly look more professional. Either way blogging is becoming an important part of a businesses online presence so its important to have one.
    Matt´s last blog post ..A Guide to Capital Allowances

  15. I used to use free blogs many year agos. But once I tried WordPress and bought my domain, I haven’t used free blogs anyone.
    Scott M. Robbins´s last blog post ..Varied Functions and Advantages of Wood Stove Blowers

  16. it’s really a nice text!!!! Even the new readers can able to known what actually a blog is , and how many kinds of it, usage of all those things….

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