Every freelancer should have a blog, or at least a website, to act as a portfolio to showcase his or her expertise. That’s because, for most freelancers, online marketing plays a huge role in how we get our customers.
Most freelancers understand this. But if you’re just getting started what is really the best way to go about getting a website for yourself?
You basically have two options when it comes to setting up your business blog:
- Host a website on your own domain that you either host yourself or pay an internet hosting service to host for you.
- Host a website on a free site using one of the many free blogging services such as Tumblr, Blogger, or WordPress.com.
Recently, there’s been a lot of talk about free blogging services. Some prominent small business gurus have even recommended that a free blogging service might be the best option for a small business that is looking to create an online presence.
In this post, we’ll discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using a free blogging service for your freelancing business blog.
Advantages of Free Blogging Sites
The biggest advantage of a free blogging site is just that–it’s free. There’s no hosting service to pay. A webhosting service may cost over $100 a year. For a new freelancer, that can be a lot of money. Here are some other advantages:
- Free themes–most free blogging services offer many free themes and some are quite professional looking.
- Free spam tracking–for my site I pay extra to my internet hosting service for top-notch spam protection, but with some free sites this is included.
- Built-in community support–a lot of the free blogging services have huge communities.
- Ease of set up–setting up your own domain on your own site can be quite a lot of work.
With all those advantages to using a free blogging site, a free blogging site might seem tempting–especially to a brand new freelancer with a very limited budget. However, it’s important to also consider the disadvantages of a free site.
Disadvantages of Free Blogging Sites
A lot of the disadvantages of using a free blogging service have to do with the terms that you agree to when you set up your site. Not all blogging services have the same terms, so it’s important to read through the terms of any service you are interested in using.
Some of the disadvantages of a free site may include:
- Advertisting. The blogging service may place their ads on your site.
- Extra fees. There may be an extra fee for some premium features such as having your own domain name or blocking the service’s advertisements from your site.
- Limits. Your terms of service may place limits on how much actual business (such as selling your products or services) you can conduct.
- Changes. The terms of service may change at any time at the discretion of the blogging service provider.
- Selling your business. If you ever decide to sell your free blog to someone else (for example, if you sold your business and wanted to sell the business blog along with it) you may not be able to.
So, what’s the bottom line? What’s a freelancer to do?
The bottom line is that every freelancer needs to make this decision for themselves. Some very well-known brands use the free blogging services without any trouble at all. For example, here’s a list from Jason Keath writing on SocialFresh about 60 companies that use Tumblr.
In some cases, you can’t even tell that the blog is being hosted on a free blogging service. And, all of the blogging services have upgraded recently and are moving closer to offering the experience of hosting your own blog on your own site.
However, taking all of this into consideration, in my opinion it’s still best to pay for the webhosting and your own domain. When you own your site, you have better control over it. You can place ads on it if you like (or not). You can sell your products or services. You can sell the site. In fact, this is the option that I chose for my own freelancing business.
Whichever option you choose, it’s crucial to read the terms of the service carefully. Not all blogging service terms are the same. Plus, remember to read any updates to the terms of service once you have set up your blog.
Would you like to learn more about free blogging services versus hosting your own website? Here are some additional resources:
- From Monika Jansen at Network Solutions, The Nitty Gritty of Setting Up a Blog
- From Michael Martine at RemarkaBlogger, Why Your Free Blog Costs More than You Think
- From Sonia Simone at Copyblogger, The Most Dangerous Threat to Your Online Marketing Efforts
- From Jill Shearer on Kikolani.com, What is Tumblr?
Do you have a blog or website? Do you pay to host it on your own domain, or do you use one of the free blogging services? Are you satisfied with the option that you chose?
Share your thoughts in the comments.
Image by rcade