Stay Away From Free Blogging Platforms
Whether you currently have an online business, or are looking to start one, chances are you’ve heard the “buzz” about blogging. You might as well know how having a business blog can help grow and promote your business online. In the years that I’ve been consulting for businesses, and teaching those interested in starting online businesses I’ve noticed one common mistake that is made in relation to starting and establishing a blog. The mistake is this, using free blogging platforms.
In this post we’ll cover 3 of the main reasons that you shouldn’t be using these free blogging platforms for your business blog. But, before we get into that, we need to make a distinction in regards to WordPress, which is a type of blog available.
WordPress is unique in that it offers a couple of different options, so essentially there are two forms of wordpress available. The first is the one found at wordpress.com, which is free. That means that they provide the hosting space (storage) for your blog files. The second type of wordpress is the WordPress software, which you can find at wordpress.org. The difference is that, unlike the free version, the full version of wordpress requires that you purchase your own web hosting.
Then install the wordpress software on your hosting providers servers. Now, if you’ve never done this, don’t be intimidated. there are hosting companies out there that make it VERY easy for you to do this. So, if you’re someone bootstrapping, and trying to get started with an online business with little startup budget, choose to pay low fee for a hosted blog rather than use the free versions available. Here are a few reasons.
You Are In Controlof your blog
If you’re trying to market your online business, you probably know how important building links to your site is (if you don’t, see some of our other posts, or our podcast archives about link building). A business blog is one of the best ways to promote your website, and provide helpful and compelling content for your readers. Unlike other link building strategies (such as directory submissions and article writing) which require you to follow someone else’s guidelines, if you are in control of your blog then you make the rules – that is unless you’re using a free blog. Free blogs retain control, forcing you to abide by their terms of service, which can be vague at best.
This means that if they don’t like that you’re promoting your business, then can (and will) shut your blog down, and delete all of the content. “No Way?” Yes Way! This happened to three of my clients last week alone, who – against my advice – decided to go the “free blogging” route.
Now their paying the price…all of the posts are gone. They’ve lost 6 months of work, and now have to start over by paying for a hosted blog. If you’re serious about growing and promoting your business, it’s best to invest in a host such as BlueHost, which has automatic wordpress installers. Hosting providers like bluehost give you 24/7 technical support, and make it very easy to set up your business blog using the wordpress software (which is the best in my opinion).
On top of that, you can get a full year of hosting for about $90. If you’re serious about making your business succeed, that’s a small price to pay. Since a blog is such an important part of a successful eCommerce business, it’s important that you not jeopardize your blogs effectiveness by giving someone else control.
Your blog will have Flexibility & Professionalism
Having a wordpress blog that is located on your hosting providers servers offers you a lot of flexibility in terms of site design. One of the greatest things about wordpress is that there are a lot of add-ons, plugins, and free templates you can use to customize your site. You can even go to sites like www.guru.com, or www.elance.com and find someone to build you a wordpress template that mimics the look and feel of your website, and can include added features for promoting your business.
Social Media Optimization Tools and plugins
If you’ve not heard the term “social media” you’re probably not been around the internet much. Sites like Myspace, Facebook, etc. are some of the more popular social media sites, but there are literally hundreds of them out there. With the Web 2.0 movement gaining popularity, social media optimization is taking center stage, and is becoming a more viable and important way to grow and market your business online. As such, it is important to be able to effectively use your blog (which is also a social media medium) to grow and expand your business network.
One thing that the free blog platforms don’t allow is for the flexibility to add social media tools to your blog, which will give your readers an easy way to follow you, and become active members of your social community. These tools are essential if you want to effectively manage a social media optimization campaign.
In conclusion, the fact of the matter is this – If you’re serious about growing and marketing your business (or yourself) online, you need to abandon the free blogs, such as blogger, or the free wordpress blogs, and opt for a blogging platform that is hosted on your own hosting account. The most popular, and obvious choice for this is to purchase some web hosting, and install the wordpress software on your hosting account.
This will give you the options flexibility and professionalism that you really need to effectively utilize a blog. Furthermore, don’t just choose any old webhost out there. While hosting providers like Go Daddy are popular, I would opt for one that makes it easier for you to integrate a wordpress blog. In my opinion, Blue Host is the best that suits your budget.