Imagine for a moment that you’ve worked all year building and perfecting your blog. You’ve been developing a decent following and loads of people are talking about how awesome your site is. Then, you go to log into your free blogging platform to post another awesome write-up and BOOM! — the spambot bastards have taken your blog offline because they “detected” spam. You don’t even allow comments, so how the heck did you get tagged for spam?
Whatever the reason, you’re now in the unenviable position of spending the time you could be writing and promoting blog content entangled in the annoying process of trying to get your blog back online. You have to verify your identity and the fact that you own your site. Meanwhile, your precious visitors are greeted with a welcoming error message like, “Sorry, this page doesn’t exist!”
This scenario is not far-fetched. Listen up, fellow blogger: If you use a free blogging platform, it’s entirely possible that your site could get pulled offline temporarily or even be completely deleted without warning. It’s happened to me and several other professional bloggers in my network. It’s why I’m currently going through the arduous process of transferring all of my websites from free to paid platforms. Oh, how I wish I’d just been smart enough to pay from the beginning and avoid all this trouble!
My sad tale isn’t compelling enough to convince you to take the paid path for your blog posting and hosting? Then consider these reasons:
Spam bots could take you down, too.
This is especially true if you allow comments and generally don’t delete the spammy ones. You probably know the comments I’m talking about. They’ll compliment your page in broken English, usually misspell a bunch of words, sometimes even reference something from your post that wasn’t written in there. Then, they end the comment with a link to their page and a plea for you to check it out. Or worse, they simply post the link over and over again — so often that you can’t keep up with deleting it.
You’ll look more professional to potential sponsors.
Many free blogging platforms come with a bombardment of advertisements and no custom domain. The more your site grows, the more crucial it becomes to have a reliable domain and web hosting provider. How awful would it be to lose an offer for a $500 sponsorship because your page was suddenly flagged and taken offline? Damn awful, that’s how awful.
You’re more likely to actually own everything on your page.
Did you know that if you use a free blogging platform and your page gets wildly famous, you might not own the rights to what you posted? It’s true! A dirty little secret amongst some free blogging platforms is that everything you post is partially if not completely owned by said platform! Be sure to check your paid platform’s fine print for any kind of ownership clause, too.
Free platforms could vanish without warning.
If the platform you’re using for your blog decides that it no longer wants to support blogs, it could just delete all of your content. I have had bloggy friends go onto their free pages only to find a lot of their content was deleted when their platform went through an update. You’ve got to back up your content, people!
A paid domain isn’t enough.
Just because you paid for a domain doesn’t mean your blog is safe. I learned this the hard way, too. I bought a domain, followed the instructions to use it on my free blogging platform, and still had spambots flag my website and yank it offline. Ugh!
There’s no support for free users.
If something does go wrong, you most likely can’t call anyone because most companies don’t offer customer service for free platforms. You’ll quickly find yourself wanting to take a hammer to the computer if your login username and/or password suddenly stops working and you’ve waited more than two days for the confirmation email to change your login info. Yes, this also happened to me. No, I didn’t hammer my laptop to bits, but it was close.
You won’t have much creative control, either.
Most free blogging platforms offer minimal templates and limited ability to make design changes. This is a nightmare for branding. Your site probably looks a lot like many of the other blogs hosted on that free platform. You want to be unique, but instead you’re just another carbon copy.
Personally, I’ve decided to go with GoDaddy’s Managed WordPress hosting, but the choice is yours. Whatever paid platform you opt for, make sure you do your research in advance.