I’ve had many beginners to blogging ask me whether it’s a good idea to create a blog on free blogging sites such as Medium, Wix, Site 123, and Blogger.
My answer has always been the same: never use a free blogging platform to create a blog. After all, if you need a platform to pour out random thoughts and ideas about your day, your personal interest, and everything in between, you can use Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
While free blogging platforms take away the need for self-hosting and allow you to launch a blog without paying a dime, you have little to absolutely no control over what you can do. More often than not, your option is to setup a subdomain, choose one of the pre-built themes, and create content.
Don’t get me wrong.
Free blogging sites are good. I’ve used them in the past for blogging SEO and they seemed to work fine at the time. These days, they’re good for keeping journals of your thoughts, and whatever you write may not necessarily show up in the search engines – or rank for any keyword for that matter.
But free blogging platforms can only get you so far.
1) Free Blogging Sites Look Less Professional
I can groan the whole day about how unprofessional free blogging sites look. But let me just give you a few pointers to make you understand why I don’t recommend the likes of Blogger, Medium, and Bravenet.
- You build on a subdomain: You’ll get a subdomain name for your blog. If you’re on Blogger, for example, your domain will be something like yourname.blogspot.com.
- No customization: Free blogging platforms take away the possibility of customizing your site for a professional look and feel.
- You can’t build a brand: It’s hard to build a brand on top of another brand. You’re already building a blog on a subdomain, which means people will hardly recognize you.
I personally wouldn’t want to build and launch my blog on top of another person’s brand because I wouldn’t have the exposure that I need to grow as a blogger and dominate a niche.
2) You Can’t Customize and Personalize a Blog Built on a Free Site
As much as free blogging platforms can have you set up and launch a blog in under 60 minutes, you can’t customize and personalize the blog.
You simply have no control over them, so it’s impossible to have access to customization tools necessary to improve the quality of the platform.
It’s a different case with self-hosted blogs.
A self-hosted blog allows you to install plugins of your choice, so you can extend the functionality of your site.
You also have the option to tweak the blog’s appearance by choosing a premium theme. You even have the option to secure your site, so no one else ever gets control over it unless with your authorization.
3) You Can’t Do SEO for a Blog Built on a Free Blogging Site
Imagine creating a blog that no one will ever get to read because of limitation in search visibility.
Unfortunately, that’s what happens if you create and launch your website on a free blogging platform.
First, they make it very hard for search engines to crawl your website.
Remember, your blog is on a subdomain, and some sites even instruct the search engines not to index pages and posts, which can significantly lower your chances of getting search engine visibility.
4) You Have Limited Resources and ZERO Monetization Option
I’ve tried over a dozen free blogging sites in the last five years. And I can tell you without a doubt that they all have two common problems.
They limit your blogging resources.
And they give you zero monetization options.
For starters, you'll have a restricted quantity of bandwidth, memory, and video time, which will negatively affect user experience.
You also have restricted advertising possibilities, so if you're blogging to establish a reputation for yourself and generate money by showing advertisements on your site, you'll have a hard time doing so on a free blog site.
5) Your Blog Can Disappear Overnight
I know that sounds scary, but it’s true. And if it ever happens to you, you’ll have no option than to cross your fingers.
I have had four of my free blogs terminated for reasons I couldn’t even understand. It turns out that the platforms I used belonged to a shoddy company that terminated accounts at their own discretion without prior notice.
But here’s even an interesting part based on my experience:
Free blogging sites reserve the rights to terminate your blog if they think you’ve broken their terms of service agreement, even if you haven’t broken any in reality. According to their terms, you agree that they can terminate your account without notice and their decision is often the last nail on the coffin.
Perhaps what I see as unprofessional in most cases is that these free sites lack the motive to send you any notices or urge you to double-check their information. But then again, they’re not receiving money from you, so they’re unlikely going to waste their time.
So, if you've done something unintentionally that could be considered a violation of the terms of service, your entire blog can disappear overnight.
It’s a different case with a self-hosted blog. If you choose a self-hosted platform, you will hardly receive notices about terminations, and it’s in the hosting service provider’s best interest to have you onboard as one of their paying clients.
Besides, self-hosting allows you to set your own rules, which means you’ll have no terms and conditions of service to observe other than your very own.
I’m aware that self-hosted platforms may be more expensive, but they’re more stable and reliable. You can even get prompt customer support when you need it the most, which is one of the reasons why I strongly recommend paid blogging platforms over the free ones.
Free blogging sites allow you to launch a blog without paying a dime. You choose a name, select a prebuilt theme, set up the site, publish a post, and launch.
But that’s as far as the benefits go.
Because you never have full control over the blog, it makes a lot of sense to avoid these platforms and go for self-hosting instead.