With all the available choices for publishing online these days, why would you every choose to have a self hosted website that you have to maintain on your own? As a business owner, this is one question you must answer correctly to ensure the long term health of your operations online.
A self hosted blog requires you to buy a domain name and have a paid hosting account. You have to install your blog, choose a template (a theme for WordPress), install some form of analytics, and then you can begin adding your content (images, text, videos, podcasts, etc.).
Why not just set up a free Tumblr blog, or WordPress.com blog? They offer easy publishing options and you can have a nice looking site set up in minutes, right?
Well, that’s true to some degree, but the real question is, are you running a business or strictly engaging in a hobby?
If you’re setting up site to support your hobby interests, then it doesn’t matter. If you’re setting up a business website then you’ll want to have every business advantage possible. You won’t want to be subject to restrictions that limit what you can do and what you can offer your customers.
As a publishing option each free services each have their own set of drawbacks, but the one common fault they all share is that you can’t download your files, burn your website to CD, and hand it to someone if they purchased your business.
This might not sound like a big deal at this point in your business, but think long term and consider this future business transaction from your potential buyers point of view.
Let’s say you’re looking to buy a website that’s well established and has good visitor traffic. You find two sites. Both are involved in the same industry and both have excellent traffic and have been around for the same amount of time. One site is self hosted and the other is hosted on a third party service. Both sites cost around $10,000. Which one would you rather buy, the one you could get your hands on, or the one that was hosted on someone else’s system?
Did your brain quiver for a second there?
If there is even a moment of friction in our hypothetical situation, then imagine what would happen in an actual situation where real money is on the line. You don’t want a potential buyer to walk away because of a sense of uncertainty of what they are getting for their money. If you can’t guarantee they’ll own it, then you’re less likely to be able to sell it.
Does that mean all free publishing services should be off your radar? Of course not. These resources should be viewed as a way to establish promotional channels that extends the reach of your brand and help increase the value of your actual website where you do business.
A good example of this can be seen by looking at what Gary Vaynerchuk is doing with his personal brand. He has several popular sites that he uses to distribute his message and build his personal brand, but when it comes down to doing business, his sites are on paid hosting sites. He leverages the free publishing sites as marketing tools, but long term his money is invested in business sites that he owns and could sell to someone as a tangible asset.
So yes, leverage free, but own your business.
How are you using free to build your business?
Share your thoughts below and let us know what you think.