Basics of Hosted vs. Non-Hosted Blog Sites

By Amy Lupold Bair, Susannah Gardner

After you’ve made the decision to host your blog on a self-hosted web platform, you need to choose the blog software that you’d like to use. Choose wisely, grasshopper, and watch your blog software grow while you add more bells and whistles.

Pick poorly, and be faced with the ultimate chore: migrating your blog from one blog software package to a better one. You can do this transfer, but you can’t do it easily. Spend the time to find out about the available blogging tools and the functionality they provide now so that you can save yourself a lot of headaches later.

First, you need to recognize that all blogging platforms aren’t created equal. Of course, blogging software packages, whether they’re managed by you or by paid web-hosting technical staff, all share the same or similar functionality that you need for a typical blog. But each software package was designed with very different goals in mind.

Unlike software that you install on a desktop or laptop computer, blogging software requires a server environment to function.

Bloggers can use either of two kinds of blogging platforms:

  • Hosted blogs: Hosted blog services provide a unique situation in which you don’t need to worry about the software technology at all. You can concentrate on worrying about what your next blog post will be about, rather than how to configure a web server. To use hosted blogging software, you log into the editing tool, write a post, click the Publish button, and log out.

    You don’t need to think about how the software is managed, just as long as it’s there the next time you want to post something. Many bloggers consider this setup the deal of the century. One popular hosted solution is Blogger.

    Extra bonus: If you choose hosted software, you don’t have to worry about web hosting — the software company is providing that service for you!

    But beware! The content on hosted blogs is technically owned by the hosting site and not by the blog author… you. If content ownership is more important to you than ease of use, hosted blogs are not the right option for you.

    Social networks allow you to connect with current friends and make new ones while sharing photos, videos, and text. They’ve exploded in popularity in the last few years, and many of them have added a blogging tool.

  • Non-hosted blogs: You might want to run your own blogging system right from the beginning. This type of setup is known as non-hosted or installable blogging software. By installing blog software on your own web server, you take on all responsibilities related to maintaining the blogging software and the data created when you blog.

    Strictly from a technical point of view, this type of setup for a new blog might be a little on the difficult side and cause more stress — especially for the nontechnical folks who are figuring things out while they go — but you ultimately get more flexibility when you use a non-hosted setup.

    For example, Serious Eats, a blog that covers food news from all over the blogosphere, uses Movable Type, a blogging solution that you install on your own server.

    Although hosting your blog through your own web host is a bit more difficult than creating a blog on a hosted platform, available blog software (that is often free!) can make the process nearly as easy to manage. If you love a challenge or want all the bells and whistles, consider hosting your blog yourself.