Update: I’ve written more advice on this topic at Self-Hosting Your Author Website: How and Why to Do It.
Recently I was asked why authors should self-host their own blog or website.
First, what does self-host mean?
It means that you don’t use a free service to run your blog or website. The most popular free services are Blogger and WordPress.com. What confuses a lot of people is that you can run a website or blog that is based on the WordPress system, but is self-hosted. (That describes THIS site.)
So what are the big reasons NOT to use a free service?
- Free services limit the functionality and options for your site.
- Free services limit how much you can customize the look and feel of the site.
- Sometimes you are working on proprietary systems that could be abandoned at any time. They might not be supported in the way you need them to be.
- Free services might not offer the kind of metrics and analytics you need to see what’s working.
- It’s more difficult to make money from a free service (it can be impossible to add eCommerce/shopping cart functionality or to run ads)
When you’re self-hosted, you really own your website and have full control. And for serious, professional authors, who are building a longterm online presence, that’s what I recommend. (If you are doing a very short-lived site, or if you’re just “fooling around,” then yes, do use a free service!)
To learn how to self-host your site in 10 minutes or less, here’s my free tutorial showing how to set up your site at Bluehost.
Disclosure: I am a Bluehost affiliate marketing partner. This means that if you end up clicking one of my links to Bluehost and sign up for a hosting package, I receive a commission. However, I recommend Bluehost because I’ve used them and think they offer good value, along with a 30-day, money-back guarantee.
Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. She is the publisher of The Hot Sheet, the essential newsletter on the publishing industry for authors, and was named Publishing Commentator of the Year by Digital Book World in 2019.
In addition to being a columnist for Publishers Weekly, Jane is a professor with The Great Courses, which released her 24-lecture series, How to Publish Your Book. Her book for creative writers, The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press), received a starred review from Library Journal.
Jane speaks regularly at conferences and industry events such as BookExpo America, Digital Book World, and the AWP Conference, and has served on panels with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund. Find out more.