While I was presenting the arguments against the most popular reasons people have for not self-hosting their own blog, I’ve been proposing WordPress as the software people should be using for that purpose. However I haven’t actually explained what’s so great about WordPress in the first place nor have I specificed the benefits self-hosting provides over free hosting like WordPress.com or Blogger.
Of course one can just look at the features as given by the devs themselves or check what popular blogs on blogging have to say but I thought that since you’re with me until now, you might be interested in my personal take on it.
Disclaimer: Some of these may look obvious or be already available for your free blogging platform of choice but that does not mean they are available for all. As an example: Blogger does not support trackbacks while WordPress.com does not allow ads.
1. Having your own domain name means that if you ever change your mind about how popular you want to be, you don’t have to go through the hassle of redirecting your readers to a new location.
2. You have hundreds, if not thousands, of possible themes to choose from. Practically a guarantee that your blog will look fresh and unique to visitors without any effort on your part.
3. The WordPress software is gratis and will always stay that way. As a result the only costs you have, is your web host which generally provides you with much more benefits over simply having a blog.
4. You can have pages that exist outside of your blog timeline. No need to have your “about page” be a normal blogpost you need to link to, or other workarounds like that.
5. You’ve got free stats integrated into your blog. No need to go through the hassle of opening, verifying and installing google analytics or any other third party software.
6. It takes just 38 minutes to set up, including registering with a new host.
7. Installing new themes of plugins is as simple as it gets. A one click process.
8. Autosaves and revisioning so that your sanity and nerves are spared from both PC crashes and wrong saves.
9. With the widgets setup, you can easily change the layout of your sidebars or add custom and obscure scripts with two clicks, without editing any files.
10. You don’t have to be technical. You don’t have to know anything about dns, ips, mysql or apache to install and maintain it on most popular hosts
For the Technical and Web2.0 oriented bloggers:
11. You can have your OpenID being your own domain name and know you won’t have to change it in the future.
12. You can customize your theme as much or as little as you want and this is made much easier by the modular design of wordpress themes.
13. Where in other platforms you can only use whatever plugins or gadgets they provide or allow, in wordpress you have a choice of hundreds of plugins for almost any purpose your might think off.
14. You also have a choice of Categories and Tags. None of that googly “labels” that no-one else uses. Having both categories and tags allows better categorization and tag clouds 😉
15. With so much anti-spam you can pretty much say goodbye to everyone’s favourite canned meat. And that is without annoying your commenters with captchas and the like.
16. A comment system that is not a pain in the ass and actually recognises blockquotes.
17. Pretty much all services related to blogging support wordpress first and best. Even if that service has not, for some reason, implemented any way to integrate with blogs or wordpress, sooner or later, someone will make a plugin for it.
18. Supports Google Gears and offline/faster use.
19. The amount of information about wordpress out there is staggering. If you want to play with the system or simply optimize it as much as possible, you easily can.
For popular or Pro-Bloggers (and wannabes)
20. You have your own domain name which allows you more authority and visibility. Not having this, especially when you have big plans for your blog, is a big mistake.
21. You can use adverts if you wish.
22. Has great SEO out of the box that you can make it even better with plugins. If you’re going to write articles and don’t have many people to link to you, you’ll need this to be discovered.
23. With any number of plugins you get the option to show similar posts which is great for making scrappers work for you and keeping visitors engaged.
24. You have trackbacks. ‘Nuff said.
Other great capabilities and options
25. You have a great built-in media library which gives you not only the ability upload your own files but to also easily find them in your server, with the same settings you used them before if you wish to.
26. Supports the iPhone for the fanbois.
27. You setup collaborative weblog without having to make people register with a specific provider. You can even avoid registering altogether by using OpenIDs once more. Hell, you can set it up as a little social club if you want to 😉
28. Being Open Source, you have the certain knowledge that you platform will never go stale or out of development. Indeed, the more people that use it, the faster and better it becomes.
It is already on the bleeding edge of blogging and it shows no signs of slowing down.
29. It is easy to integrate with other software that you might use like gallery or forum software.
30. Being on your own host means that you can now easily help your friends escape the limited free hosting by taking them on your own server, with little cost to yourself.
31. As Free Software, wordpress is the most ethical choice of platform. By using it and showing your support, you not only retain your freedoms but also support people who might not otherwise have an online voice (say due to costs). It also means that most of the plugins and tools created for it are also probably free software which allows you or anyone else to take and customize them for your own use or join to make them better.
It means that, even just a bit, you promote a culture of shared reciprocation and freedom.
What other reasons can you think on why one should self-host and use Wordress?