When I’m asked by professionals or solo entrepreneurs interested in creating an online presence, why I don’t recommend starting a blog on Blogspot or WordPress.com, I launch into an explanation of why it is not good for their business.
Since there are a lot of people who might benefit from knowing exactly why I believe free blogs are bad for business, I’ve outlined the 5 most compelling reasons why you shouldn’t go the ‘free’ way when it comes to starting a business blog.
1. ‘Free’ sends the message that you’re not serious about your business
On the internet, as in real life, first impressions matter. If you intend using your blog as a vehicle to brand yourself and showcase your expertise, free will just not cut it. It tells potential customers that you’re not serious about your business.
Your visitors know that if you’re not willing to spend the time and money to look professional, you’re probably not as successful or as serious about your business as you claim to be.
2. Free blogs have limited design and customization options
Free blog sites like Blogspot and WordPress.com come with a few, templates that you can use to customize your blog, but these are basic, out-of-the-box themes that don’t have a professional look and feel.
Free blogs also have limited customization options – there are very few plugins you can add to boost the functionality of a blog on WordPress.com, while Blogger layouts tend to be amateurish and are a nuisance to customize.
If you want to add plugins that boost your search or social visibility, capture visitors by email and build a list, it’s recommended that you to buy a own domain and hosting. This way you can install a WordPress blog and a low-priced, yet professional, theme with all the widgets and customization options you need.
3. Free blogs are not great for creating a brand
What are you more likely to put on a business card? A domain like abccoach.blogspot.com or www.abccoach.com? The latter, you bet! If you want your blog to brand you as a serious professional, use a domain you’ll be proud to put on your card and promotional materials.
Having a brand online allows potential clients and customers to trust that you’re someone who can be relied on to deliver. And it’ll make it that much easier to hand out your card at networking events and seminars.
To create visibility on search engines, you need to build links to your blog. With a free blog host you can, at the most, beg for a few links from your fellow bloggers, especially if your content is link-worthy.
But just try getting a free blog listed on directories like Dmoz or Yahoo – or any other directory that lists domains and blogs – and you’ll understand how little you can leverage its power for link building. This is a significant drawback of free blogs in terms of SEO benefits.
5. Free blog hosts can delete your content anytime
If you’re publishing your original content on Blogger and WordPress.com, you need to remember that, by virtue of being hosted on the publisher’s domain, the blog does not belong to you. You have no control over the content and must abide by the publisher’s rules for what is appropriate and what isn’t.
Free blogs that are seen to violate a publisher’s content guidelines can be deleted at the discretion of the publisher and many legitimate, well-written blogs with a large following have, in the past, been wiped off the face of the earth by random sweeps to remove spam blogs (or splogs).
This is probably the most compelling reason why you should go pro and publish on your own domain and hosting account. You have complete creative control over your content and can take regular backups to avoid losing your valuable data.
If you’re serious about creating a brand and reputation for yourself and your business, ‘free’ can prove very expensive in the long run. The best professionals are willing to shell out a few dollars a year to give their blog the kind of design and customization that makes it stand out from the competition. So should you!
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