The Book Blogging Project #2: Free Hosting or (Paid) Self-Hosting?

The Book Blogging Project is a regular feature on I Heart Reading in which I provide tips and tutorials for newbie bloggers. This blog post series offers a wide range of topics, such as: how to receive ARC copies, how to set up a Facebook or Google+ page, how to organize a successful giveaway, social media promotion, the benefits of Goodreads/LibraryThing/Shelfari, what to include in a book review, etc. Guest bloggers are welcome to write a post for this series as well.

If you want to write a guest post for this series, or you have a question you wish me to address in The Book Blogging Project series, please email me.

Click HERE to view all my ‘The Book Blogging Project‘ posts.

You somehow miraculously possess all, or most, of the distinctive set of qualities that separate us, Book Bloggers, from the rest of the world. Hurray! That means you are ready to create your amazing, gorgeous, super, uber and extremely hyperactive Book Blog! The only question that’s left is: where. And how? But no worries, my minions, your trustworthy leader will explain to you the wonderful world of paid and free hosting.

Question numero uno: do you know anything – and with that, I mean anything – about HTML and CSS? If you are somehow thinking HTML means Hot Teen Male Lifeguard and CSS means Cute & Sexy Schoolboy then you are, sadly, mistaken. In that case, trust me when I tell you that you will need to know that HTML is short for Hyper-Text Mark-Up Language and CSS actually means Cascading Style Sheets. Yes, I know, it’s a lot less fancy than what you had in mind, but that’s the way things are.

Being serious now, if you don’t know the basic of HTML & CSS, trust me when I tell you, you will need to learn it. At least the basics. Lissa Explains gives HTML tips for kids – I’m pretty confident that’s the appropriate level of teaching for all of you. No, I’m kidding, but in all honesty, I did learn HTML from that website, and it’s still a very valuable source for HTML newbies. This is another good tutorial to introduce you to HTML and here we have one for CSS.

There are two possible choices. You can either choose to host your Book Blog yourself, or you can choose to let third-party sources like or do the hosting for you. There are some good and some bad things accompanied with both choices.

Self-hosting usually comes with a price, but not necessarily. I do have to admit that you get better service if you pay for your own hosting, and you get nifty gadgets like access to a cPanel and 24/7 support, etc. The good news is that you have total control over everything, from your layout to your blog to your databases, to every thing. But there’s also bad news. Not all host registrars out there are reliable, some have a lot of down-time, others offer no support whatsoever, etc. If you want to go for a paid hosting service, I would advise Holdfire. Go to shared and buy the smallest plan possible. Trust me when I tell you, you’ll have more than enough space and bandwidth, at only 45$ a year. Bargain. If on the other hand, you would rather be hosted on a subdomain of a reliable, friendly host, I recommend The people there are friendly, generous and trustworthy.

Thumbs Up for Paid Self-hosting:

  • You can do whatever you want. Your hosting won’t just dissapear one day, you can install whatever blogging program you want, and you are not tied to a limited amount of layouts (like on or to a limited amount of nifty things you can do (
  • For the more coding-savvy people, self-hosting does offer a lot more flexibility to change things to your own preferences.
  • Domain names are shorter, and more catchy, than subdomains. People are more likely to remember your domain name, than remember if you’re on a subdomain of wordpress or blogger. They also look more professional.

Thumbs Down for Self-hosting:

  • It usually comes with a fee. Some hosts are seriously over-priced for the things they offer in return, and not all hosts are reliable. You will probably need to spend some time researching the net to find a decent and trustworthy host.
  • You need to set up everything yourself. That means, no standard website already in place, you have to create your own databases, upload files through FTP…Not exactly easy for newbies.
  • It’s a lot more work putting up a self-hosted blog than just creating one through WordPress or Blogger.

If you want your blog to be free however, the two most advisable options for you are either WordPress or Blogger. Below I’ve tried to make small lists comparing WordPress to Blogger. It’s a personal choice though, which one of the two of them you prefer. They both have advantages and disadvantages.

Thumbs Up for WordPress:

  • Clean and professional design and coding. Easy to use admin panel, strong, solid back-end coding.
  • You can add a gallery and slideshows plus 3GB of image storage.
  • Posts can be implemented from a large number of third-party websites: Blogger, Yahoo, Typepad, Posterous, Livejournal, etc.
  • Optional static front page, unlimited other pages.
  • Easily implemented contact-form, Akismet spam protection, Team Blogs, password-protected posts, categories AND tags.
  • Numerous widgets already included: Facebook Like Box, Goodreads, Latest Tweets, Subscribe by Mail, Delicious, Flickr, etc.

Thumbs Down for WordPress:

  • No third-party scripts allowed. That means no Google Friend Connect, for example.
  • Limited number of designs to choose from, unless you want to pay for the service.

Thumbs Up for Blogger:

  • Unlimited number of designs. The sky is the limit. You can design your own template from scratch, or take a look at the literally thousands of Blogger designs out there.
  • Third-party scripts are allowed.
  • It’s owned by Google. That means that it has access to all the nifty things Google provides, like Google Friend Connect.
  • Numerous widgets already included: Subscribe by Mail, Profile, Latest Tweets, Google Friend Connect, Facebook Like Box, etc.
  • Other widgets from third-party websites can be added.

Thumbs Down for Blogger:

  • You can only implement posts from other Blogger blogs.
  • No gallery options, although there is a Slideshow widget.
  • Maximum of ten pages.
  • Tags/Labels only, no categories.
  • Team Blogs aren’t possible.

In the end, it all comes down to your own choice. Do you want freedom or an easy-to-use platform? Are you up for something new, wild and potentially difficult, or would you prefer to stay in the comfort-zone where there’s no HTML, CSS or anything of that sort?

Now you’ve asked yourself that question, go register either a domain name for your paid hosting, or join or for your own blog. Do keep in mind that not all domains are available, and that you might have to think of a couple of back-up names for your blog, in case the one you initially wanted isn’t available anymore.


  1. I’ve seen sorely tempted to switch over to WordPress. There are a couple of things keeping me at Blogger at the moment, and I like what I have so far, but I’ve heard quite a few good things about WordPress and am sorely tempted to transfer my blog. Worth considering, at any rate, and the run-down of the pros and cons of each service is greatly appreciated.

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