It’s 2014. If you do not have a blog and a solid content marketing plan to fuel it for your business, you are at a serious disadvantage. Your online marketing strategy and overall SEO will suffer drastically in the coming months and years.
I’m going to be talking more about this in future posts. I’ll be sure to come back and provide links to the proof you may need.
Really! You NEED a blog!!!
But seriously, it’s 2014. You have to have a content marketing strategy. And the best place to start is with a blog. This is the nucleus of your content marketing world. Everything should feed into and grow out of there.
Your blog is more important than any other piece of online real estate you’ve got. More than a Facebook page, Twitter profile, Pinterest account or any other Social Media presence you can think of, (there’s a lot of them). I’ll back this up… Keep reading…
And it isn’t just about SEO. A blog, when done right, will solve customer issues before they occur, will shorten the sales cycle, will be a source of referrals, will be a point of reference to determine your credibility and so much more.
Today, I want to assume you’re with me on this and ready to roll. The only thing you want to know is not how high to jump to create great content, but where to host your blog.
What is a blog anyway?
Now technically, Facebook is a blog. Twitter is a blog. Anywhere you create content is a blog.
The word ‘Blog’ is short for ‘Web Log’. In the early days it was simply a journal or diary that you kept online. It has evolved into something much more powerful but in its simplest form, any place online you create new pieces of content can be defined as a blog.
Over the years, WordPress has risen as the top blog platform. Today, many websites are created using WordPress. Many businesses have blog functionality on their websites without even realizing it. If you have not yet decided, I highly recommend WordPress.
What is a self-hosted blog?
There are two types of blogs you can have. A hosted and a self-hosted.
A hosted blog is what you have if you own a Facebook page for your business. Technically, that is a hosted blog. Facebook hosts it for you.
If you have a domain for your website or blog that looks like this:
myawesomebiz.wordpress.com, that is a hosted blog. It lives on WordPress.
I highly recommend you have your own self-hosted blog. You are the one who owns it. It is all yours.
Here are reasons why I recommend self-hosted over hosted:
1: You own it
Anything you host somewhere else is not yours. Your Facebook page is not really your Facebook page. It is Facebook’s.
This means if you do something that violates Facebook’s terms of service, even accidentally, they can shut your page down. If Facebook goes down, your page goes down. If Facebook goes out of business, all your hard work, your following, everything is gone.
Ian Cleary from Razor Social had this to say: “Your domain authority is a proprietary ranking system developed by Moz which ranks your website out of 100. As you grow your audience your domain authority will rise. If you build your blog on someone else site their domain authority will rise not yours. Why rent a place when it’s not expensive to buy. Lay the foundations, build your audience and make sure to host yourself.”
2: You control everything on it
Your site is you site. You are not bound by design and functionality limitations. You don’t have to worry about breaking anyone else’s terms of service or policies. You control the message you want to send into the world.
One of the big attractions to using a hosted blog is that it is free. However, these other platforms have to monetize somehow. Your visitors on some hosted sites will see ads. While your fans are seeing you on Facebook, they will also see ads, potentially from your competition.
Not to mention, it is easy to get lost on another site like Facebook. One moment someone is reading your content, next second they are off in a world of kitten videos never to be heard from again.
3: Full control over lead capture
You can capture leads on many other platforms. On Facebook, they can like your page to technically become a lead. But again, that list is not yours.
On your blog you can install a lead capture such as Constant Contact. You can make your lead capture page look exactly as you want it without any constraints. And once that lead gets into your system, they are your lead.
4: More functionality
Plugins are software components that you can plug in to your blog to add specific functionality. This makes a self-hosted blog truly come to life.
For example, I can embed a YouTube video onto my blog post by going to YouTube, grabbing the embed code and pasting it into the text side of my blog post. However, if someone clicks on it, they go off into YouTube land. Or they see suggested YouTube videos at the end.
Instead, I can use a plugin called LeadPlayer. I just give it my YouTube URL and it creates a custom skin for my video. I then embed that into my post.
Then I can remove YouTube links, I can add clickable links or a lead capture form right into my video.
There are plugins for almost anything you can think of that you would like your blog to do. Many are free.
5: Better themes
A theme is what makes your website look like it does. If you want a certain look to your blog or website, you can choose from a never ending field of free and paid themes.
You will have limited access to themes and their features will not be as robust on a hosted option. Plus, when you self host, you can actually get into the CSS of the theme (if you know how or if you have a developer who can) and make your site look exactly as you want. You can even build or have a developer build your own theme.
6: It’s professional
Having a hosted blog for free is certainly a selling point. Who doesn’t love free?
However, it is so dirt cheap to host your own blog at about $10 for a new domain and starting at $4 per month for cheap hosting, (although I am not a huge fan of “cheap” hosting. You get what you pay for.). Any business owner can afford that. It’s likely we all spend more on a daily coffee addiction than a month’s worth of hosting.
And the bottom line is that the URL www.nuclearchowder.com looks more professional than nuclearchowder.wordpress.com. Your prospects may make an assumption based on this. Don’t let them assume you’re not a pro.
What can you add?
What other reasons do you see for having a self-hosted blog over a hosted blog? Or do you disagree with me and prefer hosted? Leave it in the comments below.