Blogilepsy first started out as a free blog on Blogger. I was so excited to get the project started, that I posted quite a bit of stuff within a few days. On Tuesday, March 7 I received an unpleasant surprise when I logged into my account. Blogger had frozen my blog on the suspicion that I had setup a Splog.
A Splog is a blog created expressly to propagate spam. We’ve all seem them. They are 99.9% Adsense and .1% reprinted content. It’s purely coincidental if you get any useful information out of them. Blogger had me verify that the blog had been setup and was being operated by an actual human being. Then I had to wait about a day for another human being to look at the blog and verify that it was not full of spam before they released it back into my control.
I puzzled over this for a few days wondering what triggered the shut down. After speaking with other bloggers, I’ve determined that it was the fact that I had added a lot of links within a short period of time. I had put up about 30 links to various blogging resources (templates, web forums) within a twenty four hour period of time. Other bloggers reported doing the same thing and the common denominator is that we were all locked out of our blogs.
Blogger takes spam blogging seriously. Perhaps a little too seriously. I was one of the lucky ones in that I was only locked out of my blog. Other bloggers report having their blogs deleted with no warning whatsoever. Kevin Kennedy of Health Hack spent about four months building one of his blogs only to log on, one day, and find it completely gone. Luckily, he was able to rebuild and relaunch the site on its own domain and recoup some of his losses.
Everywhere you turn a new blog host is popping up offering server space for your blog, under their domain of course. Should you take up their offer or are you better off striking out on your own?
Well that all depends on what you plan to do with your blog. Is it a personal blog for casual posting or a professional blog to promote your business? Will you be talking about “safe” topics or risqué ones? Some hosts do not allow family unfriendly material and will delete your blog if you include such. How much traffic are you expecting or want to have? To keep server costs down, some hosts limit the number of visitors you can have per month. What I’m getting at is that if you host your blog on someone else’s server, you have to play by their rules.
But there are benefits to having a hosted blog. First and foremost they’re free which is a good thing with gas prices being what they are nowadays. Secondly, setting up a blog and getting started is usually as easy as making pie. Well at least for those who know how to make pie. Then there is the fact that you are usually apart of a community, who, out of curiosity, will visit the newbie and some blog communities have an internal marketing system that you can tap into for marketing your blog.
But all of these benefits can be outweighed by a few consequences. You can lose your blog for no reason and with no explanation. With Blogger, once your blog is gone, someone else can register the domain name. With other hosts, such as WordPress.com, once deleted the domain is no longer available even to you. Another draw back is if the host has server issues, you have server issues and worse if the host’s business goes under, well, there goes your blog.
Hosting a blog on your own domain, while eliminating many of these issues, comes with its own set of challenges. There is the cost of the server space and monthly traffic. Then you must install and configure the blog software which, for a newbie to computing, could prove to be a challenge. There is the upkeep and maintenance of the blog and you have work twice as hard at marketing yourself.
However, the major benefit to having your own space on the net is similar to buying a house versus renting. It’s yours to do with whatever you want. You have complete control. If your blogging takes off and you start getting more visitors than you know what to do with, you can open a web store and sell items. You can add a forum. If you hate your web host, you can change to a different one without changing web addresses. If you have the know-how, you can become a blog host yourself. The possibilities are endless.
So before you jump onto the free blog bandwagon, think long and hard about whether or not it will take you where you want to go. With free blog hosts, you may just find yourself heading towards a dead end.
Indigo Black is the founder of The Towne of Blogilepsy , the community for bloggers where they learn the fine art of caring for a blog and connect with like minded adults. She also the administrator of SmutWriter , the place for erotica authors to go to share, and find markets for, their work.