I had two people ask me the same question in one day. They both wanted to know what was the best way to set up a blog. I’m sure there are other people who’d like to know the same information so I thought I’d set up a resource for everyone.
I use 4 different options using WordPress, each with various benefits. It’s likely what you want to do fits perfectly within one of these options. Before I get into those different options let me explain why WordPress is the only solution I’m recommending. It’s the best. Period. Many people are happy using Blogspot and Typepad, but if you ever want to expand and grow, you’re going to eventually be switching over to WordPress. So you might as well start with it and make your life all around easier. WordPress does everything Blogspot and Typepad do, only better.
Option #1 – FREE – WordPress.com
If you’d like to set up a free blog go to WordPress.com. Set up is easy and you’ll find it very easy to use. There are lots of themes available that are easy to apply to your blog. WordPress.com includes lots of great tools that block spam from filling up your comments section, link your blog to other bloggers talking about the same thing, and great search engine optimization.
I use WordPress.com for my religious themed blog: LDS and Evangelical Conversations.
Disadvantages: non-unique domain (i.e. yourblog.wordpress.com), Limited edit-ability, not able to sell advertising, limited disk space (though you’ll have a tough time filling their 3gb limit)
Option #2 – $10.95/year – Domain Forward
If you’d like to own your own domain name but don’t want to shell out more than $10, WordPress.com is your solution. Just set up a blog on WordPress.com then buy a domain name. I recommend you use Ipower to purchase your domain.
Then just point your new domain (yourblog.com) at your WordPress.com blog (yourblog.wordpress.com). Anytime someone types in your domain name they will automatically be directed to your blog. In addition, you can set up an email address with your new domain that can forward to any email address of your choice (i.e. firstname.lastname@example.org will forward to email@example.com).
Advantage: a unique and memorable domain name
Disadvantage: your domain name will not appear in the address bar
Option #3 – $20.92/year – Domain Mapping
If you’d like to use WordPress.com to host and maintain your blog for free, BUT you’d like a unique domain name WordPress offers a solution. All you have to do is buy a domain and then pay WordPress to allow you to map your domain to your WordPress.com blog. They charge $9.97 a year to do this and include instructions on how to do it. If you haven’t already purchased a domain name you can buy one through WordPress and save yourself $5.
My wife used this option. You can see what it looks like at Poverty Unlocked.
Advantages: a unique and memorable domain name with free hosting and maintenance
Disadvantages: Limited edit-ability, not able to sell advertising, limited disk space
Option #4- $71.40/year – Host It Yourself
If you’re ready to enter the big leagues this is your option. You need to buy a hosting package and maintain your blog by yourself. I recommend using Ipower. They can set the WordPress software up for you and get you on your way. If you don’t want to design your own template there are plenty of free templates available. There are also lots of free plugins available to extend your blog. I recommend at minimum that you install WordPress Stats, Akismet, All-in-one SEO, Robots Meta, and Google XML Sitemaps. WordPress now has an easy to use search-and-add feature for both plugins and themes. There is also lots of help online for setting up and using WordPress.
If you need to move from WordPress.com to your own hosting package, WordPress comes with tools to transfer all of your post and comments seamlessly. You can even transfer your post from Blogspot and Typepad.
This is what I have done with this blog as well as Foster Parenting Podcast. I actually host 3 different blogs on one hosting account.
Advantages: you are in control, you can sell advertising and modify your theme however you’d like, you can add some powerful functions to your blog, you get your domain name for free
Disadvantages: you have to maintain the behind the scenes functions of your blog and there is much more set up time