Should you blog for free or purchase a domain name?

If you've blogged in the past or you're an aspiring blogger, you must have experienced that urge to get everything done quickly. Be it setting up a blog or publishing a blog post, bloggers are often in a hurry to see the results. I felt the same urge when I started this blog. I wanted to quickly reach the point where I could reveal how to get your blog posts viral. But, like I had promised in the introduction of this blog, I will ensure that you don't quit in between your blogging journey, which is why I need to move step-by-step.

From this post onward, some technical terms are going to get introduced. But, you don't have to worry about anything because the entire purpose of this blog is to help new bloggers understand the basics. I will explain each and every term in detail so that you are in a better position to take the right call. So, let's begin!

Domain Name

A domain name is the digital address of your website. For example, is a domain name. Just like your house number in a locality, it should be unique. These domain names need to be purchased from Domain Registrars like GoDaddy, Bluehost, etc. Some web hosting companies like Wix or Wordpress also offer the option to purchase a domain through them.

For the purpose of simplicity, we will take the case of these two web hosting companies and discuss how they provide domain names to their users.

Types of Domain Names

Broadly, there are two types of domain names that you need to be aware of:

  1. Primary Domain: This is your custom domain, which you can purchase by paying a sum to the web hosting company. Please note that you cannot purchase a domain for lifetime, it has to be renewed on a yearly basis (some companies also offer 2-year or 3-year plans). Thus, you never really purchase a domain, you actually rent it. For example: is a primary domain.

  2. Sub Domain: This is a domain name that you get as a prefix to the web hosting company's domain name. You can only customize the prefix part of your domain in this case. These domain names are given to the users who enroll for the free plans. Yes, you read it write - you don't need to spend a single penny to create your own blog. It can be done for free if you are happy with the sub domain. The two web hosting companies that we talked about earlier offer the following sub domains Wix: WP:

Free v/s Upgrade Plans

You can go ahead and sign up with either of the web hosting companies and you will get a subdomain for free. You can start blogging right away without having to spend any money. Every web hosting company also provides upgrade plans (they have different names) for which you need to pay a monthly/yearly sum.

These upgrades offer you a variety of features depending on the web hosting company's plans:

  • Your own primary domain

  • More data storage

  • E-commerce payments

  • Better themes & pluggins

  • Analytical tools

  • Ability to set up ads

  • and many more..

How to Decide?

The choice between free and upgrade plans can be tricky if you're a new blogger. The existing articles on the web provide thousands of reasons to make new bloggers switch from the free plans to the upgrade plans. My advice to you will be to refer to the Blogging Basics: what is your reason behind blogging. If you are blogging for any of the internal reasons mentioned below, then you should switch to the upgrade plans:

  • Tracking your traffic

  • Appearing in Google search

  • Earning money from the blog

Let me explain why. The tools that help you achieve the aforementioned goals are:

Now, the free plans offered by the web hosting companies don't provide an option to sync these tools. You can only sync Google Search Console, that too you'll have to do it manually. And even after being synced with Google Search Console, the chances of your featuring on page one of search results will be low. This is because most of the SEO techniques (that help to rank higher in search results) require additional features which only upgrade plans provide.

Increased Reach

If your goal is to have an impact on the world by helping others, then I would urge you to go for the upgrade plans. This is because a primary domain looks more professional, credible and has a higher chance of featuring on both Google Search and Google Discover. My previous blog got featured on Google Discover 25+ times reaching out to 1.5 million+ individuals. That was because I made use of the above mentioned tools to improve the search engine ranking of my blog. If you type the keyword "non engineer" in the Google Search Box, my blog ranks first. This would not have been possible had I used a subdomain of the free plan:

Rank #1 for "non engineer" Keyword

Concluding Note

Whether to start with a free plan or an upgrade plan depends on your internal and external reasons behind blogging. If you are determined to help others by bridging the gap you've identified, then opt for the upgrade plan. But, if you're still unsure about blogging, then go for the free plan and you can always upgrade it at a later stage. In the next post, I am going to talk about the web hosting services you should choose as a blogging beginner. Stay tuned!

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