After you develop a goal for your travel blog, it's time to lay the foundation for your new presence on the web. There are two approaches to storing your blog on the internet, hosted or self-hosted, and each has its unique pro's and con's.
Recommended for: Quick and Easy camp of bloggers
Take a few minutes to sign up for an account on one of the countless free sites offering blogs, such as Blogger or WordPress, and start publishing your travel tales to the world immediately. A hosted blog means the software platform and all your data (the stories you write and photos you upload) are stored on the servers of the company whose website you used during the sign up process. The downside to this approach is less control over the design (and advertising options, if available) and web address, which will likely include the name of your host (unless you have the option to redirect to a personal domain name). Sans the investment in your own domain name, your web address might look like this, “Worldtraveler.wordpress.com.”
If you feel this option is right for you, then consider signing up for and evaluating a few blogs offered by established travel communities. The benefits to this approach are numerous. The travel community is an already established entity on the web, drawing in visitors seeking inspiration and motivation for their own future travels. By aligning yourself with the community, you will pick up readers with less effort than if you are left to your own marketing devices. Plus, these hosts will have blog designs and features which cater to travelers, such as easy-to-use mapping functions.
Bottom Line: No start-up costs and ease of use comes at the expense of flexibility to customize the form and function of your travel blog.
Recommended for: In the Middle and Fully Committed camps of bloggers
Setting up a blog on your own web host requires a little extra time, money and effort, however the big providers have done their best to make the process as easy as possible. For example, I set up my newest blog, Medellin Living, using an already established hosting account with Go Daddy. They have a one-click install for popular software platforms, such as WordPress, which saved me from having to read through the WordPress installation instructions (though they are extremely clear and well written). I was ready to start posting to my new blog in minutes.
Besides improvements in the services and support offered by hosting companies, you have countless ways to customize your blog without being limited by the business decisions of a third party. If you want the ability to exert total control over appearance, functionality and advertising, self-hosting is a must.
Bottom Line: A small annual investment offers you infinite opportunities to customize your travel blog and present a more professional appearance while leaving room to grow.
- 7-part series encouraging all (WordPress) bloggers to self-host
- Hosted Blog Comparison: WordPress vs. Blogger
- Self Hosted Blog Options
Please feel free to ask questions by leaving a comment.
The next part will focus on factors to consider when choosing a domain name.