From Amateur Blog to Pro Blog: How to Level Up Your Writing

by Joe Bunting | 40 comments

When I first started blogging in 2008, I set up a free account with Blogger, and just started writing about whatever I wanted. It was great! I grew more as a writer in a few months than I had studying creative writing in college.

Until I realized no one was reading my blog. I would publish my best writing and no one would read it. It was frustrating, even humiliating. Eventually, I decided I didn't just want to have an amateur blog. I wanted to be a professional blogger.

From Amateur Blog to Pro Blog

It took four years, but in 2013 I finally did it. I became a professional blogger and writer (and today, am still doing it!). In this article, I want to share how you can take your amateur blog and turn it into a pro blog.

Can People REALLY Make Money From a Blog?

Yes! But that doesn't mean it will be easy. Now that blogging is so established (and most who are earning money have gone from bloggers to ecommerce experts), breaking in is harder than ever.

I do think it's possible, but it will be an uphill climb, taking clever planning, writing and marketing skills, and lots grit!

Here's the thing though: if I can do it, you can too. I started as aspiring blogger and now my blog earns over $100,000 a year. It might take you a while (it took me about five years to make a living blogging), but you can do it if you focus and keep trying things.

In this post, I want to share the biggest things that have made the difference for me.

10 Steps to Going from Amateur Blog to Pro Blog

What is the path to become a pro blogger?

1. Choose the Right Blogging Foundation (i.e. Self-Hosted WordPress or Squarespace)

One of the first thing I learned as an amateur blogger was that all the best bloggers had self-hosted WordPress blogs, meaning they paid five to ten dollars a month to hosting company to keep their blog on the host's computers. It's kind of like paying a marina to dock your boat. (Check out, for example, my favorite blog host, Bluehost.)

Eventually, I found out that if you didn't have one of these self-hosted blogs, experienced bloggers looked at you like an amateur. They could tell the difference between a free blog and a self-hosted blog instantly, and as soon as they did, they thought twice about reading (and linking to!) your stuff.

I was shocked. My free Blogger blog wasn't just losing me readers; it was lowering my authority.

Today, many pro bloggers also use Squarespace, which I think is great. It's a little more expensive than a self-hosted WordPress blog, and it gives you a lot less control, but it's easy to use and get started with quickly. You can learn more about Sqaurespace here.

The point, though, is to create a strong blogging foundation by using the right tools. You can find out how to build a professional blog from my author website tutorial here or go ahead and sign up for Bluehost and build your WordPress blog here.

Ready to upgrade your blog? Build your self-hosted WordPress blog here.

2. Track Your Progress

When I first started blogging, I was content to just write and publish my posts, knowing that my writing was out in public for people to find.

But then I started wondering, was anyone actually reading my writing? So I installed Google Analytics to see how many people were actually visiting my blog. It took me an hour, but I figured out how to insert the hieroglyphic-looking code into my theme and opened up my analytics page.

I found out there were about seven people reading my blog. That's it? I thought.

It was then that I decided to begin a quest to get more readers. The lesson here is this:

It's only after you start measuring that you can make strategic decisions about how to boost that number.

3. Focus on Solving People's Problems

One of the biggest breakthroughs in my blogging was realizing this:

People read blog posts to solve their problems.

In other words, they read for themselves, not for you. In fact, unless they're actively following you, they couldn't care less about you.

Instead of chasing after people's attention, just offer excellent solutions to their problems and let them come to you.

4. Choose the Right Topics

And by topics, here I mean a group of problems (see above).

There's a debate in the blogging community about whether you need to choose a niche for your blog or not. However, everyone says writing about whatever you want doesn't work.

Instead, your blog needs something to tie it together, so that when people think about that topic, they think about you.

Choose a topic you can become an expert in, that you have endless curiosity about, and preferably one that doesn't have too many people in it but also does have a few people.

For me, I started out by writing whatever I wanted, realized that wasn't working, wrote about travel for a while, and then pivoted to teaching creative writing, which was my true passion (and a great way to learn while I taught).

Figuring out what topics to write about—and thus what problems to solve for people—may take you a while, and that's okay. But once you choose something, stick with it for at least six months.

5. Write Great Blog Posts

Content, as they say, is king.

The other things are important, don't get me wrong. Having great design (which we'll touch on toward the end), building a strong network (which we'll talk about next), creating on the right blogging platform, all of that is important.

But if you can't write good blog posts, you won't get very far.

By the way, here I'm not talking about being a perfect writer. Using correct grammar, avoiding typos, and having good sentence structure are all helpful, but you can still be a good blogger even if you're not a perfect writer.

No, what you must do is write posts that effectively capture people's attention and help them solve their problems.

Here's a structure that I use constantly in my blogging to do that (to learn more about it, find my best blog template here):

  1. Identify the problem. What is the problem people are facing that you will help them solve in this article? Tell the reader how you can help them.
  2. Make the problem personal. How have you personally experienced this problem? Create a connection with the reader!
  3. Tell a solution story. Build your authority by talking about how you solved the problem.
  4. Solve the problem. What are the specific steps to solve the problem?
  5. Call your readers to action. Call your reader to take action!
  6. End with a question for discussion. Blogging is a two-way medium. Invite discussion with some kind of question.

By the way, notice how this post follows that same format. That's because it works! Learn more about this blog post template here.

Also, if you're wondering how long your posts should be, check out our Best Blog Post Length guide.

6. Make Friends With Other Bloggers

And preferably make friends with bloggers who are a little ahead of you.

Why? Because we learn from people not just from our own experience. One of the biggest reasons The Write Practice has grown so much over the years is that one of my good friends, Jeff Goins, had started blogging ten months before me and taught me everything he was learning. (And one of the reasons he grew so much is that he made friends with and learned from Michael Hyatt.)

We grow through relationship. That's true in life. It's true in work. And it's true in blogging.

Go to conferences, follow other bloggers and reach out to them over email, make friends. One thing I've found is that these kinds of relationships won't just serve you over your career, they can become some of the best friends you have, because they get you in ways many people don't.

7. Be Generous

All marketing comes down to two principles:

  1. Be Generous
  2. Ask for Help

If you want to grow your blog, do book marketing, sell more books, or get paid to write, do more of those two things.

Be more generous.

Ask for more help.

Here are some ways being generous can help you grow your blog:

  • Give away a short ebook or one-page guide to readers if they subscribe.
  • Offer a chapter of your book for free.
  • Do a giveaway. I've given away apple watches, flights to Paris, copies of Scrivener, copies of ProWritingAid, $100 Amazon gift cards, and more. I like Gleam.io and Kingsumo for hosting giveaways, but Gleam is my current favorite. Check out Gleam »
  • Review other authors' books or talk about other authors' blogs to create relationships with them (see tip #6).
  • Host a free webinar based on a core topic. For example, I use Zoom for live webinars, and teach about coming up with bestselling book ideas and how to become a bestselling author. Check out Zoom »

How can you be generous today? Share in the comments.

8. Build Your Email List

Email is the number one best marketing channel for selling things online. Better than Facebook (by far). Better than Instagram. Better than Google ads.

People who sign up on email spend more money and are more likely to buy in the first place.

That means if you want to take your amateur blog pro, you need to be using it to build your email list.

How do you build an email list? Note here that I'm not talking about a Google Sheet with a bunch of email addresses you copy and paste into an email every once in a while. Here I'm talking about a list of people who have subscribed in your email marketing software to receive updates from you.

Not sure which email marketing software to choose? Here are the two I recommend:

  1. Mailerlite. Simple and powerful (but not quite as simple or powerful as the next tool, Convertkit), many of my writing students have found Mailerlite to be a great option for their author newsletters. You can sign up for Mailerlite here.
  2. Convertkit. I personally used Convertkit to host my email newsletter for years, and I highly recommend it for authors. You can sign up for free with up to 100 subscribers. After that, it's a paid service. Your email list is a good place to invest, though, so this should be one of your first upgrades. Upgrade to Convertkit here.

How do you build your email list? Go back to step 7 and be generous!

9. Learn How to Use SEO

My single biggest traffic source isn't social media or even my email list. It's search!

Understanding how search engines send new readers to your website is one of the best ways improve your amateur blog.

What is SEO?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing your content so people using search engines can easily find it.

The best part is that if you're following the blog writing template I talked about in step 5, you're already doing this!

How do I use SEO?

I use a tool called Ahrefs to discover what readers are looking for in my niche. For example, here's a keyword, a common phrase people search for, and that The Write Practice ranks highly for, “creative writing prompts.”

By knowing what problems people are actually looking for help on, you can better write blog posts that solve those problems.

Check out Ahrefs here.

10. Don't Have an Ugly Blog

I put this last for a reason.

People worry too much about how their blog looks. And I get it. It's easy to spend dozens of hours fiddling with your blog, thinking this is how you're going to become famous, by having your blog look just right.

It won't work.

You can have the most beautiful blog in the world, but if you're not solving people's problems, they won't read your writing.

No, just make sure your blog is not ugly. How?

  • White background
  • Clear, readable font (minimum 16 pt size)
  • Simple image in every post (canva.com makes this easy)
  • Simple color palette (no more than 4 total colors, e.g. white, black, blue for links, plus an accent color)

Simple is better. The focus should be on your writing and on helping your reader, not on clever design.

The best tools I've found for my blog are the following:

If you want to make your amateur blog look like a pro blog, getting Divi to create a clean, simple look and using Canva to spruce up your images will go a long way!

Your Most Important Goal to Build Your Amateur Blog

As an author, whether you're writing fiction or nonfiction, your most important resource is trust. People want to know why they should trust you, why they should spend their valuable time reading the words you write.

And if you break that trust, for example by having an ugly, amateur blog, they won't stick around very long.

Don't let your future readers down. The world needs to hear your voice, but first you need to give them a reason to.

But if you do this right, they'll follow you for a lifetime.

Good luck!

Want to upgrade your blog? Check out my guide: Building an Author Website. Or go ahead and upgrade to a self-hosted WordPress website through Bluehost.

PRACTICE

Professional blogs have professional blog posts! So let's do a short writing exercise start and practice outlining a blog post, using that six-step template we talked about above:

  1. Identify the problem. What is the problem people are facing that you will help them solve in this article? Tell the reader how you can help them.
  2. Make the problem personal. How have you personally experienced this problem? Create a connection with the reader!
  3. Tell a solution story. Build your authority by talking about how you solved the problem.
  4. Solve the problem. What are the specific steps to solve the problem?
  5. Call your readers to action. Call your reader to take action!
  6. End with a question for discussion. Blogging is a two-way medium. Invite discussion with some kind of question.

Take fifteen minutes to create an outline for a problem you're currently experiencing. Just include a short phrase for each of those steps (and if you have a multi-step solution, like I have in this post, feel free to quickly outline all the steps).

Once your time is up, post your writing practice in the comments section below. And if you post, please be sure to give feedback on at least three other writers' outlines.

Happy writing!

How to Write Like Louise PennyWant to write like Louise Penny? Join our new class and learn how. Learn more and sign up here.

Join Class

Next LIVE lesson is coming up soon!

Joe Bunting is an author and the leader of The Write Practice community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Paris, a real life adventure story set in France. It was a #1 New Release on Amazon. Follow him on Instagram (@jhbunting).

Want best-seller coaching? Book Joe here.

40 Comments

  1. Tyler Hurst

    Managed hosting (Page.ly, etc.) work well for people that want to pay a bit more per month so they can have all the benefits of a self-hosted blog without the maintenance.

    I know jack about programming and html and php and whatever, but I also have a self-hosted WordPress blog on Dreamhost. I’m happy to have more control over my content, even if I have zero idea how to actually fix most things when they go wrong (which is seldom).

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Good point, Tyler. Managed hosting is a good option. I’ve recommended that to a few friends. My goal with this series is to make this stuff so easy that you won’t need managed hosting.

  2. Thomas McGee

    So true! I’ve been attempting to explain this to folks for years. Having a custom, self-hosted blog not only makes you look professional, but gives greater flexibility for design and content.

    For example, I was able to design and code the WinePress of Words site completely from scratch, allowing it to adapt to various device screen sizes in addition to various other features:

    http://www.winepressofwords.com

    The free options simply don’t cut it anymore. Thanks for the article!

    Reply
  3. Chihuahua Zero

    I’m thinking of getting a WordPress blog once I get a book onto the publishing road and receive a reliable income.

    However, the problem right now is that I’m not old enough to get a job or a credit card, so I have a few years before I can even set up a domain without having to nag my Mom and rely on an iffy allowance.

    Do you have any advice for people who simply don’t have the income or practicality to pay for a blog?

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Good question, Chihuahua Zero. Although, I think your mom might rethink this if she was able to see it as an investment. A year of hosting is what, $108 a year? And only $97 with the coupon I’m offering? That’s not much if you compare it to the cost of any single other professional marketing tool today. By starting a professional looking blog, you’re laying a foundation that will help you for years. It will even get better and better over time.
      That being said, the second best option is to purchase your own domain, like chihuahuazero.com, and redirect your free blog to that domain. That way, you at least have a professional looking domain. The domain will cost $10 from DreamHost, but you’ll get it back if you decide to end up upgrading to the hosting plan. WordPress offers a similar thing but it’s almost twice as much.

  4. runebug

    Are people really so judgmental? I’m an avid reader of a few blogs that are hosted on blogger.com and wordpress.com, and I love them because they write great stuff.

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Good question. I read a few blogs on those platforms as well. And you’re right, content will always be crucial to creating an ongoing relationship.

      This is more about first impressions. I think whether people are judgmental or not, a professional looking blog gives a different first impression than a blogger blog, even if it’s subconscious.

  5. Another Amateur

    Sorry to be such an amateur, but what difference does it really make? I agree that having wordpress in the name (myblog.wordpress.com) looks amateur but if you own your own domain name, what does it matter if the site is a freebie or not? I’m more in to keeping overheads low.
    If a blog has it’s own domain name, I wouldn’t know the difference between free or paid hosting. Am I that out of the loop to not “get” this?

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      We all are amateurs at one point or other, right? And that’s totally fine. If you’re just blogging for kicks and aren’t sure whether you’re going to be into it, get a free blog. Keep those costs down.

      I’m more talking to authors who are trying to build a professional platform to help them sell their books.

      But here’s a question, you can tell the difference between a traditionally published book and a self-published book on cheap paper where the margins are all out of whack and the cover looks terrible, right? This issue is like that that.

    • Larry Blumen

      I see myself as an amateur in everything I’ve ever done—even when I was on top of my game.

      Now, I’m an amateur editor: one “that” too many in your last sentence.

    • Joe Bunting

      It looks like we’re all amateurs sometimes. Thanks Larry 🙂

  6. Natasha

    I completely disagree… this sounds just like the speech I heard back in college about not using a hotmail address on your resume. It’s simply not true. If someone wants to judge my worth based on whether I have a self-hosted or blogger account rather than on the quality of my writing, I really don’t think I care that much about their opinion. In fact, about 80% of the blogs I regularly follow are hosted through blogger. Sorry Joe, I’ve really appreciated a lot of what you’ve written in the months since I first found this site, but this post totally feels like you’re just trying to get yourself some discounted hosting fees.

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Ouch, Natasha. That hurts.

      I appreciate your disagreement, though, and you make a good point about the hotmail thing (although, if Mike Hyatt is right, hotmail still has low credibility: http://michaelhyatt.com/build-your-personal-brand-with-these-5-simple-tools.html_).

      The first impression is just the beginning of why a self-hosted wordpress account is a good option. Free blogs don’t allow you the customization I can get with my wordpress blog. This comment system we’re using right now isn’t available on blogger or wordpress.com, along with most other plugins. The flexibility alone is worth it, which I’m going to talk about later in this series.

    • Natasha

      Well, reading this post kind of hurt too. I’ve become familiar with what to expect here and it felt like you took huge step away from that…

      I also took a look at those numbers. While 50% of the top 100 are wordpress accounts, just 39% are self-hosted wordpress accounts. The 14% custom blogs are certainly self-hosted, but it’s hard for me to judge if any of them are beyond that, though I don’t think so. With all that being said, you’re looking at about 53% of the top 100 being self-hosted, and 47% non-self-hosted. Those percentages are close enough that it tells me whether or not you self-host is irrelevant.

      And if that 39% starts publishing posts like this one, sure people will switch over… people that otherwise could have developed a successful blog that happens to be hosted on another platform. And their success would have nothing to do with WordPress making you a better or more successful blogger; just that they’ve been able to ride the wave of some very inexpensive marketing.

      Joe, you have a audience here that looks to you as their teacher. Your voice has influence on how they perceive the publishing industry and their own work. Up until now, it’s always been uplifting and encouraging… even the post about needing to engage in more debate to improve our work. You do great work, but this post felt like little more than a wordpress commercial. Sorry.

    • Joe Bunting

      I hope I’m not using my influence poorly, Natasha. Seriously. This is what I use personally, and I wouldn’t recommend it if I didn’t think it would improve the lives of my readers. I know a lot of bloggers, and this is what the most respected people I know use.

    • Natasha

      No worries, I don’t think you’re trying to lead us astray or anything! People blog from their personal experience; that’s where their credibility comes from. (That’s why I love some of the blogs I listed above so much.) On this point, I just happen to have a very different view than yours – and have very much appreciated your willingness to openly continue this conversation.

      To put my view in context, I am an HR professional for a national non-profit (some could argue international, but the hiring I do is strictly to serve our national constituency). I’ve been in this position for just over 5 years.

      We have several writers & editors on staff, in at least 3 different departments. I was actively involved in the hiring process for all of them (and a few others who have since left, for various reasons that are unimportant for this discussion).

      We have some fabulously talented writers on our staff! When we reviewed their portfolios and writing samples, we certainly took a look at their blogs; however, we have never – not once – given preference in any way to someone who had a self-hosted blog over another platform. We have only ever looked at the quality of the content, grammar usage, and how the author’s voice complements the tone that our organization seeks to communicate with. When we consider applicants, we want to see that the individual has some published work, that they maintain some kind of personal blog, and are actively working to improve their writing skills. Basically, they need to be engaged as a writer. Where their blog is hosted means, quite literally, nothing to us.

    • Brian Alonzo

      Content IS king. No Doubt about that.

      The question for SOME hinges on the concern for what kind of castle in which the king takes up residence.

      To host or not to host speaks ZERO to the perception of worth… but it can for SOME influence their ability to trust your authority.

      The amount of investment you place in your own product does communicate its worth to you. Fair or unfair. Accurate or not. Perception is reality.

      The sole purpose of a blog is to reach an audience. To dismiss the perceptions of your audience is a slap in the face to their loyalty. Treat them well and furnish your castle… at the very least put out a few chairs…

    • Joe Bunting

      Haha. Well said, Brian.

    • Natasha

      I just question whether not that perception is as far reaching as it is presented to be here. Even by the comments I saw when I first read the post, everyone was completely surprised. I don’t doubt that in some circles that may be the opinion, but I don’t thinks it’s the norm. From what I’ve seen, the people pushing this perception are the ones that have decided to shell out – not publishers. It feels more like they are trying to justify their expense and it usually comes across with at least a slight “holier than thou” air to it… Accurate or not. Perception is reality… right? There are two sides to that coin. No matter what you decide to say/do, someone will carry a perception about you that contradicts what you are trying to do. There are loads of people effectively reaching their audience with non-self-hosted blogs…

    • Joe Bunting

      Interesting. Okay, can you tell me some of the blogs you’re talking about?

      It might be a fair criticism. I don’t want to come across as holier than thou, and I can see how this post could look that way. In fairness, the first comments to this post were in support of self-hosting.

    • Natasha

      Oh, I love the what are you favourite blog type questions! I’ll try no to make this too long. They’re all on blogger; I promise that’s a coincidence!

      http://davehingsburger.blogspot.ca/ It doesn’t look glitzy by any stretch, but it’s one of the top blogs in Canada (not just my opinion; has won awards in a few different categories over the years). He writes almost exclusively about the disadvantages in society against those that live with physical and mental limitations. Despite the .blogspot.ca address he’s got readers from around the world and has earned credibility through his experience. He’s a wheelchair-bound, gay man living in Toronto, working in a non-profit to improve the lives of those living with physical and mental limitations.

      http://www.linds-eats.blogspot.ca/ Again, this isn’t just my opinion. The city of Richmond, BC (think Greater Vancouver) is hosting a contest and the winner gets paid $50K to eat at a Richmond restaurant every day for a year and blog about it. Of the 1,500 applicants, they have chosen the top 12 and it’s now up to a vote. This lady leads the pack; voting has only been up since 9AM, PST and she has almost 1000 votes. The second runner-up hosts on Tumblr.

      http://flowerpatchfarmgirl.blogspot.ca/ I’ve been following this girl since she had just a couple hundred followers; she now had almost 2000. She writes consistently and people respond to her honest discussion of parenting her 3 adopted children. She frequently quest posts on other blogs and is even working on a writing a book.

      http://www.kellehampton.com/ This lady has made it huge! She has over 18K followers and that is not a typo! The blog started as a way for her family to see what’s going on with her kids. The reason she became so big is this post: http://www.kellehampton.com/2010/01/nella-cordelia-birth-story.html It’s raw and honestly. People gravitate to that. She’s been on a whole host of network shows to share her story and has just recently released her first book.

    • Christine

      I think you make a very good and valid point. I think the main difference I see is that the Blogger blogs that you mentioned are from persons who put much of their personal lives into their blog. While WordPress blogs are more semi personal in nature with end goal being for commercial purposes.

      So really it is for the blogger to decide what purpose is their blog to serve. For personal purposes or for something more commercial.

    • Bjbeatus

      totally agree… this post was a turn off and came off really sales-y to me too. Joe’s explanations in the comments make a lot more sense about having the flexibility but the whole credibility thing doesn’t make sense to me at all. No one can tell whether it’s hosted or not and I doubt many of the blogs I read are…

  7. JaneR

    While I didn’t know about the fact that self-hosting blogs have more authority, I will confess that I was terrible at keeping things updated and keeping myself involved when I had a free blog. Now that I get invoices from my hosting service and emails about the domain stuff I keep remembering “hey, I”m paying for this, I should make the most of it!” It, in a way, made me a better blogger.

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Interesting, Jane. That’s good to know. Paying for something puts a priority on it.

    • JaneR

      As my collection of shoes will attest 🙂

  8. Micaela Hollins

    As an amateur blogger and experienced blog reader, I thought the same. Then I realised there was no point in me spending money on a domain and fancy theme, if the writing was crap! I bought a domain in the end and paid a few $$ for WordPress customatisation so I could make my own blog a little different. But I made my main focus the content because that’s really all the matters. There are brilliant writers with free blogs adn plenty of followers, because people know that the words they’re reading count for more than anything else. A good looking and professional site helps, but isn’t the be-all and end-all. In my amateur opinion 🙂

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Preach it, Micaela.

  9. Katie Axelson

    Ok, this is something I’ve been thinking about lately. This post is only the icing on the cake. The reason I haven’t taken the plunge and hosted my own site yet (ok, besides the financial situation not allowing that) is that I don’t want to start over. Is it worth it? Do you repost everything (or lots of things) from your old site? Do followers follow you to the new domain? If you start over, do you keep the content the same? I’ve got more questions than answers but mostly I’m lazy, I guess, and that’s not a good reason.

    Katie

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Good questions, Katie. First, yes, you should take the plunge. Now, to your questions:

      + Yes, it’s worth it.

      + You can export all your posts and then import them into the new blog using the export / import options in the Tools Menu on your WordPress dashboard. But you have Blogger, don’t you? I know there’s an export option there, too, but I don’t know where it is.

      + You can redirect your old domain to your new domain so they automatically head over there. If you don’t want to do that, you can write a new post saying where you are now, and the readers who really care about you will follow. It’s actually a good way to weed your list of people who have stopped paying attention.

      + It’s up to you! 🙂

      Out of excuses yet? I think this could really be good for you, Katie. Let me know if you need help 🙂

    • Katie Axelson

      Ok, ok, I will. On all accounts. I’m working on a huge freelance project right now (potentially the only things ever I’ve done larger being my thesis and novel), so when that’s done, I’ll take on this big project. It’s not an “if I need help” situation but rather a “when I need help.” 😉

      First Scrivener, now a self-hosted site… gosh, Joe, you’re making this writing thing very expensive for me. 😉

      And, yes, my personal blog is on Blogger but I’m relatively familiar with WordPress as well.

      Thanks!
      Katie

  10. Skipper Hammond

    What about using WordPress.com, but buying your own URL and setting it up so that anyone who types in your URL is forwarded to your WordPress.com site? Cheaper and WordPress.com is simpler to use than WordPress.org. Is it obvious to the reader that you aren’t self-hosting when your URL is not username.wordpress.com?

    Reply
    • Skipper Hammond

      Oooops. Sorry. I should have read all the other comments before I posted. I’d have seen this question has already been addressed. Thanks

    • Joe Bunting

      Hi Skipper.

      Great question. I think that’s definitely what you should do if you’re bent on going the free route. I just recommended that to a friend who’s just getting started. With dreamhost, it’s only $10 (wordpress charges $18!) and it’s very easy.

      Again, great for people who are getting started, but for people who are more serious, especially authors trying to build their platform, there are five main issues:

      1. You can’t change your design. WordPress.com limits the amount of themes you use and, for advanced users, you can’t change the code.

      2. Plug-ins. There are so many amazing plug-ins for wordpress, many of which we’re going to talk about later in this series, but unfortunately, you can’t use them on wordpress.com. Sad face.

      3. Ads. Sometimes wordpress.com shows ads on your pages. You don’t get that money. To turn them off costs $30. Yuck. That’s like 1/3 of hosting alone.

      There are a few other things, but for me, personally, that’s enough to turn me off to it. And the lack of design flexibility means you can tell what a wordpress.com blog is, usually. They all look pretty similar.

  11. Unisse Chua

    I actually started my blog on WordPress as a free blog too. But eventually I thought about making it bigger and more flexible. With the free WordPress blogs, there are some restraints. I was lucky to know a friend who actually owns a hosting account that has a big bandwidth and he agreed to let me bunk in with him. So I only had to spend on the domain with a discount (because of a promo).

    My self-hosted blog started on October 2011, 6 months after I opened my free blog. And I think it’s better to have a self-hosted blog. 🙂

    Great post Joe!

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Nice, Unisse!

  12. khaalidah

    I had no idea that people saw the difference and made first hand judgments because of them.
    That said, one thing that for me, is the mark of a great blog and a not so great blog is the amount of “stuff” I see once the page has loaded. A cluttered looking blog/website makes it difficult to focus on the post and I may just migrate away. Thanks for this eye opener and your research.

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Great point. I love a minimalist, clutter free design.

  13. Tony Crowe

    The problem with WordPress is the text editor. Even if one installs the TinyMCE plugin one cannot indent and pagination (sequential numbering of pages) has expired plugins and ones who will not work on themes such as Cohe’s LongForm theme. Aesop does make a chapter and content plugin with which one can rather simply create chapters but one is always fighting the WordPress codex. As a writer i have been looking for blog and software (self-hosted) for over five years. If one could upload Scrivener and run it on a Linux server it would be heaven on Earth. I have tried every piece of blog software on all my Softaculous installers on both shared and VPS servers with no luck finding indent and pagination. It is something that I think a writer who periodically self-publishes would love to have available but no one has created such a boon.

    Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. How to (Quickly) Install Wordpress on DreamHost - [...] I posted about why get­ting a self-hosted WordPress blog will help you build a pro­fes­sional plat­form, I've got­ten a…
  2. 16 Essential Wordpress Plugins for Authors - [...] highly func­tional. Plugins are tools that do both, and they are one of the biggest rea­sons to upgrade from…
  3. How to Post to Many WordPress Blogs What You Own | BlogSeries Reviews - [...] Affiliate Marketing ArticlesMonthly Round-up: February 2012Want to Look Like an Amateur [...]
  4. Amateurs blogs | Barkingboxers - [...] Want to Look Like an Amateur? Get a Free Blog.If you don’t self-host your blog, you will be judged…
  5. How Long Should Your Blog Post Be - […] if  you write the “perfect” length, if you’re on an amateurish blog platform like Blogger, WordPress.com, or Wix, you’ll…

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Say Yes to Practice

Join over 450,000 readers who are saying YES to practice. You’ll also get a free copy of our eBook 14 Prompts:

Popular Resources

Books By Our Writers

Headspace
- J. D. Edwin
Surviving Death
- Sarah Gribble
5
Share to...