Q: I want to start a blog for a particular population segment, and I’d like to get sponsors for the blog eventually. My question is this. If I start with a WordPress.com hosted blog just to get some content out there with a readership so that I can then approach sponsors, can I later convert it to a self-hosted blog? Or would it be better just to start as self-hosted? My hope is to start up without the initial cost coming out of my pocket. — Mary
A: It’s not hard to move a site from WordPress.com to your own hosted WordPress blog. WordPress has a built-in tool for exporting and importing. On WordPress.com you can use your own domain name (www.MyGreatSite.com) for a yearly fee, and you can change your site design/layout for a fee. Both are less expensive than the cost of hosting a blog yourself.
I recommend that you upgrade to using your own domain name at the very start. Then, if you eventually move to a self-hosted blog (or if you switch to any other hosted service) and you migrate your existing posts and pages to the new space, the posts will have the same URLs (web addresses, like http://www.bigbigdesign.com/2010/02/faq-how-should-i-start-my-blog/). This is important because Google and other search engines will have indexed the content of your site using those URLs; if the page address were to change, then the value of those indexed pages would be lost. Eventually the search engines would find the pages again, but your site rank would drop in the meantime, and your traffic with it. Using your own domain name helps you retain your site’s value. The cost for using your own domain name for your WordPress.com is about $10/year, a worthwhile investment. You’ll also have to pay a yearly fee to register the domain name.
The design of the blog may not be a big deal when you’re just getting used to blogging — or indeed ever. The blog content you write is the important part.
Two key things you cannot do with WordPress.com are run Google Analytics and run your own ads. The concern about not having Google Analytics is that on WordPress.com your traffics statistics will be limited to those WordPress.com provides for you. These show you the basic number of hits and visitors per day. If your prospective sponsors wanted to know more than your raw traffic counts, you’d have some challenges.
WordPress.com says that in the future you’ll be able to show your own ads on your blog. If that happens, then using the hosted WordPress.com will become much more appealing.
Photo credit: “Britain Going Blog Crazy – Metro Article” by Annie Mole on Flickr