Should You Move from to

Differences between and WordPress.orgIf you’re on a site, you’ve probably visited another blog and wished you could make your blog look like theirs, get the add-on they have, or create a portfolio to display or sell your books. Maybe you’ve just gotten tired of running across other blogs that look exactly like yours. The solution is simple, but not for everyone.

Because so many of you asked about switching from to in the comments of my post on the Four Little-Known Factors that Could Destroy Your Blog’s Chances of Success, I asked Melinda VanLone, who recently made the switch, to write a series on whether you should transfer your blog and to walk you through the steps. I’m very excited to welcome her here today!

Decision Time: Should You Move from to

So you’re building your author platform and have decided a website/blog is the way to go. Good idea! You’ve probably noticed a lot of free services out there for blog hosting—Blogger, WordPress, Tumblr, just to name a few. Free is an awesome word, but in this case, free actually comes with a price.

If you’re on the fence about whether to go with a free service or to ante up and pay for a hosted website, here are some things to consider:

1. Is this a career or a hobby?

Professional writers have a professional face to show the world. This is a business, and you are an entrepreneur. A free or blogger blog doesn’t look professional. If this is a hobby for you, and that book you’re writing is just something you do for fun, then go with a free blog. If this is a career, and you hope to one day make a living from your writing, then go ahead and pretend you are the author you hope to someday be. Paying for a hosted website isn’t that expensive, and it’s worth it to start out looking professional vs. trying to fake it later. 

If you’re serious about your platform, change from your free site to a hosted site as soon as you possibly can. The earlier you do this, the less angst there will be.

2. Are you tech savvy, or do you have friends who are?

Everyone wants to keep costs down, and when you’re just starting out there’s probably not a big budget to spend on website development. That’s okay. There are many ways to have a professional website that don’t cost an arm and a leg.

If you are tech savvy, you can always design your own with software like Dreamweaver. If not, there are thousands (literally) of templates available free or for low cost that will make you look like you know what you’re doing, even if you don’t. It’s nothing to be afraid of. Embrace the madness and dive in. Having a friend who knows HTML is always a bonus, but it’s not required. You can do this.

3. Do you like having control over your stuff, or are you okay with someone else owning it?

If you go with a free host, the downside is they have limited options for customization, limited plug-ins, limited space (although they will sell you more), limited templates, limited…everything. That’s why it’s free. I’m not complaining. If you are a hobbyist and just doing a personal blog for family and friends, I’d definitely go with the free stuff.

If you are a professional, then sooner or later you’ll run into that brick wall. You’ll want to add a neat analytics plug in, or a calendar thing, or the latest gadget, and you’ll find that you can’t. Or you’ll see a fun website template, and discover you can’t use it because it’s not supported by the free platform you’ve chosen. Or you’ll love everything but the font. Guess what? You can’t change it. Unless, of course, you pay a small fee, and even then you’re stuck with a very limited list of options. If you like having control over how your site and brand looks, then paying for a host is the way to go.

What other concerns do you have about switching from a to a site? What do those of you who are already on love about it?

Melinda VanLone Fantasy AuthorMelinda VanLone is a science fiction/fantasy author with a Master’s degree in Publishing. She spent too many years to confess to working in graphic design and production before moving on to explore life as a writer. She’s a Photoshop expert, technology addict, and MMORPG lover. Melinda’s current work-in-progress, The Demon You Know, will be published in 2012. You can visit her website at

Be sure to subscribe by email so you don’t miss the rest of Melinda’s series.

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: Make sure you read Kristen Lamb’s blog on June 1st for something really cool, and then come back here next Wednesday to find out how I’m involved. I’m incredibly excited about what Kristen has planned and what it will provide for writers and other creatives.

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