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Prolific edtech blogger Richard Byrne recently streamed a Google+ Hangout on Air to answer questions he receives from his readers of Free Technology for Teachers on how he got started, how he manages his blogging routine, how he generates income and his advice to educators that want to set up blogs for professional purposes.  

Richard provides great insights and tips, but I don’t agree with one specific thing he said near the beginning of the hangout and wanted to discuss it here.  It all has to do with a question he was asked, “What do I start with for a blogging platform?”.  

Here is what he says:

I would use WordPress.org (not WordPress.com) and I would run on my own servers or a shared server plan. 

WordPress.com is a free platform, much like Edublogs, for easily starting blogs and WordPress sites. WordPress.org is an open source project where you can use your own servers or a hosting provider – which does give you more flexibility and control.

Here’s why I disagree with Richard’s advice.

Disclosure:  I work for Edublogs.  

1.  Experience

An individual’s blogging experience should always be taken into account.  If someone has never blogged previously, starting off using a self-hosted blog mightn’t be their best option.

There is a learning curve to blogging.  A new blogger’s time is better spent learning how to blog and focusing on publishing posts and building an audience. 

Self-hosting (WordPress.org) is a good option for more experienced bloggers who have worked out how they want to use their blogs.  

2. Cost

Setting up a self-hosted WordPress.org blog on a shared server is more costly than setting up a hosted blog on a blogging service like Edublogs or WordPress.com.  

Richard quotes USD $250/year for a self-hosted blog with a custom domain on the shared servers he uses.  

You could achieve a similar outcome using a custom domain on Edublogs ($39.95/yr + ~$10 for the domain) or WordPress.com ($99/yr).  Custom domains allow you to remove the .edublogs.org or wordpress.com part from the URL and use your own custom domain like myblog.com or  myblog.oursite.com.

It’s a seamless process for readers if you decide to move from hosted WordPress blog to self hosted WordPress blog.  Changing the DNS records on your domain automatically redirects your readers, and your RSS feed, to your blog on the new location.  Content is easily moved using Tools > Export and Tools > Import.

Don’t forget, your time is also valuable and there are costs associated with your time as well.     

Getting Started

My advice if you’re new to blogging is to start off using Edublogs or WordPress.com.  You can start initially on a free blog and upgrade to a custom domain at any time.    

Think carefully about how you want to brand yourself.  Once your blog has an established audience you’re less likely to want to change your blog title and URL. 

A simple option is to use your name in the blog URL or use something that has meaning:

  1. Sue Waters Blog ( http://suewaters.com/ )
  2. Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day ( http://larryferlazzo.edublogs.org/)
  3. The Edublogger ( http://theedublogger.com/ )
  4. Free Technology for Teachers ( http://www.freetech4teachers.com/ )

Work through our series on personal blogging.  It guides you through the process of setting up your own personal blog or professional educator’s blog and can be adapted for any platform. 

Do check out Richard Byrne’s recording from his session!  Richard is an incredible edublogger and his video is packed full of great advice.  

3 Comments

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    Great post.
    I agree to your theory – like for example, a newbie might not be well equipped with the knowledge of handling servers or domains. Hence, free platforms such as wordpress or edublogs are the best.

    However, if the motive of the blog is solely business, one should start off learning about the nitty-gritty of servers/domains and the likes and start off as Richard says.

  2. A couple of points of clarification:
    1. That Hangout was for folks who want to build blogs as part of a business/ as a business. In a classroom setting, I almost always recommend a hosted solution as it is easier for the average person.

    2. The cost that I quoted was not for just one domain. I actually have 10 domains and several sub-domains running on that server plan.

    • Thanks for your clarifications. I watched your video several times and I’m aware that it was targeted that educators that want to build blogs as part of a business or as a business. But I still don’t agree that it is the best advice if they are starting out. It’s much better to provide a list of pros and cons of their options so they can make a more informed decision as to what suits their situation. I’m happy to update the price if you want to provide a cost for one domain.