Blogging for small business: Should you use a free blog?

One of the most frequently asked questions I get about business blogging and website creation is “Should I use a free blog? There are, afterall, so many free blog providers out there.”

My answer to this question is a simple “No”.

I understand that the main concern for small business (especially startups) is cashflow and cost. If you can get something for free, why pay money to do the same thing?

Well, you don’t really get “the same thing”.

Free blogging / web host have three main limitations, in my opinion.

#1 Web Hosting Space

While many providers like Google (Google Pages) offer more than enough web space for you to do whatever you want, most others the provide more flexibility and control (like those which allow you to FTP in to upload your pages) limit you in terms of web space and bandwidth.

With multimedia getting ubiquitous on the net with podcasts and video streaming all around, this small web space might just run out.

#2 Branding

When you work on a free platform, there is NO WAY that the provider is going to give you a free domain name like Most of the time, the address given to you will be a subdomain, like

This is not much of a problem in terms of search engine marketing, because subdomains are considered as a different address altogether, but consider how it would look like to your prospective clients? If you are serious about your business, wouldn’t it be better tell people your website is “”, instead of “”?

Also, when you are hosted on someone else’s server, there is absolutely no guarantee when that service might just terminate your account for some thing you might have accidentally done wrong. Again, if you are serious about your business, you don’t want that to happen to your website.

A domain name will cost you US$8.95 a year. So even if you don’t want to get a web hosting service, at least, get your own domain name and then map your domain over to your blog, or do a redirect.

#3 Template Restrictions

When you host your blog on a free service like WordPress, for example, you do not get to do much with your template. One of the most wonderful things about WordPress is the ability to extend it with the different themes and Plug-Ins. Unfortunately, if you host your blog with, you are pretty much stuck to the themes they provide.

Of course, this is not to say that you cannot do well with a account. Two great examples of very amazing tweaking of are Lorelle’s and Engtech’s.

As Lorelle puts it recently

Sometimes your limitations force you to be more creative. They also help you learn that there is a lot more you can do with a free blog than you might have thought.

If you are a CSS whiz, you might give a go tweaking the template for, but I’ll just say the level of technical expertise is “not common” 🙂

Other blog platforms like Blogger do allow you to modify the template all you want, and you are also free to put advertisements on a blogger blog.

So, what’s best?

In my opinion, I would rather spend time working on the website contents, rather than tweaking all these details. I personally recommend (and I use it myself) domains registered with GoDaddy, and a reseller account with Hostgator.

As far as hosting is concerned – and I’m sure many other webmasters would agree with me, the good ones don’t come cheap.


  1. Hey! Kian Ann,

    Your blog, this is now ranked 9 in Google for the search term blog marketing!

    On top of that, is ranked 13th for a very generic search term marketing training.

    Well done!

    P.S. I think this is a free blog that made it into the SERP –, maybe its not really free.

  2. Hi Shi,

    Thank you!

    The success in search optimization for this blog is the result of applying the principles you taught in the SEO workshop. So, I should thank YOU instead! 🙂

    Blogs under the domain “” are TypePad blogs, so it is not free.

  3. You *definitely* shouldn’t use a free blogging provider for a small business… you lose all kinds of ability to control your own destiny.

    At the very least you should get your own domain name off the bat so that you have the opportunity to move hosts transparently.

  4. Thanks Engtech,

    Now actually both Blogger and WordPress allow you to map a domain over to a blog hosted on their servers. I haven’t explored the Blogger one, but WordPress charges just $10 a year for that mapping.

    So, if you are confident with your CSS tweaking skills, you can get a website up with $8.95 (domain) + $10 (mapping) a year, and nobody will know its hosted on!

  5. Pingback: Should you use a free blog? « Jalaj P. Jha

  6. Hey Kian Ann,

    I’ve used my own domain for my blog for a while now and I just think that it adds a little more ‘professionalism’.

    Obviously sites like blogger are great for people who just want to have a blog, but depending on your needs and potential market, having a blog on your own domain is the way to go.

    Just my 2 cents 🙂


  7. Hey Richard,

    Yes, your own domain certainly helps to show that you are professional in your dealings. Blogger actually allows you to host it on your own domain, whether it is through domain mapping or FTP

  8. Hi Kian Ann,

    I’ve got a site that i’m thinking of turning into a blog for my offline business. And after reading thru and comparing the prices for hostgator, they really win hands down..

    my question is: are their support services good? downtime? i was thinking of going to their site, but it might be biased so i thought i ask a third party.and by the way, my domain is a site…is hostgator able to host country level domains as well?

    thanks dude.

  9. if you look for another good webhosting that you can host you’r blog, you can write me an e-mail and i will give you a very fast and reliable webhosting package… have you any newsletter that i can get?
    thanks for an answer

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