For quite some time now people and companies alike have been switching to hosting their website using various platforms. Heck there is many that don’t even have a website and only exist on a social platform. I will explain what self-hosted means, why self-hosting is a better option and generally what options one should be looking at using instead.
What do you mean platforms?
The platforms I’m referring to are those software as a service (SaaS) and/or platform as a service (PaaS) that host your website and/or content in a proprietary manner that is fixed/limited that doesn’t allow you to have full control, full ownership and a choice over who, what, where, when and why of your content and configuration. I’m not at all saying SaaS or PaaS is a bad thing one just needs to choose wisely which one to use. To be more specific I’m talking about such platforms as Shopify, Squarespace, Weebly, Wix, WordPress.com, website builders, traditional social media, etc. They all have their own place and benefits but too often people don’t know or have forgotten about self-hosted solution benefits.
What does self-hosted mean?
To install, configure, develop and maintain your own website or web application either hosted on your own hardware and network infrastructure or by using a web hosting provider. You own the domain name, website/web application and have all rights to the content and control.
Reasons Why You Should Be Self-Hosted
1. Own all rights to your content
Ownership is vital, so you have the full control to choose what you do with your content and how you allow others to use it. Most free and paying provider platforms don’t allow this right let alone let you choose how and where the content may be used. A lot enforce you to forfeit the content rights to the platform provider, and you can’t take this right back afterwards.
You have the control to monetize how you see fit and who you want to work with. As a bonus many advertisers, sponsors or affiliates will request to own your domain. There is no real limitations.
3. Full Website Control
There are endless possibilities of choice of how the website will run, look, feel and operate. You get to make all decisions how and where it is hosted. You then can add content and analyze the results. If at some point you want to change to another hosting provider, you can freely move to another hosting provider and take your entire website with you include the domain name. The rules are up to you. The platforms don’t typically allow for this kind of flexibility and control.
4. Integration is Available To All Systems
Integration options have no boundaries. You can pick and choose what, when and where you want to integrate your website into and what communities you wish to be a part of.
5. Identity Control
When using self-hosting you are usually provided with the ability to have your own email addresses using your domain name. This allows for controlling your brand identity which then creates an impression of professionalism and then adds to your credibility. As a plus this applies to all other services you may have that comes with your hosting provider package plan. If you are concerned about mobile access this is not an issue as it just a matter of how it is configured or just simply using the provided web based interface.
6. Better Technical Support
This does vary from hosting provider to hosting provider. Generally though technical support is better because one you’re paying for it, and they are also invested in you. They are not turning you into a product and selling or using your data to make money.
7. SEO / Marketing
When new content is published this is then eventually indexed into search engines. This is great because now more people can find you and your content by searching generally instead of having to know which platform to search on specifically. In return this improves your SEO (search engine optimization) or marketing to get better rankings in the search engine results.
8. More Growth
The options of growth are endless. Need more storage, email addresses, backup storage, database options, etc. it’s just a simple matter of contacting the hosting provider to add the feature or change your package plan. In a lot of cases you even have the ability to add another website under the same package plan at no added cost.
What are my self-hosted options?
This is honestly a tough question to answer. There are so many options out there that sometimes this is the reason why someone ends up using a platform instead of going with a self-hosted solution. I would suggest you first read my post “Different Types of Web Host Explained” to help contribute to choosing which hosting provider you want. Make sure to write a list of requirements and questions you may have.
Here is a list of some directories of hosting providers. Keep in mind some maybe biased to encourage you to use their own services. Just use these sites as place to discover hosting providers, so you can research it out yourself.
I personally use Cirrus Tech Ltd. located in Canada. If by chance you decide to use Cirrus Tech, do consider using my affiliate link when going to make a purchase to help support me.
As for what software you may what to use, this too is quite endless. You can create the website from scratch or choose to use static site generators (SSG) such as Jekyll, Gatsby or Hugo or use a content management system (CMS) such as October, Ghost or WordPress. It all depends on your needs and requirements that will work with your choice of hosting provider.
What about GitHub Pages or GitLab Pages?
This has become big option for a lot of people especially since it’s offered on the free plan along with your own domain. This can work quite well however there are drawbacks to using it. You don’t get all the benefits I listed above and are limited to what you can do. Furthermore, you can’t have dynamic content such as web forms and plugins are restricted. You have to work within the restrictions of the platform. You are at the mercy of what that platform says you can and cannot do. It should be noted yes there is work around for some restrictions and if done legitimately will not violate your terms with the platform. Keep in mind though the intention of the pages feature on these platforms is to support the project software development itself such as a simple marketing website or documentation website.
I have used GitLab Pages for a client and I do admit it is a very cool system and one I would suggest if the website is small, has minimal requirements, and you cannot afford to use a hosting provider even at a low plan of ~$5/monthly CAD.
For a lot of people self-hosting is not something they want to get into for a number of reasons such as more responsibilities, requires technical knowledge, have to do maintenance, have to set up/design/configure website yourself, etc. Which is understandable, but this doesn’t mean you can’t still do self-hosting. You can hire someone to develop the website for you and even do the maintenance. It will be a great investment. The reality is when it comes to fewer responsibilities, this is just false sense of truth. The responsibility is still yours, just when using a platform your allowing someone else to take that control and power away for the sack of convenience. Is this bad? Not necessarily. It all comes down to your circumstances. When first starting one may not have the revenue to afford a self-hosted solution. All I ask is to take what I’ve said into consideration and be aware of what you maybe giving up.
I’m publishing this as part of 100 Days To Offload. You can join in yourself by visiting https://100daystooffload.com.
- Cirrus Tech Ltd., personal affiliate link, hosting provider, Canada
- Content management system, Wikipedia
- Different Types of Web Hosting Explained, published Jan 17, 2021
- GitHub Pages
- GitLab Pages
- Platform as a service (PaaS), Wikipedia
- Search engine optimization (SEO), Wikipedia
- Self-hosting, Wikipedia
- Software as a service (SaaS), Wikipedia
- Static web page (static site generator), Wikipedia
- Web hosting service, Wikipedia
- Web Internet Symbol, britaseifert, photo published Nov 18, 2015
- Website builder, Wikipedia
- Adjust tag #self-hosted to #SelfHosted
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