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Why You Should Never Build Your Site on a Free Subdomain


  1. Jon DiPietro says:

    Absolutely baffles me that people don’t spend the $60 per year to be master of their domain. I talk to so many friends and family members who insist they can’t afford it and/or can’t find the time. Ridiculous and disappointing.

  2. Rae,

    You have 2 typos in your article. I think you meant to reference yoursite.wordpress.com not yoursite.wordpress.org. Just wanted to clarify so your readers aren’t confused since .com is the hosted websites and .org is the project site for self hosted installs.

  3. Rae Hoffman-Dolan says:

    Fixed Ryan – thanks :)

  4. Tom Wilkowske says:

    There’s a parallel in digital marketing/social media – SMBs deciding to make their entire web presence their Facebook Page. All it takes is a few anecdotes of wild success (NY restaurant Tweets it’s open during megastorm and is swamped), plus the “free” use of the platform. Of course it’s only free if you don’t value your time or personal privacy …

  5. @Jon DiPietro, it can be done on even less than $60 a year. A domain name can be registered for $10 per year and a small shared hosting package can be had for as low as $25 per year. Total investment of $35 per year, or 10 cents per day!

  6. Losing websites to never-never-land that were hosting on Geocities, Tripod, etc. was what ultimately led me to buying my own domain name back in 2000! I’ve never looked back. Excellent article Rae.

  7. @Tom – I’ve seen lots of people doing that and talked many a client off that ledge. It’s so wrong and so dangerous for so many reasons. Makes me sad really cause they genuinely believe they’re doing “social” right that way…

  8. True Story: Local country (EU now) ISP runs free hosting with subdomains service for more than 10 years … This year when ISP was bought from a big wireless company their management decide to cut costs by banning the international traffic and thats include googlebot…

  9. I’m not gonna lie, I did rock a blogspot.com address for awhile….when I was first getting started. But I quickly learned the benefits of owning your own domain and would NEVER go back. Running your site from a free domain to me is kinda like advertising for someone else first…instead of yourself. No thanks!

  10. Krista Summitt says:


    I’ve got both free and hosted domains right now. For me, the reason the free services are so attractive is the ease of use of the dashboard interfaces. I mean I’m fine with the WordPress self-hosted dashboard, but anytime I have to use the cpanel interface? I feel like I’m diving into a black hole. If hosting companies could come up with a ‘cpanel lite’ that doesn’t have all the Ruby/Python whatever stuff, I’d go paid all the way. I hate to think of novice small businesses having to figure out how to point their new paid address at the right DNS’s and install WordPress using Softalicious. If there’s a way to avoid the Cpanel, please let me know.

  11. Excellent post Rae. As someone that specializes in link acquisition, I couldn’t have put it better myself. I can’t stand it when sites waste link value on free hosting, canonical errors, and external blog hosting.

  12. Dawn Wentzell says:

    Or, like Tumblr, they could inexplicably go down for several days, taking your entire online presence with it.

  13. Wow. Thank you for opening my eyes to what could be (and has been – Tumblr in the comments)! Yikes! ….That said, would you consider a follow up blog guiding us through what to do instead?
    Thanks again!

  14. I do not have a sub-domain, but, registered my domain through my hosting service- could you elaborate on the perils of registering a domain through a web-hosting company and what are the alternatives? Thank you.

  15. Ash Nallawalla says:

    Rae, Great post. An example for “They could get banned” is co.cc – while it isn’t free AFAIK, Google deleted the entire domain and subdomains from its index.

  16. I have 7 blogs on blogger and they are mature…In June of 2011 I had some problems with my title not matching my URL on my one blog. To keep the present URL that was ranked very well I would need to change the title. I kept the title and changed the URL….I lost my ranking on Google, I lost all of my backlinks…it was a nightmare…I removed all of the backlinks and my blog was like it was brand new, no ranking on google and no traffic coming from anywhere…the turn around time was just under 60 days and now my blog is back and ranked very well. I publish a post and it is ranked immediately…I suppose there is good and bad to blogging on free sites..but for me the positives out way the negatives. It is really doubtful that blogger will shut down….you could get banned, but again that is doubtful especially if your blog is detailed, informative and not created around spam. A word to the wise is to have a back up of all of your content on your blog.

  17. I’m in the process of moving a massive blog for a client from wordpress.com to a standalone domain. It’s possible and quite easy, everyone should do it if they have one there. WordPress also has a “redirect service” where you pay $12 and they’ll redirect your old blog to the new domain.
    I’ll never know why people waste time buildling up fully fledged sites on free domains either.. just makes life all the more harder when the inevitable happens and you want to move it.

  18. Alex Aguilar says:

    Although it’s always nice to have free hosting services for experimenting and learning how to run a blog, serious bloggers will want a professional hosting service with their own domain to make any sort of an impact. If you’re planning to do this blogging/affiliate-marketing thing for real, you’re going to have to shell out for hosting and a domain name. There’s no getting around it.

  19. Al Spaulding says:

    When I decided to enter the blogosphere sometime last year I debated going with either blogger or wordpress.com and then decided heavily against it due in large part to exactly some of the points you made here. I caution friends and family against doing this all the time. In essence you do not have 100% control over your content and being the selfish person I am in regards to my writing I would lose my mind if I had to adhere to the stipulations placed on me by one of the hosted blog services. Thanks for the insight and for reiterating once again what every serious blogger should already know. ::smiles::

  20. Great article. One question I have though is regarding free subdomains with links to our main site (www.mydomain.com) …

    Are inbound links TO mydomain.com from free subdomains as valuable as links from regular domains? For example..




    TO: mydomain.com?


    • George – that subdomain, in today’s day and age, needs to build up it’s own authority to be able to PASS any to the root, outside domain it’s linking to. In a word – can you use free subdomains to pass any links of actual, defensible value to your core website without promoting the hell out of said subdomain and getting it links of value as well? No.

  21. Antonio Bellido says:

    Really a must read. I remember having a blog back in 2005 hosted on a subdomain, something that was pretty popular when Blogs were growing fast everywhere. I was making 10 USD a day through adsense and suddenly they shut down all the service for free blogs… the virtually disappeared… I learnt the lesson and bought my own domains… thanks to that I have been able to gravitate between 4 and 6 pagerank since then…

    People probably happen to feel scared from being committed to pay every year for domain name renewals and hosting fees… understandable but really sad.


  22. I definitely agree with everything you’re saying here, but I think there’s a little bit of confusion about whether you’re advising against:

    * Blogging with a free subdomain URL
    * Blogging on a free platform

    Because the two are totally different. For example, you can blog on WordPress.com for free but pay to have a custom URL. You’re still using a free platform that could hijack/remove your content, but your URL may be custom.

    I guess I just first read your article thinking you were saying you should always at least pay to get your own custom domain name, regardless of the platform you choose. But then some of your points made it sound like you were actually suggesting you always pay for a hosting account AND a custom domain name. Maybe that could be clarified. :)

    • At minimum – bare minimum, I’d recommend having your own domain. When it comes to “platform,” I’d personally always go with my own separate hosting account. You can get hosting for $5-10 a month. Blogging (to make money) is a low barrier to entry cost wise, but it’s not “free” – assuming you want to remain in control of the hard work you’ve done. :)

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