If You Want Free
Free blog providers have different ways of organizing free sites. On WordPress.com, your completely free blog address would be located in a subdomain, like
syadventure.wordpress.com. On SailBlogs, your free site would be located in a subfolder, like
www.sailblogs.com/member/syadventure/. If you think these longer domain names are not personal enough and are too hard to remember, registering your own domain generally costs under $15/year but can be half that; competitive pricing is widely available for domain name registration.
Your Own Domain Name
If we suppose your sailboat’s name is Adventure, you will probably find that the domain address,
adventure.com, is already taken, but you could prefix that with
sy (for sailing yacht), and try registering
syadventure.net. Domain name registration is even free with some paid hosting plans. Hosting, on a shared server, can be found at under $10 to $30 per month, giving you complete control over your site’s look, feel, and interactivity.
If complete control is what you want, pay to host your own domain, then install your own blog software on your account. Most hosts offer one–click installation of the most popular platform, WordPress.
If that sounds too complicated, and you want the simplest option to have your site appear at your own custom domain, then upgrade a free WordPress.com or Blogger.com site to appear at your custom domain address. This is called
mapping your site to your personal domain. Your blog remains actually hosted on WordPress.com (or Blogger.com), but the visitor finds it at
syadventure.com. Your free WordPress.com or Blogger.com site has its limitations. Read on to learn about them.
Your Own Domain Name And Your Own Hosting
You wouldn't bother to get your own hosting without also registering your own cool domain name. By paying a web hosting company to host your site, you get the most control over your site. Installing your own blogging software on your own domain that you pay to have hosted yields more options and flexibility. Yes, this option costs more and is more complicated. This is how you end up with a beautiful custom site such as that of Dorade. If you like simple, skip to “Keep it Simple” below. To begin this process, you would register an available domain name (
syadventure.com), for a fee, then purchase web hosting for another fee. Setting up your new domain and its name servers is called,
provisioning. Companies such as GoDaddy, WPEngine, or MediaTemple can handle the entire process for you. Provisioning your domain can require a few days of waiting while your host sets up your account and DNS servers around the globe get to know where to find
Once your own hosted domain is provisioned, you can use your host’s web interface to install your own blogging platform. You may choose from among thousands of free themes (your blog’s look and “feel”) and blog plugins (
widgets) which personalize your blog and can make it interactive. To make your life easier, you would make sure your host supports your preferred blogging platform, if that platform runs on (or is) installable software, such as WordPress.
What are the major differences between hosting your blog on your own domain and signing up for a free blog? To summarize, if you register your own domain, its address will be something like
syadventure.com. Also, if you install WordPress on your own domain, you may install your preference of great
plugins that enhance the blog and you can choose from a vast assortment of (both paid and free) blog themes. Because most plugins are independently created, WordPress won’t allow you to install them in your free
syadventure.wordpress.com blog, even if you have paid to have that appear at www.syadventure.com. Only by paying to have your own hosted domain do you get complete control over theme choice, plugin installation, and whether your blog has ads (though some
free blogs offer no ads for
premium paid accounts, too). Most free blogs use ad revenue to offset the cost of providing free blogs.
Keep it Simple – Free Blogs Compared
If you don’t need commercial grade bells and whistles, and don’t need your own domain, you still have great options; here are some key features of some top choices.
SailBlogs distinguishes its turn–key boaters’ blogs with position reporting and a cruising blog community. For nominal expense (click to SailBlogs account features comparison), you can add “post by email” capability, enhanced map tracking and photo galleries. You’ll have modest alternatives for your blog’s look and feel. Here is one sample blog and here’s another. One drawback is you have limited ability to give your site a unique look and feel. Sailblogs sites often look similar to each other.
WordPress is not only an excellent blog platform (e.g. the software) but also a site offering free WordPress blogs running on that software. WordPress.com (click to features) is the domain hosting the free blogs. WordPress.com also offers
pay more/get more options. The WordPress community of users (at WordPress.org) includes many knowledgeable users and free tech support for WordPress software. You may use WordPress on the WordPress.com domain for free, you can explore the
pay more options, and keep your blog hosted on WordPress.com, or you can install the same free open-source WordPress software on your own hosted
syadventure.com domain (paying for your own hosting, not merely mapping a free WordPress.com hosted site to your own
syadventure.com domain). If your blog is hosted on WordPress.com, you may not install scripts (
plugins), but if you pay a third party for hosting and install WordPress on that
self-hosted domain, that limitation is eliminated. You also then have a vast array of blog themes to choose from, which give your site its characteristic appearance. Spam fighting software is available to keep spammers from posting comments on your blog, whether you blog on WordPress.com or on your own
syadventure.com domain. Look for a plugin called,
WordPress also lets you post via email. Here is a sample WordPress blog on the WordPress.com domain. Here are instructions on how to have your WordPress.com (
syadventure.wordpress.com) hosted free site appear at your own registered domain (
syadventure.com), and here’s a site (txsail.org) that has done just that, mapped its WordPress.com hosted site to its own domain, for an extra fee, about $13/year at present. If you keep your blog hosted on WordPress.com, you will not have access to many of the great plug-ins which extend WordPress, but you can choose from about 75 themes to style your WordPress.com blog.
Currently, WordPress.com hosted blogs do not offer the built-in geo-mapping tools of SailBlogs. But installing that same WordPress software on your own domain gives you the freedom to select your preference from thousands of paid and free themes and plugins. One such plugin is the geo-mapping utility, “uMapper.” This site you are now reading is an example of a blog not hosted on WordPress. Here is a sample blog using
uMapper Here are instructions on how to set up your own domain with WordPress installed on your own paid hosting account.
You might ask about using your personal Facebook page to document your voyage. Your personal Facebook page turns out to be a great way to keep in touch with other yachties you meet in your travels. But people do not seem to be accustomed to reading long posts on Facebook; they expect a paragraph or two, not several pages of exposition. Furthermore, adding more than one photo to a Facebook post can be awkward; you'd have to split the photos to their own album. Finally, depending on your personal Facebook privacy settings, important things you learn on your voyage, and would be happy to share, will likely be hidden from the rest of the world. So you might just update your Facebook page to say you've posted something new on your blog, and from there, link to your blog so your friends can catch up. This way your own Facebook personal page privacy settings will not impede shareable information flow. As far as creating a special Facebook page for your boat goes, the posting of photos in a story is still awkward. Your own site is the way to go.