Hackers: Great movie but sucks in real life

So, you’ll notice the website is changed.  If you’ve been with me a while then you’ll recognize the theme as an old one I had used.  Last week someone hacked my account and put up a phishing site.  My site was shut down by my host (BlueHost) and when I called in they said *I* had to clean it up.  Now, I design websites and I can write HTML, Javascript, php, etc. but I know fuck all about the backend of all this.  I thought that was why I was paying $80+ a year for a host!  I was wrong.  Not only was it my responsibility to fix the hack but if I didn’t BlueHost had a three strikes policy where they would have to permanently remove my account as a security measure.  The solution I was given was to hire a website security firm to find my site’s weakness, disable it, and continue to monitor the site for weaknesses.  All this at $19.99 a month.

I don’t use advertising but even if I did most bloggers barely break even!  I have the Amazon store which has made me $3.54 in three years, lol.  And I can’t even access that because Amazon doesn’t pay out until you hit $25.  I use it much more for its convenience as a way to highlight book recommendations than because I hope to recoup my blogging costs.  So, my blog doesn’t pay out in $ – it costs me $100 a year to blog.  But the pay out in non-monetary terms is very great for me.  My blog is my counselor, my baby book, my mirror, my sounding board, and my mommy community.  I have gotten so much from my blog that it is well worth the expenditures but there comes a point when the financial strain is too much.  Thank goodness there are free options for blogging.

So I’m back with wordpress.com.  I wanted to break down my decision making in case it ever helps anyone else:

  1. Option #1: Blogger.com – Blogger is owned by Google and I puffy heart the heck out of Google.  My blog was on blogger for some time before someone flagged it as inappropriate or having adult content.  Google adds a warning page to an “adult” blog.  There is no customer service so disputing this false claim was nearly impossible.  They say they review these but it has been over a year and my blog is still flagged.  I can’t abide by the randomness of this process.  I don’t want to be afraid of posing a breastfeeding picture and having someone deem it “obscene.”
    • Pros: Blogger is completely free (besides buying a custom domain name for $10) and completely open. You can access the full HTML, you can add any widget, javascript code, or plugin you like.  You can advertise to your heart’s content with Google Ads or any other advertising scheme.  Blogger blogs usually rank higher on Google Searches.
    • Cons: Google has no customer service.  Their only help is the forum which are mostly user-supported and rarely have a Google staff member’s input.  Flagging of content is user-driven (e.g. anyone can flag any blog for any reason) and because the system is automated it becomes a guilty until proven innocent type of thing.
  2. Option #2: Self-hosted WordPress.org. – WordPress is a piece of software that you can run on your own server or servers at a host.  Hosting costs vary as do the customer service, speed, storage, and perks that come with the hosting. Once you download the wordpress software on your server you have regular WordPress.com functionality plus full acces to HTML, php, and other files.
    • Pros: Complete freedom.  If you can code it you can make it.  There is also a huge community of developers making plugins that add a nearly never ending stream of customizations. You can advertise anyway you like and you content can be anything you like as well.
    • Cons:  That freedom comes with increased security risks and your host may or may not offer security. If you are not tech-savvy you can “break” your site and need expert help to fix it.
  3. Option #3: WordPress.com – WordPress.com is the free platform for using the WordPress.org software.  Here, WordPress.com hosts your blog on their servers. It is free with additional addons like $12 for a custom domain (in addition to the $10 for registering said domain name).
    • Pros:  Wordpress.com is completely free and has excellent customer support. Their security is second to none and they will help you with details.
    • Cons:  Less freedom.  You can not access any of the php files and the number and type of widgets/plugins you can use is limited.  You can’t use javascript at all which makes up lots of the “cool” things you can implement (like my use of feedburner).  You can not advertise on WordPress.com (although you can use Amazon if you are doing book reviews and you can link to something like cafepress if they are you designs).
For me option #3 was the way to go.  Option #1 is so appealing to me because as a web designer and avid control freak I like to tinker.  Wordpress.com will allow me less (or no) tinkering and I had to pay for using my domain name ($12) which would be free on Google (you have to pay for registration which is $10 on either platform).  When it comes down to it though the idea that Google can shut me down so arbitrarily is just untenable to me.
Of course I know bloggers who use Blogger.com with no problem!  Lauren @ HoboMama is on blogger and has a beautiful design with breastfeeding photos galore and she’s never been flagged (rightfully so).  Also, you could probably do Option #2 for decades and never get hacked – it is just the luck of the draw.
I just wanted to share my experiences. Oh, and please pardon the mess while I transition!
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