If you only blog for family and friends, have no intention of generating a wide readership, or simply can't be bothered at working with your blog, then the answer is no, and you can ignore the rest of this post. I won't hold it against you! However, if you have any intention on becoming a serious blogger, then my answer to this is "YES DEFINITELY!".
Although this particular blog is relatively new (at the time of writing this post), I have been blogging in various places for over three years now. From what I've seen, read and personally experienced, having a custom domain name for your blog is a very good way to show your readers that you are a serious blogger who cares about what they write. It can also have many other benefits too, which I'll explain about shortly.
Having a free hosted blog address such as yourblog.wordpress.com or myblog.blogspot.com is perfectly fine when you're first starting out, but can become the blogging equivalent of having an AOL or Yahoo address, and may well imply that you don't care enough about your blogging identity to pay a few pounds for something more.
There are many options to purchasing a custom domain, and your choice depends on a number of factors:
- The blogging platform you use
- How much control you would like over your blog's performance and appearance
- How much you are willing to spend!
As you may be aware, I have chosen to publish my Blogger blog to a custom domain, which Blogger hosts for me. This is probably the least expensive and simplest method of having a custom domain for my blog. Bloggers on other platforms may have to choose a different option: Wordpress users would need to purchase a hosting package and host their blog software on their new domain; Typepad bloggers would need to map their new domain to their Typepad blog in addition to the blogging fees, and so on.
The choice is a very personal one, and my choice may not suit others so well. For example, one of my other blogs is a self-hosted Wordpress blog; I chose this option so that I would also have storage space to upload files to my domain, have extra "pages" in my blog to make it a more functional "website" for my content, and also to have maximum control over my add-ons and widgets. With both this and my Glamumous blog, I have realised that the new Blogger software is more adequate for my needs, and that the hosting is much more simplified.
Of course, there are many exceptions to my "rule" that successful blogs need a custom domain name; many popular blogs are hosted at shared Blogspot, Wordpres and Typepad domains because their content is great and readers keep coming back for more. But in my humble opinion, having a custom domain can really help your popularity.
Here's one final note: if you do intend to have a custom domain for your blog, do this sooner rather than later as it really avoids many of the pitfalls of redirecting readers, updating your blog address at various sites, and moving images/files/etc from one server to another. Trust me, it's worth the effort!