The Answer: WordPress.com
And now here’s why I believe this to be so… (I hate it when other bloggers make you read a 2000+ word article just to all come to the same conclusion all the other bloggers are coming to… Or worse yet, they give you a plethora of pros and cons but never actually provide a firm opinion on one or the other because, allegedly, they’ve given you enough information to make your own decision… Snore…
When I did this Google search for myself, I wanted a firm answer, not just more information to confuse and confound me. So here goes…
If you’re just starting out with a brand new blog, or maybe considering starting an additional website, if you’re anything like me, you ask yourself this question almost every time.
I have Googled “WordPress.com vs WordPress.org” sooooo many times, it’s unbelievable because one would think that I ought to know the answer to that dilemma…
But on same days I still struggle…
Well, until now. And now? No more!
I’ll be honest, it appears to me that 99.99% of the people who write the posts that claim to answer this question ALL wrote them with an angle to make an affiliate commission on something, be it web hosting, or a WordPress theme, or whatever.
Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with making money from affiliate commissions (I do it as well), I do however have a problem with putting making a buck over providing unbiased, helpful information.
Their general consensus is this:
- WordPress.com is bad for “serious bloggers” because it doesn’t provide you with as much “functionality” as WordPress.org aka “self-hosted WordPress site”.
- WordPress.org is great!!! If you want to be a “real blogger” and make thousands of dollars a month blogging as your profession, then you have to go with a self-hosted installation of WordPress.
It’s all baloney, in my never-to-be humble opinion (on this topic anyway).
What they don’t always tell you, and if they do, it’s probably hidden away somewhere in tiny little font at the bottom or maybe the top right corner of the sidebar on their page masked by an annoying scrolling social media icon bar that’s constantly trying to trick you into mistakenly clicking on it.
Sorry, I digressed… Anyway, what they don’t make abundantly clear to you is that their well thought out breakdown of the pros and cons of using the self-hosted version of WordPress versus the .com version is that just about every clickable link in their post is an affiliate link that will bring them a little, or a lot, of income when YOU click on it to go and hopefully sign up for whatever service they’re
Here’s what they’ll tell you…
First buy a domain name, they say. Then
buy get your own hosting, they say. Then buy select a premium WordPress theme with powerful SEO capabilities, they say.
And on and on it goes.
Don’t know how to patch all of the above together? Ah but of course…
Buy Hire a web developer to help you with it, they say. And not just any ol’ web developer… No!! Why, you’ll most likely need a WordPress web developer of course… A specialist in the platform, they say…
Before you know it, your dream of your Starting Your Blog in 5 Easy Steps is going up in smoke because you have a website that you just can’t figure out… You have plugins that you’re not really sure what to do with, but they told you to get them because that’s what real bloggers who make, or want to make, money have on their own blogs.
Stop! Enough! Don’t Fall For It Anymore…
I am speaking from my own very personal experience because I have read many such articles, too many to count in fact… Different
bloggers authors, same story…
And yes, I fell for it and followed their advice, and I am living to regret it even now as I join their ranks in writing my own “pros and cons of the .com vs the .org WordPress” post.
I’ve done it both ways… This site you’re on now is a WordPress.com hosted site. Almost every other website I currently have is self-hosted using the “free” WordPress.org platform. I put “free” in quotes because even though the WordPress tool itself is free, that’s where the free train ends… Everything else you need to get a functional website or blog using it will cost you something… Including your time…
I’ve devoted the majority of my website and blogging years to self-hosted WordPress sites and really only about the last year of blogging have I devoted to the former i.e. WordPress.com sites, so I know that of which I speak.
I already gave you my final conclusion at the very beginning of this post so here are my reasons for bucking the trend and going against the “wisdom of the crowd”.
If all you want to do is blog or create a website around whatever it is you desire, be it a passion blog, a hobby blog, a business website, or some other for-profit (or even not-for-profit) venture, then don’t give yourself more to think about than you already have to.
It will be easiest if I just counter the usual self-hosted pros that everyone else is so gung-ho about.
#1 ~ Professional Domain Name
Seriously…? Anyone can buy a domain name from a number of different registrars and then point that domain to wherever they’d like. WordPress.com allows you to use a domain name you already own and bought outside of their ecosystem.
And your domain name always belongs to you, they will never take it over from you.
#2 ~ Own Your Own Real Estate On The Web, Lest You Lose It
Here they try to tell you that if you don’t host your own website on your own host that you could possibly lose all your content if and when you decide to “upgrade” to a big-girl or big-boy website, so instead, just upgrade from the get-go and don’t risk losing anything.
Wrong…! A hacker could wipe you site clean or hijack it in no time and you’ll lose all your content anyway.
I know this to be true because I suffered this very fate on a website I owned – aRealPharmacist.com (RIP) – and to this day, the perpetrator is still holding my site hostage. I had the WordPress.org installed on the site and hosted it on HostGator and they were about as helpful in preventing the hijack and recovering the hacked site as a cute little kitten is to a drowning giraffe in the Everglades…
I think you get my point.
With WordPress.com they have backup services and security features to protect your site from being hacked and hijacked so if this were to ever happen you can easily turn to their Happiness Engineers for support and help getting back up and running.
Also, if I ever want to leave WordPress.com, they make it so super easy to move to a self-hosted WordPress site without losing any of your content and even if you don’t move to a self-hosted WordPress site, your content is still there and still yours even if you downgrade to a free WP.com account.
And it remains there until YOU close down that site. At least, that has been my experience. I have moved a site from .com to .org before.
#3 ~ Bulk Up With Plugins That Will Solve Every Possible Problem & Perform Every Possible Function You Need
Well, they might say… “You could have prevented the aforementioned site hijacking if you’d just had the right plugins installed…”
Okay, let’s talk about plugins now.
You’ll hear it told that plugins extend the functionality of your WordPress website… And yes, indeed they do… But, what in the world…?
Can you even define “plugin”? And by “you” I mean “you, the brand new blogger or website owner just looking to get on the web”. You’re not building a website in order to get a minor in “tech talk”, you just want what you want, i.e. your website or blog… Up and running…
All that aside though, after bulking up your site with plugins, what they often neglect to mention is just how much said plugins can slow down your website, thus making it take forever (forever in internet time, which could mean “more than a few nanoseconds”) to load a page.
Now I don’t want to say that all plugins are bad. Far from it. In fact, I don’t think plugins are bad at all.
I host a podcast and have done so for over 6 years now and the plugin I use to make my podcast episodes available on my website (not this website) is a Godsend and I could not live (speaking in podcasting terms, of course) without it.
But here’s the thing… If you host your website or blog with WordPress.com and pay for the Business plan, you can still use plugins! I know this, because I have done it. And the great thing is that I don’t have to worry about the plugins corrupting my site or slowing my site down because WP.com takes care of all that for me.
I don’t know how, but they do. And because I don’t need to or want to know how, I don’t have to!
With a self-hosted WP site, get used to the word “configuring”, because you’ll have to be doing a LOT of that on your own.
#4 ~ Upgrading To The Business Plan Is Expensive & Not Worth The Cost
Okay, I’ll come right out and say it… This is a bold-faced lie.
Like I said, I’ve done it both ways, and quite frankly, the one-time payment of $300/year for a WordPress.com Business plan (every other paid plan they offer costs less than this, by the way) is a LOT less than I’ve paid developers to help me setup or fix my self-hosted site.
I even once had to hire a lawyer to help me recover some of the money I paid to a WordPress developer because the site ended up worse when said developer was done with it than before the project started!
And yes, I won that case and was paid back… I’m talking to the tune of thousands of dollars…
But it doesn’t stop there, not everyone needs to hire a developer, but here are some other costs you will likely incur when you self-host your WordPress website or blog:
- Professional premium theme (because if you’re going to own your own big-boy or big-girl site, then why use a free theme…? Clutch my pearls!)
- Plugins… Sure you can get the basic ones for free, but if you really want to rev up your website engine and have that baby running on all 12 (or however many) horses (or is it cylinders?), then you’ll need to upgrade to the paid versions of the ones you get for free. They aren’t necessarily cheap and some even have recurring charges! The plugin developers have to make their own coins too you know.
- Domain name. This is actually a fun one, but don’t forget… It’ll cost you! 🙂
- Web hosting… You’ll also have to decide if you want a shared hosting plan or your own dedicated servers. Again, no new blogger or website owner really wants to get a degree in this type of “tech talk” but you’re going to have to learn what the differences are and how the choice you make will affect your website and your wallet.
- Oooh ooh ooh… Just one more… There are now all these third-party services that have cropped up to serve the self-hosted WordPress community, and while it is not imperative that you subscribe to or purchase any of their services or product offerings, I’m going to venture to say that you will very likely find yourself doing exactly that one day in the not-too-distant future.
- From site monitoring, to “rent-a-developer” services, to security backups, to paid courses and tutorials on how to do all this, that, and the other (by the way, WordPress.com has a vast library of free tutorials on how to do just about anything you want to with your website… And if a tutorial doesn’t exist, you can always ask their support people for help)
So, does all that add up to more or less than $300/year? Which, by the way, if you wait for a good sale (OR, if you ask ever so sweetly), you can actually get at a discounted rate… There’s a nice tip for you 😉
I dare say it adds up to much more than $300/year.
If you’ve read this far, then, wow… You’re either really dedicated or you must be in the throes of making a decision about which one to choose and which way to go.
Don’t be like I was and waste your valuable time agonizing over what is really an easy decision.
If you like techie stuff and you love tinkering with code and CSS and php and other things behind the scenes and under the hood of your website, then perhaps a self-hosted WordPress installation is your cup of tea… Go for it!
If you just want to write your blog and post to your website and get on with the business of running your business or your blog, and you want to get easy access to free help when you need it, then WordPress.com is for you.
If you like toiling away to add more functionality to your website, then get a self-hosted WordPress site.
If you’d rather just part with some money in exchange for upgrading to more functionality (and getting rid of the WordPress.com thing at the bottom of your site and their ads showing up on your site and posts), then pay up and forge ahead… WordPress.com is for you.
Got Questions? Have an opinion that differs from mine? Then please leave a comment below.
If you agree with me I’d love to hear about your own positive WordPress.com experience too. Please leave a comment below.