One of the most confusing issues for people who want to start blogging is whether to use WordPress.com (free, but on a sub-domain: yourblog.wordpress.com) or WordPress.org (self-hosted on your own domain). Once you know all the differences between the two, it’s an easy choice, actually.
Before I move on, I just want to let you know where else you can start a free blog on a sub-domain (besides WordPress.com):
They are all offering you a free sub-domain as well as limited hosting. On the other side, if you plan to create your own blog on your own domain, you’ll actually need to pay for the hosting and the domain.
Let me explain you the difference. If you pick free services, the first thing you need to know is that your website address will look like this: yourname.wordpress.com or bloggingservice.com/myblog. However, when you go with the self-hosted solution your address will be YourName.com or YourBlog.com
This list can go on and as it seems self-hosted blogs are a lot more flexible. You can even use it as a free space to upload pictures, videos and music because their bandwidth is usually unlimited. In addition you can also have RSS – other people can syndicate and share your content and posts over the world with just a mouse click.
Furthermore, self-hosted blogs allow you to add AWeber or Mailchimp applications to gather e-mails and build lists for business purposes. You can also add different plugins and themes that can make your blog look “cool” and unique.
… and personal domain definitely helps you to build a strong brand. Of course, you can build a popular blog on Blogspot or WordPress.com as well, but it’s a bit harder, mainly because people may not take you seriously enough. In addition, free service blogs look usually very blank and cannot be much customized with different plugins.
In short, WordPress.org stands for self-hosted blog on your own domain and WordPress.com is sub-domain on WordPress.com. While WordPress.org is the way to go in long term (it gives you so much more control over the blog and the content), then WP.com can be the right choice for short-term projects (for example events). In this post I’m going to bring out the main differences between .org and .com version as well as other free blogging services.
Let me start comparing the outlook of homepages.
As you can see, WordPress.com invites you to “Sign up” and “start publishing now” while WordPress.org looks more formal and calls you to download WordPress.
So what’s the difference? Should I download the WP zip file or sign up at WordPress.com?
Actually, the truth is much more simpler than it seems at first glance. While WP.org is more like support site for self-hosted blogs then WP.com is a place where you can start blogging under WordPress.com domain and service.
Here’s a comparison chart
|SELF-HOSTED?||Yes. You can download the WordPress blogging platform straight from the homepage and install it to wherever you want.||No. However, you can create free sub-domain on WordPress.com which allows you to use 3GB of disk space. Your blog URL will look like: yourname.wordpress.com|
|IS IT FREE?
||You can download it for free. However, you will need a domain and hosting which will cost you a few bucks per month.||The Basic package is free. Premium membership will cost you $99.- per year. In addition, you will get 13GB storage instead of 3GB + Store videos, direct e-mail support and advanced customization.|
|BLOG SETUP TIME||Approx. 15 minutes.||Approx. 5 minutes (just the registration process).|
|WHAT ABOUT THEMES?||You can install 1500+ free themes from http://wordpress.org/themes/||Themes are limited. There’s around 200 different free & paid themes.|
|… AND PLUGINS?
||Oh boy, a lot! Last time I checked there were more than 15 000 plugins.||20-30 plugins that are only accessible for Premium users.|
|MONETIZATION / ADS||If you want, you can monetize your blog and add different advertisements. You decide which ads, where and how many of them.||You are not able to add or sell any kind of ads unless you receive over 25,000 pageviews a month.|
|UPDATE & MAINTAINING
||You have to update your blog by yourself. It’s also highly recommended to do backups as often as possible. However, updates take only a few seconds.||No need to worry. WordPress.com is responsible for your updates and backups.|
|STORAGE||Depends on your hosting company. Usually unlimited.||3GB for free (excluded videos).|
You might think that free blogging services are the best and easiest way for beginners, but unfortunately that’s not completely true – there are lots of limitations (see it from the table above).
My pick – WordPress.org (self-hosted)
If you are just starting off then free services can be an easy decision, but I don’t recommend it. Why? Either you are setting up a website or creating a blog – free platforms are getting more and more strict about rules and allowed content and they might delete your blog without any warnings at all. You don’t have full control over your blog – it means they can add random advertisements on your blog that make it look “spammy” and cheap.
Two other important factors are responsibilities and the rights. There have been many incidents where free blogging service providers take your blog down and all the content is gone, you’ll never see it again. There is no hope to catch the support guys and get any explanations why they’ve done their action. It does not matter that you are the owner and responsible person for the blog, if they don’t like any of your posts or something seems doubtful, they’ll take it down and you’ll lose all the readers, contacts and content. That’s of course more than exception than a rule, but still.
On the other hand, if you decide to build a self-hosted blog, you are the full owner of your blog. You can do whatever you want with it and it’s definitely a long-term decision. So if you really want to start your own blog, we recommend to pick self-hosted version. The money you invest pays off quite quickly.
Publicity expert Joan Stewart, also known as The Publicity Hound, learned the consequences of not self-hosting. While her regular blog was self-hosted on WordPress.org, she was using Blogger.com as the archives for her ezine, “The Publicity Hound’s Tips of the Week.” Blogger hosted the archives.
“One morning, when I tried to get into the archives, I discovered the entire thing was gone,” she said. “My stomach did flip-flops as it became apparent that several years worth of content had disappeared. I contacted Blogger but they never explained what happened. I had forgotten that my web developer backed up the archives weekly, so I lost only a week’s worth of content.”
Her blog is now part of her website, on a self-hosted WordPress.org platform.
What’s your choice?
B) If you have no intentions to blog more than a few months, then follow this tutorial and set up a limited free blog.
Still not convinced?
Infographic by WPMU.org