You have probably heard this many times over that the best way to build a free website is with WordPress. But do you know that there are two of them out there? What are the differences and how do they affect your online business? Let’s find out.
What Is WordPress.com?
WordPress.com is a web hosting company founded by Matt Mullenweg in 2005. As the name suggests, it also publishes websites using the open-source (free to use) blogging and content management system tool called WordPress.org. The two may sound the same, but they have two different entities altogether.
To date, there are more than 60 million websites operating on WordPress.com with big names like CNN and Sony being some of their clients.
How Does a Free WordPress.com Works?
To get started, you need to create a user account with WordPress.com first. Then, select a domain name that you like, pick a theme and launch your website. It is that simple.
The admin area has a lot of similarities to WordPress.org (the software). It contains ‘pages’ for primary navigation, ‘posts’ for publishing blog articles, ‘media’ to store images, videos and audios, and ‘appearance’ for designing a website layout.
However, this basic setup comes with limitations.
- Your domain will have the word ‘WordPress.com’ at the end.
- You don’t have access to premium themes and eCommerce feature.
- The storage space is limited to 3 GB.
- You get only community support.
What Do the Paid Plans Offer?
When you upgrade to either a Premium or a Business plan, you’ll get your own custom domain, advanced customization, more storage space and definitely more support from the team. Here is a quick glance at the differences between a free, a Premium and a Business account.
Keep in mind that add-on fees will be applicable if you want to remove ads, use custom design or install a premium theme.
“But I Thought WordPress Is Free?!”
Yes, the WordPress software is free to download and to publish websites. But the server that host these sites are NOT free. WordPress.com, just like other hosting companies, charges a certain fee for the services that they provide.
So What Is the Difference?
Lot’s of them, if you asked me. Let’s go through them one by one.
#1 – Hosting
At WordPress.com, hosting and web publishing come under one roof. This will save you a lot of time and technicalities as a beginner.
If you want to use the free WordPress software, you have to search for your own host. Naturally, most new web owners would buy the idea of a ‘powerful hosting and web service’ at the ‘lowest X amount of fee’ because those kind of offers obviously sounds more attractive.
On the flip side, this can potentially cause some confusion because hosting technology isn’t something that can be readily touched or see. Therefore, it’s really hard to gauge a hosting quality until you experience it for yourself.
#2 – Maintenance
WordPress.com is pre-built with anti-spam features, automatic software updates, consistent backup and optimization without having you to ever lift a finger or worry about spammers. This offers a peace to the mind while you work on building your website.
With self-hosted WordPress, you will have to do this manually (often on your own) in order to protect your website and its valuable content. Fortunately, as WordPress is an open-source, there are also plenty of free resources called plugins that can help to protect your website from malware.
#3 – Customization
Website customization generally revolves around designs and functions because everyone has got a different taste in style when it comes to creating an online presence. With the self-hosted WordPress, you can install plugins, experiment with different WordPress themes or even tweak them to your liking using FTP access. In other words, you are totally in control of adding or expanding the capacity of your website.
However, this flexibility is completely absent when it comes to WordPress.com for one good reason; keeping the web host security intact. This is because customization often changes the codes behind the scenes which can potentially lead to major technical errors.
#4 – Monetization
As much as you can do with customization, you can also create a website for monetization purposes with self-hosted WordPress. In fact, this is a popular method for those who want to become an affiliate blogger or start their own online business.
If you are using WordPress.com, you will not enjoy this luxury as affiliate links or any form of third party advertisements are quite restricted on their websites. To ensure that your website does not get suspended, remember to read through their advertising policies thoroughly.
Still confused between the two? This video offers a great explanation.
So, Is It Worth to Build a Free Website with WordPress.com?
It all boils down to the purpose of your website. Why are you building one and who are you creating it for?
In a nutshell, WordPress.com is a good choice if;
- You are new to blogging.
- You don’t want to manage website technicalities.
- You don’t mind having limited features on your site.
However, a self-hosted WordPress is a BETTER choice if;
- You are a DIY kind of person and don’t mind the adventure of selecting a host to designing your own website.
- You have certain preferences and expectations for your site in terms of performance.
- You want to use your website as a tool to make money online.
As WordPress.com offers a free account, I know you are probably wondering, wouldn’t it be great to try out a self-hosted WordPress to see if it would be a better fit for you. Well, there is a way. By using SiteRubix, you can build a non-restrictive and customizable WordPress site easily. The other advantage of using this platform is that it gives you access to the online entrepreneurship training at Wealthy Affiliate University where you get to learn about creating your own website and starting a web business.
Here are some of the tools and resources that you can benefit from the program.
“I see the future of WordPress as a web operating system.”
– Matt Mullenweg
Do you have any thoughts or questions about building website with WordPress? Just leave them in the comment area and I’ll be happy to respond.
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