6 Reasons You Don’t Want a Free WordPress.com Blog

traffic warning signIf you’ve been reading this blog for very long, heard me speak at an event, or read my book, you know I recommend WordPress.org self-hosted blog sites over WordPress.com hosted blog sites (or any other type of sites). Given that I get asked about this so frequently, I thought I’d offer a detailed explanation.

What’s In It For Me?

You might wonder if there’s something in this for me—if I get paid for recommending WordPress.org. I get nothing—no money—for recommending WordPress.org. It’s an open source blogging tool available for download by anyone.

It’s true that I do recommend WordPress developers for my clients and students, and those developers give me a free hour or two for those referrals. I refer to them, however, because I trust and use them myself, and they will get the job done well for you. I recommend the hosting company I use, and I am an affiliate for that company. I do so also because I trust that company, and there are many out there that are not worth using. (Believe me, I know.)

My 6 Objections to WordPress.com Blogs

That said, if you are low on funds, aren’t techie and feel you must opt for a free, hosted WordPress.com site, I’d like you to do so with your eyes wide open. It is an option, and I’d rather you used this platform than other available blog platforms.

Here are the reasons why I don’t recommend WordPress.com and prefer you use WordPress.org.

  1. Free WordPress.com sites are limited in scope compared to WordPress.org sites. First, with WordPress.com you are unable to build an email list easily; you cannot embed forms from the most common email providers, like Aweber, only links to their forms. Building an email list is an important platform element; you want this opt in included on your blog if at all possible. Second, you receive a limited number of widgets and no plugins (unless you upgrade to their premium service, which I don’t recommend). Plugins create new widgets and automate many functions on a blog. Without them, your cannot create many of the cool things you want and need on your site.
  2. Your traffic goes to a communal address rather than a private one.
    While you can spend $18 per year on a custom URL, basically your traffic all goes to yourblog.wordpress.org—along with everyone else’s traffic. (That custom URL is being redirected.) Ultimately, what you want is for your traffic to go to your individual and unique address in cyberspace: yourblog.com.
  3. You give away others rights to repurpose your content. Read the fine print. With a WordPress.com site, you “give other WordPress.com users permission to share your Content on other WordPress.com sites and add their own Content to it (aka to reblog your Content), so long as they use only a portion of your post and they give you credit as the original author by linking back to your site (the Reblogging function on WordPress.com does this automatically!).” That sounds a lot like simply sharing bits of content with attribution, but reblogging can be a whole article (in my experience). And this says they can add to it. There is nothing here that says they must ask permission.
  4. You could at some point lose access to your blog and its content. The WordPess.com Termination Policy states: “Automattic may terminate your access to all or any part of the Website at any time, with or without cause, with or without notice, effective immediately.” That means your content could become inaccessible to you and your readers—for no reason—even with the upgraded Premium accounts. Whoa! Really? I wouldn’t want that for my blogs. I panic when my hosting company has problems and my sites go down for even a few hours.
  5. It’s cheaper to start with a WordPress.org site. Converting from a WordPress.com site to a WordPress.org site costs more in terms of set-up and conversion than designing a new site from scratch. It’s simply a harder job to move all that old content over. Additionally, you might incur some minor yearly Worpress.com fees.
  6. The money spent on the WordPress.com Premium service could be put toward development of a WordPress.org site. If you decide to upgrade to WordPress.com Premium service, you do have the option of installing better themes and getting access to plugins, having a custom URL, etc. However, if you are going to spend money on this service, why not save that cash and put it toward a developer? You might be able to find one on Odesk.com or Elance.com for the cost of two years of upgraded service. Save; hire a real developer to create your site. You won’t be sorry in the long run.
  7. If you upgrade to WordPress.com Premium, you don’t get to choose your hosting account. According to information on the site,VIP Hosting/Support and VIP Support services are provided by Automattic under the terms and conditions for each such service, which are located at vip.wordpress.com/hosting-tos and vip.wordpress.com/support-tos, respectively. By signing up for a VIP Hosting/Support or VIP Support services account, you agree to abide by such terms and conditions.” I know the type of problems I’ve had with hosting companies in the past. I want to choose my hosting company.

Now, if the only way for you to start blogging your book is with a free WordPress.com site, go for it. I started that way with several of my blogs. It’s definitely better than not blogging or not blogging a book at all. And it’s easier to convert a WordPress.com site to WordPress.org than a Blogger.com site or some other type of site.

But do it knowing all the facts. And please do consider converting to WordPress.org at a later date.

In my next post, I’ll teach you how to set up a free WordPress.com hosted blog.

Copyright: rnl / 123RF Stock Photo

Comments

  1. says

    Thank you for this post as it was opportune! I forwarded on to an acquaintance who is using wp.com She changed from her WP.com site to her new WP.org site. Don’t know why it has happened but would love to see her do well!

    I have read your articles and WPBeginners and others and finding way too many posts on using WP.org rather that WP. com recently. I am once again beginning too! Made too many mistakes and if I can help someone else then it’s great! If you can assist her as well as WPBeginners it would be appreciated! Rick Carter =) Blessings!
    Rick Carter recently posted..Hello world!

  2. says

    I have a lot of the same concerns as you, not just for authors but for the freelance writers and aspiring probloggers I also work with. One common argument I hear in favor of free blog hosts is the idea that it’s a good temporary solution. Some people think they can easily switch to a self-hosted blog later when they’re ready to invest in hosting and a custom domain.

    You pointed out that this isn’t always an easy process already. But another problem with this is the fact that all the work you do to build a readership on the free blog can be lost if you move.

    – You lose your search engine rankings.
    – You lose your existing backlinks (most free blog hosts don’t let you 301 redirect your links; this is also a PITA for people who linked to you because they now have to clean up the dead links on their sites).
    – You lose your existing RSS subscribers.
    – You lose your PageRank, Domain Authority, and other things that can matter in showing the age and authority of your site.
    – You have to replace any print marketing materials you’ve made that feature your old blog URL.

    In the long run, a later move can cost you much more than what you thought you’d save by going the WordPress.com route first (in both time and money).

  3. V S Mani says

    Dear Nina

    I am writing an admin medical manual and am on page 475+ with a view to release for publishing fom beginning of Oct 2014.

    I am suing BlueHost, WordPress, Genesis Framework Simple Theme and have been using Page instead of Posts and .com than .org.

    You have confused me – not about your ir-reputable facts but as what to do in my case.

    I await your comments.

    I am resident in UK but now in Washington DC tip 13th July.

  4. Nina Amir says

    VS Mani

    I don’t know why you are suing Bluehost…although many have had problems with them recently, and I don’t recommend them. (Maybe you meant using…) If you are paying for hosting with Bluehost, you can’t be using WordPress.com. You must be using WordPress.org. However, if you are publishing pages instead of posts, that is something you need to fix. You should be publishing posts. Look on the left side of the dashboard. You have a choice…pages or posts. Posts show up on the blog. Pages show up at the top of the site’s navigation bar.

  5. Nina Amir says

    Aditya,
    Yes, it’s a decent first step if you don’t know for sure that you want to blog or that you like WordPress, but it is still my first choice to begin with WordPress.org.

  6. says

    Hi Nina,

    I have seen so much discussion of the WP.com vs. WP.org benefits but few posts mention SquareSpace.
    And before you read any further, no I don’t get anything for recommending SS.

    For $16/month you get a site with great design and hosting included. SS has recently updated to a new version. Their templates include most features bloggers rely on, such as the ability to create a mailing list.

    I have already seen several leading voices in the blogging field say it is a fantastic platform for any newbie, especially people with limited funds and little interest in the technical pieces of a blog.

    I seriously wish I had known of SS several years ago when I was struggling with my WP blog. Many writers would be better off just concentrating on the content and having a point-and-click user-friendly blog platform.

    Terri

  7. Nina Amir says

    You are better off with a blog platform you OWN. I don’t recommend any blog platform where your blog is one of many on a site that makes the rules. You want your traffic going to your address, only your address, on the Internet, Terri, and where you are the owner and the one who has all the say over what happens there. If SquareSpace decides to close up shop, you are out of luck….just like when RedRoom close up shop. I don’t recommend it. Stick with your WordPress.org site.

  8. says

    As a follow-up to Nina’s comment about SquareSpace, make sure you consider the branding issues. It looks like they let annual-billing customers have a custom domain. But it’s rarely a good idea to let the company hosting your site also register your domain. There is a long history of hosts holding domains hostage, or at least making it unacceptably difficult to leave. I’m not saying SquareSpace is necessarily one of these companies, but you never know when terms, policies, and processes might change.

    One concern right now is that you can’t transfer the domain if you decide to leave them within 90 days. I’ve never seen such a long restriction from a traditional registrar (it’s often more like 60 days). That means you would need a new domain or you would be stuck with them whether you were happy or not. If you must use a service like this (and like Nina, I highly recommend against platforms like these), at least make sure you don’t use their domain offers. Get your own. You should never take unnecessary risks with your domain, which is usually a key element in your author brand.

    Also consider export and 301 redirect policies. If you can’t redirect your old URLs to new ones if you leave a free host, don’t use the free host to begin with. It’s never worth it to lose months or years of brand recognition, backlinks, and traffic. What worries me more with SquareSpace is the export option if you want to take your site content elsewhere.

    First of all, you get an xml file. I doubt most authors would even know what to do with that. More worrying is the fact that it won’t export all of your content. Here’s what they say isn’t included: product pages (like you might have for your books), folders, event pages, album pages, anything more than one blog page, audio blocks, video blocks, and product blocks. So you risk losing any content or copy you write in those sections.

    These are just things to consider.
    Jennifer Mattern recently posted..New Writing Challenges Added (Plus Free Tracking Charts)

  9. Nina Amir says

    That’s why it’s best to just start out with a self-hosted blog. Own your blog from day one.

  10. says

    Oh dear! I just read this. And i blogged my book on wordpress.com. I wish I read this when i first did the nanofiwrimo last year. Anyway, my blogged book is done on wordpress.com. Would that give me problems when i take the next step of making the kindle version to sell on amazon?

  11. Nina Amir says

    It shouldn’t, Karen. But don’t use KDP Select. Then you’ll have to take all but 10% of the content down. Just use KDP. I’ve written about that here on the blog.

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