If 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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