You may or may not know that I only recommend you use WordPress.org to build your website. For so many reasons, most of which are listed below. Keep reading!
When I started out on my own and needed a website I had a bias against WordPress and I have no real explanation for why. I guess I thought it was “too common” and there were way too many templates to choose from. Anytime I begin to get overwhelmed and confused I just walk away. You too?
Since I thought I was smarter than all that, I was determined to use Squarespace—it was new on the market, it had really clean and simple designs and not a lot of them. Oh, the things I didn’t know.
We’ll get into WordPress.org vs. Squarespace vs. Weebly, Wix and all the others soon, but for now let’s just say it took messing with Squarespace for about a month, and some transparency/sharing on the part of a few of my favorite business mentors about the backend operations of their websites/businesses, to change my mind.
And even then I was determined to do it myself. This equated more wasted time. I finally gave up/panicked and hired a designer/developer (I got lucky and got someone who was both) and together we created the site I have now. Which I am quite pleased with (although websites are ALWAYS a work in progress).
Today, let’s start with the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org.
WordPress.com (basically a blog website builder):
- To get any functionality out of wordpress.com you will have to pay some sort of monthly fee. They range from $2.99 to $24.92 per month (and are billed annually) but it is the only way to get their ads off your website and maintain any kind of your own branding. You will not have a custom domain without paying a monthly fee.
- You are limited on storage. 3 GB on the free plan (which runs their ads on your site). Never, ever limit yourself when it comes to your website. Believe me – you will get to 3GB faster than you think you will.
- WordPress.com controls your site access and can shut it down anytime they so desire if they determine you are doing something they don’t like. Again, never put yourself in this position. You always want to own your content, your site and your free-marketing-will.
- Without a paid plan you are limited on your design choices, the same choices millions of other people are making. Even with paid plans you are still limited and once you get to the level where you can make some decent changes, you have not saved yourself any money using WordPress.com—it will actually cost you more over the long-run than the one-time up-front fee of hiring a designer to help you with WordPress.org (which is NOT necessary it’s just what I did).
- You cannot monetize your site. This alone is enough to run screaming.
- You can only utilize all the magical plugins available with WordPress.org, which includes Tracking Manger (the plugin I recommend to install the Facebook pixel on your site) by purchasing their advanced plan that is actually more expensive than most good website hosts out there.
- You cannot remove their branding without the advanced plan nor can you utilize Google Analytics without their advanced plan. Ugh.
Honestly, I could go on but I think this is the heart of the why not to use WordPress.com.
To build a website that you own 100%…
- No account registration/terms of service limitations. It’s free. FREE.
- You can install any plugin you like! As many as you like (but be careful with this—don’t go plugin crazy—more on that in another 20% on another Thursday).
- Your content is yours, forever.
- No strange ads or WordPress branding will ever appear on your site. You know how I am about the branding. It should be All You, All The Time.
- You can monetize your site however you so choose.
- You can use the Facebook Pixel! I can, and have, gone on for days about the benefits of this little snippet of code…
- Complete and total customization of your site is available should you choose to do so OR thousands (probably way more) of fabulous templates (I recommend Genesis by StudioPro – they build a framework that is super safe, secure and SEO focused) to utilize.
A few notes: If you started with WordPress.com all is not lost—you can move your site to WordPress.org.
WordPress.org officially recommends Bluehost. Bluehost will cost you about $2.95 a month for the super basic plan AND comes with one domain name and 5 email accounts. You always want your email to be email@example.com. That’s just good branding.
I, however, use WPEngine based right here in ATX – they ONLY host WordPress.org sites and their customer service is over-the-top good. They just log in and fix stuff for me when I get confused (at this point I have not talked to them in months, knock-on-wood). For all they offer, they are not super expensive but they are not Bluehost prices either.
As far as ease of use, the actual interface (dashboard) for either .com or .org is basically the same. You’ll still have to learn the dashboard so why not learn the dashboard AND own all your stuff?
Transparency: You will be responsible for backing up your site if you do not go with a host that does it for you. WPEngine does this for me every, single night. With Bluehost you probably need to install a handy plugin (because you can on the .org) called Backup Buddy – I have clients that use it and it is super easy.
You will also be responsible for performing updates. Plugins, the WordPress.org platform itself—whatever it is, you will have to do it. It takes all of one click. And it’s also the reason I say login to your website every, single day. And I would tell you to do this whether you were on .com or .org with WordPress. Or any other site builder. Check it. Every. Day.
You are responsible for preventing SPAM (and not ever eating Spam too—don’t do that), but Akismet (SPAM prevention plugin—too bad there isn’t a plugin to prevent that nasty canned stuff too) comes with the WordPress.org platform. You simply have to enable it on your site. It takes one click to do so.
I do, however, recommend you work with someone for the initial design and setup of your site. It will be a bit of an investment up front but you will save so much time and money in the long run.
Summary: It may seem, upon first glance, like WordPress.com is the easiest and least expensive way to get started if you are debating between the two, but I promise you, with all my heart, it will cost you time, money and heartache in the long-run to go with .com. Start out with a solid website foundation on WordPress.org. Learn from my mistakes.
Do not let things like CSS and PHP and other technical, initialed type words scare you. I myself, a total right-brained human, have learned to do a tiny bit of coding (and it’s actually fun) and the plugins, design capability, widgets and all the stuff on the dashboard have been SO easy to learn and utilize. Seriously, seriously—if I, the least techy person on this planet—can do this, I know YOU can. And I’m always here to help!
High Fives and Hugs All Around-