Last time we went through the various options for building your website and settled on WordPress
Well, WordPress actually has two “flavours”:
- WordPress.com, which is the hosted version of WordPress.
- WordPress.org, where you can install WordPress on your own host.
So, what’s the difference? And why would you choose one over the other?
(If you missed the reasons why I recommend WordPress in the first place, then check out this article)
The big benefit of WordPress.com is that you don’t have to do any of the technical setup – it’s all done for you.
All you have to do is sign up for an account and select your domain name.
The platform will automatically install WordPress, link it with your domain and provide you with administrator access.
Cost-wise it can be attractive too – the basic plan starts at around $7 a month, which is what you’d pay for even a cheap host.
Note though that the base plan has a fairly small storage capacity, does not include access to plugins, and does not provide support. Without access to plugins, you are going to struggle to build a decent website for your business, so this plan is really not an option.
To get more storage, and access to plugins and support you’re looking at $20 per month – still only about the cost of a good host.
However, because this is a managed platform, there are some limitations.
Probably the biggest of which is that you only have access to the themes and plugins they provide.
Granted, there is a wide range – hundreds of themes and thousands of plugins. And the plugins cover most of the functionality that you could want on your site.
But the best plugins are often not available freely on the WordPress repository, and therefore are not offered by WordPress.com. And because WordPress.com is a tightly managed platform, they don’t allow you to install your own plugins.
Same goes for themes. Particularly the theme/page builders that are so popular now.
So whilst WordPress.com makes it a bit easier to get up and running, it is going to limit what you can do with your site.
The good news is that if you get started on WordPress.com, you can always export your site onto your own hosting down track (though that can present it’s own technical issues too, so I wouldn’t start on WordPress.com just to save a few dollars while you get started).
This is where you can download the WordPress software and install it on any host you choose (we’ll discuss which host you should use in a future email).
Actually, most of the good hosts now have a decent “one-click” installer for WordPress, so you don’t even need to go through the hassle of a manual install any more. Essentially, the setup is as easy as on WordPress.com, so this is no longer needs to be a decision factor.
However, the big benefit of “self-hosted” WordPress is that not only do you have access to all of the themes and plugins in the WordPress repository (including all the ones that are offered on WordPress.com), but you’re able to install plugins from premium vendors as well.
This means that you have access to the best plugins and themes on the market, and you can therefore make your site work exactly how you want it.
In terms of cost, WordPress itself is free. However, you will have to pay for hosting. And if you choose to use premium themes and/or plugins then the cost can start adding up.
Overall, WordPress.com will generally work out cheaper, but self-hosted WordPress will always be more flexible.
At the end of the day, the choice is yours which way you go. But I believe the ability to customise your site to be exactly what your business needs is worth the few extra dollars.