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Getting started in the world of blogging can be confusing. First you have to decide whether you want to be on Blogger or WordPress. Or you can choose one of the many other blogging platforms such as Tumblr, Typepad, Wix, Weebly, or Squarespace. Choosing a blog platform can be overwhelming. There are many blogging platforms out there, but the two most well-known and most popular are probably Squarespace and WordPress.
Because Squarespace offers only one hosting option, I’m going to focus on WordPress. The most common WordPress question I get from beginning bloggers who are choosing their blogging platform is whether they should use WordPress.org or WordPress.com.
Well, the answer is it depends.
First, you need to decide why you are blogging. What’s your goal? What will you use your blog for? Is it an online journal or to keep in touch with friends and family? Do you want to make money with your blog? Do you want to be able to sell advertising, to “monetize” your blog? These are important things to know in choosing your blog platform because they do make a difference.
If you are blogging for fun and just want a basic blog platform that is easy to use, easy to set up and doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, than WordPress.com is probably the platform for you.
On the other hand, if you are planning to blog as your business or as part of your business, you need to be looking at WordPress.org.
So what is the difference between these two platforms?
Let’s look first at WordPress.com. WordPress.com is free. Completely free. There are no fees to set it up and no fees to use it. You just need to go to WordPress.com, set up an account, choose a name for your blog and you are good to go. Your blog address will be “yourname.wordpress.com” WordPress will offer you a choice of themes. They have quite a few, but you must choose from their theme selection.
You can add some widgets and you can customize some themes with your own custom header image. WordPress.com doesn’t allow the use of plug-ins (add-ons that can increase functionality, enable different services & further customize your blog) and WordPress does have the right to place advertising on your blog. If you’re blogging for business, WordPress.com may not be your best choice.
There is a premium option on WordPress.com, but then that makes it not free anymore, so we’re focusing on the free side.
Your blog will be included in the WordPress repository (unless you designate it as private and request it not be indexed by search engines) and that might bring you additional traffic. If you are a high-traffic blog (meaning 25,000 or more visitors/month), you can place advertising of your own choice on your blog (by the way—that’s a LOT of traffic for the average blogger).
With WordPress.com you don’t have to worry about maintenance. WordPress.com automatically takes care of the updates and back-ups for you. They also include Akismet, their spam-busting service. On the other hand, you don’t have complete control over your blog. You cannot make code changes to your theme, customize it with plug-ins or host advertising or e-commerce.
So how about WordPress.org?
The WordPress framework is free whether you are on .com or .org. The difference is that with WordPress.org you need to provide your own domain name and your own webhost. You can find reliable WordPress-friendly web hosting for as little as $5/month and registering a domain runs about $20/year for a .com domain, which are still the most desirable. If you choose a webhost that doesn’t have WordPress pre-installed as an option, you’ll need to have FTP access and either install it yourself or pay someone (most webhosts offer WordPress pre-installed these days.
If you are hosting WordPress on your own domain, the word WordPress won’t appear in your web address; you’ll just be found at yourname.com. You can choose from a limitless number of WordPress themes, some free, some paid. With WordPress.org you can have a theme custom designed just for you or you can alter the code in an existing theme to suit your needs and your taste. You can create a site that doesn’t look anything like a WordPress blog if you want. If you’re going this route, check before you sign up).
Bluehost is a good choice if you’re new to websites and WordPress. They have some great starter deals–and great customer service.
You also have the option of using any of the thousands of WordPress plug-ins that are available, including plug-ins or themes designed for e-commerce. Yes, if you want to sell on your blog, this IS your option. You may choose to host advertising on your site and receive the revenue from it or you can choose to have no advertising at all.
Having a self-hosted site makes you responsible for your own security (though most WordPress installations include Akismet anti-spam by default), your own updates and upgrades (you will receive notification of them in your dashboard) and your own back-ups.
You can still choose whether your blog is public or private.
So, now that you know the difference between the two, what else would you like to know? Are you still struggling with choosing the right blog platform for your website? Leave me your comments and questions below or stop by my Facebook page and leave your questions there. I’ll do my best to answer them all.