The different flavors of WordPress

Brass_scales_with_cupped_traysWhen you’re setting up your new WordPress site, the first decision you need to make is where your site should be hosted. The primary options are hosting your WordPress site on WordPress.com or alternately, on a different hosting provider using the free software available at WordPress.org (often referred to as “self-hosted”).

WordPress.com:

  • Unlimited free sites
  • Custom domains
  • Free support
  • No theme uploads, but they offer over 200 free & premium themes
  • No outside plugins, but popular plugin functionality built in
  • No upgrades or maintenance
  • Cannot run your own ads, but high-traffic sites can apply for the WordAds program
  • No bandwidth caps
  • Need upgrades to modify design/CSS, remove ads, upload your own audio and video, ecommerce

Self-hosted sites using WordPress.org software:

  • No limitations on advertising or content
  • Can modify theme files (and even the core WordPress software if desired)
  • Can upload own themes and plugins
  • No limitations on ecommerce
  • Must obtain own hosting and register domain
  • Bandwidth/space limitations for most hosting plans
  • Need to research & install plugins
  • Need to handle own security, backups
  • No free support

So which is right for you? If budget is your primary consideration, WordPress.com is the clear winner, in that you can get a site up and running for free. Even with the Premium upgrade, the hosting only sets you back $8.25/month. The support and maintenance by the staff at WordPress.com also make the site nearly worry-free. However, there are limitations since you cannot use your own themes or plugins and have only limited access to theme files. You also must keep the WordPress.com footer and abide by their Terms of Service. Self-hosting opens up a lot more options, notably the ability to upload your own theme and plugins. Furthermore, if you need advanced functionality (for example, membership options, paywalls, special landing pages), if you want to run your own ads, or you want a truly customized site design, then a self-hosted WordPress site is likely the better option for you.

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