Blogging

How Many Ways Can You WordPress?

Wordpress logo on a rubik's cube
Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

Let me start off by saying I don’t entirely know what I’m talking about here, so I may get some things wrong.  Oh well, such is life.

WordPress is WordPress is WordPress, right?  Well, no.

There’s actually a very big difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org.  With WordPress.com, you sign up for a plan (either free or paid) and you’re good to go.  WordPress.org is used for self-hosted blogs.

So what is self-hosted?  I’ve never done self-hosted so I may start making things up a little bit, but bear with me.  Any website needs a server to call home.  For a self-hosted site, you find a hosting service (Bluehost is an example) and pay them to give your site a place to live.  You can then find a domain name to attach to your site.  The framework for the blog comes from WordPress.org.  You get the code from them, and then it’s up to you to do what you will with it.  You can track down your own themes, you can add plugins, you can do whatever you’d like. WordPress.org just gives you the pieces and you can knock yourself out.

The biggest plus about self-hosted is that you have control to customize and do whatever you want.  The downside is that you’re responsible for everything.  I’m not sure what level of support is available, but you’re still the one that’s ultimately responsible for your site.

Apparently there is a certain cachet to having a self-hosted blog.  The other day I was reading an article over on Medium, and the author was saying that in order for your book author website to be taken seriously it has to be self-hosted.  I tend to write that off as a pretty snobbish view; as long as your site does what you want it to, why should anyone care?

It also seems like there can be challenges integrating with the WordPress.com community.  I’ve noticed that sometimes if I’m leaving a comment on a self-hosted blog, I don’t necessarily get a WordPress notification of a response to my comment.  I’m not sure if that’s a theme issue, a plug-in, or what the story is.  There’s often an option to sign up for email notification, but when  I’ve tried that it notifies you of every single comment left on the blog post, which is annoying.  For me having to sort out that kind of thing would be a deterrent to going self-hosted.

WordPress.com is a different kettle of fish.  Blogs are hosted on their servers, and they’re responsible for dealing with maintenance, security issues, backups, etc.  Unlike WordPress.org that gives you the code that you install on your own site, WordPress.com runs everyone’s blogs off of their system.  There are efficiency and security benefits to that, but it means that your ability to customize is heavily restricted because you have no access to the code underpinning your blog.  It’s only if you’re paying the big bucks for the business or e-commerce plan that they let you do advanced customization on your site including advanced payments, Google AdSense integration, and use of Google Analytics.

WordPress switched up its plan options a few months back, so there may be some different options since you last looked.  The only difference between the blogger and the personal plan appears to be that the blogger plan restricts you to a .blog domain, while the personal plan lets you choose from whatever site names are unclaimed.  The premium plan gets you some extra features, including monetization options.  The business plan is a massive step up from premium, both in cost and features, and then there’s another leap to the e-commerce plan.  It looks like you’d need to be selling and shipping quite a bit of product to have any need for the e-commerce plan.

If you’re trying to Google something WordPress-related, keep in mind that a lot of sites will generically talk about “WordPress” but only be referring to WordPress.org where you can make changes to the code and freely add plugins and such.

I use WordPress.com.  I was on the free plan for the first year and a bit that I was blogging, and I’ve been on the personal plan for the last eight months.  I’m not a DIY kinda gal in general, so I’m quite content sticking with WordPress.com, although I do plan on upgrading my plan soon.  I can see how on one level there would be benefits to going self-hosted, but to be honest the biggest sticking point for me is that I just can’t be bothered.

How do you WordPress?  Do you have strong preferences one way or the other?

A new blogger's guide to WordPress from Mental Health @ Home

The New Blogger’s Guide to WordPress page includes tips on topics like blogging etiquette, making the most of your WP experience, and using the block editor.

Up your blogging game from Mental Health @ Home

The Up Your Blogging Game page covers a variety of blogging topics, including using images and implementing SEO strategies.

39 thoughts on “How Many Ways Can You WordPress?”

  1. I was looking into this myself a few days ago. It’s a bit of a headache to know which WordPress is the best. I think WordPress.com is the way to go if your a complete beginner, as there’s less maintenance to worry about. Maybe it would be best to move over to WordPress.org, if your up to speed with all the admin, and you was selling stuff? Good post Ashley.

  2. Interesting about comment notifications. A year or more ago, I suddenly stopped getting email notification of responses to my comments on other peoples’ blogs. I still get the on-site notifications and the notifications of likes as well as for comments on my own blog, just not to responses to my comments elsewhere. I tried looking around for answers, but couldn’t find any. It’s irritating.

    1. Yes, irritating for sure. And while I don’t know anything about designing a website, it seems like that should be a relatively easy thing for WordPress to be able to manage.

  3. I have the personal plan on WordPress.com. It is not the best plan in terms of monetizing (which I am currently not interested in), but it’s way better than the free plan because there are no ads for my readers.

  4. Is it just me that finds the technical side to blogging so confusing?! My brain can’t handle it. I’m currently on the free plan and probably will be for around a year until I gain some more followers, but I can’t wait to be able to have my own website name instead of .wordpress! Great post – very informative and made some very confusing things seem a little easier to understand!

  5. I spent 2018 (and half of 2019) on the personal plan on WP.com. I’m now back to the free plan. I haven’t seen a difference at all, and it’s saved me (theoretically) about $50, which I don’t have to spend. I bought my domain last October, when confused by the double speak that seems to be WP’s go to these days when selling their site, and that’s apparently enough to ensure my blog (which is not ever going to be used to make money) ticks along just like always. The domain option is the cheapest (aside from the free one obviously). Since I bought the domain, I’m going to renew the domain. I’m NEVER going to venture into upgrading ever again. A few weeks back I tried to down grade to .blog instead of .com and the FUBAR was astonishing. Now you say they have .org as well. My head is spinning and maybe I’m going to go lie down. Wow.

    1. I got the personal plan for the sole purpose of getting a domain name. At the time I didn’t realize it was possible to circumvent WP and get a domain on your own.

  6. I upgraded to personal last year, but after the stunt WP pulled a couple of months later, by their huge price increase, I shan’t renew. It’s too expensive for me to go personal, when I earn nothing by it. So free blog as it it, with WordPress.com. I regret wasting my money going that way.
    I wouldn’t go self-hosted. As someone who used to be self-employed in my spare time one time, I always used a website where the security, etc.. was done by the provider, so I couldn’t concentrate on the important stuff.

  7. I know what you mean. My author page is my name dot wordpress dot com, and the overreaching attitude seems to be that I should lose the wordpress to seem more professional. But it’s like, come on, I never get any sales anyway. I have the same problem you have trying to find out if someone replied to a comment I made!! AARGH. There’s a lot about wordpress I don’t understand. I appreciate their free blogging, and I don’t pay for my blog. I scrolled through all the templates and found some pretty ones (for each of two main sites I have) that were free, so that seemed like a good deal.

    I hope you’re having a great day!

  8. First off, any time you have blogging questions you need to ask the guy who helped me set up my WordPress blog. He would never recommend Blue Host, he had me go with SiteGround and I have always been happy and my blog trouble free. His name is Grayson Bell, he has a free course on everything WordPress and is the nicest guy. So helpful. Unless you want to monetize your blog, you don’t need .org. Look Grayson up on IMarkInteractive.com

  9. WordPress.org is pretty crappy according to friends in the web dev industry. But a lot of people who use WordPress.com and get big enough to want self hosting move over to WordPress.org because of familiarity.

  10. Started off on a free platform with wordpress.com last December. I upgraded to the Premium plan a while back, and I am really impressed with upgrades particularly the vast collection of extra Themes. For now, I am deliriously thrilled with the platform, very pleased to always say that they’ve got a loyal fan here. Great to know you’re on the same side and thanks for sharing a great Post.

  11. I have both. I use WordPress.com for my more personal blog and WordPress.org for the professional autism site I created with my sister (accessibleaba.com). There are benefits to each and there have been some scary times with WordPress.org…but overall I think if you’re going to have a business site you eventually need to move into self-hosting. This isn’t snobbery or really anything much to do with the customer-facing experience to an extent. With WordPress.org you are less limited, you can monetize it more affordably, and in general it moves you away from the blog mindset to that of a business. Blogging is great and if that’s your goal the. WordPress.com is a good way to go. But if you want to think like a business owner it’s worth taking the hard scary leap to WordPress.org and either figuring it out or paying someone to do it.

    This is just my experience. I’m not trying to sway anyone. It’s hard to put some of the difference or benefits into words…

  12. I just so-called downsized my plan… “Oh boy, I saved a whopping $12) Whoopie!
    Come next year, I plan on going to the free site plan and only pay for the (I think it was the server charge of $22) I simply can’t afford it. Plus with the several glitches this site has, it’s not worth paying extra for.

  13. I learned some new things here. I’m changing my service provider for my business site.New company uses WordPress.Hoping they can do a follow function for the blog. I use the free version for my personal blog. I’d love to get my audience followed so that i no longer have to repost between business and personal blogs. I agree,the tech stuff is overwhelming. Paying my person to do that for me it’s worth it in my opinion

    1. I think that’s a really good call for a business site. Having that follow function would definitely be nice, both for your site and for readers.

  14. Oh, the battle between the two!! This gave me a headache after headache. The personal plan is the way to go for me although due to lack of funds I am freebie again. I think it’s all a matter of what you are looking to gain from blogging that matters. Community, .com for sure, support, .com… So on… It has been a difficult transition for myself because I do like getting into the tech stuff which is crazy considering I am self-taught but it gave me something to do as far as tinkering and customizing. You post the stuff that would have been amazing to have when we started. I could’ve used your honest approach instead of the watered down, affiliate swayed opinions that I read.

    1. It seems like there’s a fair bit of stuff out there that’s pretty biased towards .org rather than .com, but I think for most people there’s no clear winner one way or another.

  15. I started out on WordPress.com with a free plan but later shifted to WordPress.org because later provides me more functionality at cheaper price. I’m really loving my blogging journey on WordPress.

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