Let’s say you have a WordPress.com blog. You want to be able to do more with your blog than you’re able to do with the Premium plan. So, what now?
The two options you’ll probably be looking at are the WordPress.com business plan or going self-hosted. So how do you decide whether to do WordPress.com or .org?
As a little bit of background, by WordPress.com blogs I mean any blog that’s actually hosted on WordPress (regardless of whether or not you have your own domain name), where you have the free, personal, premium, etc. plan. Self-hosted blogs have their own hosting site (with whatever domain name they choose) that’s entirely separate from WordPress, and WordPress.org provides the framework for you to build your blog.
With self-hosted, you get full control over your site. Themes, plugins, anything and everything; WordPress gives you the skeleton, and you can go to town from there.
However, as they say, with great power comes great responsibility. Everything that needs doing to maintain your site is all on you.
With the WordPress.com business plan (or e-commerce plan), you get a lot more freedom than with other WordPress plans. You can install plugins that do all sorts of things, including setting up ecommerce on your site, connecting to Google Analytics, setting up Google AdSense ads, and more.
Google Analytics is useful if you’re wanting to do brand collaborations so they’re able to see how much traffic your site is getting (although from my own playing around, it appears to give an underestimate because it doesn’t count views in the WP app). Being able to use AdSense gives you a lot more control over how you display ads on your site than if you go with WordPress WordAds, which are available on the personal plan.
With the business plan, like other WordPress.com plans, WordPress takes care of all the behind the scenes backup, security, updating, and other maintenance. The business plan gives you priority to WordPress “happiness engineers”, who will sort out any problems you manage to get yourself into.
I upgraded to the WordPress.com business plan in August. Will my site generate enough revenue over the next year to pay for itself? I highly doubt it. Will I renew the business plan next summer? Too early to say. One thing I’m pretty sure of, though, is that I won’t be switching over to self-hosted.
A major part of that is that I don’t want everything to be my problem. I want as little as possible to be my problem, even if that ends up costing me money. And migrating over a site from .com to self-hosted sounds like a huge pain in the ass in practice, even if in theory it’s not supposed to be hard. My friends Mike and the gang over at Our DID Journey put it this way: “Breathing on a self hosted WordPress system is enough to break it.”
Doesn’t exactly inspire confidence, does it?
Another major issue I have with .org is around commenting. I’m not sure if it’s the particular plugins individual sites use or what the deal is, but if I comment on someone’s self-hosted blog, I often don’t get a WordPress notification if they respond. There’s the option to subscribe to email notifications, but a) I don’t want WordPress notifications clogging up my email because it would be way too overwhelming, and b) that ends up notifying me of all the comments, not just responses to my comment.
That means that often I just don’t end up seeing self-hosted bloggers’ responses to any comments I leave. Granted, this has quite a bit to do with how I read blogs; the WordPress Reader is my starting point, so I’m not meandering around on people’s websites and going back to previous posts. Still, being able to interact with my readers is a priority for me, and I’d be concerned about self-hosted potentially interfering with that.
What’s your experience been with either WordPress.com or .org (i.e. self-hosted)? Have you thought about switching?