Thinking about building your own blog? There are many different options out there and this post is going to focus on two of them: WordPress.com and WordPress.org. WordPress.com is hosted by Automattic, the team that developed WordPress. WordPress.org is the self-hosted version of WordPress and the version "The Fried Side uses." Though similar, you should be aware of the differences before deciding which way to go. Making the right choice for you in the beginning can go a long way toward making your life easier in the long run.
When my kids were young I used to sit them down in front of the computer and tell them to push all the buttons. I told them they were in charge and there was nothing they could do to break the computer. Worse thing that could happen was that we might have to re-boot. WordPress.com is like this. It is nearly impossible for a beginner to "break" a WordPress.com site. Not only that, it is free. All you have to do is sign in, open a WordPress.com account and you can be blogging in just minutes. The barrier to entry is very low and can be appealing to many people blogging for a variety of reasons.
If you go the WordPress.org route, you must host the site yourself. This means you are responsible for finding a hosting company for your WordPress.org site and you will have to pay a monthly fee usually in the $5 to $15 range. You will also have to purchase your own domain name to associate with your WordPress.org blog. When shopping for a host, you may want to look for one that advertises "Easy WordPress Install" or "One-Click WordPress Install" because the next thing you'll have to do is install WordPress on your host.
Once you have installed WordPress on your host, the sky's the limit. You may now pretty much do as you wish with your new WordPress installation. You also now have access to all the WordPress plugins and custom themes available. WordPress.org plugins are not available on WordPress.com blogs. Plugins are add-ons that expand the core functionality of your blog. For example, there are plugins that help control spam, install contact forms on your blog assist you with search engine optimization and more. Themes control the look and feel of the blog and include your color scheme, the layout, your fonts and other design things. You have an opportunity to choose a theme with your WordPress.com blog too, but the theme choices are limited and you can't do much customization to them at all unless you are familiar with CSS and willing to pay $30 a year.
A few other things to know:
- Make sure you back up your WordPress.org site often, even if your host says they perform backups for you. WordPress.com handles this for you.
- In the event your blog gets popular over night, WordPress.com should have no problems handling this. Your own host may have a problem, but there are plugins that can help.
- Ads may appear on your WordPress.com blog, though you can pay a fee to prevent this from happening.
- You get 3GB of storage space with your WordPress.com site and can pay for additional storage as needed.
Are you trying to decide between WordPress.com and WordPress.org? What are the issues you are facing? What decision did you make and why?