When I first started blogging, I was clueless. I did not know what self hosted WordPress was, and had no idea what the differences were. I decided to go with WordPress.com at first. Then I switched from the free plan to the paid plan that WordPress.com offers. Well, that was a mistake and a waste of money. Thankfully I made the change over to self hosted WordPress before thirty days and I was able to get a refund. I realized that so many of us newer blogger have no real idea what the differences are and what they should be doing when they first set up their blog. So for this installment of my new blogger series, we will take on the differences between self hosted WordPress and WordPress.com.
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Self Hosted WordPress VS WordPress
The thought of doing a self hosted WordPress site scared me when I first started. I am not technologically inclined, by any means. So I went with what seemed easier, and boy did I regret it. When I moved to my new self hosted site, I just wondered why I hadn’t started there in the first place. So honestly, just start self hosted, you will thank me later.
WordPress.com has a few different levels to it. First, there is the free package. This allows you to “start your blog” with a yournamehere.wordpress.com type URL. While this is a great option for people who just want a hobby, it is not an option for anyone who has even the smallest desire to potentially make money blogging. The terms in the agreement with the free package will not allow for you to run any ads, or post any sponsored content. So basically, no making money on the free platform.
WorpPress.com also has paid options. I did this when I started, thinking it was basically the same as self hosted. Oh boy was I wrong. I was able to get my own domain name through them. So no more .wordpress.com, that is a bonus. I picked their lowest end package, which costs $99 a year. Now, I quickly learned that even though I am paying, my site still had limitations. I could run ads, but only Word Ads. Their terms do not allow for any outside add revenue other than that provided by WordPress. So that is pretty lame and a major setback in my opinion for anyone who wants to run ads. You are able to accept sponsored posts on this version, so that is a plus!
As far as customization, you are still rather limited. You are unable to add plugins to your site, which really is a deterrent. I love being able to use plugins for social shares and with WordPress.com you just can’t do that. While there are a lot of themes you can pick for this platform, again you are still limited in customization.
All in all, WordPress.com is not terrible. The free version is great if you just want a personal blog for hobby purposes, but if you want to make a side hustle you really want to avoid it. The paid version, I think, is worse than the free. If you are going to be paying money, you might as well do a self hosted WordPress. Not only will it likely be less money, but you will have greater customization options and more monetization options.
Self Hosted WordPress: WordPress.org
Let’s get real for a minute. I am going to be honest with you, self hosted WordPress is a bit more work than the free version. Despite that, it is so much better for anyone who wants to make money with their blog.
In order to utilize self hosted WordPress, you first need to buy your domain and hosting. I have an entire post dedicated to starting your blog if you want to learn more about this, but here we will touch on the basics.
Domains and Hosting
In order to fully utilize a blog to make money, you will need to purchase your domain and hosting. I like BlueHost and SiteGround for those purposes. Both of them are rather inexpensive, with awesome customer service. You can think of your domain as your house. It is the space on the internet that your blog takes up, the unique address. Where as the hosting is your landlord. They provide you that space and maintain a steady connection. Hosting will run you around $5 a month with either of the sites I mentioned, and the domain names are inexpensive as well so really, this way can be cheaper than WordPress.com.
WordPress.org, also called self hosted WordPress, is a framework for your new site. All you have to do is download it and install. It is easy, even for those like me who are not technologically advanced. If you are switching from a free WordPress site, you can easily migrate all of your content over to your new site without losing all of those precious posts! The customer service team for your hosting of choice will be able to easily assist you with this.
The benefits of being self hosted are endless! It allows full customization of your site as well as endless monetization opportunities. Now that you are self hosted, you can use a literal plethora of amazing plugins to make your site even more awesome. I have a detailed list of all of my favorite plugins coming soon as well. You won’t want to miss that. There are no more limitations on what you can use, so this alone makes going self hosted worth it.
You also are now able to apply to various different ad agencies if you want to run ads on your site. No more Word Ads only limitations! You can also sign up for Affiliate Networks like Share A Sale and Influencer Networks like Linqia to start making money right away. I won’t delve into these right now, but just know there is a full Influencer and Affiliate post coming soon, so be on the look out for that!
So What Should I Do?
It really depends on what you want to do as far as your blog is concerned. If you just want a simple personal blog, then by all means, go for the free WordPress.com. As far as money is concerned though, if you want to make your blog into a business, you really need to go self hosted. I mentioned earlier being not technologically inclined, and really that isn’t an issue. There are tons of resources out there to help set up your site for free, and customer service with your hosting platform will become your best friend. It is a jump, but one that is worth it in the long run! I personally went from my free site, to self hosted and making money through affiliates and sponsorship opportunities in a matter of months. So what are you waiting for? It is time to take a little risk and go for it!
For more helpful information on building a blogging empire, go check out my Bloggers Resource Page. It is filled with everything you need to run a money making blog!
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Jessi is a working mom to two living in Central Florida. She has a Master’s Degree in Legal Studies but decided to make her career in social media marketing and content writing. When she isn’t cooking up something new in the kitchen, she is traveling with her family and looking for new adventures!