Self Hosted WordPress or Free WordPress: What All New Bloggers Need to Know

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.

Self Hosted WordPress VS 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

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.

Paid WordPress.com

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 GlowHost for those purposes. Both of them are rather inexpensive, with awesome customer service. GlowHost even allows you to purchase your domain right through them. 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

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!

 

Self Hosted WordPress. How to make money with your blogSo 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!

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37 comments

  1. Raine C. S. says:

    Thanks for this. I’ve read quite a few blogs now on setting up blogs and using WordPress.com versus WordPress.org, but I have to say, I like yours the best. It’s easy to understand, nicely laid out and very organized. I can’t wait to read more in this series. Thanks a lot!
    Raine C. S. recently posted…A Promise for TomorrowMy Profile

    • Jessi says:

      Thank you. I had read a lot in the past, and they all seemed so technical.. I’m not that technical so I wanted it to just make sense in common words lol

  2. Sandra crespo says:

    This is great info for this is great info for everyone wanting to start a blog or is confused on the difference. I learned the hard way and I had to start from scratch again last summer since I was not educated on this a couple of years back

  3. Author Brandi Kennedy says:

    This was a great post with strong tips for new bloggers! It’s always good to see stuff like this, because you get to see things from someone else’s perspective.

    I use blogger, and I still have my site on a blogspot.com URL because that’s working for me, and it allows me to spend what needs to be spent on other things. I do think it pretty likely that I’ll eventually switch to something paid though, so I’ve been watching posts like this one much more closely.

  4. Kristy says:

    I wish I would have known more the differences of the org va com too before starting my blogging. I agree with everything you said

  5. kristen morris says:

    Thank you so much for this post! I’m currently on wp.com and strongly considering making the switch to self-hosted. As a newbie blogger you just have no earthly clue how much going with the .com is going to straightjacket you, it just seems like the safest & easiest thing to do in that moment, which is a really overwhelming moment to being with lol!

  6. theresasreviews says:

    I own a website, and because my husband knows a lot about computers, I don’t have to think about this technical side. I love just focusing on the writing part, but this looks helpful for anyone who needs to do it themselves@

  7. Ayana says:

    Great post and comparisons! I went with .org because I had heard the same thing! And while this is starting as just a ‘hobby’ if I can make money doing it I sure as heck plan on it!!!

  8. Jeanine says:

    Great info! I started out on .com and on blogger. I wanted to make sure I was going to stick with it before paying, because I’ve been doing this on and off since 1998, so i needed to be sure!

  9. Elizabeth Brico says:

    This is a GREAT article, and super useful for new bloggers. I probably would have screwed everything up if I had been on my own… my techs friend is hosting my site and gifted me my domain. As it is, I still made some silly and embarrassing mistakes…like asking her if I could pay the difference to upgrade my account to monetize it. She was like “I think you just need a plugin…”
    Anyway, great article! I’m sure it will help many new bloggers 🙂

  10. Reshama says:

    Very informative! I think it really helps to hear from someone who has gone down the road of finding the right solution. I also believe that with a little bit more work the free version really does give you a good start and you can pick up some skills along the way!

  11. Tereza says:

    This always confuses me so much – thank you for this post, it’s definitely helpful! I think people get these two mixed up all the time! x

  12. Elizabeth O. says:

    A self hosted website is not bad at all. I think it’s a good choice especially if you’re an experienced blogger and you’re migrating your blog to wordpress.

  13. Shauna says:

    Thank you! You explained this clearly. I have been so confused about the differences. I have to check to see where I stand with this not sure if I’m self-hosted or not? Would you say you should have a certain number if subscribers or activities on your blog before you add ads?

    • Jessi says:

      Ads aren’t my strong suit as I don’t run any. But I believe most ad agencies want a certain amount of views per month to let you in. Google adsense is a big one and,I believe their requirements are quite low.

    • Jessi says:

      And if you purchased hosting and a domain. Then you are self hosted. There’s a ton of hosting sites, like,blue host and host gator.

  14. Yona Williams says:

    Although I have a self-hosted WordPress blog, I totally dropped the ball on choosing a domain name that would stand the test of time. I’m slowly trying to work on all that…and redirection is definitely going to be involved.

  15. Heather says:

    Great post!!!! For years I had a blog on Blogger.com. Last year when I decided to start a new blog I went with WordPress.org and it was the best decision! You can do so much more with it!!

  16. Eva says:

    I help run several self-hosted WordPress blogs, and I keep having to explain these differences! Thanks for putting it all in one place. I might have to refer people to your post…

  17. Angela Zimsky says:

    I found this post to be very helpful. At this time I am only blogging as a hobby. However if I ever decide to do it in order to make money I will keep this information in mind.

    • Jessi says:

      Not at all. I know bluehost that I mentioned has a tool to swap everything right over for you so you don’t lose your content. And their customer service is awesome at walking you through everything.

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