So what the heck is a “website” host, and why do you have to pay for some but not others? In this article, I compare the free WordPress.com vs WordPress.org (aka self-hosted WordPress) to help you decide which platform is best for you.
I’ve used both platforms. In fact, my WordPress.com blog was deleted because I tried monetizing it on my own. Since January 2017, I’ve had self-hosted WordPress blogs and definitely consider these the superior option with more flexibility.
Yes, you can choose the right platform based on your needs. Maybe you’re not interested in monetizing and WordPress.com’s free plan is perfect for you.
But before I get too ahead of myself, I’ll explain exactly what website hosting is and why you may have to pay for some versus others.
What is website hosting?
There’s all this talk about website hosting… but as a beginner, you might be wondering, wait! What the heck is hosting?! Why do I need a host for my website? And do I have to pay for that host?
I have totally been there. The questions are endless, as are the answers and information. So here’s the condensed and simplified version:
Every website needs a website host: basically, a place to store a website’s information (its front pages, and behind-the-scenes stuff too). For example, my hosting company Siteground stores my website information. They “host” me. And I can run WordPress.org software to customize our website.
Essentially, I’m renting space on the Internet from Siteground. But I have the advantage of using the incredibly customizable WordPress.org software. People refer to what I do with my website as “self-hosted WordPress.”
People refer to what I do with my website as “self-hosted WordPress.”
There are also website hosts on the Internet that start out as “free,” like WordPress.com, Blogger and even Wix.
Although free sounds great (trust me, I love free things), you are obviously restricted with what you can accomplish on a free website, as opposed to owning your own website and simply renting space from a web host like Siteground.
So I’m going to walk you through the difference between the free web host WordPress.com and your very own self-hosted WordPress.org website.
Do you already know the difference between free and self-hosted? And you’re ready to start your own profitable, self-hosted blog?
What’s the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org?
WordPress.com is a free hosting service that is perfect for personal blogs (aka blogging about your day-to-day life or feelings), but not ultimately not good for blog monetization. WordPress.com is a free host.
You don’t have to pay for the free plan, but you are limited in the customization for your blog, as well as the type of content you can produce.
WordPress.org is a content management system (aka “CMS”) that helps you build your website. For the WordPress.org CMS, you need a website host.
That’s where the term “self-hosted” comes in. You pay a hosting provider a small monthly fee to host your content, but ultimately you own it. And you get access to the whole WordPress.org suite, including a huge set of themes and plugins across the Internet.
WordPress.com vs WordPress.org
If you use WordPress.com:
- WordPress.com offers free plans
- If you’re on a free WordPress.com plan, your visitors see advertisements…but you don’t get any money from the advertiser
- Free WordPress prevents you from installing Google Analytics, which may prevent you from working with brands who ask for detailed website and traffic analytics
- You cannot install your own themes or plugins, so you are limited to the ones WordPress.com offers
- Even if you upgrade to WordPress Business, you’ll need a significant amount of pageviews to earn money.
Clearly, if you don’t intend to go all-in and monetize or customize your blog, WordPress.com plans might be right for you. It’s perfect for the blogger with no business plan who simply wants to blog about their day-to-day life or educate others on a particular topic.
But if you want to start earning money from your blog from the get-go, I definitely recommend going self-hosted.
Going Self-Hosted WordPress.org:
- You have to invest in a hosting plan, but they start at low cost (Bluehost offers plans starting at as low as $2.95/mo)
- You have full control over the customization of your website, like:
- The ability to install customizable themes (we use Divi by Elegant Themes on our website)
- Being able to install plugins (our free faves are Yoast SEO, Disqus, and Mailerlite)
- And, of course, being able to install Google Analytics to track pageviews and audience behavior
- You don’t need a huge amount of pageviews in order to make money
As the saying goes, you have to spend money to make money.
For serious blogpreneurs, the small cost of hosting is one of the investments you need to make.
If this is a lot of money to you, it’s okay to keep investment costs minimal.
Initially, you don’t need much else other than a hosting plan, domain, and a WordPress theme.
But I definitely recommend either paying for a premium theme or hiring a designer. Your theme contributes to what will be either a positive or negative guest experience. And that first impression you make counts.
Hobby Blog or Business Blog?
Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide: will I be blogging as a hobby? Or do I want to start a blog and make money from it? WordPress.com would be dedicated to the hobby blogger.
Let’s say you LOVE shoes and you just feel the itch to write about it for fun – no profit necessary. Then free WordPress would be for you.
Now if you want to go a few steps further and research shoe companies, find the companies that have affiliate programs to start making an income from your work… we would recommend self-hosted WordPress.org to launch you into a new direction.
Are you ready for that new direction? Do you want to start a profitable blog?! Well, I have a totally free blogging course that will help you create a standout brand while making money writing about what you love. Just leave your details below to get started!
Don’t let others talk you out of monetizing from the get-go. It’s practicing “the art of monetization” that will ultimately teach you what does and doesn’t work when it comes to making money from your blog.
- 11 Things to Do Before Blog Launch
- How to Start a Blog and Make Money Online
- How to Make Money Blogging: Make Your First $1,000 Blogging
What’s your experience in the blogosphere? What blogging platform do you use, and what’s your experience with it?