Blogger’s Choice: WordPress.com or WordPress.org?

You want to have your own blog, and you’ve decided on the WordPress platform. Now all you have to do is decide on whether you want a self-hosted blog or a blog hosted on wordpress.com. The WordPress.com website is one of the coolest and best places to host a blog. It’s also free. On the other hand, you have infinite control over a wordpress.org-based blog. Here’s how to choose which one is best for you.

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Your Goals

First, write down your goals. What do you want to do with your blog? If this is a personal blog, what will you be writing about? Is it just a hobby or is it something you might want to turn into a business some time down the road? If it’s strictly personal, detail what you’ll be blogging about, how often you want to blog, and how many resources you’ll likely need to accomplish your goals (i.e. how much video you intend to shoot and post up, how many photos, etc.).

WordPress.com

WordPress.com is the “Mr Hyde” side of the WordPress community. It’s the free, safe, and controlled environment. You get to sign up for a free blog, you get to type your little heart out to the world, and you don’t have to worry about anything going wrong.

WordPress.com takes care of everything. Now for the downside. Because you’re playing in a virtual playpen, you have to put up with ads on your website. It’s lame, but it’s also free so you can’t complain too much.

Of course, you can always pay for an upgraded playpen where you get much more freedom and no ads. You still don’t have to do any maintenance on the site and you never have to worry about security – aside from access to your own blog (secure it by choosing a really strong password, and you’ll be fine).

WordPress.org

WordPress.org is where most of the serious players are. This is the self-hosted community of bloggers. Instead of hosting the site on WordPress.com, you must buy your own hosting plan, install the software, maintain it, and worry about security all by yourself.

Since it costs money for hosting, site design, maintenance, and security, this is for serious people only. If you’re a business owner or if you’re a personal blogger that wants to build a brand and eventually monetize the blog, choose the self-hosted option. Sure, you can migrate from WordPress.com to your own site later, but it’s a major hassle and it’s very far from a perfect and smooth transition.

Hosting

Hosting is something you’ll need if you self-host your WordPress blog. There are so many hosts out there.

Basically, you’ll be buying one of three levels of hosting. The entry-level hosting plans are called “shared hosting.” This type of hosting is where you share your physical hardware (server) with many other websites. You also share software resources – meaning that other sites can affect your site’s performance. Normally, this isn’t a big deal unless or until one of the sites on your server gets popular (i.e. traffic spikes) or starts running an insane number of scripts. When that happens, you may see your site slow down or periodically crash.

The next level of hosting is a VPS or cloud hosting. Either one will give you dedicated software resources, but you will likely be sharing your server hardware resources with another website or several. That’s OK, because it’s not going to have any affect on your site’s performance. You can customize the software installation and make extensive configurations as long as it doesn’t affect the hardware.

Finally, there’s the dedicated server – reserved for enterprise clients. If you absolutely must control and customize your hardware, this is the hosting plan for you.