Thoughts on Self-Hosted versus Free WordPress Accounts

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Today’s challenge sponsored by Sarah of Sarkemedia was to find out how to install plugins on self-hosted WordPress blogs. While trying to figure this out for a good 15 minutes of my time, I concluded that my blog was not self-hosted. Which then led me to believe that I really didn’t know the difference between free and self-hosted blogs on WordPress.

I then came across this great article by WPBeginner (Beginner’s Guide for WordPress), who explain in detail what exactly the pros and cons are for both types of blogs. Find the full write-up with infographic here.
In the meantime, I’ve come up with my own conclusions on both types:

1) .com versus .org
The main difference is perhaps the most obvious: Hosted blogs end in (wordpress) .com whereas self-hosted blogs end in .org. This is not to be confused with the CSS upgrade wordpress.com users can achieve, which gets rid of the WordPress part in their URL.

2) Themes
This has always rubbed me the wrong way because all the great themes are usually restricted to an upgrade of your wordpress account. I have wanted to do something great theme-wise with this blog in like forever but every time I find a great, suitable theme, it costs $$ each year (which is not a one-time fee either) or you have to upgrade your blog to have access to other great themes.

3) Plugins to Enhance User Traffic
After searching for an SEO plugin today, I realized that perhaps the free WordPress account is a bit limited in terms of SEO and google search features. Self-hosted accounts certainly have more flexibility when it comes to installing SEO plugins and adding other great, traffic enhancing features to the site.

4) Cost and Regularity
The hosted version of wordpress.com is free. Perhaps one of the main reasons I decided to start two blogs was that it was perfectly easy to do so. I also have not yet switched over to self-hosting on either. I enjoy entertaining different blogs but, as most of my readers can attest, I have not been very avid about blogging in the past year or so. I figured that if I wanted to spend the money on blogging, perhaps I should make sure I establish more of a daily/ weekly routine.

At the end of the day, I don’t think I will switch to self-hosted anytime soon. Even though I’d really like to get rid of the wordpress.com in my URL. My main reason is that I already own a photographer’s website, for which I pay a large amount of yearly fees thanks to bluehost and smugmug. Personally, I consider blogging more of a fun side activity and a great way to share my thoughts, way of living, and events with other writers and photographers. As of now, I don’t think it’s worth it (yet) to pay an extra yearly sum for self-hosting or to go through any CSS upgrade.

What are your thoughts on free versus self-hosted wordpress blogs? Does your blog expand your business in such a way that you want to get rid of the wordpress.com URL? Are free WordPress users at any other disadvantages?

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8 thoughts on “Thoughts on Self-Hosted versus Free WordPress Accounts

  1. I did my upgrade when WordPress suspended my .org for a couple days with no explanation. Turned out their spam scanner assumed a post was spam that legitimately contained a lot of links. They apologized and fixed it but I had already switched it over. Idk what smugmug is but if you already use BlueHost see if it costs you anything to add your blog to your plan. It didn’t cost me extra to have embracingadventure.com and investinginfitness.net on the same hosting plan; the only thing I pay for separately is the domain which is like $15 a year.

    • That is a good point! Perhaps I should look into adding my blog to my bluehost plan, since it already costs me a significant amount of money every year.
      Smugmug is a photosharing site – not so much about blogging but more about getting the online portfolio together.
      I remember the issues you were having with the org part of WordPress! Are you now on WordPress.com, the upgraded version?

  2. I am sorry to see this but your first two sentences really made me laugh. Not at you but with you. I hope you aren’t offended it was just the matter of fact way you said it. 🙂

    Anyway, I have dealt with both, self hosted and free WP, and I prefer the free. It’s much easier and you have a community here.

    With the self hosted you have to do everything yourself and really don’t have a way of getting the content out there unless you are a pro at self promotion or have a large following you are bringing with you. Plus there is the money factor, which isn’t a lot but why pay when you can better features for free? Yeah, you can advertise on self hosted but again if you don’t have a large following or great promotion skills you probably won’t make a penny.

    Really it depends on what kind of blogging you want to do and what your skills are 🙂

    • It’s ok Ginger, I acknowledge that technology is not my strong point these days! haha
      I agree – self-promotion takes time and resources and right now I really have neither.
      Good to hear your opinion since you tried out the frustration and perks of both! 🙂

  3. I agree with what you said; if there is a daily or weekly commitment, then I would consider self-hosting. At the moment I’ll live it free and write on!

    • It takes a while to get an online following and, until that hasn’t happened, I guess there really is not much point unless you’re really passionate about your site.

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