One of the most confusing aspects of starting a blog is understanding WordPress.com vs WordPress.org and which of these blogging platforms will best fit your needs.
This WordPress for beginner’s crash course post will get you ready in no time. Additionally, choosing a WordPress.org hosting provider can also prove to be a bit overwhelming, so we will also cover the best hosting providers for bloggers.
What’s a blogging platform and how do I choose one?
What are the differences between a hosted and a self-hosted platform?
How does WordPress play a role in this whole enchilada?
And what in the world is a hosting company and how do I know which one is the best one for me?
Do any these questions sound familiar?
If so, then you my friend are in the right place because today I will save you from this computer lingo madness, haha.
In this article we will cover what is WordPress and which of its two options (.com or .org) you should choose for your new blog or website. We will also be discussing some of the best hosting companies for bloggers.
Now, before we get to WordPress, let’s first understand some basic components.
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A platform is an operating system where software applications can run.
When it comes to blogging, a platform is what allows for interaction between a user, a computer, and an application. It is programmed and customized by developers with computer language which they call code. In the blogging world, they are known as web hosting platforms.
Because websites need a place to “live”, a host or hosting provider will grant you that space. A host provides the services and technologies necessary to have and run a website on the internet. In other words, your web host will rent you space (on their computer servers) to house your site.
There are two types of web hosting platforms to consider when starting a blog: hosted and self-hosted.
Hosted platforms are the kind of platforms which already include the hosting service. In other words, they tend to be an all-in-one shop. They provide you the server space to run your site (host), a domain or subdomain, and the ease of website building.
Pros: Hosted platforms typically come with built-in customizations for quick and easy use. Hosted platforms don’t require any updates because they take care of all of the software updates for you. They tend to be free of charge for basic functionally, however service fees may apply for additional functionality and personalization.
Cons: You have very little control over your site. You aren’t free to customize your site to its full potential because customizations are limited. You don’t get to install plugins. Plugins are extra bits of functionality that enhance the capabilities of your site. For example, the Askimet plugin protects your site from spam in your comment section and the Yoast SEO plugin helps optimize your blog so that search engines can find you. You are not free to place ads on your site, instead they place their own ads at their own terms. They have the power to shut your site down at any given time and if their hosting services shutdown so does your site. In other words, they practically “own” your blog/website.
Hosted platforms are ideal for hobby blogger who aren’t looking to scale their blog and audience, and for business owners who are looking for an easy and effected way to build a professional looking website. For example, musicians, photographers, artists, and other creatives who want to showcase their work while also having the ability to blog in the same platform.
Examples of popular blogging web hosted platforms include WordPress.com, Blogger, Squarespace, and Wix.
Self-hosted platforms require you to have your own hosting company, and then later downloading the content software (WordPress) with one click (more on WordPress in a minute).
Pros: Self-hosted platforms allow for full customization of your site and its features. With thousands of plugins and themes both free and paid, the options are endless. You have full control and ownership of your site. If at any point you are unhappy with your hosting company, you are free to change while leaving your site intact. Most importantly, self-hosted platforms give you free range to monetize your site. Whether it be through ads, affiliates links, eCommerce store, or a PayPal shopping cart, all profit belongs to you.
Cons: Unlike hosted platforms, self-hosted platforms typically require a monthly a fee typically ranging from $35-$200 a year (but for as little as $3.95/month you can own your website). You are responsible for your own updates, although with WordPress it happens with the click of a button.
An example of a self-hosted platform is WordPress.org, which also happens to be the best and most popular option.
Now that you have a better understanding of hosted and self-hosted platforms, let’s go over the power of WordPress.
WordPress is the best and most popular content management system (CMS) in the world, currently housing 27% of all online websites worldwide. A content management system allows you to manage and control your website’s content without much technical knowledge or training. From personal blogs to major magazines and news organizations such as the Wall Street Journal, Google, Walt Disney, and The New Yorker, WordPress takes the cake.
WordPress is a free software, which means you can download it and modify it as you wish. It is also an open source software (or software with source code), which makes it available to anyone interested to study, modify, and enhance it. It is for that reason WordPress currently has the biggest support community out there and an outstanding 53,000+ plugins and 2600+ WordPress themes ready to install and use in your blog/ website. With the click of a button you can update your plugins and themes from your administrator WordPress dashboard.
WordPress is also SEO (Search Engine Optimization) friendly, which means search engines such as Google and Bing recognize it as a trusted and authentic source. Furthermore, you can install a WordPress SEO plugins which enhances the SEO of your blog even more.
WordPress offers both hosted and self-hosted options, but make no mistake they are both completely different, and where most of the confusion comes from.
Next, we will discuss in detail both WordPress.org (self-hosted) and WordPress.com (hosted) with this infographic.
As you can see WordPress.org offers the most freedom and functionality to make your blog flourish, despite how big or how small it gets to be.
In my humble opinion and that of almost anyone you ask in the blogging world, WordPress.org is the way to go for starting a blog, especially if you are planning on growing and monetizing your site.
In order to use platforms such as WordPress.org, you must first register your domain name, and sign-up with a hosting provider. All 3 hosting providers we will discuss next, will give you the option to register a new domain with them, so no worries. What’s more, some hosting providers will register your domain for free when you sign up with their hosting services.
BEST HOSTING PROVIDERS FOR BLOGGERS
The first 3 hosting companies are the only ones currently, officially listed on WordPress.org as their recommended options. They all offer a one click WordPress installation.
This is what WordPress.org has to say about their choices:
“There are hundreds of thousands of web hosts out there, the vast majority of which meet the WordPress minimum requirements, and choosing one from the crowd can be a chore. Just like flowers need the right environment to grow, WordPress works best when it’s in a rich hosting environment. We’ve dealt with more hosts than you can imagine; in our opinion, the hosts below represent some of the best and brightest of the hosting world.”
SiteGround is the new cool kid in the block of hosting. Having gained enormous popularity in the blogging community in the recent years by their record braking up-times, latest web hosting speed technology, site hack protection, and excellent 24/7 customer service, SiteGround is a powerful contender.
If you are looking to start a self-hosted blog, SiteGround is definitely an excellent option. Their recent reviews are impeccable and their users swear by its reliability. SiteGround is definitely a top contender when choosing a hosting provider.
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BlueHost is my current hosting company and that of other 2 million users. Besides its great reputation and reliability, it is a very affordable hosting provider to start a WordPress blog with.
Coming in at just $3.95 per month through this link, when you commit to 36 months of hosting. Their 36 month plan it’s their best value, and completely risk free. If you choose to end services, they will reimburse the remainder balance in your account. They also offer a 30-day money back guarantee.
What’s more, with BlueHost you can register your Domain for FREE.
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To SAVE on rates as much as $2.65/mo
For a step-by-step tutorial on signing up with BlueHost and choosing what to blog about, click here.
As another good hosting option, DreamHost comes in with almost 10 years of hosting and contributing with WordPress and its community. DreamHost is an overall hosting provider excelling in customer service, knowledge, and functionality and price. They also offer a 97-day money back guarantee, which shows how confident they are in their services.
Ultimately, it all comes down to your needs and expectations for your new blog/ website.
If you are looking to start a blog with room for growth (make money, full customization and design control, no limitations, etc.), then self-hosted WordPress.org is the way go. Just pick a hosting provider, install WordPress with one click, and off you go.
The best of luck on your new journey my friend,