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When you’re just starting out as a blogger, it can be tempting to start your blog on a free web host, such as WordPress.com, Blogger, or Blogspot.
However, did you know that this is one of the biggest mistakes you can make, and not one that can be easily corrected in the future?
It’s true – while you may have seen many people blogging on a WordPress.com domain, starting your blog there is equal to shooting yourself in the foot, and then trying to run a marathon. Simply put, it’s a terrible idea.
Let me explain why.
WordPress.com vs WordPress.org
Before I go any further, I want to make one thing clear – I love WordPress.
I love it so much that I host all of my sites on it, and prefer to use it whenever and wherever possible. The WordPress CMS is one of the best in the world, and there’s a reason millions of websites use it. It’s secure, simple, customizable, and all-in-all pleasant to use. In all of our time running my websites, I’ve never once looked elsewhere simply because there isn’t much that WordPress can’t do.
There is however, a major difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. And unless you’re using the right one, you may be in for some major headaches down the road.
WordPress.com is a blogging portal that lets you start your own blog for free. You sign up, put in some information about the site you’re looking to create, and it’s made. The process is extremely quick and easy.
However, your blog on WordPress.com will always end with the dreaded “.WordPress.com.”
Not only does “yourblogname.wordpress.com” look extremely unprofessional, but WordPress.com severely limits your functionality and what you’re able to do on your blog. If you’re hoping to make money as a blogger, you’re simply going to be held back in a number of ways, which I’ll get to in a moment.
WordPress.org is WordPress’ downloadable content management system. After buying your own hosting and domain name, you upload WordPress to your server and run it on your site. Because it’s so popular, many web hosts have easy installation systems already built in.
With WordPress.org, you are not limited in functionality, and are free to utilize all of the capabilities WordPress has to offer.
Why Serious Bloggers Need To Avoid WordPress.com
Although we’ve already discussed a few of the reasons why hosting on WordPress (or any free hosting platform for that matter) is a bad idea, let’s look into it in a bit more detail.
1. You Don’t Actually Own Your Website
And this one should be reason enough.
Could you imagine how terrible it would be if one day, you woke up to see your blog and all of its contents were gone? The years of time and effort it took building it, suddenly wiped out overnight?
This has been the reality for countless other people. It can be something as simple as someone claiming you plagiarized content, and to avoid any liability, the platform may believe it easier to simply remove your website altogether.
While you do own the copyright to the content you publish on WordPress.com, the site itself is not yours.
Keep that in mind if you decide to invest time and energy into developing a site on there.
2. Some Monetization Options Aren’t Allowed
When you host your website on a third party platform such as Blogspot or WordPress.com, it’s important to remember that you’ll never have full control over your blog.
Because WordPress.com is in a way, responsible for the content that appears on their domain, they have to impose many restrictions to protect themselves – even if the majority of people are doing nothing wrong. After all, they do not want anything shady going on under their roof.
Unfortunately, this means several ways bloggers would normally make money are prohibited on WordPress.com.
Advertising options such as Adsense are banned outright, and as far as affiliate marketing goes, only certain options are allowed.
Not only that, but rules could change and become even more strict at any time. This definitely isn’t very comforting, especially if you’re living off the income your blog generates for you.
3. Decreased Functionality
One of the reasons a self-hosted WordPress(.org) blog is so wonderful is because it can be customized extremely easily, adding additional features and functionality through downloadable plugins.
Unfortunately, most plugins aren’t supported by WordPress.com. This is for security purposes, alongside with the fact that many plugins need to be able to make additional changes on the web server itself.
Many tools that will help you make the most out of your blog, monetary and otherwise, can not be used on WordPress.com. Ouch.
4. It’s Simply Not Professional
If you can’t invest a little bit of money each month to build your website, you can’t expect people to take you seriously.
As the owner of a baby product company that works with blogs regularly, you’ll almost never see us pursue an opportunity with somebody working on a free host. It doesn’t mean they’re not a great blogger or that their content is bad – not at all. I’ve seen wonderful blogs hosting with WordPress.com or Blogspot. We just don’t work with them very often.
Part of that is for the reasons mentioned above. We don’t want to worry about the sponsored posts or giveaways we run with blogs being taken down or disappearing. We also want to make sure somebody is serious about the work they’re doing online.
Although we’re certainly easier to work with than other companies, the fact of the matter is that people do judge a book by its cover. And in a world with so many bloggers to work with, people will not give second thought to skipping over yours if their initial impression is that you’re not professional.
5. It’s Difficult To Upgrade Later
Say you decide to ignore my advice, and start your blog on WordPress.com anyway.
It’ll only be a matter of time before you realize continuing your growth is infeasible, and you have to upgrade to keep growing.
Unfortunately, doing so isn’t exactly easy.
Although there are options to move all of your posts and comments over pretty easily, your site is so much more than that.
The tools, themes you’ve set up, the customizations you’ve made, they all have to be added again from scratch. If you’ve put a lot of time into your site, this can be a real hassle.
Not to mention the fact that your audience will have to memorize a new website address, and the links and Google rankings you’ve earned for your site are now gone (unless you properly set up redirects for all of them, and even this isn’t a guarantee.)
Oh yeah, and if you’ve linked to other posts in your old articles, you may have to go through and update all of those too.
Sounds fun, right?
Here’s What To Do Instead
Do yourself a huge favor. Rather than starting a site on a free host, just host your blog yourself right from the start, or wait until you can.
It really isn’t that much. $100 can buy you three months with a premium web host, and by then you’ll likely already be making more than that. Like a lot of investments in blogging, it tends to pay for itself rather quickly.
For individual bloggers (as well as small teams), I personally recommend one called WPEngine. Not only is it the easiest to use, but it’s extremely fast, packed full of features (such as one-click WordPress installation) and built for SEO.
I’ve used WPEngine extensively in the past and have had nothing but pleasant experiences. Traditional hosts such as Hostgator or Bluehost on the other hand have been quite a hassle as my websites have grown and problems pop up. Their support for their shared hosting plans is virtually non-existant.
If you have any questions about WordPress (both .com and .org), hosting, or WPEngine, please feel free to email me or post your question as a comment down below. I’ll do my best to respond as quickly as possible.
I can’t wait to see your site when it’s online!
To your success,
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