Why I actually recommend WordPress-hosted sites

My thoughts on the wordpress.com vs wordpress.org dilemma

You might have come to a point when you needed to consider starting a website or a blog and you had to find out what you actually need for that to happen.
There are many articles on the topic and I frequently hear that you should go with wordpress.org which requires downloading a software for building the site, finding a hosting service and then you also need to take into account where you get the domain for you website.

I’ve been setting up websites for people using wordpress.com and I would like to talk about my reasons for choosing that route.

If the following examples describe your case, wordpress.com is very likely to cover your needs:

You’ve been thinking about having an online home for your project but never got around to it because you don’t know anything about hosting, domains and it just demotivates you.

Somebody has coded a website for you, but now you’re just having website shame and rather pretend it doesn’t exist, and all changes you’d like to make take ages to get done.

You don’t have time or money to hire a developer and designer, pay for hosting, learning how to build with wordpress.org.

You want to focus on content, marketing, developing your products & services, building your email list, networking and providing your services to people in your area.

You just need an elegant, functioning website across all devices without buying a domain that you like from one place and hosting from another.

You don’t want to spend time checking out plugins that you don’t know how to use or staring into Google Analytics and not have any idea what to do with all the data.

You’re not planning on building an online emporium right from the start. You just want start relatively fast and adapt to your needs as you go.

You want someone to take care of your backups, security and smooth operation with access to quality support.

You’re not a person who needs to be in full control over your code or get stuck on tweaking every tiny detail of your design until you lose focus of the bigger picture.

These are just a few reasons I actually choose  WordPress hosting instead of self-hosting.

Now, is that unprofessional? I think you can have a perfectly professional blog or website on wordpress.com and a lot of big companies host their sites on WordPress (TED, CNN, TIME, Spotify etc.), so you can imagine they have suitable infrastructure.

Sure, there are limitations to what you can do, but you also don’t have to worry about many things. I prefer to keep things simple, so I can keep track of them and focus on things that matter to me more.

So, what do you get completely free?

  • a blog or a website without needing to care about the technical bits
  • you can start publishing within 5 minutes if you want to
  • a lot of free themes with basic customization options
  • 3 GB space
  • automatically a lot of functions that you’d need plugins for otherwise (contact forms, advanced galleries, stats, comments, embedding, social sharing, various widgets)
  • HTTPS by default (encrypted communication between your browser and the website)
  • hosting, security, automatic backups & updates, spam protection
  • essential SEO (themes are optimized for search engines and Google is notified automatically when you publish)
  • no need to install plugins plugins (as they can introduce security risks)
  • email forwarding
  • you can export your content

What upgrades can you pay for?

  • domain credit (when you take a payment plan, it includes a custom domain or mapping)
  • extra storage
  • custom design (custom fonts, CSS editor, …)
  • no ads
  • hidden WP attribution
  • Google Analytics
  • advanced SEO
  • monetization

If you decide you want to move your site in the future, you can and they will help you migrate it for a one-time fee if you need assistance.

There’s a clause in their terms of service that has been pointed out in some articles which says that they can terminate your site with or without notification. That is somewhat unsettling, so I have contacted their support with this issue and was told this happens in cases of serious violations like using illegal content, pornography etc.
I was also told they are advocates of free speech and even won legal battles protecting their user’s sites. I understand they need to have legal tools to take down sites in certain cases, but overall is not in their best interests to just take down sites as they please because once you betray your customers’ trust, it is hard to get it back.