September 7, 2016

Starting a Wordpress blog - Choosing self-hosted or not?


I am back with part 2 of the Wordpress series. In my last post I told you that I started a personal blog on Wordpress and decided to go for a self-hosted version. But what exactly is a self-hosted version and is there another version on Wordpress? Let's dive into that today!

DIFFERENT BLOGGING PLATFORMS

Just like Blogger, Wordpress is a blog/website platform, offering its users the opportunity to start a website/blog on their platform. Blogger and Wordpress aren't the only platforms offering the option to start a blog. There are actually many more. Some examples are Squarespace, Tumblr and Weebly. But I will stick to explaining the differences between Blogger and Wordpress, since those platforms seem to be the most used by bloggers.

A LITTLE INFO ON THE BLOGGER PLATFORM

Blogger is a part of Google. To start a blog on blogger all you have to do is create a free Google account and then you can activate your free blogger account and start a blog. It's as simple as that. There are no costs involved. The account is free and Blogger offers its users several free templates to style their blogs. If you want to go a little more fancy on Blogger you can decide to purchase a nice premade template and purchase a real domain name for your blog, but those things are not a must.

While it is great that people have the opportunity on Blogger to start a free blog, there are some negative sides to it as well. Not many people know that the content that you share on Blogger is actually not considered your own. Blogger has the copyright over it. I have to admit that I haven't come across anyone yet that had any trouble with that, but it might be something to keep in mind.

Also, there is no option to start on Blogger directly with a domain name. Blogger will always give any new blog account the extension .blogspot.com. You have the option to purchase a domain name and connect that to your Blogger account, but you cannot do that right from the start.

But the thing that bothers me the most about Blogger is that since it is free Google can do whatever it wants with it. And this has resulted in changes being made by Google that directly affected my blog and my blog's gadgets in a negative way. I have experienced this first hand with the Blogger templates I create for my Etsy shop and with my own blog. Gadgets that have been working fine all of a sudden stop working because Google decides to change some settings or algorithms. And that just sucks. Big time.

WORDPRESS.COM - THE FREE VERSION

Just like Blogger, Wordpress offers its users a free version as well. If you want to start a free Wordpress blog you can do so over at www.wordpress.com. It basically works like Blogger. You create a free account, select one of the free templates that Wordpress offers and you get started. There is an option to purchase and install a domain name on such a free blog as well. And contrary to a Blogger blog, you can install the domain name right from the start when you are creating your free Wordpress blog.

Since it is free you can expect some boundaries. For instance, you are only allowed to use the free Wordpress templates and they don't offer a lot of customizations. You don't have the option, as with Blogger, to shop around on Etsy for a nice premade template. That just doesn't exist and there is no way for designers outside Wordpress to create templates for the free version of Wordpress. And this is the issue that is most confusing for people starting on Wordpress. They go all gung-ho about some cute premade template they found on Etsy, only to find out after purchase that it doesn't work on the free version...

While most designers on Etsy and other selling platforms clearly state in their product information that premade Wordpress themes only work on the paid version of Wordpress, many wannabe bloggers fail to notice the difference. So please be aware of this. You can only shop for a nice Wordpress template if you decide to go with the paid version of Wordpress - the Wordpress.org version!

WORDPRESS.ORG - THE PAID VERSION

If you want total freedom with your blog then you probably want to choose for www.wordpress.org, the paid for version of Wordpress. A blog on Wordpress.org always has its own domain name, the copyright of the content remains with the owner of the account and Wordpress offers a ton of widgets and plugins to make your blogging experience pretty professional.


It takes basically three major steps to get your blog up and running on Wordpress.org. You need a web hosting company to host your blog site. You need to download and install Wordpress on your blog site, and you need to get familiar with how to manage your blog.


But so much freedom comes at a price. You will have to pay the hosting company for its services and if you want a fancy look, you will need to purchase a nice Wordpress template. As with the free version, Wordpress does offer several free templates for your blog, but those templates hardly look as nice and professional as the ones you can find on Etsy or at a good designer. And since you already decided it was worth paying the hosting fee for, you will probably spend some more money on a good template.


In the next post I will get more into the subject of choosing a web hosting company and the costs that are involved with this. I am sure that most readers want to know what the average costs are for starting up a self-hosted Wordpress site. After all, this will probably play a big part in the decision whether or not to go with the self-hosted version.



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