Understand WordPress.com and WordPress.org Before Setting Up Your Site

By | April 16, 2012

As an open source blogging platform and content management system, WordPress has become the most popular blogging and website platform, beating out all the competitors because of its many advantages.  WordPress is continually being improved by a huge team of contributors, and at present it offers greater flexibility, and far more customization options than any other blogging platform.

Starting at the beginning, meaning facing the first decisions you will need to make when you start up a WordPress site, take note that WordPress is offered in two different forms, for different use depending on the site owner’s needs. Your basic decision involves where your WordPress site will be hosted, because making that decision will control some of your other decisions.

You will be choosing between WordPress.com or WordPress.org. Let’s look at the differences briefly: WordPress.com is free and easy to build from scratch. You do not need to think about the set-up, upgrades, security threats, backups or security available on your new site because all those things are provided automatically by the provider, and those are the same things you have to think about carefully if you choose to “self-host,” which means your site is stored on your own server, or on servers owned and controlled by another hosting company you select.

WordPress stores all the sites it hosts on hundreds of different servers in a variety of locations, so  there is really very little risk of your site becoming inaccessible due to a server failure. That is all generally good news. But the bad news is that WordPress.com doesn’t allow users to upload custom themes or plug-ins, and that means the free sites may not be adequate for all the customizations desired.  Sophisticated users often find that they need to get into more technology than WordPress.com can offer.

That is when a visit to WordPress.org may be in order, in order to download the program to build a site that will be hosted elsewhere. Good web hosts vary in terms of price, from less than $10 per month, to several thousand per month for huge sites. With a self-hosted site, however, you get to choose not only where your site is hosted, based on cost and other considerations, but you also get to choose from all the special themes and plug-ins designed for WordPress that are available for self-hosted sites, but not WordPress-hosted sites. Third party providers also host WordPress, giving you the ability to use themes and plug-ins as well. In fact, you can even get into the coding and change it if you have the inclination and the skill.

It’s important to remember that a self-hosted WordPress site will also require more technical knowledge to set up and manage, and it will require a spam-control function, a back-up function, and continual upgrades. Most businesses and individuals who opt for a self-hosted WordPress site either have the skills to take care of it themselves, or they get someone else to take care of the tech skills for them. Another alternative is to select a host that offers some of the needed services as part of the hosting package. It’s tempting to take on all the web work with a platform as user-friendly as WordPress, but if time is an issue, as it is for most people, keeping sharp personal focus on the tasks that earn money or meet your other goals and delegating other tasks is often the best way to achieve the greatest efficiency and success.

For the most technical savvy, consider a WordPress Cloud hosting option such as the BitNami for WordPress AMI.  While these have their challenges to set up, the can be much more scalable, thus minimizing the chances you’ll need to move your WordPress installation.

It’s easy to see why WordPress is so popular, because it offers more options and opportunities than any other blogging/website platform by far.