Committing to a content management system (CMS) for your blog is a big decision. Given that WordPress hosts 59,914,568 as of 09/25/2011 and that over 301 million people view more than 2.5 billion pages each month on WordPress.com-hosted blogs (data from WordPress Stats), it is not a surprise that many users around the world have chosen WordPress as their CMS of choice.
However, a common question from both newbies and experienced bloggers is: should I continue to host my blog at WordPress.com or should I self-host it? Here is an analysis of key details that will guide your WordPress hosting decision.
The number one advantage of hosting your blog at WordPress.com is that it is free.
You don’t pay a dime when hosting your blog with WordPress.com. If you’re not blogging for profit or if you don’t want to make any monetary investment to set up your blog, then hosting at WordPress.com will sound very attractive. On the other hand, if you would like to have your own domain, you will have to purchase your own domain to set up your WordPress hosting and renew your domain every year. Depending on the hosting company that you choose, you might have to pay additional set-up fees on the first year.
Brad Pitt wasn’t always Brad Pitt. He was born as William Bradley Pitt.
Just like Brad, idaconcpts.com used to be idaconcpts.wordpress.com.
Everything is in a name and if you want people to find your blog easier and your blog’s URL to fit in any business card, then it is a good idea to have your own domain. If developing a brand is important for you, then you will want to self-host your own WordPress blog.
While there are thousands of WordPress themes and plugins available, your WordPress.com hosted blog may not allow you to use certain Themes or Plugins. There are many approved options to choose from, but there might come a point that you will want to make your own tweaks and that they will only be possible if your WordPress blog is self hosted. If you haven’t arrived to that point yet, then you will be ok to stay at WordPress.com.
Also, you will notice that several pieces of code will not work on your WordPress.com hosted site. Being at the top of the list: Google AdSense.
If the idea of handling a MySQL database, exporting and importing all your WordPress data, and configuring your own blog makes you lose sleep at night, then that is a good indication that you’re better off hosting your blog for free with WordPress.com. A caveat is that there will come one point in your blogging life that you will have to deal with these issues (be proactive and check out these 9 Must-Have WordPress Plugins, which do take care of most problems).
While a quick Google search reveals several tutorials on this topic, make sure to read more than one before making the migration yourself. If you don’t have the technical know-how, but you do have a budget for your blogging activities, you should hire somebody to do the blog migration for you. It might cost you, but consider the alternative: doing it wrong and losing all your data. An alternative would be to jump right in with online database and web design classes and use your blog as part of a class project. What price would you give to prevent yourself from losing all of your blog’s data?
Your web hosting decision should be based on an evaluation of your:
- available budget,
- desired branding,
- required level of customization, and
- level of technical know-how.