Okay, I’m going to admit it right up front. I have been a fan of the WordPress platform for many years so my bias in favor of it may show through.
But Let’s Start Blogging isn’t a blog about me. It is a blog for you. So let’s take a look to see if the free WordPress version is right for you.
As I’ve mentioned before, people often get confused regarding WordPress.com and WordPress.org. In a nutshell, the basic functions and the interface are the same between the free version and the self-hosted version. The primary differences are that WordPress.com is hosted by Automattic for their own benefit and the self-hosted version is for your own benefit (remember when I talked about platforms being similar to governments?). Now, Automattic is generally a benevolent dictator letting you blog for free but there are some things you should keep in mind before deciding to join the millions of blogs on WordPress.com.
Benefits of WordPress.com
- Largest free blogging platform in the world
- You will be part of a huge blogging community that can bring you extra exposure
- Easy to set up
- Great security
- Excellent spam detection
- Mobile applications are available
- Drag and Drop Sidebar “Widgets” (Those extra things on the side)
- Recent comments
- And more
- Easy to use interface
- Can buy a domain upgrade relatively cheaply (~$17 per year)
- Can buy an upgrade package at discount when you sign-up
Concerns about using WordPress.com
- They can delete/ban your blog (without backing it up) if they feel you have violated the Terms of Service (such as if they mistakenly think you are phishing or spamming)
- Coupon discount codes are not allowed
- Restrictions on advertising and affiliate marketing–they will run ads on your blog for their benefit
- Must use their visitor tracking software instead of Google Analytics
- Over 100 themes but you are limited to how much you can customize the themes
- Can only use their themes
- Unless you pay for an upgrade, your blog will have “wordpress.com” in the web address
- Limited to 3 GB of space (but can upgrade for a fee for more storage)
How To Set Up a WordPress.com Blog
Creating a WordPress.com blog is extremely easy.
1. Go to WordPress.com and then click on the “Get Started Here” link. You will be creating an account at the same time.
2. Type a web address into the box.
4. Decide on a user name and password.
5. Indicate your language preference (Pirate isn’t one of them, alas)
6. Decide if you want the free version or if you want to upgrade.
8. When you go to your dashboard for the first time, you will see a short video that shows you how to use the various navigation buttons, how to write and publish a blog posting, and how to choose a theme for your blog. By the way, you change the name of your blog under the “Settings–General” tab on the left so that it doesn’t look all scrunched together like your web address.
As I said at the beginning of this post, I am a WordPress fan. But the cons of using WordPress.com really concern me–especially the fact that they can take down your blog at any time. That said, I think that WordPress.com is a great beginner’s blog and it will be easy to transfer to the more sophisticated self-hosted version when you are ready.
Next time, we will examine the pros and cons of Tumbler.