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When I decided to become a WordPress Web Designer and Developer and launched my blog in 2012, I took a simple approach. I Googled “WordPress website blog,” clicked on a “get a free blog”, “wordpress website builder” button, and started my journey. Initially, I tried to learn WordPress and create my own blog, but I found it overwhelming, especially while juggling family responsibilities. Consequently, I made the wise decision to hire a professional WordPress Web Designer and Developer, and I was thrilled with the outcomes they delivered for my small business. Without professional assistance, I would not have achieved such success. Years later, I have now become a professional web designer and developer myself, specializing in WordPress websites.

After a year, I realized I should have conducted more research. I wanted to change my site layout and add additional functions, such as a hovering Pinterest button. That’s when I discovered that to accomplish these modifications, I needed a “WordPress.org blog.” It turns out that having a “WordPress.org blog” means downloading the free, open-source WordPress web software and using a third-party hosting service like GoDaddy or Bluehost to make your site accessible online.

On the other hand, WordPress.com takes care of all the technicalities for you. You don’t need to worry about hosting or serving files, and your blog comes with a free domain like www.mynewblog.wordpress.com. However, handing over these responsibilities also means sacrificing some control. WordPress.com sites display ads unless you pay a yearly fee, and certain upgrades, such as hosting videos or purchasing a custom domain, can be costly.

To further complicate matters for new bloggers, the Dashboard (the backend editing area) looks nearly identical regardless of the avenue you choose. This is because WordPress.com runs on the same WordPress software as a self-hosted site, resulting in a similar user experience after setting up your blog.

The decision between starting a free WordPress.com blog and a self-hosted WordPress site boils down to the level of freedom you desire over your site’s appearance, how much behind-the-scenes work you are willing to undertake, and whether monetizing your blog is a priority.

Firstly, consider how much control you want over your site’s look and feel. If you’re content with an “out of the box” theme from WordPress.com, it might be suitable for you. For an additional cost, you can customize certain features like fonts and background colors. Overall,

If you’re looking at those themes and thinking, “but I want my Instagram feed up higher and I’d like social media buttons above the top navigation,” you’ll want to go with a self-hosted WordPress blog so you can access your site’s layout and HTML.

2. What extra functionality do you want on your site?

Remember that anecdote about the Pinterest hover button I wanted? WordPress.com is always updating and adding new features, but you will have more control on a self-hosted site. Through WordPress.org, you’ll have access to libraries of plugins [https://wordpress.org/plugins/] that can add features like interactive calendars, social media sharing options, and RSS feeds–not to mention, Google Analytics–to your site. And by accessing your site’s code, your opportunities to add to and embellish features are unlimited.

3. Do you want to monetize your site?

“Oh wow, I have so many pageviews! Maybe I can make a little cash with ads!” Nope. Not if you’re on a WordPress.com site. They’re giving you a lot for free; it’s no surprise that you can only sell ads in WordPress-approved ways. On a self-hosted site, however, the world is your oyster…or, you know, your sales floor.

In addition, while, WordPress.com recently introduced new ways to sell on your site, eCommerce is more established and flexible with a self-hosted site.

4. How much can you spend?

Self-hosting is an upfront cost that ranges from a few dollars a month to closer to hundreds per year. But using a free WordPress.com blog and adding a lot of additional features can get pricey. Infographic cost comparison:http://howtomakemyblog.com/wordpress-com-org/

When it comes down to it, WordPress.com is a valuable tool for users looking for a free option who don’t need to customize or make money off of their site. However, getting a self-hosted site through WordPress.org provides the most flexibility, freedom, and opportunity for growth. And let’s face it, you’re going to want to use this site to become a moneybags, and WordPress.org allows more freedom for turning your hard work into cold hard cash.



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