Hello, y’all. If you have already visited this blog before you would have already figured this out, but if not, you would have noticed that this blog has a lot of WordPress branding. The reason for this is of course because the site is hosted on the WordPress platform. But the detail to be noted here is that I am not just on the WordPress platform, but actually in the propriety hosting offering of Automattic, Inc which is wordpress.com. Why does that matter you ask?
In order to understand that, let me tell you what WordPress as a platform is in the first place.
What is WordPress?
WordPress (WP, WordPress.org) is a free and open-source content management system (CMS) written in PHP and paired with a MySQL or MariaDB database.Wikipedia
So just “WordPress” generally refers to the open-source content management system that can be used in individual websites. The thing about WordPress is that it can be self-hosted in almost any web server on the planet including cloud service providers. like AWS, Google Cloud and Azure.
Being a powerful CMS, it is used by millions of sites all over the world due to its ease of use and flexibility. It also has a huge collection of community-created themes and plugins.
WordPress is used by more than 60 million websites, including 33.6% of the top 10 million websites as of April 2019, WordPress is one of the most popular content management system solutions in use.Wikipedia
What is WordPress.com?
We’re a hosted version of the open-source software. Here, you can start a blog or build a website in seconds without any technical knowledge.WordPress.com
In a nutshell, WordPress.com is a blog hosting service provider that uses WordPress at its core.
Generally, hosting service providers like Digital Ocean, HostGator, BlueHost all charge a monthly/yearly fee to host your websites on their servers. In the case of WordPress.com, it is the same thing, but the difference here is that it is actually a service provided by the company that created WordPress.org (Automattic, Inc).
This is cool, since who can be better in providing managed services for a website than the creators themselves? That being said, there does exist some limitations with going with WordPress.com instead of self-hosting WordPress in your own hosting service provider.
Benefits of Self-Hosting WordPress over WordPress.com
- All the content exists on your own servers – This is a very important point, especially for people who are concerned about data privacy. Instead of letting a third-party company (Automattic) store your data on their servers, you have the option of storing the data on your own cloud server or even your own physical server with a static IP. Even if Automattic crashes or decides to shut down its service without notice, you don’t care since all your content is safe in your own server.
- You can post whatever you want – Self-hosted sites have zero censorship, at least not for now, so you can post whatever the heck you want and no one can ask you why (unless of course, it is so vulgar for which there does exist some laws). When it comes to WordPress.com, although they have a liberal standard when it comes to what you can post, like all technology companies, the government can still cram censorship on its throat to remove things that are not political right.
- Plugins and themes – This is a big deal in the WordPress community, and after having tested it myself I could see why. A self-hosted WordPress site on a 5$ digital ocean droplet can use every plugin out of the 57,871 that are available. Many of these plugins provide integrations with cool technologies such as Amazon Polly like automatically performing TTS on written content as they are posted and providing readers with a TTS version along with the text.
Cons of Self-Hosting WordPress
- You gotta manage EVERYTHING – “With great power comes great responsibility”. Although power is great, it is not that great when you have to do every mundane thing which can be instead outsourced to a third-party. And not everything is mundane either since you will have to manage the DNS, perform software updates, handle server crashes (if any), manually opt for an upgrade in server resources if needed, etc… You might also have to look for deals on web hosting to make sure that you are not overpaying.
- You get almost NO help – Self-hosted sites can only be accessed by the server owners and hence non-technical folks would find it very hard to figure out problems that come your way when self-hosting WordPress.
Now let’s look at the other side.
Benefits of WordPress.com over Self-Hosting WordPress
- All content is backed up and replicated in a CDN – All WordPress.com sites exist in the cloud and are therefore internally replicated and provided in a CDN. This ensures that the data is always available and it is always quick to load no matter where you access it from.
- You get EXCEPTIONAL customer support – WordPress.com has a great customer support team which replies to your emails in quick turnarounds, even with technical information such as configuring DNS entries and transferring domains to a different DNS provider. This is however only available with the paid hosting plans starting with Rs. 2400 per year (US$2.6/month) which is a deal.
- Reasonable cost – As said in the previous point, the plans start at INR 160/month to INR 1152/month. This is a good range that would work for most people who are not too interested in total customization. The INR 160 plan would be enough for most people who just want a decent hosting along with support for custom domains.
Cons of WordPress.com
- Plugins are only available with the Business and eCommerce plans – Business plans start at INR 640/month and eCommerce plans start at INR 1152/month. On the other hand, you can get all these plugins for free when self-hosting even in an INR 369/month Digital Ocean droplet. When it comes to flexibility, WordPress.com is not your option.
- You are closed to the WordPress.com platform – This might bother only a few people, but still, this is something to be considered. The great thing about WordPress is that it doesn’t have to be associated with any third-party service to work, unlike Medium and Quora which are similar blogging sites. But with WordPress.com, you are again associating yourself with a service whether you want it or not. This might bother people who want complete control of their websites.
Which am I using?
So now for my take. Which one do I use? Well, this site runs on WordPress.com on the Personal paid hosting plan which comes with a free custom domain for the first year. The subscription actually ends this December so I was researching on whether to switch to WordPress.org or stay on WordPress.com.
After a lot of thought, I have decided to extend the plan for another year since I like how it just works, and that I don’t have to bother creating a CDN to ensure a speedy load for audiences all over the world. Although the plugins are enticing, it does not outweigh the great support that you get with the paid plan in WordPress.com.
Anyways, hope this was informative, and you are able to make a decision on which to choose for your new blog. Do send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you are creating a blog after reading this post, or just have further questions regarding which platform to go with. Until then, see you all in the next post.