“I’m just going to get a free blog from WordPress.com. I mean, why pay for something when you can get it for free?” I’ve heard this more than once, and it makes me crazy. I’m sure that sometimes people think I’m trying to get them to hire me when I explain why a free WordPress blog doesn’t always make sense. I’m not. I just like to share information, especially when I think it can keep them from major headaches later on. (I know. I ‘ve had this headache.)
When someone says they have a free blog at WordPress.com, what they mean is, they have free web hosting. WordPress.com is hosting the site for them at no charge. They are supplying both the application, (WordPress is built into the site), and the web server. Web hosting is a service that companies provide to help you keep track of and store all the files for your website. Everything on the internet needs to have a home on some computer somewhere. When you hear people talk about their web server, they are talking about the physical computer or computers that their web host uses to store all the files that make up their website.
When you sign up with a web hosting company, like Bluehost.com, then you have access to all the files that make up your blog. The guts of your website, you know, the html, css, php, and all those other crazy coded files that don’t make much sense until you need them.
1. Sorry, We’re Closed – WHAT IF they decided they aren’t going to host blogs anymore? This happened recently with Yahoo.com/Geocities. They told everyone that had a free hosted blog that they needed to move it, lose it, or buy your own domain and pay for hosting through them. Many people lost all their links and had to start from square one again.
2. Ooops – You could be DELETED. You are subject to their Terms Of Service. When you get something for free, you have little power or recourse. “We may terminate your access to all or any part of the website at any time, with or without cause, with or without notice, effective immediately.”
3. Advertising – One way that they can offer free web hosting, is by having advertising. WordPress.com displays ads on your blog to certain types of visitors. You may never see the ads, they code it so you won’t. But, you never know just what your visitors are seeing; a POP UP AD, a banner ad or a text-link ad.
4. Lack of Flexibility – You cannot use valuable plugins that help your blog become truly SEO friendly. Also, you have NO ACCESS to custom title tags or Google sitemaps. These features can make all the difference when it comes to getting found through natural searches online.
5. No Customized Themes – You can add a few custom headers to blogs at wordpress.com but you cannot use a completely customized WordPress theme. And most importantly, YOU CAN’T USE THESIS, the most powerful theme available today.
6. No Phone Support – You have zero phone support so if you have a problem you’re STUCK WRITING EMAILS and figuring out forums to find answers. With web hosting you have 24/7 customer service and tech support. They help you every step of the way.
7. Space Limitations – They are very generous with their storage space, but if you need more, you will have to pay. If this happens you’ll be PAYING FOR EXTRAS, but still have a limited website. Note: Bluehost.com provides unlimited space.
8. Unprofessional – It’s obvious to others when you don’t have a “real” blog. Your visitors might get the impression that YOU AREN’T SERIOUS enough to invest in your own domain name.
9. Your Domain Name – will always have “.wordpress” in it. “Hey, check out my site at www.tryingtobeprofessional.wordpress.com” . In addition, it’s much HARDER TO REMEMBER a longer name.
10. Google Me Not – When you add a blog to an existing website and your blog link forwards to www.yourwebsite.wordpress.com you aren’t helping your website rankings at all. The whole point of the blog is to help google find your website by keeping your content fresh and relevant. YOU ARE HELPING GOOGLE FIND WORDPRESS, not your website. Note: The correct way would be to install wordpress onto a separate directory or subdomain on your existing website. When you’re done it should look like this: www.yourwebsite.com/blog or like this: www.blog.yourwebsite.com.
11. A Limited Future – You may have VERY LIMITED needs when you first begin with WordPress and think this free version is perfect. As you learn more you’ll begin to see new possibilities and customizations that were incomprehensible to you when you began may become features that you find you can’t live without! The only way to get these features? Paid hosting.
12. No Control – Your content is in someone else’s hands. You have limited access to your files. The bottom line is, you are NOT IN CONTROL of your own website!
13. Upgrade Sub-Par – Yes, you can have more control by upgrading your free account, but then IT ISN’T FREE anymore. By the time you pay to remove adds, add a domain and the extra space you are still subject to their terms. Why not just host your own website and have complete control of your content?
So basically what I’m saying is that it’s not a good idea to have a free website as your main home online. Whether you’re an individual or a business, get your own domain and pay for your own hosting.
If you already have a free WordPress site, and it is your only blog/website, I suggest one of two things. 1) Buy a domain, install wordpress and start fresh. You can always direct people to your new blog from your old blog, or 2) Export all your content from your free site into a paid site, then you’ll have everything in one place. The sooner you do this the better in my opinion.
That said, blogging communities are great and should not be ignored. Having a free blog within a blogging community however, is very different than having a website all your own. Of all the free blogging communities around, I like Tumblr the best. Here is a list of some of the most popular blogging communities.
WordPress is a blog application found at WordPress.org
Wordpress is free to use. It’s called open source.
Wordpress is awesome. Smart people use it.
Wordpress.com is a place to be part of a blogging community.
A free WordPress blog doesn’t make sense as your only blog.
A free WordPress blog is a great way to learn the ropes.
You can have a WordPress blog/website one of two ways.