Are you using self-hosted WordPress to power your blog?
If you’re not, it can feel a little lonely. Seems like everyone is using WordPress – nearly 40% of all websites on the internet are powered by WordPress, and it’s all you hear about in blogging circles.
Why are so many bloggers obsessed with WordPress?
You’re probably wondering… What makes it so great? Do you have to use it? Aren’t there any alternatives you could use instead?
Well, it’s true that WordPress isn’t the only blogging software out there. Plenty of alternatives exist, and many are easy to use and don’t require you to buy your own hosting.
But if you’re serious about blogging, self-hosted WordPress is the best choice for your blog.
3 big reasons you should blog with self-hosted WordPress
There are a ton of benefits to using WordPress, but they can be boiled down to three categories:
Here on Blogging Wizard, we’ve published posts in the past about the pros and cons of different blogging platforms such as Blogger, WordPress.com, Tumblr, or Medium.
But you won’t find them on our site anymore, since we’ve decided to recommend WordPress only.
Free blogging platforms have one obvious thing going for them: they’re free!
But there are just too many downsides for us to recommend them. The #1 reason you should not be blogging on a free platform is that it looks unprofessional.
Your visitors can tell you’re using a free platform. Whether it’s because of the generic-looking themes, tell-tale widgets in your sidebar, or credit links in the footer, it’s quite obvious when you’re blogging on a free platform.
And it gives a very unprofessional first impression.
Unfortunately, many of your visitors won’t take you seriously when they see that you’re not willing to invest in your blog.
WordPress gives a more professional impression to your visitors than an obviously free blogging platform. When they visit your site at www.yourname.com instead of yourname.myfreewebsite.com, it looks so much more professional and trustworthy.
Compared to other blogging platforms or software, WordPress is supported by an enormous online community.
No matter what you want to do with WordPress, or what obstacles you encounter, it’s easy to find help.
In fact, just googling “WordPress help” yields 542 million results.
Chances are, your question has already been answered online. There’s likely even a tutorial or walkthrough for it, or a plugin that will provide the exact functionality you need.
And if not, it’s easy to find a forum or site where you can ask for help, or a developer you can hire whose rates are within your budget.
Another crucial feature of self-hosted WordPress is its incredible flexibility. You have the control to do whatever you want with your website, unlike with free blogging platforms that severely limit what you can do.
With self-hosted WordPress you can:
- Choose from thousands and thousands of themes, including official themes from WordPress.org, or premium third-party themes, or even create your own custom theme. Check out our curated theme collections; WordPress themes for bloggers & writers, Portfolio themes for freelancers & agencies, and Free WordPress themes for bloggers and businesses.
- Modify your site’s code, so you can change whatever you want, including customizing the text of your footer credits, switching fonts or colors, or even changing the whole layout of your site.
- Install plugins. Plugins are one of WordPress’s most important features. They make it easy to change or add whatever functionality you want, making WordPress infinitely flexible and allowing you to create a one-of-a-kind website. You can easily find a plugin to grow your email list, build a landing page or almost anything else.
- Monetize your blog. Often free blogging platforms don’t allow you to implement third party advertising or monetize in other ways. If you want to monetize your blog by selling direct ads or sponsored posts, or create a premium membership site, you’re probably going to be limited by a blogging platform’s terms of service or technical restrictions. With self-hosted WordPress, you own your site, so you can monetize it in any way you want.
- Control your own site and content. Many free blogging platforms include a clause in their terms of service that state that they can immediately delete your entire site without warning if you violate their terms of service. They may even have ownership of your content. With self-hosted WordPress, you retain ownership and control of everything posted. (Still, you should make sure to backup your site!)
Are there any downsides to using WordPress?
The cost of self-hosting and the process of setting up your site are the two issues that usually hold bloggers back.
How much does a self-hosted WordPress site cost?
WordPress.org blogging software itself is 100% free to download and use, but you’ll need to buy your own domain and hosting in order to use it.
A domain name will usually cost around $10-15 per year.
Hosting costs can vary widely depending on the type of hosting you buy. For example, WordPress managed hosting typically costs around $20+/month but you can find more budget friendly shared hosting for around $5/month. Performance isn’t as good but you can easily migrate to a better host when you’re ready.
So, you’re looking at a minimum of about $70-75 per year to run a self-hosted WordPress blog.
I would argue that if you’re serious about blogging, all the benefits listed above are more than worth that price. And if you’re monetizing your blog, you can easily cover the costs of running your site within the first year.
This is one of the big reasons that many bloggers stick with free blogging platforms.
It’s understandable; setting up your own domain and hosting and installing WordPress can be a bit intimidating at first if you’re not sure where to start.
Once it’s all set up, though, WordPress is just as easy to use as any free blogging platform. (You can sign up for a free account at WordPress.com to get an idea of what the dashboard looks like.)
The truth is, it’s not all that difficult. If you can use a computer, download and install software, and figure out other simple computer-related tasks, then you’re capable of setting up your own website!
How you can get started with self-hosted WordPress today
Ready to get started on your own self-hosted blog?
Here’s what you need to do, in a nutshell:
- Buy your hosting & domain: A good host to start with is DreamHost, because they have reasonable prices for shared hosting for new bloggers. For security purposes we recommend purchasing your domain from a separate company. Learn more in our article on the best domain registrars.
- Install WordPress: You’re going to need a good web host that is well optimized for WordPress. Learn more in our article on WordPress managed hosting.
- Start blogging! If this is your first blog, check out Adam’s article on 15 Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Started Blogging. If you’re migrating your blog from another platform, you can easily import your content.
Need more help getting started? Check out our complete tutorial to creating a blog with WordPress.
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