Getting started with WordPress can be very confusing at times. Some guides may tell you to go to WordPress.com and sign up for a totally free account while others go through a lengthy process talking about domains and hosting and so many connecting parts. The easy setup seems the way to go!
There are two flavors of WordPress. Nearly 16 years ago (birthday is May 27th), Matt created a system for making it easier to blog called WordPress. At the time and to this day WordPress was released as an open source software. This means that WordPress is free to download and free to modify. The code in all it’s glory that runs this amazing platform can be studied and modified (although unless contributing this is discouraged to the highest degree). It also means that hundreds of developers contribute to WordPress and work to continuously maintain and improve it. The community behind WordPress is amazing and very large!
Automattic, the company founded by WordPress’ founder Matt Mullenweg, was born in 2005. Automattic’s goal
“is to democratize publishing so that anyone with a story can tell it, regardless of income, gender, politics, language, or where they live in the world.”https://automattic.com/about/
In order to do this they offer the same open source platform that is free and provide with it free hosting in a product called WordPress.com. They also support and create other products such as the e-commerce platform WooCommerce, self-hosted tools Jetpack and many others. Many of the developers are also active maintainers and contributors to the WordPress project.
The question still lies in which to pick WordPress.org and all of its needs or WordPress.com and the limitations (more on this soon).
The answer depends on a number of different things. If your goal is to have a platform that works well and you don’t have to worry about updates and don’t want a lot of control over WordPress.com might be the way to go. They have curated the best themes and the best plugins to make the process of getting to the ultimate goal of content a little easier. The limitations are steep though and may be the reason you lean towards WordPress.org. Your domain is what is called a sub-domain by default the url will be something like techiemamma.wordpress.com. You can change this but it will cost. Whereas with WordPress.org you will have most likely your domain from the beginning.
If you have experiences building websites in the past, either running them or helping out with them and want to explore the full abilities of WordPress, then WordPress.org is your ticket. One secret developers know that is usually not shared is that you don’t need to have a domain or host to get started. You can install WordPress right on your computer and build. Nobody but yourself or whoever is looking at your monitor will be able to see it but you can build, excitement and get everything ready before purchasing your domain and hosting.
There are some really awesome hosts out there that are great places to host your site and will do a lot to help you out. The cost for hosting will range from about $4 / month to $35 / month on the higher end. With all things the more features and more powerful a platform the more likely you will spend more. Some of the ones I have had the best experience with are the following:
- SiteGround: They offer a starting price with some great service.
- Flywheel: I love Flywheel they are middle of the road for pricing and they offer an awesome local development setup, called Local by Flywheel that I use all the time.
- WP Engine: They are by far my favorite. They know WordPress inside and out and it shows in their hosting and who they host. They have been the true leaders in this scene for several years.
Let’s say you are a beginner to websites but really have it in your heart of hearts to build a blog and business around your blog. You have something to share with the world and want to build something amazing. If you are wanting to sell on your site or make money with ads, the route of WordPress.org is probably worthy. If you want to test the waters before really building up everything then WordPress.com might be a way to get started. In the end for most I would recommend WordPress.org with someone trustworthy that they can go to when they need additional help or adding a new feature that might be tricky. With WordPress.org there are a lot of moving parts but you have a lot more control over what you want the powerful platform to do. With WordPress.com you can get a lot of features but it will come with a price along with probably some of the best support around.
WordPress is an amazing platform that currently powers 33.3% of the web!! That is one-third if all sites visited will be running WordPress. With that statistic WordPress is definitely one of the best for creating your website.
Another thing that makes WordPress amazing whether you go with .com or .org is the community behind WordPress. Since the beginnings WordPress has maintained the mission behind being an open source software which means developers, support, designers and all kinds of talent contribute to the WordPress project as volunteers. One of the best ways to get help with your WordPress site is to reach out to your local community and attend the meetups and WordCamps.