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Choosing WordPress: Which WordPress to Choose?

There has recently been some confusion over the issue and types of WordPress blogs. Here is a brief summary to help you understand which is which, what you can do with each, to help you choose your ideal WordPress blog system.

Free WordPress.com Blogs

blogs are free. There is no advertising or pay-per-post money making activities allowed. Free is free and has restrictions on content, but traffic is unlimited. You can choose from many WordPress Themes to change the look of your site at any time, and many Themes allow customization of the sidebar content.

WordPress.com blogs offer “extras”, optional paid upgrades and extras are available such as increased storage space, customization of your blog’s appearance, domain mapping, and more.

You can purchase a domain on WordPress.com, which is actually “domain mapping”. You buy the domain name and WordPress.com maps it to a free WordPress.com blog. However, the terms of service still apply and you cannot put ads or pay-per-post posts on your free WordPress.com blog even if it is redirected through the domain mapping feature.

WordPress.com VIP Hosting

If you like the features of WordPress, but want total control over your blog, including adding advertising, you can choose the WordPress.com VIP hosting. It is designed for businesses and high volume sites, and not everyone is accepted into the program. It costs several hundred dollars a month but you can do ANYTHING you want in accordance with the VIP hosting terms of service.

The Full Free Version of WordPress

If you want total control, but your budget has limits or is unlimited, you can put the free full version of WordPress on any paid hosting site which works within WordPress requirements and do whatever you want in any way shape and form with few restrictions. WordPress offers a list of Web Hosts which meet the requirements and work well with WordPress blogs. This choice allows you total freedom and total control over your blog.

Importing, Exporting, and Switching

You can import and export into a WordPress blog (any of them) to and from most popular types of blogging programs. You can take your WordPress.com free blog content with you when you leave it, or leave a full version WordPress blog to have a free WordPress.com blog whenever you want.

WordPress is that versatile.

So which one do you choose?

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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, member of the 9Rules Network, and author of Blogging Tips, What Bloggers Won't Tell You About Blogging.

39 Comments

  1. Posted July 8, 2007 at 3:34 am | Permalink

    I’m using the free WordPress.com blog for my personal blog, but I also use self-hosted WordPress installation for other blogs (and even regular sites, with WP acting as the CMS). I find the total customization freedom of self-hosted WordPress a great thing and allows for a wide range of usage.

    For my personal blogging need, WordPress.com blog is more than enough, though. Plus I really like WordPress.com’s homepage with its highlight of Today’s Hot Blog and Today’s Hot Post.

  2. Posted July 8, 2007 at 4:15 am | Permalink

    Nothing beats hosting WordPress yourself I feel. If you’re feeling a little adventurous and have about 6 dollars to spend per month, you can consider hosting WordPress yourself. You can customize it in any way you want it and upload lots of pictures too.

  3. Posted July 8, 2007 at 4:37 am | Permalink

    self-hosted wordpress, no two ways about it. It gives you the freedom to do anything and everything. Experiment to limits. Installs tens of instances on the same server and/or domain. Use the entire WP resource available online to make wordpress work for you as a CMS, blogging tool, websites, shopping, the list is endless…

    You can earn better from self hosted wordpress too :)

  4. Posted July 8, 2007 at 5:37 am | Permalink

    I use many different CMS, for my personal blogging I don’t ever use WordPress, but for clients it’s really a wonderful tool. I think using WordPress.com has a lot of advantages, and I am even starting a community blog there because of the convenience for other users to access it and their own blogs from the same control panel, and the benefit of not worrying about traffic. Although no ads are allowed, by using my own domain, I am building up rank and if it gets to a point where I decide I want to monetize the site, I can easily move it to a hosting service and the domain rank remains.

    I am a strong believer in picking the tool that’s right for the task – there is no CMS that I use exclusively, I will always recommend the one that’s right for the needs of the client and the purpose/goals of the website.

  5. Posted July 8, 2007 at 5:52 am | Permalink

    Well, the full version of WordPress, no doubt, gives the blogger total control, but sometimes I wish they handle our upgrades too, because I’m can’t do it myself, hehehe..

  6. Posted July 8, 2007 at 5:57 am | Permalink

    It will be good to mention the WPMU alternative for universities, schools and organizations that want to offer WordPress blogs for their users.

  7. Posted July 8, 2007 at 6:04 am | Permalink

    WordPress is a 5 Star Program … No other blogging platform comes close!

    Darin

  8. Posted July 8, 2007 at 6:04 am | Permalink

    I choose self-hosted WordPress :) Now I can see how powerful WP can be ;)

  9. Posted July 8, 2007 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    I would go for ever with self-hosted wordpress. It gives you maximum freedom to do everything.
    Not being a WP or CSS wizard, I was still able to customize a theme up to the point to reproduce exactly the look and feel of my previous site, all hard coded in ASP. Amazing..
    But also, having access to the basic code, I made a few tuning which would have been impossible in a shared environment.
    Eugenio

  10. Posted July 8, 2007 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    I use the full version of WordPress on my hostess’s server and it works well. I would be on WordPress.com, but I like designing my own themes instead of using premade ones. And switching from the freedom of the full version to the WP.com version just doesn’t work for me.

  11. Posted July 8, 2007 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    One advantage of hosting your own WordPress install is the ability to add whatever theme you like to your site. Maybe you like one of my newly designed (sponsorship-free) ones? I design one theme a day while I am off university and the weather is still bad in July. Yours, jez

  12. Posted July 8, 2007 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    I think self-hosted WordPress is the best solution if you understand a little bit of PHP, CSS and so on.
    A complete newbie which thinks that CSS is the type model of a new sports car should use wordpress.com instead.

  13. Posted July 8, 2007 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    In my opinion, self hosted WordPress is the best. You get a lot of control and more features.

  14. Posted July 8, 2007 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    I’m professional PHP programmer and prefer use wordpress on my own server.
    Because I can modify WordPress engine as I need. E.g. to make multidomain multilanguage blog.

    I can integrate plugins such as gallery2 as I want.

    So it’s best solution for me.

  15. Posted July 8, 2007 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    Self Hosted WordPress has to be the choice for most people. Total control over themes and plugins and the option to dip into the code if you want to. I use WordPress as a blog tool and as a reasonably fully feature content management system to look after other pages of my site that are not blog posts.

  16. Posted July 8, 2007 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    Actually, it’s very interesting to note that with over one million blogs on WordPress.com, a lot of people are choosing to blog on WordPress.com because they are intimidated with the code, installation, and they don’t want to mess with things.

    I’ve long said that WordPress.com is great for those who want to blog not mess with the “stuff” under the hood. When they get the blogging thing and want to change the look, they can pay a little extra to get the ability to customize the look of their blog on WordPress.com.

    When they are ready, and the training wheels are off relative to code, the full version of WordPress is waiting.

    I have to say that there are some tremendous benefits to blogging on WordPress.com. I don’t have to pay for heavy traffic spikes and if it borks, I don’t have to fix it. I only have to complain to someone else and they will fix it. :D

    I miss that with my own full version blogs. I can only complain to myself. And I still have to fix it.

  17. Posted July 8, 2007 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    If I ever need to close my site, I’m definately coming to WP.Com.

  18. Posted July 8, 2007 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    Got friends who moved from blogger to wordpress.com!

    WordPress.com is great because they can learn about WP, stepping higher, knowing how WP works, till they decide to have a self-hosted wordpress!

  19. Posted July 8, 2007 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    or just stay at wordpress.com as it’s already great!

    and hey, i have a domain name which i dont use and i want to map it to my wordpress.com but it told me that i need 10 credits for that.

    I still dont understand how and what it is :(

  20. Posted July 8, 2007 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    A dollar a credit. You pay, you get.

    Why they decided on this credit thing is beyond me. Maybe something will happen and they will give “credit” to bloggers on WordPress.com for something, I don’t know what. Maybe 5 credits a year for sticking with WordPress.com. Or maybe a contest or something.

  21. Posted July 8, 2007 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    I’ve tried to get two sites into the VIP program. The first was listed on the upper half of the Technorati Popular Blogs top-100 list at the time, and the second was (and still is) the single most popular blog in Sweden, averaging 30k unique visitors/day.

    Several requests for further information were sent in both cases, but none of them was answered. In both cases, the VIP package would have been the perfect solutions for the sites. But if neither of those two sites was “VIP” enough for wordpress.com, then I will of course not bother to ask next time I am looking for hosting for a popular blog. :)

  22. Posted July 8, 2007 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    I’m personally using my own WordPress installation for running my blog(s), exactly because I love tinkering with the code :) However, I’ve also registered a couple of blogs with WordPress.com, just to see the difference. One thing that many people have complained about my blog is that although it runs a copy of WordPress, it doesn’t accept a WordPress.com login (but asks for registering for Yet Another Blog). I’ve also added the possibility of an OpenID registration/login to try to avoid people using so many different logins, but the issue still remains: there are probably a few million users with WordPress.com logins that can’t use it for my self-hosted blog.

    Now, a nice touch would be to have a way to use a login registered on WordPress.com on any WP blog (not even WordPress.org shares logins with WordPress.com!). Apparently, the only use for the “API key” is to register for Akismet, but… why can’t we get more info? Like returning a profile for a user? Of course, even better would be an OpenID-to-WordPress.com gateway… or moving WordPress.com authentication to OpenID anyway…

    Yes, I’m aware that there are over a million blogs registered at WordPress.com. But there are also over a million downloads of the WP software. This leads to thinking that half of all WP blogs are stand-alone and would immensely benefit from a single registration mechanism…

    Just a thought. Perhaps someone already did a plugin for doing exactly this. If so, Google is unable to retrieve any information on it…

  23. Posted July 8, 2007 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    Hmm, that’s an interesting idea. I’m sure someone will come up with a way to recognize the OpenID project from WordPress blog to WordPress blogs. Like a majority of blogs, I personally do not have any blogs which require registration nor logins, other than for contributors, which there are very few. So I’m not sure how useful this would be across the wide spectrum of blogs, but definitely helpful for those who do require registration and login.

  24. Posted July 8, 2007 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    I started WordPress by self-hosting a relatively static site with no blog component. Now I have an unrelated blog that is hosted at WordPress.com. I have to say, going from full access to training wheels has been frustrating. Yes, there are 60 themes to choose from, but some of them are pretty darn inflexible (I’m looking at you, Banana Smoothie), and even in the more flexible themes I can’t change a little bit of code unless I pay extra.

    For example, I’m using Garland on my WordPress.com blog, and it’s great and it’s flexible, but it doesn’t put the tagline anywhere, and I can’t just insert it into the header. I figured out a workaround that looks almost like I want it to, but it’s frustrating, especially when I know where to put the one line of code, and I know it would take about 20 seconds to do.

    I’m using 19 (!!!) plugins on my self-hosted site, but none of them are available to use at WordPress.com. Some of them are bells and whistles that I can do without pretty easily, but some, like ‘Search Everything’ and ‘Word Verify’, are important tools that I need to have to make the site run well.

    On the other hand, the blog at WordPress.com is free, and it’s a network that might get the blog noticed more quickly. I suppose when/if (probably if) the blog gets enough traffic I’ll move it to a self-hosted location where I can make it look and act exactly like I want it to. Until then, this is a good compromise.

  25. Posted July 8, 2007 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

    I also have a blog at wp and a self-hosted blog. I am satisfied with the free blog but would like to see more themes added from which to choose.

    Also a fix for duplicate comments on import. An import by date would be nice also, where the import command would parse the WXR xml file and only take posts and comments from the last X number of days.

    thanks for all you do here, Lorelle! Complimenting you was really why I commented today.

    nada

  26. Posted July 9, 2007 at 5:26 am | Permalink

    We chose the full version and are very satisfied with wordpress indeed.

  27. Posted July 9, 2007 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    @Gwyneth: The question you should be asking yourself is why do you want your visitors to register in the first place? Why should I be logged in to a) read or b) comment upon your blog? If you can answer that question, then maybe registration or some kind of unified login system makes sense for you.

    But quite often, the answer is that you don’t want to require registration for a blog. Your audience is the world, you want feedback from that world, and you want to make it as simple as possible.

    Usually, the best, and simplest, answer is not to have a unified registration or login system, but to not have *any* registration or login requirement. There are indeed cases where registration makes sense, and you may be one of those cases, but it’s pretty unlikely.

  28. Mary
    Posted July 9, 2007 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    I have WP installed on my own domain, and wouldn’t go back to the previous blogging program I used for a million dollars.

  29. Posted July 9, 2007 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    Something that may have been covered before. You might post some sort of guide or suggestions on migrating between the two. I currently use a free wordpress.com blog but have been considering hosting my own so I can run some advertising. I’m wanting to make the transition more or less seamless for readers. I already use the domain mapping service so I would imaging that I could simply mirror the blog on my own hosting then switch where the domain points.

    The trick is, I’m not real sure the best way to straight out mirror my wordpress.com blog.

  30. Posted July 9, 2007 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Self hosted on my own Mac Mini ‘server’, and a seperate MU install for some friends. Good fun all around.

  31. Posted July 9, 2007 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

    Otto! Thank you for jumping in! Hope all has been well.

    Josh: It’s much easier than you think to move your WordPress.com blog, though I’m sorry that you are leaving for greedy reasons. :D

    See Importing Content, Improved WordPress to WordPress Importer, and Can I move my blog from here to another blog somewhere else … from the WordPress.com FAQ.

  32. Posted July 10, 2007 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    The *real* WordPress (wordpress.org) wins hands-down. After testing “WordPress.com”, I’d never recommend it to anyone. I wrote a large series on getting started with WordPress if anyone’s interested.

  33. Posted July 10, 2007 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

    Actually my reasons aren’t all greedy. I have other reasons. Specifically there seems to be a lot of neat add ons for a self hosted wordpress blog.

    Also I would love to better streamline my multiple blogs on one domain. WordPress.com’s lack of subdomain support sucks for this. I’d love to use www. and blog. for my main blog and then say, photo. for my flickr, personal. for my personal blog etc.

    Also if I host it myself I imagine Ic ould set it up to map subdomains to tags on my main blog. such as reviews.lameazoid.com automatically points to lameazoid.com/tag/reviews/ .

  34. timethief
    Posted July 10, 2007 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for a writing this concise summary. There are many confused people in the wp.com forum every day that will benefit from reading it.

  35. Chris
    Posted July 23, 2007 at 3:15 am | Permalink

    One snag with the free version of WP is that support and efficiency seem virtually non-existent: I signed up this weekend (July 22) and the verification email didn’t arrive at my inbox.

    OK, these things happen. But ‘support’ is closed for most of this week because everyone at WP is away at some conference apparently.

    This means that, by the time ‘support’ is reopened I will have to sign up all over again. From previous experience, I suspect there will be a problem with the sign up form; something such as ‘this email address is already taken’ or ‘this username is already taken’.

    WordPress might be fine once you’re signed up. But when things go wrong, very often you’re on your own, buddy.

    And let’s not forget how those who run WordPress often fail to communicate effectively even with some of their best users. Users such as Lorelle, who had to find out about those dreadful Snap Previews from a third party source that Snap was an opt-out feature rather than opt-in. Well, if that’s how much WP values its user base, you can keep it.

  36. Posted July 23, 2007 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    Chris:

    Your complaints are actually quite common. First, the process of getting the email confirmation for your blog on WordPress.com is handled automatically, conference or not. So if you didn’t get an email, it is highly possible your email address might have been misspelled or something, which I’ve done enough times to know is possible.

    Did you ask in the WordPress.com Support Forums? Those are open. It’s the Feedback support that is closed on weekends as the number of support requests on weekends does not currently support the staff required.

    As for the Snap Preview issue, I am not on the staff nor get special treatment for my WordPress.com blog. Why would they let me know before anyone else? I found out because someone told me it was activated and a few hours later, WordPress.com made the official announcement letting everyone know. Yes, it would have been nice to announce then activate the thing, but they activated, tested, then announced. They really thought the WordPress.com community would embrace it. They were unprepared for the backlash – and still, many of the less web savvy folks think it’s cool enough that it continues to exist, thank goodness, as an option.

    Glitches happen in every system. WordPress.com has made many people happy, and if you don’t like the limits, then there is WordPress.org, the full version, for you to do whatever you like.

    Where else could you get such flexibility in choices?

  37. Posted July 23, 2007 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    I used to have my own wordpress space but had hosting problems. So I chose to move my two blogs to wordpress.com. I am rather pleased with wordpress.com except for the fact that it won’t let me post flickr slideshows and that I find adapting my former stylesheet to the templates offered by wordpress.com pretty difficult.

  38. Posted July 23, 2007 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    Hmm, I thought you could do Flickr slideshows, but I do know you can do SlideShare slide shows.

  39. toys
    Posted March 15, 2008 at 5:16 am | Permalink

    For quite a while I’ve been considering hosting my own wordpress blog, by just downloading the wordpress package. Since I have my own website anyway, this is worth my time; except that my own website is really basic and doesn’t need to have a database. If I go the WordPress way, I need to have a database. I understand that requirement – it makes sense – but it requires I upgrade my website and pay extra every month. That is what I’ll only do when I’m earning enough money to justify it, but I think I’ll be much happier when I do. I am, although, very happy with my wordpress hosted site, despite the fact that I can’t put adverts on or anytihng like that.


8 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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