7 Reasons to Convert Your WordPress.com Blog to WordPress.org

In my book, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, I recommend you start blogging with WordPress.com. It’s free and easy to get started. But if you are serious about blogging, you will eventually want to upgrade to self-hosted WordPress, also known as WordPress.org.

7 Reasons to Convert Your WordPress.com Site to WordPress.org

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/mattjeacock

What’s the difference? WordPress.com is the hosted version of WordPress. In other words, the software lives on Automattic’s servers. They are the parent company of WordPress.

WordPress.org is the self-hosted version of WordPress. You download the software for free and then install it on your own server or one you lease. With most modern hosting services like Bluehost, you don’t even have to download WordPress. You simply install it with a click or two.

WordPress.org (self-hosted WordPress) provides seven advantages over WordPress.com (hosted WordPress):

  1. You can use a custom domain name. Nothing is worse when it comes to online branding than a domain name that is long and includes someone else’s brand attached to it. MichaelHyatt.WordPress.com is an example of what not to do.With self-hosted WordPress, you can buy your own domain and then connect it to your blog for free. Yes, you can do this with WordPress.com, too. It’s one of their premium services, but you have to pay $13 per year—every year—for the privilege.
  2. You have access to more themes. Because WordPress.com runs in a closed system, they are very selective about which themes they let you install. At this writing, you have your choice of 146 free themes and 55 premium themes (starting at $50).Will this may sound like plenty of options, compare it to the thousands of themes—both free and premium—that are available for self-hosted WordPress. Some of my favorite premium developers include StudioPress, Elegant Themes, WooThemes, and Standard.
  3. You can install third-party plugins. These add additional functionality to WordPress. Unfortunately, WordPress.com does not allow this. You are stuck with the standard WordPress implementation.Just to give you an idea of what you can do with plugins, here are five of my favorites:
    • All-in-One SEO Pack—Optimizes your WordPress blog for search engines (SEO). It allows you to customize the meta data for each post.
    • AttentionGrabber—Adds a simple drop-down banner at the very top of my site. You can use this for either announcements, ads, or both.
    • Blubrry PowerPress—Embeds my podcast into specific blog posts (show notes). You can pick from a variety of player styles and display the one you want in your post.
    • Disqus Commenting System—Replaces the native WordPress commenting system. It has a number of features that I like better. It is arguably the most popular commenting plugin available.
    • W3 Total Cache—Improves the user experience of your blog by optimizing your server performance, caching every aspect of your site, reducing the download time of your theme, images, etc.

    You can find a list of all my favorite plugins here.

  4. You can customize and tweak the code. This might not be important to you, but it is critically important to me. I am constantly wanting to make “improvements” to the site.This could be as simple as adjusting the spacing between bulleted text (which requires modifying the site’s style.css file) to moving the post date from the top of the post to the bottom (which requires modifying the single.php file).

    WordPress.com does allow you to modify the CSS, but only with a $30 per year upgrade. You can’t modify the PHP files at all.

  5. You can run your own advertising. WordPress.com runs its own ads on your site. This is one way they pay for your “free” site. For $30 per year, you can remove these ads entirely.However, you still can’t run your own ads like I describe here. This requires the ability to ad plugins or embedded code—something WordPress.com doesn’t permit.
  6. You can setup a web store. Eventually, you will want to monetize your site—especially if you are thinking of going pro. Selling ads is one way to do it. But there are other, more lucrative ways to turn your blog into a cash machine.One way is via a web store. This gives you the opportunity to sell your digital wares or your physical ones. Unfortunately, WordPress.com doesn’t provide any mechanism for doing this, since all the WordPress e-commerce solutions require self-hosted WordPress.
  7. You own and control your home base. In my book, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, I define a “home base” as a place online you own and control. This is distinct from an “embassy,” which you don’t own or control but where you have credentials and a presence.Clearly, a self-hosted WordPress site qualifies as a home base. You own it. You control it. But a WordPress.com site? That’s a little iffy. It’s fine for hobby bloggers, but I would not run a business or pro site on it. It simply doesn’t provide enough control.

Ready to step up to self-hosted WordPress? If so, I provide a step-by-step screencast here. It will walk you through the entire process in twenty minutes or less.

Question: What advantages have you experienced with self-hosted WordPress as compared to WordPress.com? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Want to launch your own blog or upgrade to self-hosted WordPress? Watch my free, twenty-minute screencast. I show you exactly how to do it. You don’t need any technical knowledge. Click here to get started.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are snarky, offensive, or off-topic. If in doubt, read My Comments Policy.

  • http://serstkov.com/ Justas Serstkovas

    Thanks Michael for inspiration. I switched back to self-hosted wordpress recently after listening one of your podcast where you reminded me about power of self-hosted wordpress.

    I guess this question is not just for Michael, but for any one here.

    I noticed that Disqus platform is recommended by lots of people and I see benefits of it, but I also noticed new WordPress.Com Jetpack Comments system. This is also powerful commenting system with ability of social logins, following on replies etc. I was wondering, did any of you had a chance to compare Disqus and Jetpack commenting systems? What are your ideas? I tried Disqus on my blog, but currently I am using Jetpack comments (once I tried it) and can’t see benefit of Disqus so I would like to switch back.

    By the way, inspired by Michael I did write short post about advantages of self-hosted wordpress stye with a list of my favourite plugins I am using: http://serstkov.com/wordpress_platform/

    By the way, this post was written before I started using Jetpack comments, so Disqus mentioned as my choose there.

    Thanks a lot guys!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Justas. I don’t personally have any experience with Jetpack comments.

  • joe

    Does your site still appear in the wordpress reader if you are hosted on .org?

    I find the readers is quite good for getting follwers

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I am not familiar with the “WordPress reader.” What is that? Do you have a link?

  • Erik Matlock

    In all honesty, I wasn’t absolutely sure i was going to stick with it. I figured I would start with the free stuff from blogspot. Hated it, so I moved to a free WordPress site. The whole thing is taking off now, have to consider moving it to the .org platform.
    Glad i did it this way, but now I have to make the switch.
    Now that we expanded and added a second blog, it’s a lot to keep up with.
    I appreciate your article. Looking for some growth coaching now.
    Time to make this gig full time.

  • http://www.web-tasks.com/services/LocalSEO Local SEO

    Great help indeed for the WordPress users, thanks for sharing..
    “WordPress dot org is the self-hosted version of WordPress. You download the software for free and then install it on your own server or one you lease.”

  • Arlene Boehnlein Rice

    Yikes!
    I’ve done the wrong thing by having a website address attached with the Simplesite name.

    On WP .org, can you have a website…and a blog on the same WP.org domain?

    My website will be about a ministry platform I am trying to build. I am especially wanting to have an online store to sell items from a website with my own domain name.

    I already have a wordpress.com blog, but it needs a more crisp, professional look.

    I like how Simplesite has pages and subpages. Is that something WP.org has the ability to do as well?

    Any advice or suggestions are appreciated.

    http://gabrielproject.simplesite.com/

    Arlene
    PS: I most definitely will watch your video to try to understand more about how to navigate and build my website. Thanks so much !