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Blogging 101: Is WordPress.com for me?

Published on: Friday, 17 January 2020 ✦ Updated on: 2020-01-17T12:01:16Z

is wordpres.com a good blogging platform?


Ever since the launch of Balkeni studio, it has been my aim to bring trustworthy and credible information to new bloggers as well as people who are considering taking up blogging as a hobby or a means to earn an income doing something they love and like.

This also means, that I don't believe in generic advice that you've probably read everywhere. I wish to give you the best option possible for your specific case! You'll also notice, if you've been reading my blog that I don't believe in a one-size-fits-all approach to blogging, this is also true in case of choosing a blogging platform.

I'm very serious about putting in a solid foundation for your blog, and if you choose the wrong platform, you ARE going to lose money.  So, to help you avoid such mistakes, let's take a look at one of the most-asked question, is WordPress.com a good blogging platform?

is wordpress.com a good way to start a blog


What even is WordPress.com?


WordPress is a content management system (CMS) which is owned and operated by Auttomatic Inc. Meaning, it is a blogging platform (a place where you can host your blog) that is hosted and served by Auttomatic Inc.

Is there a difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org?


The short answer is yes. WordPress.org is an open source software (also a CMS) that is used mainly to build websites and blogs and e-commerce stores. While it is free to use, you will need to find your own host to be able to host your WordPress powered website if you choose to go with WordPress.org instead. This is what is often called having a self-hosted blog.

Pros of starting a blog on WordPress.com


WordPress proudly states a significant fact, 35% of all websites are powered by WordPress. This is an impressive stat as the internet today has billions of websites. WordPress in of itself is a well-built, and efficient CMS.

Some features that make WordPress.com stand out are:


  • You don't need to have any technical knowledge of running a blog or coding experience.
  • It is hosted on fast, secure and reliable servers by Auttomatic and you won't run into hack problems as you might if you're not careful with your self-hosted blog.
  • As your host (WordPress.com) takes care of your version of WordPress updated, you don't need to worry about updating your site and you can concentrate on what you do best; write. 
  • It's easy and simple to use, with lots of free (yet well-designed) themes as well as premium themes to choose from, I believe it shouldn't be hard to set up a well-designed blog for yourself. 
  • It is free to use, until you decide to upgrade it. And offers extreme scaleability when your blog grows from being just a blog to a full-time business.
  • Practically no downtime, anyone who has ever self-hosted a blog probably knows the pain of a post going viral and their blog going down. Or on shared hosting when sometimes your blog experiences downtime but no sir, not here. On the two years that I was using WordPress I never had a single minute where my blog went down. 
  • Responsive and amazing support. The support is just beautiful, they care and they WILL help you out. That's not something I can about some other blogging platforms or hosts.
  • Built-in monetisation opportunities such as an exclusive ad program, payment buttons and the ability to add a store to your website or blog makes it very easy to monetise your blog.

What are the cons of starting your blog on WordPress.com


There are some obvious cons to using WordPress.com as a blogging platform. As the platform operates on simplifying the pains of a self-hosted blog and help you focus on what you actually want to do - run your blog/website rather that spend time managing it and keeping it updated, a few shortcomings may be seen. 

Some cons that I found WordPress.com to have:

  • As a blogger, you also assume the role of a webmaster, especially if you are the only one on your team. This means you will be using follow links and no-follow links along with these new guidelines from Google as well. Well, there is NO easy way of adding these links in WordPress, you will have to switch to the HTML section of your post and add these attributes into your posts until you upgrade to the version that lets you install custom widgets and themes.
  • Which brings me to this con, unless you're on a very specific plan that lets you do that, you cannot install third-party widgets and plugins. This is to make sure you don't accidentally install something that makes your website vulnerable to attacks and hacks but some people still find that limiting. 
  • You cannot run Adsense or any other ad networks that isn't WordAds. WordPress offers it's own ecosystem of Ads and you may only use that. Many people say that the earnings from WordAds is not as high, however I can't comment on it since I don't use much ads on any of my sites anyway for the sake of user experience. 
  • The free version of WordPress comes with Ads, your blog/website will show ads that will bring WordPress revenue, not you. 
  • You may not add custom Javascript to posts and pages that is not pre-approved by WordPress for security reasons. 

My experience with WordPress.com


If you've known me or read my blog in the past then you know how keen I am on experimenting with new blogging platforms and thoroughly testing them out before I make an opinion. I like to test things out for myself rather than taking someone else's word for it.

This is partly because I am tech savvy, can code and am familiar with designing and like to do things my own way rather than a preset way. Being a web and graphic designer, I fail to understand the one-size-fits-all approach to blogging platforms. As a developer, I don't agree with it.

Fun Fact : I'm sorry but I don't believe going the self-hosted route is for everyone or for that matter, even required.


The self-hosted blog problems with my first blog


I started my very first blog around late 2014, if I remember correctly in December 2014. Like any other new blogger I got started with blogger and with some research, I was convinced that blogger couldn't be long-term for me as I had to go self-hosted.

But boy was I wrong. And when I shut down my first blog which was co-owned with my sister I was soon looking for a new blogging platform for my own blog. Which would be 100% me. I will be very honest with you, I didn't know much about blogging then and I didn't even know how to code back then.

So I have to admit, I didn't appreciate spending a good 45 minutes to keep my blog updated and as the blog grew in content and pages etc. it started to take lots of time to load in the backend, and was overall slow because of the shared hosting and we weren't at the point where we could afford a much more expensive hosting.

It took some time to learn WordPress but the real pain was performing these backend and admin tasks. And the overall slowness of the website. Not to mention downtimes as well. They were short, maybe like 5 minutes-15 minutes but they were there.

Of course, the speed of your website depends on a lot of factors but one of them is your host as well. We were hosted with GoDaddy and while I still believe they are good (especially in India, the shared hosting plans in itself will always be slow because they host many sites on the same server.) they are still slow.

I also just wished if I could lessen the burden on myself, just be able to blog without all the extra bits. I already had to wear many hats as a solopreneur, the marketer, editor, content writer, planner etc. so not having to deal with one more role, meant a lot to me.

My search for a managed WordPress platform ended on WordPress.com


Let's dive deep into my experience with WordPress.com now. In 2016, when it was time to start my own blog I wanted to give other blogging platforms a chance, I wanted to try many of them out and see what I liked.

I knew how to use WordPress and when I came across WordPress by Auttomatic Inc. it was something I loved. It was the power of WordPress but none of the hassle that came with a self-hosted blog. My art blog (no longer online either was hosted on WordPress for two years, until I made the decision to merge it with Balkeni Studio (this blog).

I was on their personal plan, and I honestly never felt that it was restricted or limited. It was also possible to easily monetise my blog with it and I had access to WordAds as well as Simple Payment buttons integrated into the system.

The cons never bothered me very much, I was able to do everything I wanted. Blogging, displaying ads, and monetising my blog along with selling a few handmade items here and there.

The support was amazing as well! They were always willing to help and listen to me. Had I not decided to merge my art blog with this blog, I would have still been on WordPress by Auttomatic Inc.

Why I moved from WordPress to Blogger


I was going through a lot of changes in my blog during 2019, I even tried Wix out for almost an year. But I ended up coming to blogger because of many reasons which I will highlight for you now.


  • I was running way too many blogs and it was getting harder to keep up with them alongside my client work. I wanted to streamline my blogs (I had more than 4) under one brand, and concentrate on just one aspect of my business first and gradually add to them (a very valuable advice from my friend and mentor Mary Angela, in her book). 
  • My work blog was already hosted on blogger, I was learning code and wanted to experiment with everything, and Blogger unlike how many people suggest is NOT a limited platform. It is very customisable, and I've grown to love it!
  • Blogger is free, fast, secure, with no downtimes. It is so customisable that it's helping me in my journey of learning to code more and more. 
  • It is easier to use. It was made for simplicity, hence it is actually easier to use.
  • And it's possible to monetise it as well, unlike what you may have heard, and yes, I do own my content. Read Blogger's policies to find out that they never say that they own your content!

If you're interested, you can read more about the platform in this blog post

Is WordPress.com a good blogging platform for me?


That's a good question. And the answer is, it depends. In my blog coaching sessions for new bloggers I recommend them to weigh out the pros and cons of each blogging platform and think about what they want to do with their blog and decide which platform let's them achieve their specific goal in the easiest way possible.

I usually recommend WordPress to writers, technically challenged, and/or people who would rather just leave the backend tasks to the experts and give themselves a website manager for free that will keep their site secure, fast and happy 24x7.

As WordPress is scaleable, your plan can grow with you, that means it doesn't have to burn a whole in your pocket every month. And you get unlimited bandwidth, so if a blog post goes viral, you need not pay anything extra.

WP (WordPress) even makes it easy for you to get started even if you don't know what things like a host or domain name is. WP guides you through it.

If you ever need to start selling products and/or services through your website, then that's possible too. Monetising is easy with in-built tools.

If WordPres by Auttomatic Inc. s is so good, why does every other blogger suggest going self-hosted instead?


Okay well, here's the secret. Most bloggers that tell you that self-hosted is the only route to a successful blog is not giving you the information you actually need to be successful with blogging.

#SorryNotSorry

I take pride in being able to tell my readers that I put honesty, credible knowledge, and my intention to actually help my reader (you) before anything else. I believe that it's more important to let my reader know the options that are available to them, than just recommending something just because it helps me make money, or because others are doing the same.

I'm not sure where the myth of needing to "self-host" your blog to become a successful blogger originated from but it was probably an intelligent way to earn revenue by affiliate marketing. Tell someone that without buying product A, they cannot make money or it will be harder to make money.

Not only do I not like such misleading techniques, but these days I just see everyone recommending people to go self-hosted even when there's no actual need to have a "self-hosted" blog if you want to make money blogging.

I wish to tell you proper reasons and give you actual information so that you can feel empowered enough to make a decision by yourself, without having to ask anyone else for it.

As a web designer and developer, this is my advice: WordPress is a robust content management system. However, most bloggers on self-hosted WP blogs will never use 80% of the power that WP has, simply because bloggers do no require it.

If you were a multi-category e-commerce business that needed something very complex (and you have a developer to manage and maintain your site), then, sure, self-hosted is a better option for you, but for bloggers, it's just not a requirement.

Conclusion


I think WP is a great platform for starting a new blog, you can get started for free and build upon it once you believe you are getting more serious about your blog. I prefer it over a self-hosted version of WordPress because it saves you a LOT of time, headache, and hassles.

Just ask anyone running a self-hosted WordPress blog about their blog getting hacked and whether or not it was a fun experience for them.

If you are extremely new to blogging I suggest you go with their free plan and adjust with blogging regularly, if you already think you'd like to get started in a more serious manner, choose a plan (it comes with a free domain name too for an year) and start your journey!

TIP : I highly recommend reading my article on Blogger versus WordPress. You can even follow my blog for resources, and real advice to make your blog successful.


I will leave the ultimate decision to you, if you need professional help, I offer blog coaching to clients that are new to blogging to help them make their goal a reality. If you'd like to book a session, you can get in touch with me.

If you're not ready for professional coaching then feel free to get in touch via the comments section for a question or two. I'm always happy to help! Or you if you have something you'd like an extremely detailed advice on, send in a blog post or tutorial request and subscribe to my posts so that you know when it's live.   

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