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com versus org: which WordPress to use

Both kinds of blog

WordPress is an extremely powerful yet very easy to manage blogging platform, or as Wikipedia describes it: “an open source blog publishing application powered by PHP and MySQL which can also be used for content management”. It is offered to the public in two forms.

First, there is the ‘free’ version (WordPress.com), where you don’t have to pay anything to set it up (very useful for blogging beginners), and there is the ‘self hosted’ version (WordPress.org), where you use your own host and domain name, with WordPress providing the software and accompanying applications (but you do need a certain amount of technical know-how to set it up).

free blogging platform

WordPress.com (‘free’) has many benefits. It is an excellent platform to learn how to blog. It is designed for the beginner or those with restricted budgets to get into the blogging world. It can be created in a matter of minutes with very limited technicalities, and everything is updated to the latest version automatically. WordPress provide a good selection of widgets (blogging features) and themes (templates), and the methods of creating and updating your blog have been made as easy as possible.

The disadvantages are that this kind of blog cannot be monetized. With strict blog police WordPress has the power to shut down your blog at any time. You lose control over your domain name as WordPress is always part of it. There are also restrictions on what you can put in your sidebar, as only certain HTML scripts are accepted; no sign-up forms, affiliate links or similar functions are possible.  Other social media providers have recognized this, such as Feedburner, and alternative arrangements are offered.

self-hosted blogging platform

But once you’ve used the ‘free’ version for a while, and have got used to how WordPress works, then you can move on to the ‘self-hosted’ version. If you are not technically minded (understand the basics of HTML and PHP), or don’t have the patience to find out how, it would be wise to get someone to create this kind of blog for you. I spent many hours screaming at my computer while I was learning how to set up WordPress.org; it is by no means as easy as the ‘free’ alternative.

It does have many advantages. You can use your own domain name, so your blog can become a ‘blogsite’, with the pages performing as a website, but with far more search engine power. There are a variety of hosts who are compatible with WordPress, and my advice would be to use those who offer the ‘one click’ system through ‘Fantastico’. It will save you plenty of heart-ache and angst as much of the hard work is done for you automatically.

FileZilla

You can manage your blog through an FTP system (I use FileZilla) so you can upload themes, plug-ins and pictures. There are plenty of extra applications you could include on your blog, obtainable from WordPress for free, all designed to help with maximizing the performance of your blog and its relation to social media, plus thousands of different kinds of themes (templates) to choose from, both free and paid for.

The sidebars can accept most programming languages, so they can be easily monetized. You can put in social networking badges, picture links, sign-up forms, RSS feeds to Twitter and other blogs, affiliate links, advertisements, and much more besides. There is a huge quantity of plug-ins available to download from WordPress that will help enhance your blog. You can also change many features of your themes, to rearrange how your blog looks to match your corporate image or preferred style.

So which one is best? It depends what you want your blog for: just somewhere to post your thoughts and aspirations, or a powerful alternative to a website with an integrated content management system, search engine compatibility and many other features to blast your way through the web. Both will raise your profile, expose your expertise and, with longevity and consistent content, will gain high status in the search engines; both will look good, perform well and satisfy your blogging needs; and, depending on your blogging past history, one will be the right one for you at this time.

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Alice Elliott writes the award winning Fairy Blog Mother blog for beginner and post-beginner bloggers to “explain things really simply” about blogging and WordPress. She provides simple, easy to understand, highly visual courses and tutorials using ordinary, everyday words. Visit her new Beginner Bloggers blog to find her latest learning resources.
lucythorpe - 12 April 2010

What kind of costs are involved in the .org version ? Do you have to pay wordpress and someone else for a name ?

Alice Elliott - 12 April 2010

Hi Lucy, the costs involved are for a domain name if you want to have a separate one for your blog (I use UKreg.com which gives me a .co.uk domain for about £3/year), and the cost of hosting your blog, of which costs vary considerably (I use JustHost.com which is about £80/year). You can get advice on WordPress hosts from WordPress.org.

If you want to use your website URL and add your blog on as a directory (eg URL/blog) then there is no extra cost, except what you pay your webmaster to do it for you.

WordPress provides the blogging software for free, and there are thousands of free themes and plug-ins. If you want specialised themes and other applications, then the costs vary accordingly to the provider. Check out the WordPress.org website or Google to find out what you need.

I think another post on this is advisable…

Publicity Oxford - 16 April 2010

Great post, really helpful.
Do you know if wordpress.com allows sponsorship?

    Alice - 16 April 2010

    WordPress.com is not able to be monetized, so I seriously doubt it would allow sponsorship. Do some research and ask on Twitter – somebody will know the answer!

catherineosborn - 19 May 2010

Great post Alice, I've been hoping you would do one on this subject! Just one question about the “blog police” – I presume that a breach of the Ts & Cs could result in either being shut down but I'm just trying to figure out what kind of behaviour might shut down a .com blog but not .org? Slightly concerned as the proud owner of a .com blog!

Thanks,

Cx

catherineosborn - 19 May 2010

Great post Alice, I've been hoping you would do one on this subject! Just one question about the “blog police” – I presume that a breach of the Ts & Cs could result in either being shut down but I'm just trying to figure out what kind of behaviour might shut down a .com blog but not .org? Slightly concerned as the proud owner of a .com blog!

Thanks,

Cx

andreamv - 3 July 2010

I found this post via LinkedIn and this is really helpful. I've been trying to figure out the question of hosting and have been stumped. I bought my domain name(s) so I have those ready. Thanks for taking the time to explain all this.

Alice Elliott - 3 July 2010

You're welcome Andrea, glad to be of help. If you want to know the best hosts to use for your WordPress.org blog, go to http://wordpress.org/hosting/ to choose from the ones they recommend. Make sure they have Fantastico as part of their systems as this makes the process that much easier, both at the beginning and during your blog's life.

Sally Todd - 26 April 2011

Hi Alice, I am finding your posts extremely interesting and very helpful being relatively new to all this blogging malarky so thank you.

However, prior to all this knowledge I set up my blog on blogger. I can immediately tell the blog and web pages that are WordPress as they seem so superior tonlook at and much more professional. Whatbis involved in moving my blog from blogger to WordPress with minimal stress. I feel I should do it sooner rather than later when I hope to have a much bigger following and it would be a much bigger job??

Thanks
Sally

    Alice Elliott - 26 April 2011

    Hi Sally, welcome to Fairy Blog Mother! Of course you can move your Blogger posts over to WordPress – there are applications specially written for this.

    The answer is to set up your WordPress blog, then go to Tools > Import, select Blogger and it will automatically direct you to download an ‘Install Importer’ which will enable you to transfer your posts, plus pages and comments, straight into your new WordPress blog.

    Go on, do this, and you won’t be disappointed with your blog any more!

Sally Todd - 26 April 2011

Thanks Fairy Blog Mother! Will give it a go and let you know how I get on!

Sally

judy - 30 May 2013

Hi Alice,
I want to change my website totally and add a blog. How do people find my blog attached to weebly? I’m a bit confused as weebly is who I made the site with, they offer me to make a blog for free. How is that blog found in the internet space? They have to go into my site and hit blog? Want it to be easy to find. I’ve had this site for a year and nothing happens with it. Want a bit of action and need best way to start. Thanks, judy

    Alice Elliott - 30 May 2013

    Hi Judy, as you already have a blog incorporated into your website, they will find it via the link in your navigation bar (even though it’s hidden under ‘more’), and if you write a lot of posts they will be found via the search engines and if you publish them onto your social media profiles to get them in front of a much larger audience.

    I’m afraid I don’t have any experience of weebly, so can’t help you there. The way to get more action onto your site is to start adding new content to it regularly (which is done through blog posts) and sharing this content around the internet through the social networking and bookmarking sites. I’m afraid the idea of a website being found without any marketing activities isn’t true any more, you need to start promoting it!

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