I sent someone some advice on WordPress hosting and made the mistake of posting about it on Twitter, which resulted in a couple of requests to blog about it.
I started this blog as the Open Source Culture blog (later renamed the Open Culture blog) on Blogspot.com. Last April, I rebranded the blog as Fast Wonder and moved it to WordPress.com. After a few months, I grew increasingly frustrated with the limitations of WordPress.com, and I moved it to my own hosting provider. Based on this experience, I tend to recommend that most (but not all) people host their own WordPress installations, instead of using WordPress.com.
There are a number of benefits of hosting WordPress on your own domain.
- You can use a custom feed and have it auto-discovered (I highly recommend the free FeedBurner service). The benefit of a custom feed is that you can move your blog around, rename it, etc. and keep the same FeedBurner feed forever to avoid losing subscribers.
- You can have a custom favicon on your own host, but on WordPress.com, you are stuck with the WordPress favicon.
- You can get better analytics (Google analytics are also free) if you host it yourself.
- You have more control over the theme, since you can hack on the templates files, while you are more limited to just css changes on WordPress.com
- It also seems like some countries may be blocking all of WordPress.com, so if you do business globally in certain countries this may or may not be important depending on how you use your blog. Thanks to Aaron Hockley for reminding me of this issue.
For people already on WordPress.com, it is pretty easy to migrate to your own host without losing comments, posts, etc. with the WordPress export / import.
There are some potential disadvantages to hosting your own WordPress installation:
- Hosting it yourself requires a fair amount of technical knowledge to install.
- You have to keep up with installing the WordPress security updates, which can be a lot more work to maintain.
Yes, I am a big fan of hosting my own WordPress installs; however it really isn’t for everyone. If you aren’t at least roughly familiar with databases and installing PHP applications, I wouldn’t try it yourself. Also, if you have a very small blog and really don’t want to do much customization or spend much time on it, then I would go with WordPress.com and not host it yourself.
There are probably some other advantages and disadvantages, so drop them in the comments if I missed anything.
Related Fast Wonder Blog posts: