It’s no secret that I’m a huge believer in using WordPress to create your business website(s). And one of those reasons is that it’s easier to create a great, SEO friendly website for a do it yourself-er. And for many of us that have even a little bit of geekiness in us, it’s super, duper simple.
But sometimes we geeks tend to forget that not everyone that wants to build their own website has the same level of knowledge concerning the basics of website stuff. For example, since domain names and web hosting are part of my life every day, I often forget that even those very first steps can be confusing. Especially when those of us preaching the use of WordPress stress how quick and easy it is. And sadly, we leave a lot of people feeling less than capable because they simply haven’t been given some basic info.
So in an attempt to make amends for myself and geeks like me who have wrongly assumed that everyone out there understands the basics, I offer this series of posts.
Since this is the first post; let’s start with an explanation. There are two versions of WordPress.
WordPress.com utilizes the WordPress software but the hosting and managing of the software is taken care of by the folks at Automattic. It’s a free service, and as such has limitations.
WordPress.org is basically just the software. Which is free, however you need to bring your own domain name and hosting to the party.
As tempting as it may be to go with the foolproof, hosted WordPress.com option, it’s not recommended for building a business site.
- It tends to look unprofessional. Even though you can add your business name to the url address it’s still going to appear as http://yourbusinessname.wordpress.com. Hey, I can hear your thoughts…you’re thinking “So what? It’s free, and it has my business name in it, what’s the big deal?” The big deal is that you don’t own that url. It also immediately broadcasts the fact that you either a.) didn’t feel your business website was important enough to purchase a domain name or b.) you were clueless as to the importance of owning your own domain name. Neither is the message you want to be sending to potential clients/customers.
- You design choices are limited. Although WordPress.com offers quite a few templates, it’s not that same as being able to individualize your website design to fit your business. And by customization I mean much more than a header image that has your business name in it. Your website is often the first impression you give to potential clients, you want that impression to be unique and memorable. It’s hard to do that using a ‘cookie cutter’ template design that tons of other people may be using as well.
- You can’t monetize. While this may not seem important to some of you, you could be surprised down the road somewhere when you want to include affiliate links or paid sponsors to your blog.
- You’re not getting the SEO love. WordPress.com is.
- You’ll lack the really good statistical info. Sure, you get stats like how many people visited your site. But the truly helpful and critical statistics like you can get from Google Analytics just aren’t there. So forget analyzing the effectiveness of your keywords or figuring out how many of your visitors are ‘bouncing’ off before they take a look around at what you offer.
- You’re leaving control of your website in someone else’s hands. For me, although all of the above issues are important, this one is the biggest. The entire structure of your site is under the control of someone else. This holds true for using Blogger, Posterous or any other service that hosts your site for you. And while they may not own your content, they essentially own where it lives. And how easy would it be for you to gain access to it should something happen?
Take for example, Ning. Lots of people built communities on Ning when it was free to do so. And then Ning decided they couldn’t offer the service for free anymore. So what happened to communities that didn’t want to or couldn’t afford to pay for the service? I’m not sure, since I didn’t have a community there, but I’m sure there was a lot of scrambling to try to find an alternative, and then a lot of headaches (and heartaches) as they tried to relocate the content on Ning to a new service. Or worse yet, maybe they failed to find an alternative and everything was locked down and inaccessible.
It’s like having your landlord lock you out of your apartment with all of your stuff inside. That stuff may still legally be yours, but what good is that if you can’t get access to it.
Things like this happen all the time in the online world. This is why it’s so crucial that you have the control of your business website.
So now you know that when we geeks talk about WordPress, we’re talking about the software. The WordPress.org version. And to build your business website with it, you’re going to need two things first. A domain name and web hosting.
So in my next post we’ll talk about your domain name. How to choose one, how to purchase one and just what you get when you do.
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Great post, thanks for the info! I started out with WordPress.com and quickly went to WordPress.org for the very reasons you indicated! I want to have the flexibility to customize my site as you indicated. You never get a second chance to make a “First Impression”!