We're looking at free blogging platforms. Last time, we looked at Blogger. Today, we're going to look at WordPress.com.
WordPress.com is not WordPress
First, let's consider the thing that confuses lots of people. WordPress.com is not the same as WordPress.
Here's the difference. WordPress is a blogging software application. If you have WordPress, you still need a Web host.
WordPress.com is a service of Automattic. It's a free blogging service that runs a version of the WordPress software called WordPress MU.
Yes, WordPress is a platform. So is WordPress.com. WordPress software is free. But it doesn't include hosting. WordPress.com is a free blogging service that includes hosting, but has limitations. Today, we're going to talk about using WordPress.com as your blogging platform.
What You Get
WordPress.com is an easy-to-use platform. It supports categories -- nested categories ... for example, sports, then football under sports, then college football under football, pro football under football, and so on.
WordPress.com also has native support for TrackBacks. If you don't know about TrackBacks, we'll talk in detail later.
Spam filtering is also included. Automattic's Akismet filter works very well. It's not perfect, but it's darn good.
You can schedule posts. While classic blogging doesn't include the concept of scheduled posts, some bloggers like to schedule stuff to appear at a date or time in the future.
Extended posts are also possible. That is, a post having an intro or tease, followed by "Read the rest..." kind of thing. Not used by a lot of bloggers, but it's nice to have when you want to use it.
WordPress.com also offers a good selection of templates. Most look really good.
Widgets are also included in WordPress.com blogs. Well, in most templates, anyway.
What You Don't Get
WordPress.com doesn't allow you include ads on your site. Well, actually, the Terms Of Service (TOS) don't explicitly forbid it, and there are ways of including ads using standard HTML. However, the FAQ says ads are a no-no. So, no ads.
You can't have your own domain name for free. That is, your blog's domain name will include wordpress.com as part of the URL. Just like Blogger.
With Blogger, you can use your own domain name if you host it elsewhere (for a fee paid to your host), and still use Blogger for creating your blog.
With WordPress.com, you can use your own domain name for a $15/year fee ($10/year, if you already own your domain name) and have WordPress.com still host it.
Bottom line on domain names: Just like everywhere, you can't get your own domain name for free. It costs extra. But it's really cheap with WordPress.com.
WordPress.com offers some stuff Blogger doesn't. Blogger offers some stuff WordPress.com doesn't.
I have free blogs running on each platform. Either is an excellent choice, depending on which features appeal to you the most.
Next time, we'll look at another free WordPress hosting service: Blogsome.