Yes, we looked at WordPress.com a little while back ... when we were looking at free platforms. But there's a paid version of WordPress.com. Sort of.
WordPress.com is not WordPress
We convered this before, but we need to cover it again, because it 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 blogging service that includes hosting, but has limitations. Earlier, we talked about using WordPress.com as your blogging platform. And we will again.
Here's why we're talking about it again.
WordPress.com Is Free, But...
Yes, you can use WordPress.com for free. But there are some functions that you can buy as an upgrade. And that's what we're going to focus on today.
Reviewing briefly, the free version includes:
- Nested categories
- Spam filtering via Akismet
- Schedule posts
- Extended posts ("Read the rest..." kind of thing)
- A large selection of templates (50, as of this week)
- Widgets (in most templates)
- Image hosting (within total disk limit of 50 MB)
There's also lots you can't do with the free version:
- You can't edit your templates
- No ads. The Terms Of Service (TOS) don't explicitly forbid it, but the FAQ says no ads
The free version of WordPress.com serves most bloggers' needs. But not all. That's where the "paid version" comes in.
Paying For Upgrades
WordPress.com has upgrades available. For a yearly fee, you can get functionality added to your site. But right now, only a few upgrades are available.
The first upgrade WordPress.com offered was custom CSS. It costs $15/year for this. If you're really, really good with CSS, you'll love this. I've used it, and it's quite powerful and effective for templates that are designed with this feature in mind. The bad news is that most templates weren't built with this in mind. The WordPress.com verison of the Sandbox theme is very customizable, I've found.
The next is unlimited private users. This only matters if you want to have a private blog. By default, WordPress will allow 35 "members" of a private blog. The $30/year upgrade gives you unlimited members.
You own domain name will cost you either $10/year or $15/year. If you already own your domain name, then it's $10/year. If you need to register a domain name, $15/year covers that, too.
The latest upgrade is extra disk space. Since you can upload images for your WordPress.com blog to their servers (but currenly can't delete them), you may run out of space eventually, since the limit is 50 MB. You can add from 1 GB ($20/year) to 10 GB ($90/year).
Is it worth it? Well, maybe. Personally, I find that you can get all these features, and more, for less with another hosting service.
But, if you only want one or two of these features (say, domain name or custom CSS), then it's probably cheaper to go this route than a standard Web host.
We'll continue to look at paid services for blogging. And we seek your input on paid blogging services.