During these few months of quarantine, I’ve been approached by several members of friends and family on how to start a new website. These are mostly “spur of the moment” personal blogs – or perhaps a space to post some images and share them. For these basic use case scenarios, I always recommend free wordpress.com accounts. And I tell them that if they ever think of taking things to the next level, they can get a “real” website with their domain name on something like NameHero.
Here are the pros and cons of starting your full-fledged website with your domain name, as opposed to continuing your free account on something like WordPress.com.
Pro 1: Branding – The Single Biggest Benefit
It’s difficult to emphasize how important this is. If your website becomes at all serious, or has anything to do with money, or becomes more than just a personal passion, then there’s no alternative but to get your domain name with paid web hosting. Even if all you want is a basic contact form with nothing but your address as a pointer to your business, people are much more likely to trust this:
There’s so much competition for your eyeballs these days, that it’s simply impossible for anyone to take you seriously unless you have at least a domain name.
Pro 2: Accept Payments
If you want to accept payments on your site, it needs to be PCI compliant with all the requisite protections required by the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. NameHero has a free website builder that you can test out for a week and then depending on your requirements, you’ll need to sign up for the e-commerce package if you want to accept credit card payments.
Customers are a lot more comfortable parting with their money if you have your own domain name. It’s not a guarantee of security of course! But they would be much more suspicious of you if you didn’t have it.
Pro 3: Unlimited Customization
Moving to your own hosting allows you to create a website just the way you want it. Free plans like those on wordpress.com are very restrictive in terms of what plugins and themes you can install. Every business is different, and you’ll slowly get into the habit of customizing your website just the way you like it. On a free (or even paid) WordPress.com account, there are too many restrictions for performance reasons. These are very tightly controlled platforms.
With proper web hosting like with NameHero on the other hand, you can customize your website to your heart’s content. Make it look like nothing else out there. And create unique functionality that’s tightly wrapped around your business model, and create a user experience that’s specifically tailored to your customers.
However, there are a few cons.
Con 1: It Costs Money (Duh!)
A free WordPress site doesn’t cost you anything. Paid hosting might only be a few bucks a month, but it’s still a psychological barrier for many people – especially in developing countries where it means more than just a cup of coffee! You have to pay for two things:
- The domain name
- The actual web hosting
These two are usually a package deal. You can often get the former for free for the first billing cycle if you sign up for a year or more. As far as business expenses go, this has got to be the tiniest element of them all! Compared to other typical business costs, $5/m is practically nothing.
Con 2: A Free WordPress Site Lasts Forever
For many people, their personal blog is their legacy. They put their heart and soul into it and don’t want it to vanish after they’re not around to take care of it. The benefit of a free setup like wordpress.com is that your content will never be lost – even when you die. It’ll remain up until the parent company Automattic decides to fold up, seems unlikely.
Since my own personal blog bhagwad.com is a gateway to my professional work, I’ve chosen to go for full-fledged web hosting. But it’s a bit of a pang when I realize that all that content will vanish into the void after I die. But c’est la vie!
There are definitely cases where it makes more sense to stick to a free wordpress.com blog, as opposed to paying for a domain name and web hosting. It all depends on what your goals are, and how serious your website is. Good luck on your new venture!
I’m a NameHero team member, and an expert on WordPress and web hosting. I’ve been in this industry since 2008. I’ve also developed apps on Android and have written extensive tutorials on managing Linux servers. You can contact me on my website WP-Tweaks.com!