Myth: To Use WordPress, I Have to Be Hosted at WordPress.com

STATUS: False-ish

Most people get confused by the thousands of sites located at “yoururl.wordpress.com.” While these sites run on the WordPress CMS, they are not the type of WordPress sites that you would build for your business or host on your own web hosting.

In ancient times, people got a bit spooked by things they didn’t understand. Lightning. Fire. Puberty. Coleslaw. Just about everything had mythological (and not entirely factual) explanations. Today, we’ve replaced those gods with technology platforms like iOS and WordPress. But in the process, these platforms have developed their own mythology. In this series, we investigate the truth beyond some of WordPress’s most persistent myths.
Read more WordPress myths here.

So what are they?

WordPress.com, which is run by WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg’s company, Automattic, hosts millions of WordPress sites. The sites hosted at WordPress.com tend to be blogs with limited functionality (they’re the ones by default using the the name.wordpress.com suffix). WordPress.com also offers more extensive for-fee premium hosting for enterprise level clients — like Timothy Ferris’ 4 Hour Work Week Blog, which itself gets millions of visits each month.

But for your purposes, if you’re wanting complete control over your business site, you’re better off using the full WordPress platform and good independent web hosting. This means full control over your site’s styles and functionality, and the power to make WordPress into whatever you please. You’ll see. A WordPress site can be much more than a blog!

To host your own WordPress install, you’ll need to use an automated installer available in 99% of all web hosting accounts, or, visit WordPress.org to download the installer. This is what powers both WordPress.com and the business-level applications of WordPress across the web. Be wary, though: if you’re hosting WordPress yourself, you’ll need either minor tech savvy of your own or some professional help.

That’s confusing! Why would they name WordPress.com that when WordPress is the software it runs on (and is available separately)?

I’m not sure! I have to explain this to people every day. Years ago, I put up my first blog on WordPress.com. My blog was about grammar (because I am not a geek at all). When I wanted to get some additional functionality – maybe a newsletter widget, nothing fancy – I Googled it, and fell down a rabbit hole of people talking about plugins, FTP, theme editing etc. But I didn’t seem to have access to this, and I didn’t know why. Didn’t I have WordPress?

Luckily, about half of the people posting in forums were as confused as me. They, too, had a site hosted at WordPress.com and wanted more, but were having trouble figuring out why they couldn’t get more. So I figured it out: I did have WordPress, but it was the hosted, WordPress.com version; if I wanted access to all the deep features, I’d have to host my own.

Almost everyone is confused by this at first — because, frankly, it is confusing.

To make matters even more confusing, the popular Jetpack plugin (available for your self-hosted WordPress site) needs to be connected with WordPress.com via a free hosting account to provide stats, email subscriptions and other WordPress.com-specific features to a self-hosted WordPress site.

WordPress for business

Though many of the millions of the sites using WordPress are indeed blogs, millions aren’t. It’s actually a very flexible platform, and, with a good developer (or even a mediocre developer) can be modified at a fraction of the cost of starting from scratch. Currently, WordPress powers business sites big and small, major publishers like TechCrunch and New York Times, and more. Check out WordPress’s boast list at https://wordpress.org/showcase/

This Greek god is confused about the difference between WordPress and WordPress.com

Feature photo © Ezume Images / Dollar Photo Club

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