If you want a WordPress site, you’ve basically got two options:
- Option #1: Find a company that is running the WordPress software and create an account with them. For example, you can go to WordPress.com and create a free basic website, but eventually, you’ll want to pay for premium features. (See below.)
- Option #2: Install the WordPress software yourself and run your own website on your corner of the internet. It’s kind of like installing a program on your computer, but instead of your computer, you’re using installing the program on a computer owned by a web hosting company. The WordPress software is still free, but you have to pay a web hosting fee to rent computer space. This sounds hard, but you can install WordPress in 3 minutes, 42 seconds with a few clicks. Check out this tutorial video.
Choose your own adventure…
If you’re just starting a personal website and you want to play around with a free basic WordPress site, just choose option 1 and set up a free account with WordPress.com. You don’t need a web host right now.
If you’re running a website for your home business, you’ll probably want Option 2 and run WordPress on your own web host account just so you’re able to install free apps (they’re called plugins) or themes to make your website more powerful.
If you’re trying to make money online from your WordPress website by writing reviews and generating revenue from ads or product referrals, you’ll definitely need to run WordPress on a web host. You’re not allowed to make money on a WordPress.com blog or website. (See reason #5 below).
(Jump to the two web hosting companies that I use.)
Premium WordPress.com features (or 6 reasons why I don’t use WordPress.com for my website):
You get some free stuff with WordPress.com, but eventually you’ll want to pay for the premium stuff that everyone else has.
Reason #1. You need to pay $18-$25 per year (per website) if you want to buy and use your own domain name (like example.com).
You’ll pay $18 to buy and use a regular domain name (like a website address ending in .com or .org). You’ll have to pay $25 for a domain name ending with .me. Also, you have to pay an extra $8.00 per year (per domain name) to keep your registration information private.
Even if you do get a domain name, you still cannot use any advertising or upload any additional themes or plugins. Read their policy.
(If you already own your own domain name that you bought somewhere else, you can still use it for your WordPress.com website, but it will cost $13 per domain name per year for the Domain Mapping paid upgrade.)
Reason #2. You need to pay $30 per year (per website) to change the fonts or tweak how your site looks
The Custom Design paid upgrade lets you tweak the font or styling (i.e. colour, spacing, margins) using CSS, but you still can’t upload your own HTML code and you can’t upload your own custom themes. (WordPress.com offers over 220 themes, so this might not be a problem for you.)
Reason #3. You need to pay $30 per year (per website) to turn off their ads.
WordPress.com runs ads on their sites from time to time to keep the service free. If you want to turn off their ads, it will cost you money. If you’re running a home business, you’ll have to decide how professional it looks to have ads on your site… Ads that don’t make any money for you. (If you’re a site that has moderate to high traffic, you can apply for their WordAds program and share in the revenue.)
Reason #4. You need to pay $20 – $290 per year (per website) for extra storage.
You get 3 GB with a free WordPress website, but it’ll cost you $20 per year (per site) for a 10GB space upgrade. $290 per site per year for a 200GB space upgrade. Also, WordPress.com won’t let you upload audio files or music without this space upgrade.
(In comparison, shared web host plans like those offered by BlueHost offer you unlimited space. More powerful web hosting plans do not offer unlimited space. VPS.net offers 250 GB for $20 per month for all of your sites.)
Reason #5. You’re not allowed to make money from your WordPress.com blog.
You can’t run Google AdSense, Yahoo ads, or other third-party advertising. You can’t make money from sponsored or paid posts. You can’t use affiliate links. You can’t do network marketing, or MLM schemes. *If you get traffic on your WordPress.com blog, you may qualify for their WordAds program. (See reason #3 above.)
Reason #6. You can’t install WordPress plugins and themes to make your site more powerful.
After a while, you start to recognize which sites are powered by WordPress. And, you’ll start to realize that their WordPress sites have cool features that you don’t have on your free WordPress.com website. Want to add a forum, a social network, a photo gallery, a rating system, an e-commerce system…
There are over 26,000 free plugins in the WordPress Plugin directory (and 1,800+ free themes in the Themes Directory) that you can install only if you’re running your own WordPress server on a web host… (or you have VIP cloud hosting – see below.)
Reason #7. You need to pay $45,000 per year to run VIP Cloud Hosting
This isn’t a real reason, but I put it in here to put things into perspective.
The biggest reason to sign up for a WordPress.com is because they are rock-solid stable. They handle hundreds of millions of page views every day on WordPress.com.
If your site gets a massive spike in traffic, the shared hosting plan on your web host won’t handle it. Your site will lag more and more until it crashes. On the other hand, websites powered by WordPress.com are fast and reliable.
So, if you want the stability of a WordPress.com site, but the flexibility of installing your own plugins and themes (Reason #5) and you want to make money off your site (Reason #6), then you need VIP Cloud Hosting. But VIP Cloud Hosting is for the pros – big companies like the LA Times or Time.com. At $3,750 per month for up to 5 sites, plus other costs, most of us home business types ain’t starting with this one.
So, why do I run my WordPress on my own web host account?
Well, because I want to make money from blogging and running a home business (and yes, I do make some money.) I want to run my own ads and commission grabbing affiliate links (and not let some one else run ads on my site and make money from my hard work.)
I want to be able to customize my website by uploading any theme or plugin to unlock the full power of WordPress. (I pay for premium themes and plugins to add more power to my website.)
I want to run more than one website. When you run WordPress on your own web host account, you can have an unlimited number of sites on your web host account. (Depending on your web host, you may have a limited number of domain names.) When you pay for premium features on WordPress.com, you pay for each site.
If I went with WordPress.com (forgetting the fact that I couldn’t make money from the site and I couldn’t customize the site), I’d still have to pay $93 per year for each of my websites on WordPress.com.
- $13 just to connect (map) the domain name (that I already own) to my WordPress.com site.
- $30 to turn off their ads.
- $30 to customize the theme.
- $20 for extra storage space…
I could just round it up to $99 per year with their premium pro bundle, but a hundred bucks for one site on WordPress.com seems expensive. Shared Hosting with BlueHost is as low as $4.95 per month. I’d rather pay $60 a year for as many WordPress sites as I want, than pay $99 per year for one site hosted on WordPress.com.
Yes, I make money online using WordPress
I run a WordPress blog. I do affiliate marketing which basically means I write about stuff and then link to merchants. I use Commission Junction and LinkShare which are online advertising companies in the affiliate marketing industry.
- Basically you sign up as a publisher to make money from your website.
- They hook you up with advertisers – major retailers, travel agents, big companies like Microsoft, iTunes, etc.
- You choose which links to run and which products to talk about on your website.
- If a visitor on your website clicks on a link and buys the product, you get a commission (finder’s fee) from the merchant.
I made over $9,000 in two years using a WordPress website.
Here are my earnings from Commission Junction from my one website. As you can see, I made around $5,000 one year and $4,000 the following year.
Here are a few things to note:
- I used WordPress for this website. It was easy to set up WordPress on a web host.
- At the time, I used a $4.95 per month BlueHost shared web host account. (I use a different web host right now. Here’s why.)
- All of my traffic was from natural Google search engine results. I did not pay for traffic. (In 2013, my traffic from Google dropped because of the Google panda / penguin updates, but that’s another story.)
- Making money is not my full time job. It wasn’t easy. I didn’t start blogging and instantly start to make cash. I started my WordPress site on BlueHost in 2008 and tried a few different topics. I didn’t start making thousands of dollars until 2011.
- These are my own results. Your results may vary.
Why did I get a BlueHost shared web hosting plan?
I signed up for 1 year of hosting at the start of 2008. Before the end of the year, I renewed my contract for another 36 months. Three years later, I renewed my contract again and this time I added a dedicated IP address (I need this because of the way I tweak my website code.)
*DISCLOSURE: I’ve canceled my contract right now because I am using a more expensive web host for my class websites, but if you’re just running a simple website, the BlueHost shared web hosting plan will probably meet your needs.
- Unlimited Space – This means you can upload as much stuff as you (reasonablely) want for your website. But, there are restrictions. For example, you can’t use it as a backup or archive service. *Check out their Terms of Service to see what “unlimited” means.
- Unlimited Transfer – Bluehost doesn’t set limits on how much visitor traffic you can receive. However, there are limits. See below.
- Unlimited Domains – You can associate as many of website addresses as you want to your account. If you buy 100 domain names, you can use them all with your Bluehost account. (A different company that I once used had a limit on how many different domain names I was allowed to use.)
- Free Set-up – You can set up a WordPress site for free with the clicks of a couple of buttons. Here’s a video tutorial.
- Free Domain – actually, the free domain is not technically “free” – Bluehost simply credits your account for the cost of the domain on qualified plans. See this help page for more info.
- Anytime money back guarantee – you’re not locked into a contract. So I bought the 36 month plan to get the cheapest monthly rate and when I canceled, they gave me a prorated refund (except for the $14.99 charge for the “free” domain name. Read their cancellation policy.)
Things to know before you sign up for a Shared Hosting Plan (with Bluehost or any other company for that matter.)
1. I don’t buy my domain names from Bluehost any more.
I used to (when I didn’t know any better.) Now I don’t because I can get it cheaper elsewhere.
- If you check out Bluehost’s price list under Shared Web Hosting add-ons, you can see that additional domain names cost $14.99 per domain name per year and if you want domain name privacy (and you do want this or your personal information gets listed on a public WHOIS registry), it’ll cost you an additional $10.99 per domain name per year. In other words, you’re paying $26 per domain name.
- I use 10dollar.ca – They charge $10.45 (CAD) per year for a .ca domain and $13.06 per year for the others (.com, .net, .org) but you get free domain name privacy which means, you’re paying basically $13 per domain name. Half the amount charged by Bluehost. So, you buy the domains at 10dollar.ca and then point them to your web hosting account at Bluehost.
2. A shared web hosting plan may not be powerful enough for your needs. (Why I’ve stopped using Bluehost right now)
If this is your first web hosting plan, chances are you’re looking at a shared web hosting plan (because it’s the cheapest.)
Shared web hosting is where one computer (web server) connects to the internet and the web hosting company packs a whole bunch of websites onto that single server. (You’re “sharing” the web hosting. Get it?)
You know how your computer slows down when you have a million programs open and running at the same time? You kinda get the same problem with shared web hosting.
Shared web hosting is cheap for a reason. You might get “unlimited” space, transfer, and domain names with your shared web hosting plan, but you get a limited amount of resources (i.e. CPU, memory…) If your website gets too busy, then Bluehost will throttle your website and slow things down. This means your visitors will complain that your website lags.
This is why I’ve stopped using a shared web hosting plan for my classroom blogging network. When I had my entire class of 25 students in the computer lab logged into my wordpress website and leaving comments on blog posts, Bluehost would throttle my website so that all of the students would complain about how slow the website was. It would take ages for pages to load up. Running something more computer intensive like the BuddyPress plugin would make my website crawl.
Don’t get me wrong. The shared web hosting plan at Bluehost is great for a regular website where visitors don’t have to log in. I didn’t have a problem with students in my class “reading” my class website at the same time in the lab. Remember, I made over $9,000 with a single website on a Bluehost account. (Visitors didn’t have to log into that website.)
But, the moment, I needed to have 25-30 students log in and write posts / comments at the same time, my Bluehost shared account couldn’t handle the demands and there are graphs that you can look at showing Bluehost limiting resources to throttle the account.
If you read the Terms of Service, under “Unlimited” usage policies and definitions, it states that “Bluehost reserves the right to limit processor time, bandwidth, processes, or memory in cases where it is necessary to prevent negatively impacting other Subscribers.”
What do I use if I need something more powerful than the Bluehost shared web hosting plan?
I’ve only ever used the Bluehost Shared Web Hosting plan. ($6.99 per month)
Bluehost does offer more powerful options, but I found them too expensive:
- They have a more powerful Shared Web Hosting Pro plan ($24.99 per month) which is the same as the shared web hosting plan but it has 80% fewer accounts on the server. (This means you get more CPU usage and other resources)
- The next step up is a Bluehost VPS ($24.99 – $119.99 per month) which offer even more dedicated resources.
- Or, you could get a dedicated server from Bluehost ($124.99 – $209.99 per month)
After doing some research, I went with VPS.net. They have a few different products:
- For a while, I used their Cloud Server which basically lets you add nodes (resources) at $20 per month per node. This is for people who are smarter than me because you have to install and manage your own operating system (Linux) in addition to managing your WordPress site and trying to find time to add content. I used this for a few big projects, but in the end, it was too steep of a learning curve.
- They have a WordPress Cloud Server package which I’m sure is lovely, but at $53 per month, I can’t afford it yet.
I’ve tried out a few of their packages, but right now, I use something called Cloud Sites.
The business package costs $20 per month and I can install WordPress and have an entire class write posts, leave comments, and do social networking (BuddyPress) without significant lag.
Bottom Line: What should I get?
So you want to use WordPress, but you’re not sure what to get. Which of the following questions meets your need?
|WordPress.com||Edublogs.org||Kidblog.org||Shared Webhost plan||Something more powerful|
|1. I want a completely free (basic) website. I am okay if they put ads on my site||✔|
|2. I do not want other people’s ads on my website.||✔||✔||✔||✔|
|3. I want something targeted towards education||✔||✔||✔||✔|
|4. I want a very simple user experience||✔|
|5. I want to be able to change the theme / appearance of my site||✔||✔||✔||✔|
|6. I want someone else to install the WordPress software. I just want to write stuff on my website||✔||✔||✔|
|7. I am comfortable installing and updating the WordPress software with a few clicks||✔||✔|
|8. I want to make money from my website by running my own Google ads or getting commissions from my links||✔||✔|
|9. I want to add free or premium plugins, themes, or customized features (such as Google Analytics, slideshows, etc.)||✔||✔|
|10. I want a website where visitors can read my stuff and leave comments (without having to log in)||✔||✔||✔||✔|
|11. I want a website which can handle 25-30 people students logging in at the same time and writing posts or leaving comments.||✔||✔||✔|
|12. I want to be able to create and manage student accounts||$40 per year||✔||✔||✔|
|13. I want to create a student blogging network and batch create blogs and users||$500 per year||?||✔|
Disclaimer: This is a paid endorsement.
Some of the links on this page (and website) are affiliate links. If you buy something from one of the merchants discussed on this page (i.e. Bluehost, VPS.net or 10dollar.ca) after clicking on one of my links, I will receive a commission, if and only if you buy something. It does not change the amount that you would pay. This is a finder’s fee from the company (and kinda proves my point that you can make money from a WordPress blog.)
The views expressed on this page are purely my own. Although reasonable efforts have been made to provide the information on this website, there are no promises as to the completeness, currency, or accuracy of the information. Any product claim, statistic, quote, or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider.