At the risk of being controversial, I don't feel that self hosted WordPress is the right platform for everyone. If you are wondering if it is right for you – here are important things you need to know before you start a blog.
Self hosted WordPress is known for it's flexibility and power.
It started as a blogging platform and quickly became popular with with all types of websites. (People that have been using it long enough will remember when WordPress introduced the ability to use a static page as the homepage – this one feature was a game changer).
As it became easier to use, more people began to use it to power their own websites.
I am a huge fan.
But I think that there are some people who are better off using a different platform.
Why You Might Not Be Cut Out To Use Self Hosted WordPress
1. You Aren't Willing to Learn the Tech Stuff
In the past, I have worked with more than a few people that decided to start a blog on self hosted WordPress because they heard that it was the best platform for building a website.
But once they were all set up, they quickly realized that they
- don't really know anything about WordPress
- have no desire to learn about it
- have various volunteers working on the site
- are shocked at how much it costs to pay someone to take care of it for them,
- want to use it, more or less, to represent an offline business or organization, or
- belong to a volunteer organization – where the webmaster changes year after year.
If you don't want to learn about self hosted WordPress – then stop right here.
You need to find a different platform for your blog.
2. You Don't Know the Difference Between Self Hosted WordPress and WordPress.com
I hope that you will take this in the right way – I do not mean to ridicule.
Rather my purpose is to warn you.
If you don't know the difference between self hosting your blog on WordPress and WordPress.com – you will likely find yourself in over your head with a self hosted site.
This week alone I spoke to one person that was trying to log into her self hosted site using WordPress.com and another that had repeatedly tried to “call WordPress” when her self hosted site crashed.
Of course, neither will work.
When you use self hosted WordPress you are dealing with many entities –
- your domain registrar,
- your host,
- your theme developer,
- and WordPress plugin developers.
When something doesn't work, there is no single ONE person to call.
3. You Think Self Hosted WordPress is FREE
WordPress has often been thought of as a “free” platform.
When people say this, I am not quite sure what angle they are coming from.
I don't know if they are thinking of WordPress.com (which offers a free account as well as a premium version) or if they are thinking of self hosted WordPress which is open source and free to download – but is actually far from free.
At a minimum you must pay for your
- domain name
- hosting account (check out BigScoots which is the blog host that I use)
- premium theme like the Genesis framework with a Studio Press child theme – I use Monochrome Pro
- and lots of other blogging tools
4. You Think Self Hosted WordPress is Set It and Forget It
WordPress.org (as opposed to dot com) periodically pushes out updates to the platform.
In anticipation of these platform updates, theme developers and plugin developers will push out updates to their themes and plugins.
Generally, themes and plugins are NOT automatically updated.
In your self hosted WordPress dashboard, you will likely see that there is an update available.
But you must manually go into your dashboard and install the updates.
The process is relatively simple, if all goes well.
But sometimes it doesn't.
On the other hand, some hosts will automatically update the WordPress platform.
Here's the kicker – if you don't update your plugins and theme before the new version of WordPress gets installed, it is possible for your theme to break.
Also, if your theme or plugin developer does not issue a theme update in anticipation of a WordPress update, it is possible for your theme to break. (Which is why I don't like free themes nor do I care much for custom themes.)
Aside from the whole breakage thing – if you don't keep your site updated you are making it more susceptible to hackers.
5. You Don't Want to Bother With Site Back Ups
Some hosting plans like the include a regular backup of your self hosted WordPress site.
But some don't.
YOU need to know whether
- your site is being backed up
- how to gain access to that backup, if need be
- and, if your host will help you install a back up if needed.
If your hosting plan does not include back ups (and even if it does – you can never be too safe) you may want to consider using a third party backup service or plugin – this way you have control over the backup.
6. You Aren't Willing to Pay for Site Maintenance
As you can see, site maintenance is important.
If you don't want to do it yourself – it still needs to be done.
So, are you willing to pay someone for their time to keep you site updated?
Often there is some sticker shock involved.
If you have ever sat on the phone with customer service, you know that minutes can tick away.
If you have ever dealt with technical issues, you know that time flies.
The people that can maintain your website should have the technical ability to handle it but at the same time their work goes far beyond the click of a button.
7. SEO Is Not Important to You
Now don't answer this one too quickly.
Of course, you want people to find your site – and self hosted WordPress with the right theme is well optimized for SEO already.
But, if you are a volunteer organization that uses your website to communicate with your existing members – then maybe you don't need all that power that WordPress has to offer.
Or, if you don't regularly add new information to your website – then again maybe WordPress is more than you need.
The search engines feed on new info and new blog posts.
No matter how well optimized your site is, it will stagnate without new content.
If you don't fully understand SEO – read this beginner's guide to organic search engine optimization to wrap your head around it.
8. You Don't Plan to Start A Blog
Self hosted WordPress is top notch when it comes to starting a blogging business
If a blog is going to be a big part of your website, then maybe you do need it.
But if you just want a website that isn't going to change much – then maybe something easier – like Squarespace – would be the better choice for you.
9. You Don't Need More Functionality for Your Website
If you have plans to add any of these to your blog then self hosted WordPress is the way to go:
- add a podcast,
- a shopping cart,
- or membership functionality
By itself, WordPress does not offer this additional functionality.
But there are premium plugins (yes, you have to pay for them) that you can install.
The point being that you do not have to switch blogging platforms if you want to do more with your site.
10. You Want an All In One Solution
If you don't want to deal with all of the moving parts that come with self hosted WordPress then maybe you should look at a different platform – Squarespace, Weebly, Wix, etc.
Self hosted WordPress is definitely not one stop.
Yes, those other platforms cost money.
But we've already established that WordPress isn't free either.
11. Your Blog Will Be Updated by Lots of Different People or Volunteers
If your organization is run by volunteers then sometimes one stop shopping is best.
Because self hosted WordPress has so many moving parts, it is hard to take control of the beast.
There are many passwords to keep track of:
- for the domain account,
- the hosting account,
- and the WordPress website itself.
And, equally important, is the matter of payment.
You need to make sure all of the different parts are renewed when they come due.
If you lose control of even one piece, you could lose control of your website.
Self Hosted WordPress is Amazing If You Are Ready for the Responsibility
I don't mean to sound so negative.
Believe me, I am a huge self hosted WordPress fan.
As powerful as it is, I just want to make you aware of the responsibilities involved.
Just like you take your car in for regular maintenance, you must do the same for your website.
I encourage you to first learn about the all the different platforms available to you and the ins and outs of WordPress hosting before you before you blindly start your blog.
Did You Decide Against WordPress?
If you considered WordPress but ultimately chose a different platform – I would love to hear your story.
Please leave a comment below and tell me what platform you chose and why.