If you’re at the point where you’d like to start a blog, whether it’s for professional or personal reasons, your best option is a self-hosted website powered by WordPress.
There is a reason why WordPress, as of this writing, commands almost 50% of the market share of websites using content management technologies. It’s because WordPress offers key advantages and ease-of-use features that are lacking in other options.
In this article we’ll cover the alternatives to self-hosted WordPress, and the reasons why WordPress is most people’s CMS of choice.
WordPress: The World’s Favorite Content Management System
WordPress is a Content Management System (CMS). This means it’s a tool that makes it easy to add new blog posts and pages to your website. Using a CMS, you can write articles in a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) format, just as you do with your favorite word processor. You can also easily embed rich content, such as videos and images.
A good CMS separates content from design. This means that you can change the look and feel of your website (often called the “theme”) without modifying every single blog post that you’ve created. That’s an added convenience for webmasters who want to upgrade to a more sophisticated or user-friendly blog format.
Finally, a good CMS also enables users to extend the functionality of the software. Typically, this is done by adding additional software modules called “plugins” that are designed specifically for a particular feature set.
WordPress Is Not Without Competition
WordPress is not the only CMS available. It faces competition predominantly from two other options, both of which are licensed under the GNU General Public License and free of charge. There are also three more options that are worth covering.
Drupal is the second most popular CMS behind WordPress.
It’s often the choice for large corporations, but that’s because it’s designed for people who are tech-savvy. If you’re someone who’s more of an author than a software developer, you might opt for a solution that’s more user-friendly for people who aren’t programmers.
Although Drupal is known for fast load times, adding plugins can slow things down considerably.
Joomla is often thought of as the median point between WordPress and Drupal. That’s because it’s not as technically sophisticated as Drupal, but offers some of the same benefits.
One of the key benefits of Joomla is that it’s especially easy to use to set up an e-commerce site. While you can certainly set up an e-commerce site with either Drupal or WordPress, Joomla makes it particular simple.
Wix is different from the previous two options in that it offers not only a CMS, but also a hosting platform as well (WordPress also offers a hosting platform, but this will be discussed later).
Wix gives you the option to start your own website with a few clicks. It also enables you to select a theme that you can use to customize the look and feel of your blog.
However, Wix isn’t open source. That means that you can’t modify the Wix code to customize the website. Even if you’re not a coder, the fact that it’s not open source means that it doesn’t offer plugins so you cannot enhance the functionality of your site.
Also, Wix only offers a limited number of themes that you can use. You might have to “settle” for a theme that doesn’t properly convey the statement that you’re trying to make with your blog.
Squarespace is similar to Wix in that you can easily create your own customized website with just a few clicks. It also offers its own CMS.
However, like Wix, Squarespace isn’t open source. So, if you want additional functionality, you’ll have to submit a formal request to the development team and hope for the best.
Keep in mind that Squarespace does permit you to make limited modifications to the CSS and HTML code (if you get the developer’s platform). However, you won’t be able to change the underlying functionality of the site as you can with WordPress.
Another entry in the “build a website for free in a few simple steps” contest is Weebly. If you’re looking for something noticeably simple that offers limited customization, then you might like Weebly.
However, if you want an industrial strength blog that can adapt to your growing user community, you’re not going to be satisfied with Weebly. It’s meant for very simple blogs that are not adaptable or customizable.
So Why WordPress?
Of the “big three”, why is WordPress the best option?
For starters, WordPress is easy to install. You’ll find that if you opt for a self-hosted solution (more on this in a moment), a reputable hosting provider will enable you to install WordPress from the administrative console. You won’t have to know anything about the underlying operating system used to host your site, or which files need to be placed in which directories. The installation is handled for you seamlessly.
Secondly, it’s the best option for small-to-medium size businesses and personal bloggers who just want to get right into blogging and not be bogged down with technical details of customization and installation. After installing WordPress and selecting a theme, you’re ready to start blogging. It’s that easy.
Thirdly, you’re selecting an option that has been tested and selected by millions of fellow bloggers. As noted above, WordPress has almost half of the CMS market share. Its closest competitor, Drupal, only holds about 14% of the market share. So, by selecting WordPress, you’re choosing an option that has been validated as the best option by the blogging community at large.
Hosting at WordPress.com
If you’re interested in simply creating a website and learning how to use WordPress, you can head over to WordPress.com and start a blog right now for free.
WordPress.com doesn’t only provide you with the WordPress CMS so that you can start blogging; it also provides you with a host so that you can make your blog available to the world. It’s a great way to get started blogging with WordPress if you’ve never done so before.
A Self-Hosted Solution Is Best
Although you can host your blog for free at WordPress.com, a self-hosted solution is best.
With a self-hosted solution you create your own domain name, and a professional web host provider hosts it. You do end up paying for your own domain name, along with a monthly charge for hosting the site, but there are several advantages to self-hosting instead of using WordPress.com.
First of all, you’ll have more control with a self-hosted website. WordPress.com places restrictions on how much you can modify your website in terms of design and functionality. With a self-hosted solution, the sky is the limit.
You’ll also be able to use any theme you want if you opt for a self-hosted WordPress site. At WordPress.com, you’re limited to several dozen themes, none of which might be what you think is best for your blog.
You also won’t have to worry about an uncertain future if you select to host the blog yourself. At WordPress.com (although it’s unlikely) your site could be pulled down at any moment without notice.
Finally, if you want to run ads on your WordPress site, you’ll have to opt for a self-hosted solution. You are prohibited from running ads on WordPress.com.
WordPress is a CMS that has been selected by the blogging community as the best option. It’s easy to use for people who aren’t technically-minded, and it’s free. As far as we’re concerned, it’s not an option – it’s the option.
You may want to start your journey with WordPress.com, but if you’re looking for maximum flexibility, you’ll find that it’s best achieved through a self-hosted website that’s managed by a reputable hosting provider.
The bottom line is this: If you select a self-hosted WordPress solution, you’ll not only be siding with an enormous number of bloggers; you’ll also be adopting a blogging technology that’s well-supported and can adapt to the specific needs of your website.
If you have any questions or comments about WordPress and/or its competition, please get in touch via the comments section below!