Self Hosted WordPress – Is It Right For You?
Updated: July 2018
One awesome thing about WordPress is that they allow people to have free blogs on WordPress.com in order to try out the software without having to pay for hosting or a server. When you register a WordPress.com blog, you’ll get a URL that’s on a subdomain—something like http://yoursampleblogwebsite.wordpress.com.
There are a lot of benefits to this because you don’t have to worry about hosting, domain names, blocking bad bots, keeping your server secure, and all sorts of other responsibilities that come along with having your own domain and web hosting. This great for some people who just want a blog and don’t care what the URL is, but it may not be so great for people who want to ability to customize their site or people who need more flexibility. There are some basic questions that you can ask yourself which might help you determine whether or not a self-hosted WordPress site where you have your own hosting and own domain name is right for you.
Are you a business? If so, you might want to consider using self-hosted WordPress.
Businesses need to have branding and a web presence, and it looks a little unprofessional to have yourbusinessnamehere.wordpress.com compared to having YourBusinessNameHere.com, etc.
On top of that, having a blog hosted on WordPress.com really limits the amount of customization that you can do. If you’re a business, you may need to have an ecommerce page, a shopping cart, or maybe some other features or customizations on your site that aren’t supported by WordPress.com. Hands down, if you’re a business (even a small business), I would recommend getting a domain name and finding your own hosting. It’s more professional, more customizable, and just better overall in my opinion. The following are some questions that may help you identify whether you should be on a free blog on WordPress.com or have your own domain name and WordPress hosting.
Do you need more control over a server? Do you want to do a lot of customization to your site?
If you answer yes to these two questions, you should probably have a self-hosted WordPress setup. The reason for this is that WordPress.com blogs are setup on their server and you’re limited in terms of the different customizations that you can do and you’re not allowed to make changes to the server at all.
There are a lot of custom scripts and things that need to be setup at the server level, and it’s just not possible to do these when you’re not using a self-hosted setup. When you’re paying for your own server, you’re able to make all sorts of customizations and other things that you may want to do, which isn’t the case if you’re using a WordPress.com blog.
Are you trying to develop an audience or readership for your website? Are you trying to brand yourself?
If this is the case, I would highly recommend using a self-hosted WordPress setup. The reason for this is that people typically associate a domain name with a strong sense of a brand. For example, most people have heard of and used sites like Amazon and Twitter, and both of those sites have their own domain names.
You might be thinking—“Sure, but they are companies.” Which is true, but most celebrities and public figures also have their own domain names because they are associated with a strong sense of branding. It may be possible to get a domain name and point it at a WordPress or Blogger blog, but you still won’t have the granular control over the server that you need if you’re really trying to build a custom website in order to market yourself and build and audience.
Recommendations for Self Hosted WordPress Blogs
As someone who has 10+ years of professionally building websites and working in the field of digital marketing, I have a tremendous amount of experience with web hosts and domain registrars. I know what’s good, and I also know what I don’t like and don’t recommend.
With that said, I’ve taken the time to point out a few good options for hosts and domain registrars if you’re looking to move to a self-hosted setup for your WordPress blog.
Disclaimer—if you purchase hosting or domains from the links below, I might be compensated in the form of a commission. That, however, does not affect my recommendations in any way. I even dedicated a page on this site to hosts that I don’t like if you need proof that my recommendations are not influenced by commissions.
Here are my quick recommendations for hosting and domain names:
Managed Hosting – WP Engine
These guys absolutely rock. I have a couple flagship websites hosted with them and they’re amazing. Yes, you pay a little more than shared hosting (their cheapest plan starts at $29/month), but in my opinion it’s well worth it if you can afford them. You can read a full WP Engine review here or you can check out an extensive review of the best WordPress hosting here. If you’re ready to check them out now, you can click here to visit WP Engine.
Shared Hosting – Bluehost, HostGator or SiteGround
All of these companies are top-notch when it comes to shared hosting (although SiteGround is probably my current favorite). I have websites that I’m hosting with them now, and have recommended them to clients, friends, and family members. You can see a comparison of Bluehost vs HostGator here, or check out the WordPress hosting page on this site for more information. If you’re ready to check out these hosts right now, you can click these links to visit Bluehost, HostGator, or SiteGround.
VPS or Dedicated Hosting – Liquidweb
When it comes to VPS and dedicated hosting, Liquidweb is by far my favorite (at the time of publishing of this page, this site was hosted with Liqudweb, if that tells you anything).
They call their support “Heroic Support” and honestly, it’s pretty close. You can pick up a phone at any time and talk to a real person in Michigan who is a server admin/engineer. They also seem to be able to squeeze more performance out of a small VPS than anyone I’ve ever seen. You can check out a full Liquidweb review here or read about the best hosting for WordPress here. To check them out now, click here to visit Liquidweb.
Domain Names – Namecheap
For domain names, I really like Namecheap. Sure, I have accounts and domains at almost all of the popular registrars, but Namecheap is the first registrar I ever used, and I’ve been with them a long time. Like their name says, they are cheap, but their interface is also relatively uncluttered and they don’t try to upsell you on something every time you login. They also don’t play games and try to prevent you from transferring domain names like some other registrars. They’re a solid registrar and one of my definite favorites among all the various registrars out there. I’ve recommended them to friends, family, and continue to use them myself—webhostingbuddy.com is registered with them if you don’t believe me! If you’re ready to see how good they are for yourself, click here to visit Namecheap.
Hopefully after reading this page, you have a better sense of what kind of setup is right for you in terms of self-hosted vs a WordPress.com blog. It’s a decision that you need to make for yourself, and only you can decide what’s best. If you take the time to weigh your options carefully, you’ll likely come to a decision about what’s best and be on your way to building a great site with WordPress.