When the question of whether or not a new blogger should use WP.com to host their site or set up a self-hosted site the answer, more often than not, is to create a self-hosted WordPress site.
Both options have their merits. For many years I ran a self-hosted WordPress site often looking down a bit on WP.com blogs. I recently shut down all of my other sites, including my primary site that I had been blogging on for more than a half dozen years.
Top three reasons to blog at WordPress.com:
- Focus on writing and not on setting up/maintaining a blog while customizing a theme and tinkering with plugins.
- Save money. With a self-hosted blog you will have to find and start paying for a hosting plan. You’ll also need to find and register a domain name for your site. Both of which can feel overwhelming to someone with no experience in that area.
- Immediately become part of a well-curated, knowledge community that will be exposed to your work right away through WP.com’s distribution of freshly pressed writing.
The last point may be the most important. When you start a new site one of the most difficult things to do is to get it regular exposure. When you start a new self-hosted blog you’re basically an island unto yourself not connected to any other outlet or distribution network.
Building up a core group of readers that will return over and over again to check for new content and, hopefully interact and respond with that content, is a long and difficult process. When you blog at WordPress.com you’re immediately exposed to a whole group of like-minded writers and, more importantly, your writing will be exposed to them.
Ultimately you’ll have to make your own decision on which path if best for you. Just be sure to keep in mind that the most important piece of any new website is its audience. Without readers you may as well be dancing in the dark.