The WordPress adventure usually starts with a simple, personal blog if you just want to write some thoughts down or create a community around a topic or hobby.
At the moment, there are over 75 million sites built on WordPress, and half of them are hosted on the free version of it: WordPress.com.
The rest is using WordPress.org. Which is the business-oriented platform, but more difficult to manage than the first one.
things to know before replacing WordPress.com with WordPress.org
People decide to move to WordPress.org when they want to go pro, aka to start growing a business out of their blog. You can turn your blog into a professional website and monetize it accordingly. If you want to do that, you definitely need a platform that allows you to have full control over everything, starting with hosting and ending up with design, tools, and monetizing strategies.
WordPress.org offers you all of the above, plus many more advantages, but before switching to it, you need to know a few things:
you need hosting
When you’re on WordPress.org, your agenda gets bigger. You don’t just sign up and your blog is up and ready. There’s a lot more work to do before setting it up. First of all, you have to look for the best hosting solution depending on what you’re trying to achieve with the site. And you definitely need to subscribe to premium hosting, since the free services are not a very good idea for a business purpose.
If it’s premium, it doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive. There are lots of WordPress hosting providers that offer starter packs and good quality at the same time. You can take a look at SiteGround and InMotion Hosting, as they are one of the most popular and cheapest services on the market. They take care of the WordPress installation and setup, so it’s really easy to work with them.
you need to install plugins and themes
While WordPress.com comes with pre-installed plugins – free or premium – WordPress.org comes with nothing by default. After you get the hosting and have it all set up, imagine a blank page, with no customizations at all. You have no design or tools to give your fresh site a likeable appearance whatsoever.
Because that’s your job now.
So you have to think about how to improve your site. You can start with a nice theme and go on with useful plugins – install them and then customize them to your own preferences.
So, just for the record, you won’t get any of the tools that you normally receive when you sign up to WordPress.com, but here’s some good news too: the land is all yours to explore. You can turn your site into anything you want and add all the functionalities you want, a feature that the free WordPress.com won’t permit.
you need to back up your site
Your WordPress hosting will take care of a certain part of your site’s security, but in most cases you need to have it backed up because you can lose (all the) data anytime. So, for your own inner peace, time, and safety, always keep a copy of your website content saved on a separate server, just in case. It would be such a pity to lose everything in a blink of an eye after putting so much work into building it.
So your site’s security, at least the part that’s of your duty, must stay strictly under observation. But don’t worry, there are plugins that do the backup automatically for you. All you need to do is to install them. And, like I said before, WordPress.org allows you to install any plugin you want. BackupBuddy is a good premium solution, while Updraft is a reliable free alternative.
you need updates
WordPress releases a new version or sub-version very often (usually two major versions a year and at least six small ones that include fixes and improvements), so it’s important to stay up to date to avoid vulnerabilities and hacks. The same happens with every single plugin and theme that you have installed and activated on your site.
While WordPress updates itself automatically every time a new release comes out, you should check for outdated plugins and themes every month. In “Plugins” menu in your Dashboard, you’ll see a note asking you to update every plugin whose version was improved/changed. It only takes one minute (now it depends on how many plugins you have).
you need to make investments
But this one applies to everything in our lives, doesn’t it? You can’t just expect awesome things to come to you for free. All the great services in the world, no matter the field or the category, come after big investments. If you want quality, you need to pay for it.
If you want maintenance, speed, flexibility, support, you need to pay for premium hosting. Fancy a good-looking, feature-rich, and customizable WordPress theme? You’ll find what you’re looking for in a paid theme. Need someone to create custom designs for you? Hire and pay a professional. Want to publish quality blog posts? Invest money in a writer.
If your goal is to monetize your site, you need to come up with the money first, and only then expect the results to show up.
Yes, switching from WordPress.com to WordPress.org is the first step in drawing the line between a personal blog and a real business (that brings you money). To expect results and revenue, you definitely need to invest time, resources, money, people, knowledge, patience, you name it.
The same goes for using WordPress.org for your site. It won’t be as easy as hosting it on WordPress.com because it requires more investments of every kind, but it will offer you an alternative that will give you full control over your project. And who said it was easy to take all the responsibility in your hands?