If you’re starting out and weighing up your options as to which blogging platform you choose, cost will likely be one of the key factors you take into consideration. While WordPress.org is one of the most popular free CMS tools online, it does require paid hosting to get your site or blog up and running – which can be seen as a drawback for people looking for the most cost-effective option.
If you’re researching free web hosting alternatives, you’ll likely have platforms such as WordPress.com, Blogger and Tumblr on your radar. The fact that these tools require no additional hosting cost can be a significant draw card for bloggers starting out, or those who want to dip their toe in the water before making a financial commitment.
There are however three key problems associated with choosing with free hosts over your own hosting with a platform like WordPress.org.
Free hosts may offer some customization with a range of available templates, color schemes and headers, but it’s not going to be anywhere near as customizable as a self hosted installation of WordPress. If you have a certain look and feel in mind – especially if you’re looking for customization to reflect your business brand – free options will offer limited flexibility and scope.
One of the best things about WordPress.org is its high-powered functionality, driven by the thousands of community-developed plugins available. These plugins allow users to do virtually anything you want on your site or blog; from subscription signups and membership access, to online shopping and more. With free web hosts, you get what you pay for and the existing, in-built functionality is all you’ll have access to. This might do the trick to begin with, but if you’re looking to increase scope later on, your blog will have limitations on usability.
Ownership & Longevity
Ownership can be a confusing subject for blogger newbies, and the jargon found in the terms and conditions of use of most platforms doesn’t go far in making things clear. While the rule of thumb is that you retain all intellectual property rights over any original content you post on free platforms (meaning you’re the owner of that content), the terms and conditions of many free hosts state that by posting content on their platform, you agree to grant that host a non-exclusive license to use, share or repost your material without paying royalties.
Google, who owns free host Blogger, explains these terms thusly:
Our terms do not claim ownership of your content — what you create is yours and remains yours. But in lawyer-speak, we need to ask for a ‘license' (which basically means your permission) to display this content to the wider world when that's what you intend.
While the content you produce is yours, it also pays to keep in mind that Google does have the right to shut a Blogger blog down or revoke access to it at any time, and this is where many users remain wary of free hosts. Similarly, Tumblr and WordPress.com reserve the right to suspend accounts and remove content in violation of their community guidelines.
With WordPress.org, you pay to host your own site and are free to decide how long you want to run it and when you want to shut it down.