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I am sure that if you’ve been looking to start a blog, you have heard of both WordPress and Squarespace. There are so many options out there for bloggers, it can be hard to know where to begin. How do you know which website host to choose?
I started my first blog in 2013, using WordPress. What I didn’t know at the time was that the version of WordPress I was using wasn’t the best one, and that is part of the reason my first blog didn’t succeed.
Since 2013, I’ve created five blogs. It’s been a long journey, and I’ve spent a lot of time figuring out the world of blogging and what works best for me.
I was always so adamant about using WordPress, because it’s the industry standard in blogging. But last year, I decided to rebel and try Squarespace for one of my blogs.
I ended up converting that blog to WordPress self hosted just a few months after I started it, but not because I didn’t love Squarespace. They were great, and I have nothing bad to say.
I just find that I am better with WordPress, it’s more familiar to me and I feel the most comfortable with WP self-hosted.
I’m going to give you my honest opinions on both hosts, so that you might find it easier to decide between the two.
WordPress.org is free WordPress software that you can download and install on your own web server. WordPress.com, on the other hand, takes care of all of the hosting for you.
WordPress.org is more advanced than the .com site. It requires you to install the WP software, set up hosting through a third party (they recommend Bluehost) and manage your own web server.
There is a way around having to download and navigate the software, though. Personally, I use namecheap.com to purchase my domain names. Namecheap offers a service called EasyWP, where they set up your WordPress for you.
Basically, they do the heavy lifting and you reap the benefits. It’s still WordPress self-hosted, you just don’t have to worry about any of the super technical details.
With WP self hosted, you will need to purchase your domain name separately. You can do this at namecheap.com like I mentioned, or you can use other sites like BlueHost, GoDaddy, and Google Domains.
If you’re not up to the challenge, you could consider using wordpress.com, but it comes with a few very significant downsides. The one major downfall of using the com site is that you don’t really have many options for customization, your website name will read yourawesomeblog.wordpress.com unless you pay extra, and you don’t own any of the content you publish there. It also costs extra to use plugins and premium themes on wordpress.com. If you want to be a serious blogger, I would not recommend going this route.
There will be a link to an outside article at the end of this post, so that you can read more on the differences between the two.
Plugins for WordPress
WP self-hosted uses something called plugins. Think of these like apps you would download on your phone. Your phone is WordPress, plugins are the apps. You can download plugins for everything from tracking your analytics to creating pop-up boxes to helping you with SEO.
The sheer number and quality of the plugins WordPress offers is what makes it every blogger’s favorite. No matter what you want to do with your blog, there is definitely a way to do it with WordPress plugins.
WordPress.org software is free to download, but a little bit confusing if you aren’t very comfortable with computers. WordPress.com is not free to use, and their plans run from $4/month to $25/month, billed annually. If you want any type of customization, you’ll need to subscribe to their more expensive plan to have access to some customization options.
WordPress is definitely the industry standard when it comes to blogging. But not every blogger uses it, and you don’t have to if you don’t want to.
WP offers the best customization options, you own all of your content and you have endless plugins available to truly make the most of your blog.
Setting up a blog with Squarespace was incredibly simple, and even though at first I was a little confused on how to use the dashboard and link up my domain, I quickly figured everything out thanks to the super helpful FAQ. Any questions I had were answered promptly and in plain English.
This is probably my favorite thing about Squarespace. Any time I was having trouble with a feature, a quick search of their Help section cleared things right up for me.
Squarespace offers up different themes based on what your individual goals are. Whether you’re looking to start a blog, a wedding website, or a real estate website Squarespace offers free themes for whatever type of website you want to create.
Click to Create
This is the best way I can describe the Squarespace interface. It allows you to basically click through a series of prompts until it creates your perfect website.
It took me all of 5 minutes to set up my website on Squarespace.
Once you have it set up, you have to figure out how to configure it to your liking. This isn’t too hard, you’ll just have to look through the options.
Squarespace allows you to basically ‘drag and drop’ everything into place. It shows you what your website will look like in real time as you make changes to it.
With Squarespace, you can either purchase a domain through Squarespace or use one that you already own. If you don’t already own a domain name and you choose to go with Squarespace, purchasing your domain through them is the easiest option.
If you already own a domain, or you want to purchase it elsewhere, you’ll have to connect your domain to Squarespace in your settings.
Squarespace offers different plans for different needs.
For a website, which is what you want if you’re starting a blog, you can go with either the Personal plan or the Business plan. You can choose either monthly or yearly billing. The yearly will save you a little bit of money, but if you don’t have a lot of money to start with, the monthly plans are just $16/month for Personal or $26/month for Business.
Which plan you decide to subscribe to is totally up to you and depends on what you need to use your website for and how much you are willing to spend.
For someone new to blogging, it is a good choice. There is no software to download, nothing complicated about signing up and you can start your free trial with no credit card required.
If you are up to the challenge and you feel like you are comfortable enough with computers to install and use the WordPress software, I say go for it. I encourage it, actually. There is no downside to using self-hosted WordPress. Just don’t give up too easily if you can’t figure it out at first. Go slowly, take your time figuring it out and it will pay off in the end.
If you’re looking for a user friendly, all in one, click to create platform, go with Squarespace. You can set up your domain and website all in the same place, and use the FAQ and help resources to answer any questions you have while setting up and using your website.
Pick a platform, learn how to use it and learn how to use it WELL. Fully immerse yourself in figuring out how to use all of the features that your chosen host has to offer. If you don’t, your website will not run at its full potential, and that is just sad for everyone.
Don’t think too hard or too much. Don’t over complicate it. Pick one and START BLOGGING. The rest will come later. While it is a pain in the ass to switch your website to a new host once you’ve set it up, if you do change your mind down the road, it’s not the end of the world.
Do what you feel comfortable with now, choose the host that makes the most sense for you and your blog now.
You will never know everything there is to know before you start. The best way to learn any new skill is to begin, and then to practice practice practice until you become great at it.
As always, thank you for reading. Please let me know how this article has helped you! If you have suggestions or anything to add, please let me know in the comments!