For starters, when you sign up for a WordPress.com subscription, you are signing up to build a website (more often blog) that is already fully hosted and all you need to do is start designing your site. You either sign up for a free account with limited storage and customization options, or a paid premium / business account which allows for slightly more freedom. WordPress.org (self hosted) on the other hand is a free open-source content management system, or to simplify, a website building software. Since it is a software rather than a managed platform, you will have the responsibility of finding your own host as well as keeping it updated and secure.
Why choose WordPress.org over WordPress.com?
Now, I know what you’re thinking. WordPress.org sure does sound like a lot more work and trouble to set up versus an easy to manage blog on WordPress.com, and you would be partly right. But, the main difference is that when you get to choose your own host, you get the freedom to control your own website on a whole grander scale. Not only are you able to create a website without platform restrictions (like what kind of features you can integrate,) but you also have more control over your website’s speed, top SEO (search engine optimization) tools, great security and much more. Yes, WordPress.org does take a little bit more time to get started with as you need to research hosting, themes, and the setup process, but that’s where I come in! I’m here to help you understand the setup process and make it sound as simple as possible, plus, I’ve already done the research and found some top services for you!
Everything you need to set up a self hosted WordPress website
To make this as simple as possible, I will use an analogy. Imagine you are building a physical store front for your business:
First you’ll need an address. This is your domain. Your domain is the address people will type in to get to your website.
For all of my domains (and I have a lot) I use NameCheap. They are extremely cost friendly and provide great support when you’re ready to point your domain to your website.
Next, you need to purchase the land to build your store on top of. This is your host. Your host is the “plot of land” or online space where you website resides.
I always recommend SiteGround for any kind of web hosting. (I use them for my own 5 websites!) They have amazing customer support & service, great security & speed optimization, and they offer free SSL certificates (which is a must!)
3. WordPress Software
Once you have some land, you need to build the structure of your building, like the walls and roof. This would be WordPress.org. WordPress is the software you install on your host, which becomes the backbone of your website.
The WordPress software is completely free and you can easily install it through your host. Get in touch with SiteGround and they’ll be happy to help!
Last, but not least, you will need to start designing the interior and flow of your store. This is your theme. Your theme will determine the visual look and style of your website.
For a high quality theme with a drag-and-drop builder (similar to Squarespace’s interface) I use the Divi theme. It is a clean theme that gives you the ability to build anything you want, and easily.
I hope my explanations help you better understand what a self hosted WordPress website is (in comparison to WordPress.com) and what steps you need to take set up a self hosted WordPress website. Comment below if you have any questions, or hop into my Free Facebook Group for input from myself and the community.
Download the checklist for setting up & building your WordPress.org website: