I’ve been a user of self-hosted WordPress for many, many years. But with my hosting plan at Siteground coming up for renewal in a week or two, I decided to see if WordPress.com would be a better option.
The Personal Plan at WordPress.com provides an ad-free site, free custom domain and enough storage for me for $60/year (in Canadian dollars). The coupon code “personal25” gave me 25% off meaning I could get a year of hosting for $45CAD. That’s per site, mind you, and I have two sites right now between this one and my running blog.
Compare that to Siteground which is $3.95USD/month for the first year, and then a hefty $19.95USD/month once that first year is up. Even next year when WordPress.com is $60CAD/year for each site, I’m coming out way ahead.
WordPress.com does have a few limitations that I needed to see if I could handle. First up, they limit the themes you can use. There are a bunch of free ones and then some premium ones that cost more money.
It turned out that the theme I was using on my self-hosted blog called Independent Publisher 2 is one of the free ones that WordPress offers for free. For my running blog, I’ve been using a theme called Hueman for a couple of years and that isn’t available as a free theme on WordPress.com. However, a visually similar theme called Rowling is available for free and it was pretty trivial to switch over since I’ve actually used this theme on my self-hosted setup in the past.
WordPress.com also doesn’t allow for the use of plugins. I did a check of the plugins I was using on my self-hosted blogs and came to the realization that none were required if I switched to WordPress.com. This included a plugin to add 2FA to my admin login, the WordPress Jetpack plugin and an SSL plugin that helped with ensuring my Let’s Encrypt SSL cert worked well.
Again, this didn’t turn out to be a problem since WordPress.com includes 2FA support for logins natively, includes Jetpack for all blogs natively and also handles SSL natively and automatically.
Making the switch
In the end, I opted to go with WordPress.com for both sites and set about to make the move over the weekend.
Migration was super simple. I exported everything from my old sites using the WordPress Export tool and used the corresponding Import tool at WordPress.com to bring my posts and pages over. That tool also pulled over all the media and attachments automatically. No FTP, no nothing. And everything in my posts was remapped to the new URLs.
I did a bit of work to get the theme widgets arranged and setup like they were on my old self-hosted sites which took about 15 minutes total. With about an hour of work total, I had both sites moved over and up and running.
One of the unexpected bonuses of switching is using the WordPress.com apps on my laptop and also on my iOS devices. I had used it with my self-hosted sites in the past, but it just feels faster and more tightly integrated into WordPress.com making posting and managing the sites easy.
There’s still a place for self-hosted WordPress if you need the flexibility of choosing whatever theme you want, or if you need to use some custom plugin. But for the average blogger? WordPress.com is the way to go.