I left my WordPress-hosted blog just over a year ago, for the beautifully-designed layout you see before you today (thanks, Janet Baxter!).
If you aren’t familiar with WordPress, it’s a web-based blogging engine, and when you get a WordPress blog, you have two options:
WordPress-hosted: your blog lives on the WordPress servers, and all your information is stored there. You have access to a bunch of different themes, or looks, for your blog, and you have some ability to customize it, with widgets, a custom header, etc. Your site is available to you wherever you have an internet connection. It’s easy to learn, and if you are using it as a website, you can update it immediately and easily.
To get a site like this, just go to www.wordpress.com and first get an account. You can then register your site. Your URL will be http://yoursitename.wordpress.com, but you can either purchase a domain name and do a redirect (as I do for my cooking blog), or you can pay WordPress $17 a year to remove the “wordpress” part.
The downside of a WordPress-hosted blog is that your ability to customize does have limitations, and you can’t sell things off it.
Self-Hosted: a self-hosted site gives you much more freedom to customize your site. You go to WordPress.org and download their free software. You then have to purchase a domain name, and hosting for your site, and it must be SQL or database enabled, because WordPress runs on a database (I pay an extra $7/month for this service). You then upload (FTP) the software to your site, and you can begin to build it from there.
While this allows you to sell things off of your site, and gives you unlimited customization (in terms of how your site looks, and also in add-on widgets), it takes a great deal of technical expertise. I hired a designer to do this for me.
Well, now there is a third option: WordPress Pro.
WordPress Pro gives you the best of both worlds: it’s as technically easy as a WordPress-hosted blog, but with all the options and customization of a self-hosted blog.
It’s relatively new and costs $99 US a year.
I have been trying to find someone who is currently using this service to interview, to find out what their experience has been, but because it’s so new, I haven’t yet found someone. If you are using WordPress Pro, please let us know how you like it in the comments section below.