Thinking of getting your own website but confused about where to start?
Totally get it, and Google just confuses the matter even further with the eleventy-million conflicting posts out there!
I hope this post clears up the confusion so that you can make an informed decision and get moving forward with your empire building!
There are several website building companies out there but the two big players are WordPress and Squarespace and since most people choose one of the two we will concentrate on those.
First, let’s look at WordPress as that is touted as being the world leader when it comes to website building.
As if things aren’t confusing enough, there are actually two WordPress platforms. WordPress.com and WordPress.org.
What’s the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org?
Although they have the same name due to the trademark owned by the WordPress Foundation (a nonprofit foundation set-up to ensure that WordPress software remains free for generations to come) and they were both co-founded by Matt Mullenweg but they are, in fact, different entities.
But the problem is that because of the same name, many people get confused about the whole WordPress shebang, but by the end of this, you will be clear on which one you want or you’ll decide to go with Squarespace instead!
A good way of looking at the difference between wordpress.com and wordpress.org is that it’s like renting a house vs owning one.
With wordpress.com you are renting your webspace which means you have limitations on what you can do with it and the owner can kick you out at any time Vs WordPress.org where you own the space, which means you get to decorate and add bits to it in whichever way you like, you have totally run of the place.
Pros and Cons Of WordPress.com
WordPress.com is actually a hosting service and because of the .com it sounds like it should be for e-commerce, maybe the guys who came up with the name were confused themselves, or drunk!
WordPress.com comes with five levels of hosting plan starting with the free version which is very limited going up to a VIP version which at time of writing, $5,000 a month.
As you add more content, you will use up more space and then need to upgrade to a bigger plan. (This goes for all hosting)
WordPress.com is a good choice for people who are hobby bloggers, not looking to monetize their blog or anyone starting a blog for personal reasons such as a family blog. An alternative, which is free is Google’s blogger platform (this is where I started and still have my first blog)
- WordPress.com is free for the first 3GB of space and then they have an affordable plan depending on how much space you need for your blog.
- There is no need to worry about updates or the backups WordPress.com look after all that, it’s a lot more low maintenance, compared to a WordPress.org site.
- The free version has ads shown on it, you don’t collect any revenue and have no control over the ads shown.
- It is more difficult monetize your blog on wordpress.com because of the lack of integration with payment gateways
- You can’t build a membership website with a wordpress.com site
- It is far more difficult to monetize your blog if it’s hosted on wordpress.com and you’re not allowed to sell advertising space on your site
- You cannot upload plugins unless you have the VIP program which means you are restricted in the customisation of your website.
- You are hosted on somebody else’s platform they can delete your site at any time if they believe you are violating their terms and conditions.
What to do if you accidentally set up on wordpress.com?
If you want to move to wordpress.org, the good news is that it is possible, there is a good article here explaining how.
WordPress.com is good for…
Someone looking to set up a blog without monetizing it .
If you are planning on making money online then read on, your choice is narrowed down to the 2 big players, WordPress.org and SquareSpace…
WordPress.org is the platform that most people are thinking about when they’re talking about building your own website. WordPress.org is actually a content management system where you are responsible for everything to do with the website.
You have full control from setting up, choosing the theme to install (the framework the site will run on), plug-ins (the added extras to give your site the bells and whistles!), running updates and managing everything to do with the security of your site.
There is a lot more work when it comes to setting up a WordPress.org site but it comes with a perk of total customisation.
WordPress.org is open source and 100% free for anyone to use, you just need a domain name (URL) and your web hosting (the storage place your site will live at) WordPress.org is also referred to as a self-hosted WordPress site.
- The platform is free (although you will need to pay for hosting)
- It is totally customizable using free or paid WordPress themes, brand it as you like
- There are thousands of different plugins which allow you to customize your site so that it is totally unique.
- There are no issues if you want to run ads from your own site
- Many other platforms integrate such as Google Analytics
- You can create the site exactly how you want it including adding an online store and you can accept credit card payments Etc
- You can create a membership site easily using a member site plugin
- There are a huge amount of tutorials and videos on how to do whatever you need to do on WordPress available for free blog posts and YouTube videos
- You are totally responsible for updates and checking that plugins and backups are done on a regular basis.
- There will be some coding required.
- You are responsible for site security, if you are hacked, it is up to you to sort it out.
- Over the platform is free you often have to pay for plugins and themes.
- It has a steep learning curve especially if you are a beginner, knowing how to code and being technically savvy is an advantage. (We have tutorials on how to set up in The Wonder Mom Success Club)
- Sometimes it is difficult to find the right tutorial because of the huge amount of tutorials available online many of which are outdated.
WordPress.org is good for…
Someone who is not afraid to roll up their sleeves and get stuck in, is OK with having to learn a bit of coding and want to have 100% control of everything in their site.
Should I build my website on SquareSpace?
If you were excited by the pros for wordpress.org but the cons scared the pants off you, then it is time to have a look at SquareSpace.
SquareSpace is the new(ish) kid on the block. It attracts users that want all of the functionality of a good-looking website without the hassle of coding.
The beauty of Squarespace is that even with very little technical background you are able to set up and get your site running pretty easily. Everything is housed inside Squarespace there’s no need for extra plugins or integrations, which is a huge advantage as that is often a way to hack a WordPress.org site.
For security, SquareSpace has known to have suffered from DDoS attacks in the past the good news is that Squarespace has in-house experts sort everything out for you.
Whereas if you use WordPress.org and your site gets hacked then you are on your own. There are security plugins available for WordPress but you still need to understand the basics to be able to handle them.
SquareSpace also comes with an SSL certificate which is that little “s” in the HTTPS part of your URL whereas with WordPress.org you need to install an SSL certificate, often these are provided free with your hosting company but sometimes you need to buy it.
That’s little “s” in the URL might not seem that important but its building trust with your visitors. Plus visitors arriving at your site using the Chrome browser will get a warning sign saying that the site is not secure if you don’t have SSL.
Not only that, Google has also started ranking SSL secure sites higher than those without an SSL certificate. It doesn’t matter if you are selling anything on your side or not you still need to have an SSL certificate.
Basically, if you want people to visit or your site and to rank in a Google search then you need to have an SSL certificate.
Squarespace is perfect for anyone who doesn’t want to code. It uses drag-and-drop and what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) editing which means as you are working on the page it will look like the published version. The new WordPress Gutenberg editor is similar to WYSIWYG but you still need to preview to see how the page will look once it’s published.
Our Wonder Mom Success Club guest expert in August is Kath O’Malley, a SquareSpace designer who will be sharing the ins and outs of setting up a SquareSpace website by yourself.
- Very user-friendly no coding needed
- No need to worry about website security
- No need for added extras such as themes and plugins
- Has a good range of high-quality features
- Basic SEO is built in and managed for you
- Low maintenance as all aspects of the platform are updated for you
- Help and support from a dedicated team with very organized tutorials and help through life chat or email
- Transparent pricing no extra costs
- All-in-one sales tools included if you have the business plan or both
- All themes are mobile responsive
- Doesn’t have the full flexibility and customization of a coded wordpress.org site
- Could you possibly be hit by DDoS attacks
- SEO is limited to Squarespace functions, difficult to implement high-level SEO
- Currently only office a mobile editor for iSO
- Must play for the business plan if you wish to use the sales tools
SquareSpace is good for…
Someone who wants to build their good looking, functional site but isn’t wanting to mess around with coding or other techie stuff.
In Conclusion, Which Website Builder Should You Use?
If you want a hobby blog or personal blog thought you don’t want to monetize, then use blogger.com or wordpress.com
If you are okay with digging into the tech and coding and want a totally customizable site plus you all prepared to upkeep and update your site on a regular basis then wordpress.org is for you.
If you find the tech a bit scary and you want something easy to use with great functionality, without needing to put on any geekie pants then Squarespace is the choice for you.
A few extra notes:
If you go down the wordpress.org road then you will need to buy hosting and the domain name.
It is recommended to buy your hosting and domain name in different places, then if something happens to one company, at least you don’t lose everything.
A word of warning:
A few years ago I used Bluehost for my hosting and I went through all kinds of hell when a problem occurred. It took five months for me to be able to move off their hosting to Siteground, the whole time they told me that the problem was with anyone but their own platform.
I ended up having to hire a tech guy to deal with it all because I was losing hours every day trying to sort out the issues. Bluehost also try to sell me out of date certificates that I didn’t actually need.
Their customer service was horrible, help desk people whenever I asked a question would just read what was written on their website help page, they didn’t actually have any deeper knowledge.
The day I moved to Siteground all the tech issues I had been experiencing disappeared. Weird that!
I won’t go into a full rant here instead I encourage you to do your homework before you sign up with any hosting company. I don’t usually name and shame companies but my experience was so awful, and I’m not the only one that I want you to be aware of the problem…
Bluehost has excellent affiliates payouts (meaning that if you sign up with someone promoting them, the promoter gets a percentage of the sale). This is why many of the big entrepreneurs promote Bluehost BUT DON’T USE THEM FOR THEIR OWN SITE.
Many of my Tech friends share this bit of advice and so I am passing it onto you. Google “EIG owned hosting companies” and then keep clear of anything on the list. They may be on the cheaper end of things but you will pay for it in the long run.
What Do I Use?
These are affiliate links which means I get a small commission if you decide to buy something.
Siteground for hosting and have been very happy with them over the last 3 years, their customer service is excellent. In full transparency, I am an affiliate and would recommend them even if I wasn’t.
I have a list of everything else I use for running my business over on the resources page.