Over the last few issues, I covered the steps of signing up for an account at WordPress.com in order to start a free website for yourself or your arts organization. I also covered the differences in the two ways of using WordPress: either free at wordpress.com, or on your own web host. I got some questions about the second method called self-hosting, so I’m covering more of that this time.
If you started using the free version of WordPress at wordpress.com and find you need more capabilities than the completely free version offers – such as e-commerce, the need to use advertisements or develop custom functions for your business or organization – you can still use WordPress, but you need to run it on your own server.
The difference is that you take a copy of the same free WordPress software and put it on your own web server. And to do that, you need what’s called a webhost. A webhost is an online business that provides space on a webserver for your website. A web host will handle most everything that is required for around $80-$100 a year.
There are many web hosts out there, but it’s best to go with a large, national host that has a good reputation and a track record for support. (Bluehost is a good host.) Another benefit of a good web host is that they will offer “one click” installers for WordPress, and that makes using WordPress yourself even easier. That’s because running WordPress on your own server requires you to install it. At wordpress.com, all that is done for you; but with your own copy of WordPress, you’re responsible for installing it. But with one click in the web hosting control panel, WordPress will be installed for you.
A good web host will also offer help and support with some aspects of WordPress, as well as other things you can do with your own website, like working with email accounts, your domain, and more.
Once you have WordPress installed, you can work with the same, easy to use administrative area and install themes – the design aspect of the site – and any plugins you need. If you started with WordPress.com, you might notice a few things missing, but all of those can be duplicated with plugins. The other things that will be “missing” will be limits on what you can do; with self-hosted, you can do much more than at wordpress.com.
If you’re using wordpress.com, there is help available in the tech support forums where you can search for answers to questions you have or ask your own question. Go to support.wordpress.com. With self-hosted WordPress, there is still lots of help available, but in different forums at wordpress.org/support and that’s where you can get help with installation, themes, plugins and questions about custom coding.