4 reasons why I won’t be switching to self-hosted anytime soon.

Digitally generated My brain has too many tabs open

Not very long ago, Opinionated Man migrated his popular blog, HarsH ReaLiTy, from WordPress.com to WordPress.org. I remember reading his stream-of-consciousness posts while he climbed WP.org’s very steep learning curve, and I got headaches and felt twitchy just reading them. Although OM was often frustrated and sometimes seemed ready to give up, he didn’t, and he now claims that becoming self-hosted was the best blogging decision he ever made. I don’t doubt he’s telling the truth, as being self-hosted allows you all sorts of options and freedoms you do not have as a WordPress.com blogger.

But you can count me out, at least for the foreseeable future. I’m a serious blogger, yes, but WordPress.com suits my needs just fine. Here are four reasons why I have no intention of ever becoming self hosted.

1. The community.
When you become a WordPress.com member, it’s easy to find a community of like-minded WordPress bloggers via the Reader, which makes suggestions based on your interests, and posts all new articles by blogs you’re already following. For new bloggers, this feature is a godsend. ALl you do is “follow” blogs that are suggested to you based on your interests and voila! Instant community! When you follow blogs you like, they’re likely to follow you back too, and before you know it, you are commenting on each other’s blogs.

When you self-host, you lose all that. You have to be more concerned about things like your Google page ranking and be a lot more careful tagging posts, otherwise your blog may not get seen by the people you want to see it. Or not at all. And if you’re self hosted, you don’t have access to the Reader; you have to find related blogs on your own. Your posts also won’t be automatically seen by other WP bloggers, since WP.org hosted sites do not show up in the Reader. If you prefer to spend time writing new content than recruiting an audience for your blog, then being on WP.com saves you a whole lot of time.

2. The steep learning curve.
Wordpress.com is simple to use, compared to WordPress.org. While it does have a learning curve, it isn’t very steep. After 3 – 4 days I was comfortable using the features. I felt like a pro in a couple of weeks. There are plenty of options for customization even if you use a free theme and don’t upgrade. For this blog, I wasn’t satisfied with the font used for the free Twenty-Ten theme (one of WP’s most popular free themes), so I upgraded to Custom Design, so I had the option of changing the font to one I liked better. Custom Design is cheap and gave me a few other options too, but CSS (which is available with Custom Design) still eludes me. I know nothing about coding and fortunately, really don’t have to worry about that anyway, since everything I want to do is available to me without knowing any coding at all.  For a small price, you can also have a custom domain (which is necessary if you want to run ads)–all that means is you get a URL without the “wordpress.com” in it.

If you self-host, be prepared to have to learn not only coding, but also you need to know all about about plug-in installation, Jet Packs (whatever those are), software upgrades, bandwidth, backups and troubleshooting, analytics, and SEO, among many other things.   Features we take for granted like Likes and Comments aren’t automatically there; you have to install them yourself.  Have a problem? You’re on your own. There are no support forums to turn to as there are for WP.com users. You either have to try to figure things out on your own and fix any problems yourself, or you have to hire an outside party to do it for you. For someone who isn’t especially tech-savvy, the idea of running into a problem and having no idea what to do about it is very scary indeed. And I really don’t have much desire to have to learn all these things.  I’d rather be writing.

overwhelmed

3. The expense.
Being self-hosted isn’t cheap. If you advertise, while you can make more money from advertising (WordPress.com only allows Wordads) and can choose the ads you run, to me that isn’t worth it, because of the payout required from you just to be self hosted. You have to buy your domain name, then pay for someone (like GoDaddy.com) to host your blog (in leiu of WordPress, which hosts all WP.com sites). Expect to pay about $250 and $450 just for the first year.

WP.com is free and so are many of its themes. Even if you decide to upgrade, the expense is very small. I paid $18 for Custom Design, and it’s good for a whole year. Even without knowing how to use the included CSS feature, I still think it was worth it. The themes available on WordPress.com are all attractive and there are so many free ones available that no blogger should have any problems finding one they love and that suits their blog. If you want to make some money from your blog, and you qualify, Wordads will post the ads for you and keep track of your earnings. All you need to do is set up a Paypal account. While you certainly have the potential to make more from a self-hosted site, the amount of work involved in gaining enough traffic to earn anything more than pocket change is daunting for the average blogger, who just wants to write.

4. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
I have no problems with WordPress.com, so why would I want to take the risk of losing everything I’ve worked so hard on for almost two years, or messing everything up beyond repair, by “importing” it to WP.org? Unless I start getting massive amounts of traffic (unlikely) or run out of space and can’t post anything new (and even then I understand it’s possible to buy additional storage on WP.com), I have absolutely no reason to be self-hosted.

Why you might prefer self-hosting.

roman_fountain

With all that said, if you’re the sort of person who is challenged and excited by learning complicated new things, or if you want the sense of achievement and pride that someone like Opinionated Man experienced once he mastered the process of being self-hosted (at least the basics anyway, as he says you never stop learning and are forever having to tweak and make adjustments), then being self-hosted may be the right choice for you.   It may also be the right choice if you prefer to own your domain name (and hence, your blog) rather than just rent it from WordPress.   When you own your own home, you have the freedom to tear down walls (and run the risk of the whole house falling down and crushing you to death), paint the exterior shocking pink, build a sarcophagus in the bathroom, or install a Roman fountain in the living room.  If you rent, you are probably limited to neutral colored walls and you can’t install freaky things or tear anything down.

I’ll stick with my plain white walls, thank you.   I can still hang pretty pictures and decorate my abode the way I want, and I know my landlord will come fix anything that breaks.    I prefer my WordPress dumbed down so I can just write and leave the complicated tech stuff to others.

Further reading:
7 Reasons Why Novices Should Not Self-Host WordPress

My low frustration tolerance.

stress

I’ve always been an impatient person, especially when it comes to trying to learning something new or getting something to work.   When I was a child, I regularly burst into tears of frustration or became agitated if I couldn’t solve a math problem (even though my father used to teach college level algebra, the math genes seem to have bypassed me), solve a difficult puzzle, or get a battery operated toy to work.

I still get frustrated with myself in jobs that have a high learning curve, if I don’t pick up things as fast as I think I should.    Maybe it’s because I set unrealistic standards of perfection for myself, or maybe my BPD lack of emotional regulation makes it hard for me to cope with very much frustration. Or maybe I’m just dumb with some things.

Many of us who blog know Opinionated Man is busy setting up his new self-hosted website and documenting every frustration, mishap, challenge and success–no matter how small–as he moves along in his new journey.   I give the man props for undertaking this risk, because to me, it seems like a huge risk, even though (for him at least) it’s a risk worth all the toil and tears.   It’s great to own your own home, but owning your own home means you have to do all the maintenance and repairs yourself (or contract them out), even if you do get to tear down walls, install Roman fountains in the living room, build a sarcophagus in the bathroom, and paint the exterior orange and purple. Personally, I think Opinionated Man has the patience of Job. Every day I read his running commentary on the transition to self hosting and I can do nothing but gawk in amazement as if he’s from another galaxy.

low_frustration_tolerance

I for one don’t know how he does it.   Self-hosting seems incredibly difficult to me, especially after the things he’s been describing!  On top of that, I’d be gnawing my cuticles down to bloody stumps of bone and flesh over the anxiety of possibly losing everything I’ve worked so hard on–or completely f’ing it up beyond repair.   My low frustration tolerance couldn’t handle that!  I’d be going nuts!  I think if it were me, they’d be carting me off to the loony bin about now.

So for the foreseeable future, until and if I have no other choice, I’m going to keep “renting” my domain from WordPress and let them take care of all the maintenance, even if it means I can’t tear down walls or change the color of my boring white walls.