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Self Hosted vs. Free [Infograph]

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Self Hosted vs. Free [Infograph]

When starting out as a beginner, this question comes in everyone’s mind. Which one is better? Is it better to pick the Self Hosted, or is it better to go with Free In this article, we provide you with an infographic that compares vs side by side with list of pros and cons. We also tell you in the end which one is our pick. Click on the image to see the full version of the Infographic.

Note: We have updated this infographic because there was a huge debate about the comparison. The goal of this infographic is to compare Self Hosted vs. FREE*. We were called out by many folks saying, offers CSS upgrades etc. etc. But apparently, we were not clear enough in the title when we said we were comparing to only FREE This new infographic indicates with a * all the upgrades that are possible. Another reason for the update was that the numbers used in the infographic were outdated.

Self Hosted vs Free

Convinced that you should use now? Want to switch away from Here is a tutorial on how to properly move your blog from to

If you don’t want to read the infographic, then here it is in the text: Benefits

  • It’s free and super easy to use.
  • You own your data. You are in full control. Your site will NOT be turned off because someone decides that it is against their terms of service (as long as you are not doing something illegal). You are in control.
  • You can upload and use plugins.
  • You can upload custom themes. Modify theme files (not just styles) if needed.
  • You can make money from it by using your own ads, and doing things your way.
  • Custom Analytics and Tracking Cons

  • Like any other website, you need a good web hosting. This bits cost you money somewhere from around $3 – $7 per month (as your site grows, your hosting costs will too). But then you would be making enough money to cover the costs :)
  • You are responsible for updates. WordPress upgrades require 1 click (Not too hard eh).
  • You are responsible for backups, but thankfully tons of amazing plugins are out there like BackupBuddy.
  • You are responsible to prevent SPAM, but if you enable Akismet (which comes built-in with, then you won’t have to worry about it. Benefits

  • It’s free for upto 3GB of space. After that you will have to pay for space ($19.95 per year for 5GB) or ($289.97 per year for 100GB).
  • They make regular backups of your site. Cons

  • They place ads on all free websites. Did you really think it was free without a catch? If you don’t want your users to see ads, then you can pay them $29.97 per year to keep your site ad-free.
  • You are NOT allowed to sell ads on your site unless you receive 25,000 pageviews per month. In which case, you have to apply to try their feature called Ad control. The approval process doesn’t cost you any money, but you have to split your revenues 50/50 with them *Ouch*
  • You cannot use plugins. Yup WordPress is well known for it’s flexibility due to the plugins. does not allow you to use plugins! If you want to use plugins, then you have to move to their VIP program which starts at $3750 per month. No joke.
  • You cannot use custom themes. Yup, you have to be stuck with their choice of themes which is being used on hundreds of millions of sites. They do offer a “design upgrade” which should really be called CSS upgrade for $30 per year. Meaning, you can change the color of your site. But if you want to add something really custom, you cannot.
  • You are restricted to their analytics. You cannot use custom analytics software because you cannot add custom codes.
  • They can delete your site at anytime if they think it violates their Terms of Service.
  • They will change your theme without your permission if the founder doesn’t like the theme developer (yup it happened).
  • Even if you pay for their upgrades, you still have to tell others that your site is powered on

Which one is for you?

If you are a personal blogger who do not care about making money from their sites, then go with If you are a blogger trying to make blogging into a career, then you want to use self hosted Often people will say, self-hosted WordPress will cost you money. For a small enough site, it is actually cheaper.

Let’s say you use, buy their custom domain ($17 per year), pay for ad-free option ($29.97 per year), and get custom design upgrade ($30 per year). That total is $76.97, and you are still not in full control.

For, you can use Bluehost (officially recommended by WordPress) which costs $3.95 per month so $47.4 per year, and it includes a free domain name. If you go with other web hosting companies, then you will pay a similar price, but you won’t get a domain. However, you can get a domain name for $10 from Godaddy or NameCheap. Your total would come to $57.4 per year. You will have full control over everything.

Is one easier to use than the other? Nope. The interface of both are very similar. We have free WordPress video tutorials that will guide you through the whole dashboard.

We always recommend everyone to use, so you are in full control of your site. The final choice is always yours :)

P.S. Here is a tutorial on how to properly move your blog from to

We hoped you like the infograph. If you liked it, make sure you share it on Twitter, Facebook, or any other site that you like (ofcourse with a credits link back to WPBeginner – preferably this article).

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Editorial Staff at WPBeginner is a team of WordPress experts led by Syed Balkhi. Page maintained by Syed Balkhi.

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  1. Jesse says:

    I agree with WANDERINGJULIA. Another take on it is this. I am fully able to handle a self-hosted site. Heck, I even wrote my own theme (PHP), associated CSS, coincident HTML, and added web art (SVG and various and sundry other images). I have four sites on that provider, all registered elsewhere. One is my wife’s. It occurred to me, what if I get run over by a semi? I don’t necessarily care that my blog will whither and waste away, but it might indeed be nice were my wife to have one easy place to logon and get to her stuff (without going to at least two places to pay bills and at least two others to fiddle with somewhat complex control panels). For such a niche case, might be the answer.

    [Off topic: a cost you didn’t mention for self-hosted blogs, versus HTTPS encryption. provides it free and automatically; on a self-hosted blog one must buy a certificate, and garner the skill to install it.]

  2. Anuradha Chawla says:

    A thorough elucidation of the difference between and platforms. In my opinion, is suitable for blogs with which are not meant for any commercial gain. But, if you are a pro-blogger, you should definitely look for as it offers a lot of customization.

  3. Madan says:

    Having self hosting service gives more services, full control on server and have our fresh domain with proper keyword. While free hosting services have some restrictions and we do not get access to all other plugins, features which we want in our site. If any one planning blog, website for their business then self web hosting is the best option for them.

  4. Ian M says:

    Using BlueHost, while selecting their entry level domain they offer .org .com etc. Between their domain options .com and .org is there a difference or limiting factor to .com? After reading this post I feel like the startup at is the limiting factor because it isn’t self hosted unlike a domain through BlueHost. A dot com with my domain through BH isn’t a deciding factor on what kind of options and plugins I would want to use compared to what I started with through, right?

  5. Max Basnet says:

    Awesome report. Totally informative. I already have a registered domain of my own. I transferred from blogspot to WordPress. While blogger asks zero dollar to setup a custom domain which is already registered, WordPress costs certain amount of money. Which means, I have already registered a domain from another company/registrar and I have to pay double ( domain tax + WordPress tax ) . That’s a loss in my mind. The domain which I registered was a national domain from a country and that domain is not available to register anywhere else. In the same way, I don’t want to pay extra money to WordPress. So please I need your help and suggestion on this. I might be switching back to blogspot if needed.

    • Editorial Staff says:

      You need to use self-hosted WordPress where you pay for hosting, but don’t have to pay the additional “Domain Tax”.

  6. Lauren says:

    Thank you so much for this brilliant post. I bought both my website domain names through and was therefore never given the option to choose a host. I was mentally running around in circles confused as to why I never chose a host. Thank you for explaining. works perfectly for my personal goals as of now. As I become more of a professional in my field that may change and I will adapt my websites accordingly.

  7. Tracey Sharp says:

    This is a brilliant post and just what I’ve been looking for. I’ve had a blog for several weeks now and realise that wordpress is a bit limiting and also very expensive if you want to upgrade. Reading this and your other posts on transferring to has been invaluable in showing me step by step how to do it. I’ve had a test run and now just need to take the plunge to transfer everything over.

  8. K.J. Larson says:

    Under “ Benefits” text, your first point is that “It’s free and super-easy to use.” Super-easy, yes. Free, no. Please edit ASAP, as it’s *very* confusing for folks just beginning to navigate the vast online publishing realm.

  9. FraNK UMEADI says:

    Thank you so much for this good piece.

  10. JAMES ONUWAJE says:

    Good day admin, have been reading a whole lot about the wordpress thingy and i plan on opening a website for personal use, i do not have a proper foundation in web area, though i am currently undergoing a training in graphic design, kindly help me out with step by step on creating a website and how to host them.


  11. blankyd brotu says:

    from my experience with FREE sites, all providers will delete your site at a certain time, regardless of any thing. they give you free space to see if you can get bigger or not, if not then there is no reason for them bother but if you get bigger they would want money for that or they will wipe you off

  12. MELewis says:

    For me one of the main issues with self-hosting is the lack of a platform to share the content. Sure, you can tweet your posts but that can be a lot of work for little return. Can anyone help me understand how some self-hosted blogs manage to get their content to mirror in the Reader? I have read that this is not allowed yet see it all the time – most recently with some major news outlets such as the New York Post (presumably they pay for a VIP service?)

  13. Maria says:

    What about the SEO? Is it any difference between and in terms of ranking by google or bing?


  14. Kim Smyth says:

    Hey, just read the article and my question is-if I have a www. Name. com, free on WordPress, that’s not the same as a domain name right? And if I want my blog to be a business, I should switch to .org-I get that- but instead, maybe I should start all over because really all I have is a blog PAGE. I don’t have a real website with several pages. That’s the problem for one. Advice?

  15. Francheteau says:

    I just opened an account on and bought the theme PROMENADE. I just realized I can t add any plugins on my website . I would like to switch from to, but will I have to pay for my theme again ? or can I switch and keep my Promenade theme ?
    thank you for your help.

    • WPBeginner Support says:

      Premium themes purchased on are only valid on You can contact support for more help.

  16. Ayietim says:

    Hello, thanks for this post. The content and the commens are a great beginner’s guide. I have a blog running on, I started the blog about seven months ago and I am absolutely enjoying myself, do you know why? Yes, I want to make money with it, but not FROM it, I want to make money THROUGH it. This is how, I am a businessman who believes in a building first, a brand with a good and a growing GOODWILL, a goodwill which is trusted by many. Then, one could leverage on the goodwill to make money. You can use your blog to make a name for yourself and use that name to sell yourself to individual and corporate clients. So, whether or, one should on a process which begins with the building a BRAND.

  17. Mubashir Ali says: is not only a blogging software. It is a great CMS to create every type of websites by using new themes and pluging. With you cann’t do it. So, is too higher than

  18. Jerrod Anielle Lopez says:

    For me, I do not care about that. I blog because I want to share something. Money isn’t always the thing! And what you are saying about is wrong.

    It is very useful and social.

    We blog because want to share. We blog because we want to help. We blog because we have a reason and we do not need to care about what to choose between or

  19. JeffDeWitt says:

    I’ve built a couple of websites and am maintaining one for my church. I don’t know what tool that site was built with but one of the great things about it is I was given a full, functioning copy of the website on a CD when I took over.

    I wanted a tool that would let me build and tune a site before putting in on some server somewhere and would have complete control over it.

    There is a version of WordPress we can get from Microsoft for free (along with Microsoft “WebMatrix”. It seems to be exactly what I was looking for.

    I’d really be interested in any comments or suggestions about going this route.

  20. wanderingjulia says:

    I’m about to transfer my to a self-hosted site and truth is I’m starting to feel torn about it.

    From my perspective, there’s no comparing and Here is why. I see that most of the people who choose do it for the revenue. By the sound of it, they do it for the money they save, the versatility in appearance, and most especially the ads they profit from. Truthfully, this is what drew me to as well.

    However, I’m realizing more and more that I blog not make money. I blog to share content. I blog to have my voice be heard. I don’t blog for bottomless plugins or endless themes. I blog first and foremost because I have something I want to share, and not to make money. gives me a great space for that. I get to be part of an active community that sees me easily and responds to me immediately. lets people find me right off the bat and my content becomes relevant. on the other hand, despite all the freedom it can give you in terms of managing your blog, doesn’t give you that community. You’re a lone wolf, so to speak, in the super dense world of the interwebs, and you’ll have to work that much harder to get your voice across and be heard.

    So if you’re a business or a company with a certain look, or if you sell stuff, or you want to make money, yes, is great. But if you want to share your voice and be part of a community that acknowledges, hears, and discusses your thoughts with you, is the place. Plugins and customization and all else are just fluff you may not even need.

  21. Manos Johan Hanssen Seferidis says:

    I have a blog at and there are some issues that are not been talked here. One huge annoyance is that whatever I might type in the text editor, it get’s re-parsed. Sometimes I want to keep my table’s rows as rows but has to split each little td in a separate line. Also I hate the fact that the editor is so small. I make coding tutorials that tend to be huge and with the current setup it makes it a nightmare to find the correct paragraph of my post.

  22. bernice jooste says:

    Thank you for the reply. Will I be able to keep my blog name when I change over to using Also what would the cost be for using per month

  23. WPBeginner Staff says:

    Using a self hosted site means that you get full control on your website.

    This will allow you to install any plugin you want including the plugins for recipes.

    You will have to maintain your website. This means you will have to make sure your site is up to date using the latest version of WordPress and all plugins and themes. This might sound like a lot of work, but actually WordPress has a built in update system so all you will have to do is to click on the update button.

    As for backups, there are several WordPress plugins which automatically create backup of your website and store it to your dropbox, google drive, or anyother desired location.

    Hope this answered your question.

  24. bernice jooste says:

    I have a account and realize now I cant have any plugins for recipes ect, what do I do?

    If i change to what does the following entail :
    You are responsible for updates. You are responsible for backups,
    You are responsible to prevent SPAM,
    you are responsible for maintenance?
    please advise

  25. bernice jooste says:

    I started a blog last week im totally a beginner I want to add recipes on my blog and have the print option, now I see that plugins are not available on I read through the above can you please advise what the following entails :
    responsible for updates, how is this done ?

    responsible for backups how do I do this?

    keeping your site updated and optimised?

  26. Cameron Ward says:

    I think it’s kind of dumb that can’t have stuff like google adsense or infolinks…I just find that utterly silly

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