Getting Started on WordPress.com

WordPress.com is an online service that hosts websites/blogs free of charge as well as offering paid upgrades with additional features you might need as you grow. Users signing up for the service must be at least 13 years old for the US, or 16 years for the EU, and agree to abide by the Terms of Service.

What do you get when you sign up for a free website?

  • A unique, free website URL, which is a sub-domain of WordPress.com or dotblog, WordPress.com’s domain venture
  • One dynamically updated page (the blog page) and an unlimited number of static pages per site
  • Over 130 themes to choose from. Many of the themes can be customized with layout options, color options and/or the ability to upload headers or backgrounds
  • Most themes are “widgetized” to further customize your blog
  • 3 Gigabytes of free storage space and unlimited bandwidth (as of 31 March 2022, new free websites come with 1 GB of storage.)
  • The ability to embed media from YouTube, Vimeo, flickr, TED, Google Docs, Scribd, SoundCloud, Anchor, etc.
  • Built-in Statistics
  • Built-in comment and feedback spam protection
  • Social tools that publicize your posts and let your readers share your posts on their social media as well
  • Subscription tools that make it easy for your readers to keep up with you
  • A site that is mobile friendly
  • Free mobile apps for blogging and managing your site on-the-go
  • Help close at hand to assist you in getting the most out of your WordPress.com experience thanks to a very active and creative user community, direct support for upgraded plans and Support docs that are open 24/7/365.

Many of the above free features can be extended even further with a paid upgrade plan that includes domain registration or connection, Premium themes, Custom Design, additional storage space for all your media including audio files, Videopress and more.

The fine print:

  • WordPress.com runs advertising on free websites hosted with them in order to keep free features free. While you can’t run your own ad networks (like Adsense), there are other ways you can monetize your free WordPress.com website or remove advertising altogether with the No Ads Add-on.
  • Plugins, 3rd party themes and FTP access are available exclusively on the Business or eCommerce plans.
  • Some code, such as javascript, cannot be used except on those same upgrade plans.
  • WordPress.com takes its Terms of Service very seriously and so should you. Sites with a Custom Domain Name or Domain connection upgrade are still hosted on WordPress.com and bound by the same Terms of Service.
  • New features in core WordPress (the open-source CMS software, also known as self-hosted WordPress) are typically rolled out to WordPress.com first for testing. While that is a big plus on one hand, it also is a small minus on the other, as sometimes things can go pear-shaped.

The fine print shouldn’t put you off! Hundreds of thousands of WordPress.com bloggers publish new content every day and every post where you’ve added an appropriate and relevant category or tag is fed into WordPress.com’s Global Tag Listings in the Reader to help people find your content.

There you have it in a rather large nutshell. Even if you aren’t yet convinced that you’re ready to publish, sign up and you can test out WordPress.com to the max before launching your site to the world. (If you are new to WordPress.com, you’re welcome to use my Refer-a-Friend code for a discount on any upgrade plan at signup.*)

More WordPress.com Learning Resources:

  • Get Started: an overview of learning resources WordPress.com offers
  • Learn WordPress.com: The ultimate, always free WordPress tutorial for beginners
  • Blogging for Beginners: a self-paced course that gives new bloggers access to not only the course material, but also a private site with a lively community of bloggers and WordPress.com’s Happiness Engineers (Part of an ever-growing list of free courses)
  • Webinars: on just about every topic on blogs and blogging. You can join live or watch later
  • Getting Started: my own posts for new site owners

And instructional videos. Here’s a recent one on this very topic!

And lastly:
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*Disclaimer: This offer is only available to brand new WordPress.com site owners. While you receive a discount on any upgrade plan you purchase when signing up, I’ll also earn a credit at the same time. It’s win-win!


This post was published originally in 2011 and updated in July 2022.

Published by JenT

WordPress.com forum volunteer and former moderator (2016-2021) assisting WordPress.com site owners since 2006, one answer at a time. Find me at wpcommaven.com.

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