WordPress.com is an online service that hosts websites/blogs free of charge. 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?
- 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
- All themes are “widgetized” to further customize your blog
- 3 Gigabytes of free storage space and unlimited bandwidth
- The ability to embed media from YouTube, Vimeo, flickr, TED, Google Docs, Scribd, SoundCloud, Anchor, etc. (Full official list: Support-Media)
- 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 paid upgrade plans that include Domain registration or Mapping, Premium Themes, Custom Design, additional storage space for all your media including audio files, Videopress and more. Here’s a full list of the available upgrades.
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.
- Plugins, 3rd party themes and FTP access are available exclusively on the Business or Ecommerce plan.
- WordPress.com takes its Terms of Service very seriously and so should you. Sites with a Domain Mapping upgrade are still hosted on WordPress.com and bound by the same Terms of Service. Read it to understand what is acceptable before you start.
- New features in core WordPress (the open-source software program also known as WordPress.org) 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.
There you have it in a rather large nutshell. Even if you aren’t yet convinced that you’re ready to publish your words to the world, sign up for a Private blog and you can test out WordPress.com to the max before going public. (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, year-long course that gives new bloggers access to not only the self-paced 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 paid 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!
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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 August 2021.