15 Benefits and Limitations of WordPress.com Blogs

Everyone wants to blog and with a host of popular free blog hosting solutions available, WordPress.com is a popular choice. However, everything that comes free has its limitations, and it is better to know the benefits and limitations before starting a WordPress.com blog.

Limitations of WordPress.com Blogs

First I will highlight the major limitations of the WordPress.com Blogs which might make you decide to install the downloadable version (wordpress.org) with your own paid domain name and own web hosting.

1. No Advertising – This means if you wish to make money online from your blog using advertising programs like Google Adsense, Kontera, Chitika or Text link ads, it is not allowed. One discreet link to Amazon per blog is okay. Read more about their advertising policy and how they may occasionally show ads. To earn money by displaying advertising, you need to buy VIP hosting.

2. No Sponsored / paid posts – Another popular option for bloggers is to earn money via paid reviews using services like ReviewMe and PayPerPost. WordPress.com does not allow you to blog paid articles.

3. Limited Theme Customization – You need to select your themes from a preselected number of themes. You cannot hack and edit these themes as per your liking. You can edit and save the CSS as a paid upgrade. Currently you can select from a large number of beautiful themes, but if you want your own unique design, you need to pay.

4. No Plugin Uploads – A major limitation is the inability to upload plugins. WordPress plugins are amazing tweaks developed by the vibrant WordPress community that adds improved functionality to WordPress for free. Plugins can automate lots of stuff and take your blog to a new level. Here are some WordPress plugins I use.

5. No WP Code hacking – If you like editing PHP files in your wordpress installation to create new functionality for your blog or showcase your PHP skills, then it is not possible at WordPress.com. You cannot edit the core wordpress files to suit your needs.

6. Paid Upgrades – If your popular blog grows in site traffic and branding beyond the imposed limitations, you need to buy paid upgrades

# Custom CSS – lets you style the blog or use an existing stylesheet, but does not allow direct theme editing.
# Domain Mapping and Domain Registration to get the wordpress out of your url.
# Space upgrades – to get more space for all your uploads
# Unlimited Private Users who can see your private blog.

You can also get VIP hosting which will let you use your own domain name, host ads and help survive lots of traffic. Check out some notable WordPress bloggers hosted on WordPress.com

7. Violate TOS and Get Deleted – It is essential you read up the terms of service carefully. They will not tolerate copyright infingement, spamming, commercial use, machine generated blog etc. and people can easily report spam blogs and you might wake up to find your blog deleted one fine day!

# the Content is not spam, and does not contain unethical or unwanted commercial content designed to drive traffic to third party sites or boost the search engine rankings of third party sites, or to further unlawful acts (such as phishing) or mislead recipients as to the source of the material (such as spoofing);
# the Content is not obscene, libelous or defamatory (more info on what that means), hateful or racially or ethnically objectionable, and does not violate the privacy or publicity rights of any third party;

Benefits of WordPress.com Blogs

It not all so gloomy… Now for the great part about WordPress.com blogs, which makes it a good option to start your first blog.

8. Its Free – You like blogging. You like to share your thoughts with your readers, so why pay for it. WordPress.com is free, unless you want to implement some more features to meet the growing needs of a popular blog, or better blog branding. You can always pay and buy a domain name (I use Godaddy) and webhosting (see why I recommend Dreamhost) in case you decide to switch (like we moved from Blogger to WordPress).

9. Survive Traffic SpikesGet Slashdotted or Dugg with confidence as they balance your server load and keep your site working inspite of the huge increase in site traffic, whereas a shared hosting site should otherwise crash a server.

10. Spam is No Problem – Fighting comment spam is not an issue as preinstalled Akismet is blocking spam in the background. No need to pile on multiple Antispam plugins.

11. Freedom from WordPress Upgrades – An advantage of hosting here is that they take care of all back end upgrades, bug fixes and security issues. So when a new WordPress version is released, you need not go throught the WordPress upgrade routine everytime, it is done automatically without any FTP skills required.

12. Automatic Backups – They keep backing up your blog automatically and you need perform daily backups of your blog, just in case your server had a hardware failure.

13. Free Support – Need help to fix an issue or require to take blogging to the next level, the WordPress forums have lot of active members to guide and provide support.

14. Preview New WordPress Features – WordPress.com is the testing ground for features to be made available in the downloadable version. So before a lot of wordpress bloggers even get a hint of a new feature, you are probably testing it already.

15. Blogging Simplified – Even a kid can get started blogging on WordPress.com, its that easy. If blogging is your only passion, and you have no idea about what HTML, CSS, PHP, FTP, MySQL is, and you do not want to waste your time backing up, upgrading and worrying about blog security – get a WordPress.com blog today.

Submitted to 31 Days to Building a Better Blog Project.

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About the Author: P Chandra is editor of QOT, one of India's earliest tech bloggers since 2004. A tech enthusiast with expertise in coding, WordPress, web tools, SEO and DIY hacks.