If you’re reading this article, chances are you are in the market for a new website for your blog or business. Maybe you’ve never had a website before, and you’re starting completely from scratch. Or, maybe you have a website or a blog now, but you aren’t happy with it...and want to try something new. Whatever the case, this is one of the most important decisions you will make for your blog or business -- so it’s important to get it right from the start!
Choosing the wrong platform for your website can mean wasted money, wasted time, and lost customers. No one wants that!
Still, as a small business owner myself, I understand that your marketing budget is not huge. You don’t have thousands of dollars to spend on building your new website, and you certainly can’t afford to bring a web developer on staff to maintain your website once its launched.
That is why so many small business owners end up with their website hosted on one of two platforms -- either Wordpress or Squarespace. (There are other web platforms out there and all have their own pros and cons...However, Squarespace and self-hosted Wordpress are the two platforms I am most familiar with, and I have built many websites for my clients on these platforms...so that's what we're covering today.)
Many website owners dismiss one or the other of these platforms out of the gate based on anecdotal things they’ve heard online, or from others who have used the platforms. Since this is such an important decision you’ll make for your business, I think it’s important for you to really weigh your options, and choose the platform that is right for YOU and your blog or business. Not what you've heard worked (or didn't work) for someone else.
Let’s talk about five things you should consider BEFORE selecting self-hosted Wordpress for building your business website or blog.
(PS -- we are talking about self-hosted Wordpress sites in this article, not sites built on Wordpress.com)
I created a short quiz to help you think through whether self-hosted Wordpress is right for your blog or business. Sign up below if you'd like me to send you the quiz!
Consideration #1 - What is your budget?
Plenty of folks who are considering building their new website on Wordpress do so because it is “the cheapest” option. Yes -- it is 100% free to download the Wordpress framework, and you can get hosting plans for as little as $10 - $15 per year. That is pretty cheap for a business website!
However, hosting is not the only cost for you to consider. When it comes down to it, you will spend just as much -- if not more -- properly setting up and hosting a Wordpress site as you would signing up for an all-in-one platform such as Squarespace.
Because Wordpress is self-hosted, you are going to have to purchase most of these things as add-ons, whereas with something like Squarespace … it is an all-in-one platform, and you pay a flat monthly or annual fee for this all to be taken care of for you.
Here are the costs you will likely need to budget for when setting up a self-hosted Wordpress website:
- Registering your domain (“www.yoursite.com”) -- Typically this is an annual fee, and often will be free for the first year when you purchase certain hosting plans
- Hosting your website (you pay for storage on a server somewhere...this is where all your website files will live) -- You’ll purchase this through a company like Bluehost, GoDaddy, Siteground, etc. You’ll pay a monthly or yearly fee, starting as low as $3 or less per month depending on your needs. Shop around!
- Security monitoring -- You have a lot of options here. I set up most of my clients on Sucuri, and often also use SiteLock for their websites. Sucuri’s starter plans will set you back around $10 per month
- Firewall -- You can choose a plan with Sucuri or SiteLock that includes a web application firewall, which I recommend and include standard in all my client contracts. If you roll security monitoring AND firewall AND malware removal all into one security plan with SiteLock or Sucuri, you’ll pay around $20 per month.
- Wordpress theme -- Most likely, you will want to purchase a theme for your Wordpress site so that you can style it how you’d like. Most of the better themes out there are paid, and often built on top of popular Wordpress theme frameworks, such as my favorite -- Divi. A framework like Divi will cost you about $250 for lifetime use (a one-time fee), and you can optionally purchase a child theme on top of that if you want out-of-the-box styling that is done for you.
As you can see, the costs quickly add up! When all is said and done, choosing Wordpress because you want to save money is NOT a good reason to go with that platform. Self-hosted Wordpress sites are at least as expensive to set up and maintain as all-in-one platforms such as Squarespace (if not more).
Make sure you are aware of these potential costs up-front, and please don’t cut corners on things like security or robust hosting with a reputable hosting company :-)
Consideration #2 - How will you handle security?
I mentioned this above, but if you decide to go with self-hosted Wordpress for your business website or blog, then you will want to have a plan for how you will secure your site, and what you will do should your site ever get hacked.
Unfortunately, there are plenty of people out there who do NOT properly secure their self-hosted Wordpress site (or take backups--yikes!), and have to spend a lot of money to fix their sites in the case of a security breach. Keep in mind, website hackers don’t just target big websites. Even if you have a teeny tiny site or a low-traffic blog, you could still be a target.
If the thought of managing this yourself, or paying someone to manage it for you, is intimidating -- then you may want to consider using an all-in-one platform such as Squarespace instead of Wordpress.
If you choose to self-host your site on Wordpress, have a plan for how you will handle security. Hiring a developer to help you set this up correctly at the start will save you lots of potential headaches down the road. It is worth the investment up-front to get this right, and give yourself peace of mind that your brand new website or blog is secure and safe.
Consideration #3 - How tech savvy are you?
As you may have noticed by now, choosing to self-host through Wordpress means you are going to be learning a little bit about web hosting! If you are fairly tech savvy, or willing to be patient and learn, then this may be no biggie for you.
However, if you are intimidated by the thought of this -- then you may want to consider choosing an all-in-one website platform, or hiring a developer to set up your self-hosted Wordpress site for you.
If you are moderately tech savvy, you can 100% handle setting up a self-hosted Wordpress site! Google and YouTube are going to be your best friends :-)
#4 - How much flexibility do you really need?
The number one benefit of choosing self-hosted Wordpress and building your website on the Wordpress platform is flexibility. If you have a complex website with complicated requirements, then Wordpress may be the perfect platform for your needs.
But, if you have a fairly straightforward website, with mostly static data and a blog you update a few times per month … then your needs are much more simple. Even if you're doing basic e-commerce, an all-in-one platform like Squarespace could work for you!
This consideration is much more subjective, but still important to think through carefully. Many business owners and bloggers will cite the need for flexibility as the reason they went with Wordpress, only to discover that it is a very complex technology, that is difficult to learn and manage. For many, it ends up being much more than you need.
If you have complex requirements for your site -- then this flexibility Wordpress offers is definitely a big plus!
You will be able to do much more with Wordpress than you’ll be able to do with an all-in-one platform. However, most people do not have requirements that are as complicated as they think. Even all-in-one platforms such as Squarespace can be customized and have plugins available...so be sure you carefully consider this before making your choice.
Don’t use a sledgehammer to crack a nut!
Consideration #5 - What are you going to be using your website for?
This definitely goes hand-in-hand with what we just talked about -- but it is so, so important that I am mentioning it again.
Often when I work with clients who have hired me to build their websites, they have not thought carefully about what they’ll use their website for...
- Are you trying to attract new business?
- Are you trying to better serve your existing customers?
- Are you hoping to break into a new market?
- Is building your email list important?
- Will you sell something on your site?
- Do you need to be able to blog or share regular content updates (news, projects, events…)?
Make sure you think through exactly what you want to be able to do with your website. At the end of the day, your use case should drive which platform you choose to build your site on.
The other considerations I talked about -- budget, security, tech-savviness, flexibility -- those are all levers you can pull to fit your needs. But at the end of the day -- your use case is your use case. What you want and need to do with your site should not change based on your budget -- your budget should change to accommodate your use case!
Carefully consider what you want to do with your site before choosing which platform you’ll build it on.
In general, simpler websites or straightforward blogs do better on all-in-one sites like Squarespace. That being said, there are new features added to the Squarespace platform every day that make it possible to run robust ecommerce sites, high-traffic membership sites, and other complex use cases on their platform.
I hope this article helped you think outside the box when it comes to choosing the right website platform for your new website. When it comes to building a new website or blog, it is important to choose a platform that will serve the needs of your business long-term.