Four years, I’ve been using the Free Plan which, other than a Domain Name, it does not cost a dime. In the beginning, this was very convenient since I didn’t know what to expect from blogging. I was not sure if I was going to like it or stick to it.
As mentioned already, the Free Plan is great to start blogging because it does not entail any cost and it provides decent tools to set up a blog in the firsts place. You just have to focus on writing since Automatic takes care of all everything for you, like backups, security, scaling, caching, and so on.
However, there are many limitations to the Free Plan:
As long as you don’t see anything, you can do just fine with the builtin JetPack statistics. However, if you plan on selling products (e.g. books, video courses), you need Google Analytics because it allows you to understand how your potential buyers interact with your blog and products.
Just like in Java you have a framework for anything, in WordPress, you have a plugin for everything you’d ever need. For instance, these are very common plugins you might want to add to your website:
This way, readers will be much more inclined to open your article and give it a chance.
But what if you’ve been running your blog for years and your URLs are already containing the timestamp attached to each post URL? You can’t just switch to a new PermaLink structure because all Google PageRanking will be lost.
That’s where the Redirection comes into place because you can instruct it to match all posts using the following Regex:
And, that’s it! If you have plugins, you can tackle this issue very nicely. While previously Google would penalize a 301 redirect, they changed their policy, and this is no longer a big issue.
Custom WordPress installation
Of course, you are not tied to WordPress.com. You can export your blog and install it on a dedicated server or use a different WordPress provider. However, this comes at a price:
Either you will have to manage the entire instance yourself, taking care of security, backups, traffic, monitoring.
Or, you will have to pay extra in case your blog has a significant amount of traffic.
Neither of these two options worked for me. While the former requires me investing more time in making sure the blog works properly instead of focusing on the content, the latter does not scale well in terms of costs in the long run.
Hence, I needed something else.
Until August 2017, the Business Plan covered only the first of the aforementioned requirements while also giving you more premium themes, storage, live support, and tools for designing your website.
After they added support for installing plugins, they now allow you to change the PermaLinks structure as well. Having these improvements in place, I decided to move to a Business Plan.
Initially, I thought everything will work smoothly without any hiccups, but there were all sorts of problems:
MarkDown was not enabled so code snippets were HTML-escaped
Some plugins required some further setup which was not intuitive at all
Setting up the Redirection plugin requires you to hunt down many internal links and update them to avoid an extra HTTP redirect overhead.