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 and agree to abide by the Terms of Service.
What do you get when you sign up?
- A unique website URL, which is a sub-domain of WordPress.com.
- 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 newer themes can be customized with layout options, color options and/or the ability to upload headers or backgrounds.
- All themes are “wigetized” to further customize your blog.
- 3 Gigabytes of storage space and unlimited bandwidth.
- The ability to embed media from YouTube, Vimeo, flickr, TED, Google Docs, Scribd, SoundCloud, etc. (Full official list: Support-Media.)
- Built-in stats
- Built-in comment and feedback spam protection
- Social tools that publicize your posts and let your readers share your posts as well.
- Subscription tools that make it easy for your readers to keep up with you.
- A site that is mobile and iPad ready
- Free apps for mobile blogging.
- 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, learning resources and Support docs.
Many of the above free features can be extended even further with paid upgrades, such as Domain registration and Mapping, Premium Themes, Custom Design, Space upgrades, Videopress and more. Here’s a full list of the available upgrades
The only advertising allowed on WordPress.com is run by WordPress.com itself, at this time typically Google Ads, Skimlinks and Yield Manager. When you are logged in to WordPress.com, you will rarely see these ads. However, if you want to remove all ads from your site, you can buy the No Ads upgrade. Buying the No Ads upgrade does not permit you to run your own ads.
The fine print:
- In order to keep free services free, WordPress.com runs advertising on sites hosted with them.
- Plugins, additional themes and FTP access are not available.
- WordPress.com takes its Terms of Service very seriously and so should you. Sites with a Domain Mapping upgrade are still hosted at WordPress.com and bound by the same Terms of Service.
- New features in core WordPress (the standalone program) are typically rolled out to WordPress.com first for testing.
The fine print shouldn’t put you off at all! Hundreds of thousands of WordPress.com bloggers publish new content every day and a very few have their posts featured on “Freshly Pressed“, WordPress.com’s hand-curated showcase. If you are a foodie blogger or write about environmental issues, you might also see your content featured on FoodPress or EcoPressed, WordPress.com’s collaborative e-zines. Also, every post to which you’ve added a category or tag is fed into WordPress.com’s Global Tag Listings to help people find your content.
So 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.