Want to start a blog, and trying to decide if Squarespace or WordPress will be better for your needs? This post was inspired by a member’s question, and I promise it’s going to be very straight to the point and based on actual, real-life experience to help you decide.
I have personally built dozens of websites on WordPress and Squarespace, and they are both great for different purposes. You will need to make your choice based on personal preference. Let’s dive in to the differences and which is better for blogging.
Blogging on WordPress
First, it’s important to clarify that there are 2 types of WordPress websites –
WORDPRESS.ORG SELF-HOSTED – With the self-hosted version of WordPress, you install WordPress on your own hosting server you’ve purchased at a place like Siteground, Bluehost, etc. You can install anything you like and have access to full customization and functionality. This is the version of WP most people refer to when talking about “Wordpress” and this is the version we’ll be referring to in the remainder of this post.
WORDPRESS.COM HOSTED – With the WordPress.com hosted version of WordPress, you don’t have to handle any server management, but you are much more limited in your ability to customize and completely control your website. This is not the most popular form of WordPress. Think of it as more like the Squarespace version of WordPress, where they are hosting the site builder software for you, but because of that, it comes with limitations because they don’t give you full control.
With all of that being said, WordPress is by far the most popular and most highly-touted blogging platform. But is it right for you?
A self-hosted WordPress blog will allow you to:
- Install any WordPress plugins,
- Use any WordPress theme you want to use,
- Connect with the nearly endless public community of WP users for help,
- Hire contractors and experts who work with WordPress,
- Build out your website with custom CMS post types, like recipes or movies (If you don’t know what that means, you probably don’t need it),
- Build a super-fast website when done correctly,
- And host your website with any host you want.
But there are some downsides:
- WordPress has a major learning curve, and the editor and backend are somewhat dated and unintuitive.
- You’ll likely spend time selecting, installing, and configuring a theme and plugins before you begin.
- Endless customization and thousands of themes and plugins means more time spent researching and deciding which tech to integrate.
- WordPress sites are often targeted by hackers, and cleanup is often neither easy nor free.
- It can be easy to break the site if you don’t know what you’re doing.
- Hosting your own WordPress site means you are responsible for the code – even if it breaks (which it often does.)
- Outside of the community, getting real WordPress support often means paying an expert, since there is no official WordPress support team for the self-hosted version. Sometimes your host will help, but sometimes they won’t.
Costs of Blogging on WordPress
WordPress itself is free, because it’s an open-source platform. But you do have to pay for hosting wherever you decide to host it. You can start with my favorite host, Siteground, for just a few dollars per month.
Hidden costs of WordPress blogs
Keep in mind, there can be additional costs of perfecting your WordPress website as you grow. This can include purchasing premium themes and plugins, paying for help with web development when you get stuck, hiring an expert to fix your website if it gets hacked, or paying for security monitoring.
Blogging on Squarespace
Squarespace is a very straightforward, hosted website builder platform that includes native blogging capabilities. In this section, we’ll be exclusively discussing Squarespace 7.1. On SS 7.1, the entire platform is drag-and-drop, and it’s hard to mess up.
It allows you to build your main website pages, as well as create individual blog posts within a blog section of the site. This means it can fully support a fully fledged blog.
The benefits of blogging on Squarespace:
- It’s fully drag and drop, so you’re never limited by a theme and can customize every detail.
- You never have to fiddle with custom code unless you want to.
- It’s extremely hard to break your website.
- You never have to worry about hacking.
- You never have to worry about breaking your site or server management.
- Since Squarespace is a paid website platform service, there is a built-in support team. (And they’re pretty good, I might add.)
- There is a smaller learning curve, and you can get started more quickly. If you struggle with tech or you’re hesitant about starting, this can make it a better choice for you.
- No plugins are required to begin blogging.
The downsides of Squarespace:
- The platform is limited in comparison to WordPress.
- You don’t have access to any WordPress-specific plugins, of which there are many for bloggers.
- You can’t manage CMS templates. This means you can’t change the look or layout of every blog post by just changing a template design in your theme. Instead, you have to edit them manually one by one.
- You cannot create custom post types. Meaning you can’t create a separate CMS item in your website’s database for something like “Recipes” or “Movies”. For most sites this would be unnecessary, but if you know you want multiple post types on your website for different content formats that all follow the same template, and that can be managed via a database, then WordPress is probably a better choice for you.
- Generally, you don’t have control over your website’s speed, since you don’t control the technology, server, or coding. You can control some factors like your image sizes and other small items like font and animation choices, but these only go so far.
Costs of blogging on Squarespace:
You can set up your Squarespace blog on even the smallest plan. And in my opinion, that fee is a small price to pay for avoiding all of the headaches that come with WordPress, if you don’t want to deal with tech.
Hidden costs of Squarespace blogs
Squarespace works right out of the box and provides all design options, without any extra upgrades. You can still choose to start your site by purchasing a custom theme, if you’d like. But it’s not essential.
Other than that there are really no common surprise charges with Squarespace.
What’s better for your needs: Squarespace or WordPress?
You’ll need to consider your tech savviness, your financial budget, your time budget, and your must-have website features to decide if WP or SS will be better for starting your blog.
At the end of the day, the best blogging platform for you is whichever one you’ll consistently use because you enjoy using it.
Squarespace might be best for your blog if:
- You are just getting started and don’t want to be held back by tech, before deciding if this is something you want to be doing long-term.
- You’d like to launch your blog right now on a budget, and are okay with working to or paying someone to migrate it later if you decide you need some WordPress features.
- You are only going to have basic pages and basic posts, and don’t need other post-types that come with a specifically designed template for each post-type.
- You simply enjoy the Squarespace editor more than WordPress.
- You want a completely maintenance-free website and don’t want to deal with figuring out servers and hosting.
- You like having reliable, paid support built in to your website system.
WordPress might be best for your blog if:
- You know you’re going to need CPTs (custom post-types) in the future, because of the specific type of website you’re running.
- You want to manage your post database for any reason or do bulk uploads of any specific content types.
- There are any specific WordPress plugins or features that you must have.
- You consider yourself decently tech-savvy and are okay with learning the ropes of WordPress in order to have maximum website flexibility.
- You’re ok with spending some time troubleshooting every now and then, or paying someone to do so.
- You understand that WordPress absolutely requires maintenance.
- You want the benefits of being able to lean on advice and developments from other WordPress users.
- You want to start off on the most popular platform right away so you never have to deal with a migration.
I hope this post was helpful. If you need more one-on-one help, consider joining The Blogging Lab, where you can personally ask me questions in the community anytime you get stuck, and work alongside other bloggers and business owners working to grow their websites.
Please share this anywhere you feel it would be helpful, and leave a comment letting me know what you think!