A couple of weeks ago I switched my main photography website over to the WordPress.com platform from my hosted (with Heart Internet) WordPress.org platform*. They are now both together here on this very site. I’m still playing around with the portfolio itself and may yet switch to a more photography suitable theme but it is basically up and running.
Here’s why I made the change.
I now have a single platform to manage my portfolio and blog. For some time now I have been using a hosted WordPress.org site for my portfolio and WordPress.com for my blog. As I was using different themes this meant there was a different look and feel to each. It also meant I was uploading photographs to two different places (actually three as I also use Flickr for some images and link to those from both sites). In an attempt to achieve some consistency I had started to duplicate posts from WordPress.com onto my hosted site so my blog appeared there also. Inevitably they lagged behind my main site or I sometimes forgot to do it altogether and I soon realised this was not going to be a long term solution.
It’s cheaper. The Premium plan for WordPress.com is marginally cheaper than my host provider and had I decided to pay for the premium option on WorkdPress.com as well, which I was thinking of doing to get more customising options, I would have been paying almost twice as much.
I found I was updating my portfolio site less and less. Read any advice on getting readers to you website or blog and they all say you need to update it regularly. I found there were fewer and fewer reasons for me to be updating my portfolio. I would occasionally add a new image or two to one of the albums but all of the action, so to speak, was taking place in my blog so I had fewer and fewer reasons to even log into my portfolio site.
WordPress.com gives me the right level of flexibility. I could have switched my blog over to my WordPress.org self-hosted platform (which I had started to do anyway). The major disadvantage of that is that all my followers know about this platform and it would be difficult to switch them across I suspect. Although you may argue that WordPress.com gives you less flexibility (in terms of the number of themes available for example) the additional management support you get from the Automattic team more than offsets this. When I switched it took a while for the DNS updates to take effect and a question to the support team on this was answered, via their online chat, within a few minutes. Using just WorPress.com means I also get updates to the platform automatically without having to install them myself and checking all plugins etc still work.
I can use their mobile tools to update both my blog and portfolio. WordPress.com now provides a great app experience which means I can both blog and update my portfolio on the move more easily. This is a great thing to be able to do, especially as a travel photographer who does not always want to be lugging a laptop around.
So are there any downsides?
Apart from the argument that there is less flexibility the main disadvantage is one of storage. I now only have 13GB of storage whereas on my self-hosted site this was unlimited. However 13GB, at the resolution I save my images at, easily gives me enough storage for at least 50,000 images and given I also link to images on Flickr which gives me another 1TB of space I essentially have unlimited (in my lifetime at least) storage still**.
So far I’m happy with the switch. Like I say I’m still looking for the right theme and am considering looking at the premium themes aimed specifically at photographers but for now I’m glad I have everything in one place and am looking forward to many more years of blogging.
* In case you’re not too sure of the difference between these two versions of WordPress you can get a description here.
** There are of course other cloud storage platforms to consider as well such as Cloudup from the Automattic team.