If you’ve recently started blogging, or maybe you’ve been blogging for awhile, you might have had this question. How do I get help for my WordPress site? Where do I go? How do I fix it? Who is my web host? What is the difference with WordPress and WordPress.com? Good questions! I have those answers. Come learn about where to get help for a WordPress site in this post!
First of all, it’s really important to realize that there are two things that people refer to as WordPress. Part of my job every day is explaining the differences to misdirected support seekers.
- There’s WordPress, the free and open source software you can install on a web host. This is the thing that is WordPress, and what people refer to when they throw that name around. It’s available at WordPress.org.
- There’s WordPress.com, the host that offers a modified version of that software in a managed hosting environment. They do the installation and management for you, and you just create a site and don’t worry about the code.
So how do I get help for my WordPress site?
If you are hosted on WordPress.com, the answer to the question is simple. You use the contact form in your site dashboard. You’ll get help from community members if you have a free site and Happiness Engineers if you have a paid site. They have a guide on getting help here. Business plan members have access to support by email and live chat 24/7. Premium and Personal plans have access to support 24/5. Free sites can write in for help any time in the community forums where other community and staff members reply. Some community members called Experts give help by chat, and you might be connected to one of them (maybe me!) when you use the help form in your dashboard.
If you’re not using WordPress.com as your host, you are the one responsible for fixing your site when something breaks. For someone who just wants to have a blog or a shop, that can be scary! You and you alone are responsible for the code, and no one else can come to your rescue (except if you pay them).
Why is that?
WordPress software is put out by WordPress.org. The software is free (you did not pay for it, you paid for someone to host it for you) and open source. Contributors write code that comes together to make the software, and you can use it to build a website however you want it to be. Once they write the code, it’s regularly published into updates. The complete package of files is taken by you and installed on your web hosting space. You’re the only one with the keys to this house, so only you can edit those files once you bring them home.
What’s a web host?
When you have a website, there are some essential parts to making the site be on the web for people to see. You have the domain name, which is the address for your site. People type this in to a web browser to find your website. Then you have your web hosting company, the place where the files that power your site are stored. The internet is powered by bits of code in files. Some people write their website code by hand. WordPress volunteers write the code for you, to create a program where you can make posts that get stored in a database and spit out into a pretty design on the web. Installing those files to a web hosting company allows your web site to be online and connecting a domain name makes an easy way for people to get to see your content.
*Who is your hosting company? This is a good tool to check: https://www.whoishostingthis.com/*
I didn’t install anything?
You may not have downloaded the package and uploaded it to your host yourself. Many hosts these days have a simplified install process! They want to make it easy for you to get online, so they have a quick install feature to set up your files and database for you. This is good for when you’re new to making websites, because you don’t need to have a lot of technical knowledge beforehand. This is bad, because it removes you from the process of creating the site so the things you’d learn in installation (what is FTP, how to I edit or create a database) are not even considered. Having these tools already under your belt when you need help on fixing something that’s broken is why I suggest to install WordPress yourself and NOT via a script in your hosting control panel or when you sign up for a host.
Which is better, WordPress.org or WordPress.com?
This is totally subjective. What is better for you might not be better for someone else. Do you want to play with code and make your site just how you want it to be? WordPress.org is probably right for you. Do you want to just blog and leave the upkeep to someone else? WordPress.com is perfect for this.
Here’s a good explanation of the differences: https://wordpress.org/support/article/wordpress-vs-wordpress-com/
You can also see a comparison of the two here: https://en.support.wordpress.com/com-vs-org/
OK, so where do I get help then?
If your site is hosted at WordPress.com, go to https://wordpress.com/help and use the option to contact help there. Depending on your plan, you’ll get help from staff, help in the forums, or maybe help by chat from an Expert like me.
If you are not hosting the site on WordPress.com servers but instead using the open source software, there’s a great community support forum where you can post to have other WordPress users guide you on how to fix it. You can get to it at https://wordpress.org/support. Since WordPress sites are all standalone, you will need to register there to post in the forums as your site’s login doesn’t carry over. Be prepared to get comfortable with logging in to your hosting control panel to make edits, or even learning about FTP and text editors. It’s not hard, you just have to be willing to learn! Run a web search for the error message, and you can probably figure it out. You can also hire someone from a site like https://jetpack.pro to make changes for you.
I don’t have a blog yet, which WordPress should I use?
Weigh the cost you want to pay and the amount of support you think you’ll need. WordPress.com will offer support, set up your basic site files, provide a number of nice looking themes, and make it really easy to get online, but the cost might be higher. If you need to use plugins and upload a theme to make the site you want, you’ll need the Business Plan currently at $300 per year. The lower cost plans are a great value if you plan to blog and don’t need plugins, but want the added support they offer.
You might pay less for a self hosted WordPress.org blog or even find a host that allows you to pay monthly or quarterly instead of all at once, but you’ll need to DIY it. You won’t pay anything to use WordPress software on a host outside of WordPress.com, but you will pay for your domain name and hosting plan. There’s no limitation on adding plugins and themes to the open source software.
My favorite resources to start a blog:
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Hopefully this helps to explain the differences with WordPress and WordPress.com and points you in the right direction for help! Questions? Drop them in the comments!
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