Every week I see someone ask what platform they should use "for blogging". And the most common answer the person receives is wrong.
That answer is WordPress.
I'm about to show you why beginners and bloggers shouldn't use WordPress.
And, these are things that would've helped me when I was starting out to avoid getting frustrated and wast time.
WordPress is polarizing. So, you will tend to love or hate it. I lean towards the second because I got burned.
Keep reading to discover to which side you'll lean towards.
Also, I know many people will hate and disagree with what I'm about to write, but this is my opinion, based on my experience.
Affiliate Disclaimer: Some links are affiliates. This means that if you buy after clicking on one of those, I get a commission at no additional cost for you.
Overall, I don't hate WordPress. But WP is a waste of resources if you use it for blogging.
What I hate is people giving bad advice for personal gains without considering alternatives and tricking beginners.
So, if you have to ask: "should I use WordPress". The answer is no.
This is a contrary take to most of what you can find online about WordPress. You have been warned.
Also, people won't tell you the downsides of WordPress because the monetary incentive to push WordPress is immense.
Context on WordPress
First, let me give a little context about WordPress.
Before WP, it wasn't easy for regular people to create, write and manage a blog. And you always had to code a lot for having a website.
So, WordPress was revolutionary when it came out. And it made creating a website so much easier.
Especially, the dashboard made managing the content and aspect of the website more accessible.
Plus, the strongest point of WordPress is that you can create almost everything on it. So it's like a blank canvas to start a website.
And also, plugins make WordPress more attractive by allowing people to achieve more with less coding.
So, it's natural that 42% of all websites in the world use WordPress. Making it by far the most popular CMS.
And companies of all sizes and sectors use it.
But when should you use WordPress or avoid it? That's what comes next.
Why you shouldn't use WordPress
I'll now address several reasons for considering alternatives to WordPress
Things have evolved
Did you read the part where I said WordPress made managing websites easier and required less coding? Well... Things have changed.
In the same way, WordPress made creating a website more accessible. Other tools made building a website effortlessly!
That's called progress.
WordPress will still be easier and faster than coding a website yourself.
But it's not efficient anymore.
Yes, WordPress can do all things, but it requires more time and knowledge.
So, by using other tools, you can achieve at least 90% of the results with a fraction of the work, knowledge, and money.
And speaking of money...
WordPress will cost more than you think
WordPress is open-source, and you don't have to pay to use it.
However, you need to pay to host it on a server to have the website online. And this easily costs more than $80 per year.
Plus, you have to consider that you'll use plugins to extend the functionality (or add things that should be there in the first place, depending on how you look at it).
And this includes plugins for SEO, website speed, and performance.
But the list can keep going for other plugins if you want more advanced stuff. I'm talking about pop-up/ opt-in plugins, contact forms, or memberships, just to name a few.
Also, you will almost certainly use a page builder (i.e., Elementor) or premium theme (i.e., GeneratePress or Astra). And that's another $50/60 per year right here.
Some quick math on this:
- Cheap shared hosting: $80/ year;
- Performance plugin: $50/ year;
- Theme/ Page builder: $50/ year;
That's $180 even if you don't use advanced stuff or an SEO plugin.
And people will push you to spend more on plugins than you really need. But that's a story for another day.
So, the argument that WordPress is free isn't a valid motive for using it.
The learning curve is huge
Do you want to see how daunting it is to start using WordPress? I'm going to give 2 examples.
Do a search on YouTube for "WordPress for beginners". This is what you might see:
Most videos are longer than 20 minutes, and there are a lot of videos longer than 1 or 2 hours.
And this is WordPress for beginners. When you go deeper on learning 1 theme or looking for specific stuff, the tendency is the same.
And let me tell you that even if you find a video named "How To Build A Website in 20 Minutes" that's a big fucking lie.
Sure, someone can make a website in 20 minutes using Elementor by using saved presets and page layouts. But a beginner won't.
A beginner will need hours to learn how to use a page builder. Even if that's 2 hours, that's 6 times more than a video like that states.
Next, you might look for "best theme for WordPress" on Google.
Do you know what you'll find? I'll tell you. Extensive freaking lists of themes that don't mean shit.
- 29 Best WordPress Multipurpose Themes
- 42 (Most Popular) Best WordPress Themes 2021
- Top 23 Most Popular WordPress Themes 2021
- 11 Fastest WordPress Themes Ranked
- 17 Best WordPress Themes 2021
What the hell!? How does this help a beginner?
Most of these articles are filled with affiliate links and give a brief summary of the theme. And they do it without even showing images of how it looks.
How will a beginner decide if they should pick GeneratePress, Astra, OceanWP, Avada, Neve, or Divi?
I know how the answer.
A beginner will watch videos on YouTube of these comparisons. Which will take countless hours!
And those articles and reviews tend to push the themes that pay the largest affiliate commissions without giving too much substance to the theme. Divi is an example of that.
The code of the Divi page builder isn't good. And it will make a dent in your website performance. I used Divi in the past, and the performance of the websites was awful.
If it sounds like I'm being too critical of WordPress? It is because I've been through this process, and it was a nightmare to create a blog. It was a mistake I would like to avoid.
You're free to make the same mistakes or learn from this story.
But what are the alternatives? Ghost or Blogstatic are my recommendations for bloggers.
You can read my Ghost review or watch the video. And here you have my blogstatic review and or video.
Avoid it if you don't want to code
At some point, you will need to add code to your WordPress website.
A typical example is redirecting your domain's HTTP (non-encrypted) version to the HTTPS (encrypted) version.
And the easier solution will be to read an article and grab the code. But pasting code to your website without understanding it is very, very dangerous.
This is why I say that you will have to be willing to learn some code. At the bare minimum, you have to have a deep look to understand what the code does.
And to learn that, you have to do research until you're sure that the code isn't malicious.
That's more time and complication with WordPress.
Another example of code you will probably need is CSS to style something on your website that looks bad.
So, if you don't want to touch code, avoid WordPress. But, sooner or later, you will have to do something with code in WordPress.
When you should use WordPress
There are also valid reasons to use WordPress. Some of them are:
- You want to learn some code/ start learning how to build websites;
- You want a lot of customization on your blog;
- You have money to throw at the problems in WordPress.
If you want to learn some code/ learn to build websites
If you're not a developer and want to start creating websites, WordPress is a good starting point for you.
I'm saying this because, with WordPress, you have the back end taken care of. So, you only need to focus on the aspect of the website (front end).
WordPress has a relatively easy dashboard to manage the content. Plus, it will be easier than doing everything in a text editor like Visual Studio Code.
If you want to customize the blog a lot
You can customize almost everything on WordPress.
To do it, you can use plugins or code it all yourself.
By using a page builder like Elementor, you make customizing the website a lot easier.
Creating content clusters is an example of a customization that is easier on WordPress than most competitors that I'm aware of.
Content clusters tend to produce good results for SEO because they include a lot of relevant content about one topic.
Other examples of customization include nested pages, and advanced post feeds.
If you have money to throw at the problems
Using WordPress when you're on a tight budget isn't recommended.
Because as I've told you before, having a WordPress website easily costs $200 per year for essential software.
Plus, it takes a lot of time to learn and do things on WordPress.
Well, most bloggers don't have that amount of time to spend on creating a site.
So, if money isn't a primary issue, WordPress can be a good fit for you because you don't have to deal with the frustrations of managing it.
To solve this, you can pay someone to create the website and manage it for you. Hopefully, this way, you'll end up with a better site than if you did it yourself.
Addressing counter-arguments defending WordPress
Some people will defend WordPress with everything they got. Like WP is the ultimate platform.
So, here I address some of those arguments.
"WordPress is superior because you can do almost everything with it"
That's the same thing as saying that a blank canvas is good because you can draw the Mona Lisa on it.
Not everyone has the skill or time to learn WordPress to enjoy all its features.
Also, learning to code isn't something that interests most bloggers.
"WordPress is free and cheap because you can self-host it"
Yes, WordPress is open-source, and you don't need to pay for it.
However, you need to pay for a server to host your WordPress website. And it will cost around $80 per year for shared hosting.
So, having a WordPress website won't be free unless you know how to turn it into a static website and host it somewhere for free.
And on top of that, you will end up paying for plugins. Be it for SEO, pop forms, memberships, or website optimization.
Also, a good theme for WordPress will cost around $60 per year.
So, we are quickly talking about north of $200 per year in this stuff.
Cost break down:
- Cheap shared hosting: $80/ year (they hide this cost with the initial discount phase);
- Theme: $60/ year;
- Speed optimization: $50/ per year;
- SEO plugin: $50/ per year;
- Total= $240/ year.
"But you don't need to pay for plugins"
Yes, you don't.
Instead, you can code stuff yourself or have a website that's messy in terms of performance and SEO.
"You can pay someone to create the website for you"
Again this is throwing money at the problem created by WordPress in the first place.
You don't have to throw $200, $500, or $1k to have someone create a blog for you with other alternatives.
Blogstatic is an example that's much cheaper.
"The community is huge and will help you with any problem you have"
True. But why sign up for WordPress problems in the first place?
For example, if I could go back, I wouldn't fight to make contact forms work on WordPress!
I'll just embed a form from a 3rd party company and use automation tools to email me when there is a new submission.
That's just one example where I spent more than 5 hours figuring out how to do something on WordPress.
Also, many people are monetizing the time and attention of WordPress users with the content they create.
"More than 40% of all websites use WordPress, so it must be good"
WordPress is a mature platform and more flexible than most competitors. And you can achieve a lot with it. But do you need all this complexity for a blog? My answer is no.
With other tools, you can do 90% of the job with 5% of the work.
And to go after that extra 10%, you can move your blog to WordPress after you're profitable and have money to throw at WordPress problems.
If you are happy and don't need all the things WordPress allows, don't use it at all.
"The code of website builders is bad and bloated"
Many people use WordPress with page builders like Elementor or Divi, and the performance is worse than a website builder.
Also, website builders are better than their reputation says. But it won't be better than a perfectly optimized static website, but neither is WordPress.
I had 2 painful experiences with WordPress when building personal blogs and won't recommend it to beginners or bloggers.
My biggest frustration isn't against the WordPress platform, but the WordPress community that profits from beginners without giving them proper context.
The recommendation flywheel and people profiting millions from new WordPress users is wrong.
WordPress isn't the be-all and best solution in the market by a long shot. But, if it was, there wouldn't be so many alternatives building on their inefficiencies.
So, my take is to use WordPress if you want to learn how to create websites, enjoy lots of customizations, and money isn't a problem.
For the rest of the blogger world, pick a better and less frustrating alternative.