Jetpack Plugin – 40+ Useful Website Tools In One WordPress Plugin

Learn about the Jetpack plugin for WordPress and how its 40+ suite of powerful tools can help you run a professional website or blog …

Jetpack Plugin - 40+ Useful Website Tools In One WordPress PluginOne of the things that makes WordPress the world’s leading platform for building and running websites is its flexibility and scalability through the use of themes and plugins.

And one of the plugins that can boost the power of your WordPress website or blog and enhance it in so many ways is Jetpack.

Jetpack Plugin – 40+ Useful Website Tools In One WordPress Plugin

In this tutorial, you will learn about the Jetpack plugin for WordPress and how its 40+ suite of powerful tools can help you run a professional website or blog.

What Is Jetpack?

Jetpack is a WordPress plugin owned by Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com.

WordPress.com, the hosted WordPress service, offers loads of useful features to users that are lacking in the self-hosted version from WordPress.org. The self-hosted version of WordPress, however, is the preferred option for serious website owners and bloggers, as it puts them in complete control of their digital presence.

To learn more about the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org, see this tutorial:

The Jetpack plugin brings many of the powerful security, traffic, and customization services and handy features available on WordPress.com to self-hosted WordPress sites into a well supported and integrated solution.

The plugin is constantly being updated. It currently provides more than 40 features, and most of these are free. We will cover many of these features and tools in more detail later in this tutorial.

Important – Before Installing Jetpack

Before installing the Jetpack plugin, you will need to set up an account with WordPress.com.  If you run a self-hosted WordPress website or blog, you can set up a free WordPress.com account here.

After setting up your WordPress.com account, stay logged in and complete the step-by-step tutorial below to install and configure the jetpack plugin.

Jetpack

Jetpack by WordPress.com

(Jetpack by WordPress.com)

For this tutorial, we’ll install the free version of the Jetpack plugin, which you can do from your WordPress dashboard. We’ll discuss some of the premium features as we go through the setup process.

Installing The Jetpack Plugin

To install the Jetpack plugin, log into your WordPress site and select Plugins > Add Plugins from your main dashboard menu (if you need help see our tutorial on installing WordPress plugins).

Normally Jetpack will display on the main screen. If not, just search for “jetpack” in the Keyword search field.

Click on the ‘Install Now’ button to install the plugin …

Install the Jetpack plugin

(Install the Jetpack plugin)

After installing the plugin, click on ‘Activate’ …

Activate the Jetpack plugin

(Activate the Jetpack plugin)

After installing and activating the plugin, you will be asked to connect Jetpack to your WordPress.com account. You should have already set this up. If not, you will be asked to set up an account before you can proceed.

Click on ‘Set up Jetpack’ …

Connect Jetpack to WordPress.com

(Connect Jetpack to WordPress.com)

You will be asked to agree to sharing details between your WordPress.com account and your WordPress site. Click ‘Approve’ to continue with your plugin setup …

Complete your plugin setup

(Complete your plugin setup)

Jetpack will then automatically authorize your connection and complete the plugin setup …

Wait for the plugin to complete the setup

(Wait for the plugin to complete the setup)

After the plugin completes the setup process, go ahead and choose the ‘Free’ plan for now by clicking on the ‘Start with free’ button …

Start with the 'Free' plan

(Start with the ‘Free’ plan)

This will bring you back to your WordPress admin dashboard …

Jetpack is now installed and ready to go!

(Jetpack is now installed and ready to go!)

The Jetpack plugin is now installed and ready to go.

Useful Tip

After installation, Jetpack recommends that you activate a number of features. We recommend ignoring this recommendation and only turning on the features you need.

Jetpack – Full List Of Features

According to the plugin’s documentation, here is the full list of features Jetpack makes available to users in its toolkit:

  • Ads: Earn income by displaying ads on your site. (Premium feature)
  • Beautiful Math: Lets you write complex mathematical equations, formulas, and more.
  • Carousel: Transforms a standard WordPress image gallery into a full-screen photo browsing experience.
  • Comments: Replaces your default comment form with a new comment system that has integrated social media login options.
  • Comment Likes: Allows readers to like other comments to show their agreement, approval, or appreciation.
  • Contact Form: Lets you add a contact form to any post or page without giving out your personal email address.
  • Custom CSS: Lets you customize the appearance of your theme without creating a child theme or worrying about updates overwriting your customizations.
  • Custom Content Types: Adds custom post types like testimonials or portfolio items to your site.
  • Enhanced Distribution: Allows your content to be included in the WordPress.comfirehose” of public blog content.
  • Extra Sidebar Widgets: Adds extra widgets you can add to your site, including RSS Links, Twitter Timelines, and Facebook Like Boxes.
  • Gravatar Hovercards: Make your Gravatar profile visible to your site visitors.
  • Google Analytics: Track your WordPress site statistics using Google Analytics(Premium feature)
  • Infinite Scroll: Pulls the next posts automatically into view when readers approach the bottom of your page.
  • JSON API: Authorizes applications and services to securely connect to your site and allows them to use your content or offer you new functionality.
  • Lazy Images: Makes your pages load faster by only loading visible images, waiting to load images that are offscreen as users scroll down.
  • Likes: Allows readers to show their appreciation for your posts with a single click.
  • Markdown: Allows you to compose posts and comments with links, lists, and other styles using regular characters and punctuation marks. Markdown is used by writers and bloggers who want a quick and easy way to write rich text without having to take their hands off the keyboard.
  • Mobile Theme: Jetpack’s Mobile Theme offers a way to make your site mobile-friendly if your current theme is not responsive or hasn’t been updated in a while.
  • Monitor: Alerts you via email if your site goes down.
  • Notifications: Allows you to receive notifications for new comments and Likes in your admin bar and on your mobile device.
  • Image CDN (formerly Photon): Provides faster delivery of your images via WordPress’ own content delivery network (CDN), resulting in less load on your host and faster images for your readers.
  • Plugin Updates: Allows you to choose which plugins on your site should update automatically.
  • Post by Email: Publishes posts to your WordPress site via email using any email client.
  • Proofreading: Checks your spelling, grammar, and written style prior to publishing.
  • Protect: Protects your site from traditional and distributed brute force attacks.
  • Publicize: Shares new posts on social media networks automatically, or schedule future shares with custom messages.
  • Related Posts: Shows contextual posts your visitors might be interested in reading after they’re done reading a current post.
  • Security Scanning: Provides a suite of Anti-virus, malware, and threat detection for your WordPress site with automated resolution. (Premium feature)
  • Search: Replaces your WordPress site’s built-in search feature with advanced search functionality. (Premium feature)
  • SEO Tools: Optimizes your site for search engines using a suite of SEO tools. (Premium feature)
  • Sharing: Adds sharing buttons to your posts so readers can easily share your content  on social networks, via email, etc..
  • Shortcode Embeds: Lets you easily embed content from a range of external services into your own content, e.g. videos from YouTube, tweets from Twitter, and other media across the web.
  • Single Sign On: Uses your WordPress.com credentials to register for and sign into self-hosted WordPress sites quickly and securely.
  • Site Backups: Automatically backs up your entire WordPress site, including all your content, data, media, and WordPress settings. (Premium feature)
  • Site Stats: Lets you view site visits by date, as well as your most popular pages and posts, and more.
  • Site Verification: Lets you verify your site for use with Google, Bing, and Pinterest and their tools.
  • Sitemaps: Generates a sitemap with a list of pages to be indexed by search engines like Google or Bing.
  • Spam Filtering: Automatically filters out spam from comments, pingbacks, and contact form submissions. (Premium feature)
  • Subscriptions: Allows visitors to receive notifications of your latest posts or comments.
  • Tiled Galleries: Displays your image galleries in three different styles: a rectangular mosaic, a square mosaic, and a circular grid.
  • VideoPress: Provides unlimited video hosting on WordPress.com for fast video uploads. (Premium feature)
  • WP.me Shortlinks: Lets you generate short and simple links to your content using the wp.me domain.
  • Widget Visibility: Allows you to configure widgets to appear only on certain pages (or be hidden on certain pages).
  • WordPress.com Toolbar: Replaces the default admin bar and offers quick links to the Reader, all your sites, your WordPress.com profile, and notifications.

Information

Some of above features are activated by default when the plugin is installed and others must be turned on (see next section).

Also, Jetpack is continually being updated and improved. Refer to the full list of features on the official Jetpack documentation for module updates and new features.

Configuring The Jetpack Plugin

After installing Jetpack, the next step is to configure the plugin.

The plugin adds a new ‘Jetpack’ section to the main WordPress dashboard menu. To configure the plugin settings, click on Jetpack > Settings

Jetpack - Settings menu

(Jetpack – Settings menu)

The modules in the Jetpack Settings screen are grouped into different tabbed sections. These include:

  • Writing module
  • Sharing module
  • Discussion module
  • Traffic module
  • Security module

Jetpack Settings screen

(Jetpack Settings screen)

Let’s go through each of these sections and cover its main modules and features.

Jetpack – Writing Module

The Writing module contains tools and features designed to make the writing process easier.

Jetpack - Writing Module

(Jetpack – Writing Module)

Some of the main tools and features in the Writing module include …

Proofreading

Proofreading tools let you check your spelling, style, and grammar …

Jetpack - Proofreading

(Jetpack – Proofreading)

Custom Content Types

You can use custom content types to add testimonials and showcase your work through portfolios …

Jetpack - Custom content types

(Jetpack – Custom content types)

Note: Turning on features like Testimonials, will add a new section to the main menu …

Jetpack - Testimonials

(Jetpack – Testimonials)

Post by email

Turning on this feature lets you publish posts to WordPress by email …

Jetpack - Post by email

(Jetpack – Post by email)

Jetpack – Sharing Module

The Sharing module contains tools and features designed to help you integrate your WordPress site with social media networks …

Jetpack - Sharing Module

(Jetpack – Sharing Module)

Some of the main tools and features in the Sharing module include …

Publicize Connections

Publicize connections automatically shares your posts to social networks …

Jetpack - Publicize connections

(Jetpack – Publicize connections)

This is one of the tools we recommend using to automate traffic with WordPress …

Jetpack - Publicize Your Posts

(Jetpack – Publicize Your Posts)

Sharing buttons

You can add sharing buttons to your posts …

Jetpack - Sharing buttons

(Jetpack – Sharing buttons)

This feature allows your site users to share your posts with others via social networks, emails … even print your content …

Jetpack - Sharing Buttons settings

(Jetpack – Sharing Buttons settings)

Jetpack – Discussion Module

The Discussion module contains tools and features designed to improve user engagement on your site …

Jetpack - Discussion Module

(Jetpack – Discussion Module)

Some of the main tools and features in the Discussion module include …

Comments

With this feature enabled, the default WordPress commenting form is enhanced with social login integration, allowing your site visitors to use their social media accounts to leave comments …

Jetpack - Comments

(Jetpack – Comments)

Additional features in this section include enabling Gravatar Hovercards, Markdown, and comment likes.

Subscriptions

Enable this feature to allow users to subscribe to your posts and comments and receive notifications via email …

(Jetpack – Subscriptions)

Information

Turning on the Subscriptions feature adds an additional ‘Follower Settings’ section to the Reading Settings section where you can customize the emails sent out to subscribers …

Reading Settings - Follower Settings

(Reading Settings – Follower Settings)

Jetpack – Traffic Module

The Traffic module contains tools and features designed to improve user engagement on your site …

Jetpack - Traffic Module

(Jetpack – Traffic Module)

Some of the main tools and features in the Traffic module include …

Site stats

Site stats provide valuable traffic stats and insights directly in your WordPress dashboard …

(Jetpack – Site Stats)

To view your traffic stats, click on Jetpack > Site Stats

Jetpack - Site Stats menu

(Jetpack – Site Stats menu)

This brings up the ‘Site Stats’ screen with information on your site’s traffic activity …

(Site Stats screen)

Useful Tip

You can view enhanced stats in your WordPress.com account by clicking on the ‘Show Me’ button in your Site Stats screen …

WordPress.com enhanced stats

(WordPress.com enhanced stats)

Related posts

Enable the Related posts feature to show related content to users after they have read your current post …

Jetpack Related posts

(Jetpack Related posts)

Useful Tip

Enabling this feature adds a ‘Related posts’ section to your Reading Settings screen, allowing you to configure the feature’s settings …

http://wprev.s3.amazonaws.com/img/wpt/0120/WPT-0120-058.jpg

(Reading Settings – Related posts)

You can also configure the feature’s settings in the WordPress Theme Customizer

Customize Related Posts in the WordPress Theme Customizer

(Customize Related Posts in the WordPress Theme Customizer)

Search engine optimization

Jetpack offers access to Search engine optimization tools as a premium upgrade

(Jetpack Search engine optimization)

Note: A free alternative to Jetpack’s SEO feature is to use the Yoast SEO plugin.

Google Analytics

Jetpack also offers integration with Google Analytics as a premium upgrade

Jetpack Google Analytics

(Jetpack Google Analytics)

Note: There are alternative free plugins you can use to integrate Google Analytics with WordPress.

Sitemaps

Enable Sitemaps to generate XML sitemaps you can use to notify search engines (and Google News) about your site’s content …

Jetpack Sitemaps

(Jetpack Sitemaps)

Note: You can also generate XML sitemaps using the Yoast SEO plugin.

Site verification

Site verification informs search engines that you are the owner of your website …

Jetpack Site verification

(Jetpack Site verification)

Note: You can also verify site ownership using the Yoast SEO plugin.

Jetpack – Security Module

The Security module contains tools and features designed to improve your site’s security …

Jetpack - Security Module

(Jetpack – Security Module)

Some of the main tools and features in the Security module include …

Backups and security scanning

Backups and security scanning is a premium feature that protects you site against data loss, malware, and malicious attacks.

Jetpack Backups and security scanning

(Jetpack Backups and security scanning)

Note: There are alternative plugins and services you can use to protect your WordPress site.

Brute force attack protection

Brute force attack protection blocks suspicious activities on your site. Leave this enabled to help prevent brute-force attacks on your site …

Jetpack Brute force attack protection

(Jetpack Brute force attack protection)

Note: There are alternative plugins and services you can use to protect your WordPress site from brute-force attacks.

WordPress.com log in

Enabling WordPress.com log in allows users  to log into your site using their WordPress.com account.  This feature also provides additional authentication options …

Jetpack WordPress.com log in

(Jetpack WordPress.com log in)

With the feature enabled, users are presented with the option of logging into your site using their WordPress.com account or their username and password.

WordPress.com log in

(WordPress Login screen with WordPress.com log in feature enabled)

As well as the options displayed in the Jetpack Settings screen, the plugin automatically turns on additional features, which can be viewed from the Jetpack Dashboard.

Using The Jetpack Dashboard

To switch to the Jetpack Dashboard, click on the ‘Dashboard’ button at the top of the Jetpack Settings screen …

Click on the Dashboard button

(Click on the Dashboard button)

You can also access the Jetpack Dashboard screen by selecting Jetpack > Dashboard from the main WordPress menu …

Jetpack - Dashboard menu

(Jetpack – Dashboard menu)

This brings you to the ‘Jetpack Dashboard’ screen …

Jetpack Dashboard screen

(Jetpack Dashboard screen)

Here you can view your stats, security activity, and, depending on which plugin features you have enabled, other details about your site’s performance, users, etc. …

Jetpack Dashboard Security activity

(Jetpack Dashboard Security activity)

As well as default site protection, some of the other features worth knowing about in the Jetpack security dashboard, include:

Downtime Monitoring

Activate the free Downtime Monitoring feature to receive automated email notifications if your website goes down …

Jetpack Downtime Monitoring

(Jetpack Downtime Monitoring)

Jetpack Monitor is a useful feature to have enabled, as it will not only send you an email alert (or mobile notification) if it detects that your site is down (indicating that your server is not loading your site and may be experiencing issues) …

Jetpack Monitor sends you an alert if your site goes down!

(Jetpack Monitor sends you an alert if your site goes down!)

Jetpack Monitor also notifies you when your site is back up and lets you know how long it was down for …

Jetpack Monitor alerts you when your site is back up!

(Jetpack Monitor alerts you when your site is back up!)

Jetpack checks your site every five minutes from different locations around the world and sends your notifications by email and/or via mobile. You can also customize the email address where notifications are sent to.

Plugin Autoupdates

Jetpack has a plugin autoupdate feature, which automatically updates plugins when a new version is released …

Jetpack plugin autoupdates

(Jetpack plugin autoupdates)

You can enable this feature for the plugins you choose, allowing you to manage installed plugin autoupdates individually …

Manage installed plugin autoupdates individually

(Manage installed plugin autoupdates individually)

Jetpack Shortlinks

Jetpack Shortlinks is another useful feature that is automatically enabled when you activate the Jetpack plugin. This allows you to use shortened links for your posts using the wp.me domain …

Jetpack Shortlinks

(Jetpack Shortlinks)

To learn more about all the tools and features of Jetpack, see the plugin’s  full list of features.

Jetpack – Additional Info

Interface Seamlessly With WordPress.com

With Jetpack installed on your site, you can seamlessly navigate between your WordPress.com dashboard and your self-hosted WordPress dashboard …

WordPress.com dashboard

(WordPress.com dashboard)

This allows you to manage not only your Jetpack plugin features, but all of your WordPress site’s options as well …

Manage your site from your WordPress.com dashboard

(Manage your site from your WordPress.com dashboard)

To return to your self-hosted site’s admin dashboard, scroll down to the botton of your WordPress.com dashboard’s menu and click on ‘WP Admin’ …

Click WP Admin to return to your site's dashboard

(Click WP Admin to return to your site’s dashboard)

View All Modules In One Page

Because Jetpack has grown to include so many tools and features over the years, the dashboard interface has been simplified with different modules grouped into separate tabs and the plugin activates its most useful modules by default upon installation, so these don’t appear in the primary settings interface …

Jetpack Settings screen

(Jetpack Settings screen)

To view all Jetpack modules on one page, enter the URL below into your web browser (replace “[your-site-URL]” with your actual domain) …

View all Jetpack modules on one page
Click image to enlarge.

This brings up all modules in one page and lets you know which are active or inactive …

Control all Jetpack modules from one page

(Control all Jetpack modules from one page)

Jetpack Widgets

Installing Jetpack adds many new widgets to your widgets area …

Jetpack Widgets

(Jetpack Widgets)

Useful Tip

Jetpack also adds a useful ‘Visibility’ function to all WordPress widgets …

Jetpack adds 'Visibility' to all widgets

(Jetpack adds ‘Visibility’ to all widgets)

This function lets you specify whether to display or hide widgets from your sidebar based on conditions you set for a particular category, author, user. role, tag, date, or page …

Set conditions to show or hide widgets

(Set conditions to show or hide widgets)

To learn more about using WordPress widgets, go here:

Jetpack Support

The plugin is well documented and supported. To learn more about any of the plugin’s modules or features, visit the official Jetpack plugin website …

Access all plugin documentation on the official Jetpack website

(Access all plugin documentation on the official Jetpack website)

The plugin also comes with free basic support. Upgrading to one of the premium options gives users faster resolution to support questions …

Search the plugin website for additional plugin information

(Search the plugin website for additional plugin information)

WordPress Automation Tools

Jetpack’s tools can help automate many processes on your website. These include marketing tools, content sharing, site backups, one-click ads, and more.

To learn more, see this article on their website:

Upgrading To Jetpack Premium

You can do most things you will need using the free version of the Jetpack plugin. If, however, you feel you need any of the additional premium features (e.g. security, backups, etc.), then Jetpack offers users a range of affordable upgrade plans

View Jetpack's premium upgrade plans

(View Jetpack’s premium upgrade plans)

As you can see, the Jetpack plugin offers WordPress users a powerful toolkit for  running a professional website or blog. We recommend installing the plugin and only turning on the features you need.

We hope you have found this tutorial useful.

For more information, visit the free plugin page on WordPress.org, or check out the official Jetpack website.

Jetpack Plugin - 40+ Useful Website Tools In One WordPress Plugin

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Where To Install WordPress

Learn the difference between the WordPress self-hosted and hosted options and where to install WordPress on your domain.

Decide Where To Install WordPressThis tutorial is part of our WordPress installation step-by-step tutorials, where we show you how to install a WordPress site or blog on your own domain name with no coding skills required.

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If you have already planned your websiteregistered your domain name, set up your webhosting, and configured your nameservers, the next step is to decide where to install WordPress.

Where To Install WordPress

This tutorial will help you make the right strategic decision for your new WordPress installation.

Self-Hosted vs Hosted WordPress Site

WordPress offers both a self-hosted and a hosted option to set up a WordPress site or blog.

Self-Hosted WordPress

The self-hosted option allows you to download the full-featured WordPress application for free from WordPress.org and host a WordPress site or blog under your own domain name, with no limitations or conditions.

With the self-hosted version of WordPress:

  • Your website is hosted on your own domain
  • You can install and upload any WordPress plugin you want (free or paid), integrate your site with third-party applications, etc.
  • You can use any theme you like (free or paid)
  • You can fully modify your site
  • You can sell advertising on your site
  • You can set up an e-commerce store, membership site, forum group, etc.
  • You have complete freedom to use and modify your sites.
  • You handle your own site maintenance and security.

Important Info

To learn more about why the self-hosted version of WordPress is 100% free, see these tutorials:

Hosted WordPress

WordPress will host your blog for free at WordPress.com. There are, however, limitations on what you can and can’t do if you choose to host your blog for free with WordPress.com.

With the free hosted version of WordPress:

  • WordPress.com hosts your website.
  • You get a custom WordPress.com address (e.g. yourusername.wordpress.com).
  • You cannot upload plugins of your choice.
  • You cannot upload or modify themes of your choice.
  • Hosting is free up to a limit (3GB).
  • Ads display on your site.
  • You cannot sell advertising on your site (including Google AdSense).
  • WordPress handles your site’s maintenance and security.
  • WordPress.com offers paid upgrades to access advanced features.

Below is a comparison of both WordPress options …

WordPress.org vs WordPress.com

(WordPress.org vs WordPress.com)

If you plan to build a professional business presence online using WordPress, we recommend choosing the self-hosted option. The benefits of choosing the self-hosted option (WordPress.org) outweigh those of hosting a free blog at WordPress.com. You have full control over your web presence with no limitations.

You can overcome the limitations of the free hosting option (WordPress.com) by upgrading to a paid hosted plan, but then why not just start with a WordPress site hosted on your domain name?

Self-Hosted vs Hosted WordPress – What’s Your Digital Business Strategy?

Ultimately, the choice of hosting your site on WordPress.com or using the seof-hosted option (WordPress.org) really depends on your digital business strategy.

You can host your site on WordPress.com but there are limitations to what you can do. WordPress.org gives you complete control of your website without limitations.

The difference between choosing the hosted vs self-hosted WordPress has been described as the difference between having the freedom of owning your own computer (WordPress.org – self-hosted option) and the limitations of using a computer in a controlled environment like a public library (WordPress.com – hosted option).

If all you need is a simple online presence to let people know who you are and what you do, then you may want to consider starting with WordPress.com. You can easily publish content and WordPress itself will look after the maintenance, updates, security, backups, etc. It’s kind of like setting up a business page on Facebook.

If you plan to add features to your site like set up bookings and appointments online, run lead generation campaigns and opt-in forms, etc., then you should consider self-hosted version of WordPress. You will have complete control of your digital processes and no limits to what you can do, but you will be responsible for your site’s maintenance, updates, security, backups, etc.

Useful tip

With WordPress, you can always move to the self-hosted version later (WordPress.org) and easily transfer all your data.

Even if you decide to use the self-hosted WordPress option, we still recommend setting up an account at WordPress.com. As you will see in other tutorials, having a WordPress.com account allows you to integrate additional functions that will help improve your traffic, optimize your site, and analyze your results.

WordPress Installation: Root Folder Or Subfolder?

If you’ve chosen the self-hosted option, the next step is to decide where you will install WordPress on your domain.

Use the chart below to help you decide …

Where do you plan install WordPress?

(Where do you plan install WordPress?)

Notes:

a) To use WordPress as your main website (e.g. www.mydomainname.com), install it in the “root” folder of your domain (i.e. the main directory). This is where people will arrive at when they type your domain name into their web browser.

b) If you already have a website installed on your domain that you want to keep, you can either keep your existing site with a new WordPress installation, or install WordPress in a subfolder of your domain (also called a ‘subdirectory’), e.g. www.mydomainname.com/blog. You can name your subfolder anything you like.

Note: Typically most WordPress sites are installed either in the domain’s root directory or inside a subdirectory of the domain. If, however, for some reason you have been advised to install WordPress in a subdomain (a subdomain looks like this: http://subdomain.domain.com) and want to know more about the difference between using a subdomain vs a subfolder, then see this tutorial: Subdomains, addon domains, and parked domains

c) If you have an existing website that you don’t want to delete or replace with a WordPress site, then your other option is to set up your WordPress site or blog on a separate domain, so that both your existing website and your WordPress site/blog show up when people enter their respective domains into their browser, e.g.:

  • www.mydomainname.com – sends visitors to your existing website.
  • www.myotherdomain.com – sends visitors to your WordPress site.

Once you have decided where to install WordPress, the next step is to create a Google Account.

Congratulations! Now you know how to set up webhosting for your WordPress website or blog.

Decide Where To Install WordPress

(Source: Shutterstock)

Click the button below to continue …

Set Up A Google Account

I Already Have A Google Account

Back To WordPress Installation Tutorials Index

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Why Is WordPress Free? Uncovering Hidden Catches

This article examines some of the key licensing issues governing the free use of WordPress and whether or not there are any hidden catches with using WordPress.

Why Is WordPress Free? Uncovering Hidden Catches

Why Is WordPress Free?

In this article, we look at some of the key licensing issues governing the Free use of WordPress and examine whether or not there really are any “hidden” catches.

WordPress – Is There A Hidden Catch?

As we’ve mentioned in other articles, WordPress is 100% free to download and use. WordPress is a free and open source software, licensed under the GNU General Public License agreement …

GNU General Public License

You can install WordPress on your own domain and do whatever you like with the WordPress code. You can extend or modify WordPress however you choose and use it commercially without licensing fees or restrictions.

We also saw that WordPress is free not just in terms of price, but also in terms of the amount of control you have in using it. For example, you have the freedom to run the program, for any purpose, the freedom to study how the program works, and change it to make it do what you wish, the freedom to redistribute the application, and the freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others.

So … is there a “hidden” catch to using WordPress?

How can such a powerful software that is currently used to power millions of websites around the world—including thousands of commercial sites—be made so freely available with no hidden catches?

Let’s begin by asking the most obvious question:

Why Don’t The Creators Of WordPress Sell The Software?

As we have already explained, free open source software allows anyone to view the software’s source code and modify it. When the creators of WordPress decided to make their software available as open source software, a community of software developers began to gather around to find ways to improve it.

Because these modifications and improvements can then be freely distributed to others (who can also, in turn, modify, improve and redistribute the software code to others), WordPress itself began to evolve as its own organism.

Basically, no company or individual actually owns WordPress. WordPress is an open source community project that attracts thousands of talented programmers, who then contribute to its development, report bugs, suggest new features and vote on what the next version’s priorities are.

So … if no one actually owns the software, how does anything get done?

Well, there is a core team of WordPress developers that lead the project development, but essentially anyone can get involved in the WordPress community and begin contributing to improving the software. In fact, active participation and contribution are encouraged by the WordPress community, as this leads to the development of a more secure, robust and feature-rich application that then benefits all users. There are WordPress events like “Word Camps” and local meets all around the world, as well forums, user groups and a whole range of other opportunities made available to WordPress users to meet and exchange ideas.

Contrary to most commercial business models, the philosophy behind the Open Source software movement is that software is not like other tangible products. Once created, software can be copied over and over again with very little cost involved.

A great example that illustrates the argument put forward by the Open Source software movement which is often quoted, is that of a car parts manufacturer. Each car part has a cost to manufacture and a factory that makes car parts needs to take this and other costs, plus a reasonable profit margin into account when calculating the viability of continuing the production of its car parts. Making copies of a software program, however, does not follow the same principles as making tangible products as we’ve just described.

If an entire community participates freely in developing the software, and there is no actual cost to reproduce the software, then why should the price of acquiring a copy of the software not reflect this?

Ok … but there are still some costs, right? I mean, who is paying for the servers and domain names used by the WordPress development team, and how can they afford this if everything is free?

Great question! How can the WordPress team afford to keep things going, and who is paying for the technical costs (e.g. hardware and webhosting).

Matt Mullenweg, the co-founder and of the main developers of WordPress, owns a company called Automattic, which provides a number of blogging services, including many “freemium” services, where the basic service is free but restricted, and paid or “premium” options are available to unlock these restrictions …

Automattic

One of these services is a free blog hosting service at WordPress.com (not to be confused with WordPress.org, which is where you can download the software to use on your own domain – this is called self-hosting).

WordPress.com is a restricted blog hosting service, where people pay to upgrade and unlock features if required. So, the core developers have the means to sustain the costs, by providing related products and services to their community of users.

As you will see below, this is exactly the approach many open source software companies adopt to make money.

How People Make Money With WordPress

Just because something is open source and free, doesn’t mean that it should be treated differently than proprietary technologies or commercial products. The key strategy behind making the software freely available is “branding”. By itself, branding doesn’t generate any money, but if done correctly, it can lead to greater visibility and a rapid growth and domination of market share. This attracts new users, which can then be converted into buyers of related products and services.

The profitable aspect of making money with any open source software, therefore, is by providing products or services built for and by people who use the same open source software.

WordPress has developed a satellite of product and service providers, all based on helping WordPress users get more benefit out of using the software. There are many successful and highly profitable businesses today that provide a range of excellent products and services catered exclusively to the WordPress market.

Some of these products and services include:

  • WordPress Web Development (e.g. WordPress site installation, web design and site management services)
  • WordPress Plugin Development
  • WordPress Theme Development
  • WordPress Web Hosting
  • WordPress Training
  • WordPress Consulting
  • WordPress Support

Many companies and individuals that started out by providing products and services in the above fields have gone on to make sustainable or even multimillion-dollar incomes, and WordPress is still growing considerably.

So … not only can you make money running a successful business built using WordPress, you can also make money running a business that helps other WordPress users. This is no different than other online revolutions, such as internet marketing, online business development, video game, music and app developments.

There are just a few other important points that need to be made regarding WordPress and the implications associated with using the software to develop commercial products and services around it.

WordPress And Copyright – Is WordPress Copyright Free?

To put it quite simply, no.

WordPress is not copyright free. WordPress is licensed under GPL (General Public License), which allows you to use, modify and redistribute the code, but you don’t have copyright to the entire code. You do have copyright over any contributions or modifications you make to the software, but GPL requires that any derivative work you release or distribute should be licensed under GPL as well.

The definition of a derivative work is as follows …

In copyright law, a derivative work is an expressive creation that includes major, copyright-protected elements of an original, previously created first work (the underlying work).

(source: Wikipedia)

This means that while you may have the copyright and the freedom to do anything you like with the code, any work that is a derivative also inherits the GPL license automatically, allowing others the freedom to use, modify, and redistribute your code however they like.

If you need to understand more about GPL and the philosophy behind open source software, see the GNU’s Philosophy.

WordPress And Trademarks

Although WordPress releases its software under GPL, the WordPress Foundation owns a number of registered trademarks, including the words WordPress and the WordPress Logo …

WordPress Logos

Important

Note: If you are thinking of starting a WordPress-related product or service, don’t use the word “WordPress” in your domain as this is against their trademark policy covering the use of domain names.

There are other restrictions associated with the use of WordPress trademarks. Read more about the WordPress Trademark Policy.

Hopefully, now you have a better understanding of why WordPress is free, and how its development can continue to thrive and remain sustainable as an open source software.

To learn what costs are involved in using a WordPress-powered site, go here:

For more benefits of using WordPress, read the article below:

For useful WordPress statistics, see the tutorial below:

References:

Most of the material used to create this article has been sourced from the official WordPress site at WordPress.org. For more details, see WordPress Philosophy.

WordPress.org Home Page

(WordPress image source: Evan Lorne / Shutterstock.com)

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