Why does everyone say that you have to be on WordPress if you’re blogging? Is it true?
These were the questions I asked myself over and over when I started my freelance copywriting business. (In case you don’t know, I started out as a copywriter and morphed into a web designer).
Naturally, I wanted all the reported SEO benefits that WordPress gives you (copywriters just know how important SEO is), but I didn’t want to train in tech skills or hire a developer.
I finally went with [many] other website builders before moving to WordPress.
At the beginning, I didn’t have the time or inclination to learn more skills because I was overwhelmed and underpaid. But looking back, I wish that I had started on WordPress sooner.
Why? For the blog.
Yes, you CAN blog on Squarespace and I recommend it to new business owners who want an all-in-one platform that they don’t have to mess with. (I still LOVE creating gorgeous websites on Squarespace, too.)
BUT… if you’re serious about growing your creative business from the beginning and blogging is going to be a big part of your strategy — or, if you want to be a professional “blogger”, I sincerely recommend starting off with WordPress (or Showit, which uses a WordPress blog).
In summary, here’s where WordPress makes your life easier and why I recommend that if you’re serious about blogging for business growth, you should go with a WordPress blog:
- It’s easier to add and format content in WordPress
- WordPress is much better for affiliate marketing
- You can extend your blog’s functionality indefinitely
- Faster page load time and possibly better SEO
- You own your own content and can move it if you like
If you’ve been seriously considering starting a new blog, or if you’re already blogging on Squarespace and wondering whether it’s really worth it to switch over to WordPress, then this post is for you.
What’s it like to blog on Squarespace?
If we compare Squarespace to WordPress, we could think of Squarespace a bit like a self-driving, electric car, while we might call WordPress the custom build — it’s classic and will take your further, but it requires a lot of gas and a bit more TLC.
Not into Cars? (Sorry, I have a 10-year-old so I’ve learned a little too much about them.)
But I hope you get the picture: Squarespace is an easy, clean machine that just requires you to climb in, paste in your text, pop in a few blocks for photos, and update your settings panel before you hit publish. Super easy, super OK for those who just want to modify a few things, hit publish and be done!
I blogged on Squarespace for years and really appreciated how easy it was to just put content out there while I got on with my other business.
But little by little I started getting frustrated with things that I couldn’t control.
I had to use a separate plugin for a sidebar (not a big deal). I couldn’t include hidden pin images to extend my Pinterest reach (OK, so I could, but it required code). My photos often showed up with names like “AD8SDB34J&%NDB38” in searches. And I had to go through a manual several-step process to insert no-follow affiliate links into my posts.
It probably ended up taking me an extra half-hour or hour at least to publish a post.
I finally threw in the sleek-and-minimal-designer towel and — though I’ve tried before and failed on WordPress — I took a firm resolve that I was going to do better for my blog.
Now, after a few months of blogging with WordPress, I can write this post to let you in on some of the ways that WordPress makes your life better as a blogger.
How WordPress makes Bloggers’ lives easier
1. It’s easier to add and format content in WordPress
The WordPress blogging editor is a lot more like a text editor than is Squarespace’s. If you’ve ever struggled with accidentally hitting the backspace button or clicking somewhere else on-page and having the annoying “Would you like to save your work” popup appear, you’ll understand this.
The classic WordPress post editor is just a blank page where you can type or paste your text, with a few buttons to push to add in content like videos and links. After all, a blog post is a pretty simple format.
But you will have more buttons for more options depending on your plugins. For example, I can just click a button to insert a Smart video from my video CDN plugin Swarmify.
I feel like I had to click around a hundred times on Squarespace just to get to a post, let alone edit it. OK, so it was only 3 simple steps (Pages > Blog > Edit Post) but it somehow took a long time. In 7.1, you can edit posts in the full page view by default, which is great, but it’s still not as easy as in WordPress.
The new WordPress Gutenberg editor uses a block style editor. I’m still trying to get used to this, but it overall does the same things as before, just with a different interface. I just feel like I have more control over this blank canvas and I’m happy that the editor won’t glitch on my pages. Here’s a quick view below of what the post editor panel looks like and you’ll see options to adjust SEO, set your featured image, schedule your post, and more.
2. It’s easier to insert affiliate links in WordPress
If affiliate marketing is part of your sales strategy (which it should be if you’re blogging!), then you’ll really love how easy it is to insert and keep track of affiliate links in WordPress.
In Squarespace, my workflow looked something like this:
- Find affiliate link from publisher or create on affiliate dashboard
- Make link no-follow in 3rd party program
- Record link in blogging and affiliate tracking spreadsheets
- Break up paragraphs so I can insert link into blog post via a markdown box (and oh yeah, there’s no SEO juice for markdown text)
- Repeat for every link in a post
Here’s what my affiliate workflow looks like in WordPress:
- Find affiliate link from publisher or create one on my affiliate dashboard
- Add to my link shortener plugin (SEO goodness included)
- Insert into post with a button-click-and-select
Granted, I could also include this new link on my blogging spreadsheet, but there are other plugins that help me keep track of affiliate links and related posts… so, not needed. And that’s why people say WordPress is better for affiliate marketing.
3. You can extend your WordPress blog with plugins… anything is possible!
Plugins are like little apps that give your site new functionality or a new look. I was always afraid of plugins because you have to update them constantly (true), and sometimes they can break (also true) or break your site (this has also happened to me). So it’s important to do your research and invest in minimal plugins that do their job well.
I’ve already mentioned a few plugins that I use so far, including a link shortener and video CDN (so no more Youtube related videos). I currently have over 20 plugins installed and while this may seem like a lot, they help me do things like making regular backups (which you can’t do on Squarespace), scheduling my blog to auto-post and push new posts to social media, checking my SEO settings, alerting me of any broken links, and pushing a little preview of another post to read.
Sometimes I wish I didn’t have to mess with plugins. Squarespace was a lot simpler. But it also couldn’t do some of these routine things that make a blogger’s life easier.
Now, you can create some of these effects with code in Squarespace, but that’s another investment of time or money that you might not want to undertake.
4. Faster page-load time and better SEO
One problem that I constantly had with Squarespace was slow page load time. You can still get slow page load speed with a WordPress site, but blogging on WordPress gives you more flexibility and control over your site speed than Squarespace.
For example, you can disable certain plugins, optimize your images with other plugins, or install a new theme.
Squarespace comes with a lot of “code bloat” which I don’t fully understand, but developers (and Google’s page speed index) seem to think that this is abad thing. Having too much “render-blocking code” makes your site load slower. And since you only have 2 – 3 seconds to make a great first impression, if your page doesn’t load in that time, your visitors might disappear.
Or worse yet, you could get slapped with a “badge of shame”, Google’s attempt at warning visitors when a page takes a long time to load
Google page speed badge image
Squarespace sites can be especially slow if you use a lot of CSS. But not always. I’ve seen some very minimal Squarespace sites do very well. It’s just that you don’t have a lot of control over this barring how much you put on-page.
Showit sites, on the other hand, which work with a WordPress blog, tend to do really well on the page speed test, in part because you can design a totally separate mobile and desktop experience.
You can check your own website with Google’s free Pagespeed Insights tool to see where you can improve your website performance.
5. You can move your content if you like it
I had never understood the debate about “owning your own content” until I wanted to move from Squarespace to WordPress.
If you think of it in terms of housing, Squarespace is more like renting while WordPress is more like owning.
If you’re on Squarespace, they host your site for you and you can’t move content from one 7.1 site to another (at least yet). So you’re kind of stuck with what you have unless you want to create another site.
You CAN export blog posts and products, but I was really disappointed with the whole product export system. I had to do it manually, one by one myself when switching to WordPress. For some reason their auto-generated spreadsheet would not work with WooCommerce.
So you can see Squarespace’ rationale for wanting to keep people on their platform, but for you as an entrepreneur with a living and growing business, you need your options.
With WordPress, you can pick up and move your site to another hosting provider or switch themes all together. So if your rent is too high, you can switch to cheaper hosting. If it’s not fast enough and you’re growing big, you switch to better or more expensive hosting.
If you don’t like the features on your site, you can switch themes or add in plugins to create a dramatic shift. And if your site is too slow, you can optimize it.
The best part is that if your blog posts are already in WordPress, you won’t lose any of your work when you change things up like this. And since you can back up your site, you’ll always have a copy of your blog and business pages that you can restore.
Yes, it’s a lot more work, but overall these benefits outweigh the drawbacks for me. But just to be fair and give you a more complete picture, keep reading for the main drawbacks of blogging on WordPress.
What are the drawbacks of blogging on WordPress instead of Squarespace?
Now, there are a few reasons why you shouldn’t start blogging on WordPress. Here are some of the drawbacks to consider:
1. The initial investment could be a lot more
Most people cite the upfront costs of WordPress as one of the main reasons for choosing another setup.
But let’s be clear: It IS possible to start blogging on WordPress for under $100. You can purchase inexpensive hosting, start with a free theme (and a free theme builder), set up your site using free plugins, and just start blogging. All of this could cost you less than $100 and just your time instead.
But IRL, few are totally satisfied going the simplest route and you’ll probably want to invest in a paid theme and/or several plugins upfront.
I use Siteground for hosting, which costs anywhere between about $4 to $34 per month. I recommend Siteground hosting to everyone because they have the best and most polite support chat I’ve ever spoken with.
I also use WPAstra with Elementor Pro and that is only about $50 per year for a single site, but then I found several plugins that I wanted to make my life easier including WP Scheduled Posts (blog scheduler) and a pro-security plugin that also cleans up malware for you. Again, these were options that you might not need because there are many great free plugins.
But all told, that’s a few hundred dollars you might not want to invest upfront.
Now, let’s compare that to the cost of a Squarespace site. You can get started with a Squarespace site for under $20 per month, or under $200 annually. You get a blog, shop, galleries, forms, and much more functionality + hosting and security so you don’t ever have to waste time on the back end. All told, it’s cheaper to build on Squarespace, but of course, you have the drawbacks we mentioned earlier in this article.
2. With WordPress, you have to think about ongoing security and updates
One of the common objections to using WordPress is the extra time and cost involved in maintaining your site. You will need a security plugin (I use Sucuri because why also clean up malware), backup plugins, and other plugins to enhance the features of your site. You’ll also need to regularly update WordPress.
All of these can cause vulnerabilities, but if you’re logging into your WordPress site frequently, you should be able to update your plugins, no problem, with a simple click. Many hosting providers, like Siteground which I use, update you to the latest version of WordPress automatically. So there is a trade-off but for a serious blogger, these aren’t big things.
But contrast that with Squarespace, who hosts your website, updates your software, and takes care of security for you… and you can see why some people would prefer to set it and forget it. I loved the freedom of NOT updating and maintaining my site, but the benefits far outweigh the extra costs and work.
3. Things don’t always work the way you’d expect them to
To make sure that things work well, it’s best to use a well-documented theme that gets updated frequently. If you’re blogging straight on WordPress as opposed to Showit, you will want to find something that’s actively in development, has great reviews and integrates with many popular plugins. ( I use Astra with Elementor Pro currently to give me drag-and-drop abilities, but it’s still not as intuitive as Showit.)
But even then… sometimes your plugins won’t play nicely together. Even if they’re all popular plugins. For example, I recently tried a social sharing plugin that I had been hearing about for so long, but the plugin update broke my site and I had to hire a developer to remove the bad code.
Yes, these things can still happen on Squarespace if you use code *irresponsibly* (i.e., try to copy-paste CSS all over the place), but overall, there’s a lot less chance of things going awry.
However, the trade-off here is that once things DO work, you will be able to have full control over how your site looks and you can extend it with unlimited functionality.
So which platform should you blog on?
No matter what type of business that you run, a blog is going to be one of your most valuable tools for gaining clients’ trust, building relationships, and showing your knowledge in your area of expertise, your zone of genius.
If you know your niche and do the work on learning how to blog well — or, if blogging is a side part of your business and you make most of your income through services or products — then Squarespace might be a fine choice for you. As we said in the intro, there are many brands who still use Squarespace to blog, even though their main business is consultations, one-on-one work, or courses.
But, if you’re serious about making your blog your main income source or if you need features that just aren’t available in Squarespace, it might be time to move off of Squarespace and onto WordPress. Whether you go self-hosted through WordPress.org or you stick with an easy, beautiful front-end builder like Showit and just use WordPress for your blog, the sooner you switch over, the easier it will be for you to grow your audience and monetize your content.
And as always, what you get out of any website platform is what you put into it. So no matter where you are blogging, take time to learn the basics, improve your writing, and make partnerships with others that can help you grow.
PLUSES OF SS
- Ease of Use
- Lower Cost
- Limited functionality compared to WordPress, even with plugins
- Fewer integrations with newer apps
- Limited designs/functionality of ecommerce and blog especially
PLUSES OF WP
- Great ability to extend site’s functionality
- Unlimited selection of themes
- Owning your content + ability to migrate it whenever you want
- Lots of integrations with other apps
- Huge selection of plugins
- Higher setup fees to “do it right”
- Really technical backend
- Technical and a headache to set up
- Security concerns
In summary, here are my top 5 reasons to blog on WordPress instead of Squarespace:
Are you blogging on Squarespace or WordPress? What’s your biggest challenge and your biggest achievement? We’d love to hear in the comments!