I’ve mentioned before in my previous posts that my upcoming WordPress theme development tutorials only apply to self-hosted WordPress-powered sites. In other words, you would have to download and install the actual software on WordPress.org to your server (or to your local environment) before you can start getting your hands dirty on building your own custom themes. If you have signed up an account on their free-hosted service, WordPress.com, you are limited to choosing pre-made parent themes available in their repository, and from there, you can make your own customizations (design-wise) to suit your site’s brand and purpose. Of course, you would have to do thorough research on the themes’ features before you can actually add and activate them in your dashboard.

This fact still applies until recently last month. Automattic 1 announced recently on their blog that custom third-party themes and plugins are now applicable to WordPress.com users. That is if you are in their WordPress.com Business subscription program.

Why just the Business subscription program and not with the rest of the subscription plans? Well, if you’re asking me this question, this will be my answer: You are better off downloading and installing the software from WordPress.org so you can have full control of the front end and the back end of your entire site. Not all businesses would have their own tech and development team to maintain their company website, therefore businesses may have the option of installing and activating premium themes that were created to be easy for rebranding and customization. Remember the whole supply and demand and basic economics. Hiring someone as a business (especially if you’re a small business) to build and maintain your company website or blog can be very expensive. Why not just work on it by themselves without learning any basic web development? We can’t have easy and convenient things for free all the time, you know.

Plus, it’s a lot cheaper and conservative for a (small) business to pay a monthly subscription to use WordPress.com’s services. Not only that this would allow them to install third party custom themes and plugins not included in the WordPress.com default repository, but they can also white label 2 their site as well. And because they are a business, of course, they can afford the high subscription prices, right?

It’s also a good reason why the custom themes and plugins would only apply to the Business subscription model of WordPress.com. If you are a single user who only wants a blog or personal website and have little to no interest in coding at all, better just choose from over 300+ pre-made parent themes specifically designed for a WordPress.com blog. If you seriously want to have full control of your site from the branding and layout to everything else, as mentioned before, you’re better off purchasing your own domain and hosting and then install the WordPress software on your private server, then you can upload and modify (or create) your desired theme. Logo and everything too. You’d save a whole lot more money this way.

The reason why I made this as an omake article because I came across this blog post from one of my Facebook groups regarding the new feature of third-party themes and plugins. I had to update those who have WordPress.com sites for this piece of news. The majority of those who have sites on WordPress.com are individual bloggers. Some use WordPress.com platform for their upcoming portfolios or their business. The subscription model for these types of services just goes this way. You need more flexibility? You need to pay more. Otherwise, you can always go for the free option and then give your time to learn and build on your own.

I know this is not much of a tutorial, but more of a small piece of news to everyone considering to have their blog or a bigger site hosted under WordPress.com. I had to throw this in so that no one would have the impression that WordPress.com users have very limited capabilities to really make their site their own. If you seriously want the latter, once again, just better purchase a domain and hosting, then hire a developer or do it yourself by downloading and installing the software alone.

I have a WordPress.com account, but I don’t have any blogs/sites hosted under WordPress.com. The reason why I have a WordPress.com account so that I will be able to connect all of my WordPress-powered blogs from various servers and domains and have WordPress.com as my “one-stop dashboard” and make my own content updates on any or all of my blogs in one place. 3 I won’t be able to show you any screenshots of the sort because I don’t pay a subscription just to use WordPress.com services. However, it looks like the directions are very straightforward.

And there you have it, my little drabble about this newest feature for WordPress.com fans. The first part of my WordPress theming tutorial is coming soon!

On the sidenote…

  1. the folks who built WordPress and other good related stuff…
  2. removing the software/tool name and logo and anything related to it throughout the entire backend interface, replacing it with the name of person or business, from logo to custom colors and fonts.
  3. Yes, you can do this! Also, the WordPress.com account truly helps when you download the mobile version of WordPress…