Freelancers & Solopreneurs: Squarespace or WordPress?
Blog / Article
As a freelancer and solopreneur, you fill every role in your business and that includes website design and development. There are a slew of options when it comes to creating your website: WordPress, Squarespace, Wix, Weebly, GoDaddy, even Canva is getting into the game. You’re not an expert in web development, how can you narrow down all the options to find the best fit for you?
First, we’re going to toss out some of the lesser options for your website creation (Wix, Weebly, GoDaddy, and Canva). I call these options our not-so-happy places because they lack some of the integral characteristics and functionalities that you will want. So we’ll stick to two options for your custom web design, Squarespace and WordPress.
You may be thinking, WordPress?? Amanda, I’m not a coder! It’s okay, you don’t need to be (unless you plan to get fancy), because WordPress development functionalities offer some fantastic templates that operate very similarly to Squarespace, which is well known for its super user-friendly interface.
Let’s transition to how Squarespace and WordPress will provide the custom website design functionality and development support you need to promote your business. When I work with freelancers and solopreneurs to design their sites, they often want these 5 things:
- The ability to change their site with limited website experience or knowledge
- A unique look that is designed for their brand
- Functionality to help promote and run their business
- Someone to run to when things go wonky
- Pricing that fits their wallet
We’ll take a look at these 5 must-haves and a few decision impacting questions that might not be at the forefront of your mind but can make a big difference to which option is your best fit:
- I’m not the best at technology, how much upkeep will it need?
- Will my website be able to grow with me and my business?
- How complex or simple do I want my website be?
- Can I take my stuff and switch providers when I want?
- Can I talk to people in their native language?
What I Want: #1: The ability to change their site with limited website development experience or knowledge
Freelancers and solopreneurs like yourself don’t have the time or, let’s be real, the interest in learning how to code just to be able to update and change their website. That’s what is nice about both of these options, you don’t need in-depth website development knowledge to keep your site up to date with new content or to make changes. Squarespace has a super user-friendly interface that allows you to be your own freelance website developer and add content in an easy drag and drop fashion. Need to change things? No problem simply click on the element to make your adjustments. WordPress has this ability too. The recent integration of the Gutenburg page builder to WordPress development functionalities gives you a drag and drop interface very similar to that of Squarespace. You may also decide to choose a theme that offers a visual editor like Enfold or a plug-in like Beaver Builder.
Don’t want to make your website alone? We got your back.
What I Want: #2: A unique look that is designed for their brand
Both Squarespace and WordPress development tools will allow you to customize a theme to suit your visual identity. However, Squarespace’s number of theme options, around 100, pales in comparison to WordPress’s thousands. Squarespace allows for quick customization, but you are fairly limited to the restrictions of the theme. Whereas WordPress’s format allows you to customize your site fully with much more functionality than what is offered with Squarespace.
What I Want: #3: Functionality to help promote and run my business
Your website is selling your business 24/7 and you need it to pull in clients and customers. Both options give you the ability to have forms on your site. Squarespace has its form function built-in and you can collect a wide variety of lead generation data that can be sent to you via email or stored in a Google sheet. The downside to their forms is that you can’t create one form and add it to multiple pages, you have to craft a new form for each individual page. WordPress, on the other hand, offers fantastic form options through several different plugins like WPForms or Gravity forms. These plugins offer greater functionality like confirmation emails, file uploads, conditional logic, etc. that you can’t get with the basic Squarespace form.
Squarespace and WordPress also offer other highly sought after functionality like appointment scheduling and eCommerce website features. Squarespace’s appointment blocks or Acuity scheduler make for nice easy to use features. WordPress depends on plugins for this functionality, but you can easily add a plugin like Booking Calendar or Start Booking. In terms of eCommerce website development, Squarespace has a great out of the box solution which allows you to begin adding product pages and items quickly and easily but keep in mind that they keep 3% commission on your sales. WordPress’s best option for eCommerce is Woocomerce it allows more control over your store and has no commission fees.
What I Want: #4: Someone to run to when things go wonky
Squarespace has a great help section to go to when you have a question and they offer help through live chat and email. WordPress being an open-source platform doesn’t have a big team on staff to answer all your questions, there is, however, WordPress Support, or the support forum provided by your theme. You could also reach out to your friendly creative partner A. Calvin Design and we’d be happy to help you out of a sticky situation.
What I Want: #5: Pricing that fits my wallet
When it comes to the cost of website development, your basic Squarespace business site will run you $26 per month or $312 annually. WordPress is a free open source platform, but you still need to keep in mind the operating costs of a theme, hosting, domain, security, and any plugins you want to add. The upfront costs of launching your site may be more on the WordPress side, but after it’s been launched you can save money in the long run. You can expect to pay anywhere from $200-$300 for 3 years of hosting and security support. So, if you were to keep your site live for 10 years you’ll have paid $2,160 to Squarespace or about $600-$900 for the upkeep of a WordPress site.
That covers all of our must-haves, now let’s talk about these questions that could impact your decision on which option you choose.
I’m not the best at technology, how much upkeep will it need?
If you want to be hands-off and not worry about updating the software or plugins, Squarespace is your best bet. Their team worries about all the background technology so you don’t have to. Whereas WordPress development platform needs a little bit of love every now and again to keep it going. You’ll need to initiate updates to the platform and plugins and it doesn’t hurt to back it up at least once a month just in case something goes sideways.
Will my website be able to grow with me and my business?
If your plan is to become a larger business that offers more services with more content and more functionality, then WordPress is your best option. It is incredibly customizable not just in terms of visuals but also in design functionality. You are able to bring in any of the millions of plugins to do practically anything you could possibly want.
How complex or simple do I want my website to be?
Here’s the short answer: if you want it simple either platform will do but if you want your website to be complex, WordPress will suit you better. Both platforms support small informational websites, that’s easy. But once you start getting into large websites with lots of content and functionality you are out of Squarespace’s depth. Squarespace only allows for two levels of navigation, meaning you have your navigation and one level of drop-down, that’s it, and for a lot of Freelancers and Solopreneurs that’s enough, but if you’re planning to grow or offer a bunch of content WordPress will work best.
Winner for simplicity: Squarespace & WordPress
Winner for complexity: WordPress
Can I take my stuff and switch providers when I want?
If you’d like to have the flexibility to abandon ship and start a new site elsewhere, ya know just in case it doesn’t work out, WordPress is your platform. There are tools that allow you to pull every single piece of content and download it directly to your computer. Squarespace has a much more limited export option that lets you download certain portions of your content like your pages and galleries, but many pieces are not going with you like all your pictures and your products. When developing your website, it is best to keep a file of images in the event you switch website providers in the future.
Can I talk to people in their native language?
While you can make your site multilingual in Squarespace, it can be quite work-intensive and depending on how you do it, it could damage your SEO. WordPress, as you have probably guessed, has a plugin for that, the WordPress Multilingual plugin. It’s easy to use, SEO friendly, and gives you the ability to add your translations or use automatic translation. We highly recommend using a qualified linguist for your website translation, you can find a great candidate on the American Translators Association directory or if you’d prefer a personal recommendation we’d be happy to connect you with someone we know!
Squarespace or WordPress?
As a freelancer or solopreneur both website development platforms could work for your business, the choice comes down to your preferences, goals, and functionality requirements. If you’d like more information on whether Squarespace or WordPress would work best for your business feel free to reach out and we’ll be happy to help.