When I started my first website, I opted to go with Squarespace.
My plan for it was just to have a business website where I could explain and display my services and offerings.
At the time I started my website, I wasn’t 100% sold on being a shaman, on even starting a business, or on moving down this path of my life.
It was kind of like a Plan B. My soul was like 30% on board with becoming a shaman and going in that direction, but at the time, I was still enrolled in a Ph.D. program, taking graduate classes, and teaching Experimental Psychology.
My website was the sneaky backdoor where I existed in my secret double life. So, I didn’t need much. It just needed to exist, and I hoped no one in my real life would find it.
Since that time, my website has grown exponentially.
It’s been a few years since I’ve fully transitioned away from academia, making the move into shamanism, and this website is now my full time, 200% business and life path.
What I need from it now has far and away outgrown the abilities, features, and functionality of my starter website host, Squarespace.
My website now hosts an active blog with advertisements, over 30 eGoods, digital products, and online courses, and a subscription program. All things that I’ve hacked around Squarespace’s functionality to be able to provide in the ways that I want my site to appear and perform.
These days, there’s quite a bit more information available when making decisions on starting a site, if you dig and do the research.
But if you’re like me, and not totally sure you even want to do this, you may not spend hours upon hours on the decision, especially when Squarespace is intuitively EASIER to set up.
And don’t get me wrong, Squarespace worked for me for quite some time, I’ve simply outgrown it and what it can do.
I’m now in the process of switching from Squarespace to Wordpress, and I wanted to take a moment to outline a few of the key reasons why I’ve made this decision. It did not come lightly. I have several hundred pages, backlinks I want to preserve, and an online store I need to switch over - a complete rebuild.
Why I’m Switching from Squarespace to WordPress
1. Blogging Functionality
When I first started, I did not intend for my website to be a blog. But now, the vast majority of content on my site is dedicated to the blog. Squarespace doesn’t have a great assortment of templates that are optimized for blogging, particularly ones that display images on the front page of the blog. I hacked this to create two blogs, one you see on the homepage, with images, and one where all the blogs are stored.
Self Hosted WordPress sites are THE platform for blogging. The industry standard. There is no competition here, WordPress (self-hosted) is the BEST for blogging. With WordPress, you have ultimate control over branding, placement, layout, and design. This may not matter when you’re just starting out, but trust me, it WILL matter as your brand grows.
This is probably where I realized the largest limitations of Squarespace - when I wanted to monetize my website. Squarespace’s easy build and drag and drop features are great for novice website builders, BUT, they work against you when you want to start implementing advertisements on your blog and website. The code is not accessible to developers and this makes it difficult for ad networks to put ad code in places that would do well on your site and would make you more money.
With WordPress, the coding is accessible, allowing you (and any future ad companies you use) to more seamlessly inject ads into your site with less hacking and workarounds. Since WordPress is the industry standard, more support and resources are available for WordPress users.
If you aren’t monetizing your site yet, there will likely come a time when you want to do this and will be faced with Squarespace’s lack of accommodation for advertisements and monetization options.
3. Shop Options
At the time of this writing, Squarespace’s eCommerce platform is severely limited. If you are selling a handful of physical goods with not many options, it can work. But you want to have easily navigable shop categories that are neatly displayed, you may be disappointed. There’s very little customization in the layout and how things are displayed, and if you have a vision for your shop, you may need to build your own store using a widget based or integrated platform (like Ecwid or SendOwl), and even then, features will be missing that are available on WordPress sites.
WordPress has several shopping cart plugins that fully integrate into your website without all the mess and clunkiness of the Squarespace platform.
4. Payment Options
This goes hand in hand with the previous gripe. I don’t use Squarespace Commerce, but I hear they are rolling out a beta test for accepting PayPal. For as long as I’ve been with them, they have only integrated with a single payment processor - Stripe. Which, may be fine for most people, but because I’m a shamanic practitioner and my services are considered psychic ones, it doesn’t.
Stripe bans the processing of psychic related payments and will shut you down if they find out you’re accepting payments for psychic related services.
There are a handful of payment processors that are OKAY with psychic services, PayPal being one of them. With Squarespace, if you offered psychic services, you couldn’t use their Commerce platform to offer them.
Because of this, I had to build my own shop and create my own, outside way of offering services on Squarespace.
With WordPress, their online shop plugin options accept a variety of payment options, including PayPal.
5. Online Course Management
This goes back to the vast number of plugins available on WordPress that allow you to do just about anything you can dream of or imagine. There is SO MUCH functionality and customization available on WordPress that is completely absent on Squarespace.
I have a number of online classes, courses, and program on my site now. With Squarespace, I hacked a shop together using SendOwl, but there was no secure way to house a login space or a portal for customers to view, watch, and take their online courses. Squarespace doesn’t have a membership site option built-in or plugin accessible, where WordPress does.
This may not be a concern if you’re just starting a business, but there will likely come a time in the future where you want to offer your wisdom as an online course and Squarespace doesn’t have any easy way to do this.
6. Limitations in Branding
Sigh. Squarespace failed me here. They recently did something that I cannot understand. They eliminated the industry standard use of color codes called HEX codes. These are 6 digit number/letter codes (ex. eba581) that ensured you’d get the same exact color in your designs across any software you wanted to use. If your color branding was set to one thing on Squarespace, or Canva, or Mailchimp, or wherever, you could copy and paste these HEX codes to ensure that your colors were the same everywhere. Squarespace quietly eliminated these codes with their own codes that look something like this rgba(12,157,106,1). What?!
Now, you can’t maintain consistent branding. You can’t copy these codes anywhere else to get a color match, and you can’t copy your HEX codes from elsewhere into Squarespace to get a backwards match.
For me, this was the final straw in annoyance with Squarespace. JUST as my business is becoming more branded, they eliminate a functionality that allows business owners to brand themselves.
WordPress still uses HEX codes and allows for even more branding functionality.
That’s the short list of reasons why I’m leaving Squarespace for WordPress. I recently bought hosting via HostGator and I’m working on transitioning my website and content over to an entirely new, self-hosted WordPress site.
If I could go back in time, I’d choose a self-hosted WordPress site from the start. The learning curve is greater in the beginning, however, WORTH IT in the long run when you avoid having to rebuild your site when your blog and business grow over the years.
This blog post explains how to install WordPress hosting when you switch with HostGator (and has a coupon code for hosting!). If you have a website now, it is recommended that you purchase a temporary domain and switch your current domain over when you’ve finished transferring content.
For more help with this, I've found the blog and website, WP + BFF by Shannon Mattern to be incredibly helpful and her free eCourse to be invaluable. Start with this blog post if you’re a current Squarespace user.
Last Updated: January 9, 2017