After you install Jetpack, you’ll see a message at the top of your WordPress dashboard telling you to “connect to WordPress.com.”
Wait, WordPress.com? Why would you use WordPress.com when you know you should avoid hosting a business site there?
Because many (though not all) of Jetpack’s features use the powerful servers at WordPress.com to do their work. And offloading server-intensive tasks to WordPress.com means your self-hosted site will load faster.
Here are just a few of the most useful Jetpack features that require a connection to WordPress.com:
- WordPress.com Stats shows you statistics about your website visitors (a nice alternative to, or addition to, Google Analytics).
- Subscriptions automatically emails new blog posts to subscribers, and gives you a sign-up widget for your sidebar.
- Monitor checks your site every 5 minutes and emails you if your site goes down.
- Publicize connects your blog with social media networks like Twitter and Facebook, so you can easily share your posts as they are published.
- There are many more features, of course.
If you don’t have a WordPress.com account, you can sign up for free. Here’s the tricky part: Because you already have a self-hosted WordPress site, you don’t need to “create a website” on WordPress.com, and “create a website” is the only thing you can do on the WordPress.com homepage.
There is such a thing as a WordPress.com account that gives you access to things like Jetpack features without having a WordPress.com website attached to it. But it’s fiendishly difficult to find that option.
Here’s a shortcut!
The URL is: https://signup.wordpress.com/signup/?user=1
There are just three fields on the signup page: Email address, username, and password. Supply a valid email address, and pick your own username and password, and you’re good to go.
Below, I’ve documented how to find that signup page from the WordPress.com home page, since they make it so hard.
1. On the home page, don’t click the “Create Website” button right in the middle. Instead, click the “Log In” button at the top right corner:
2. On the login page, don’t login. Instead, click the gray “Register” link below the login form:
3. On the registration page, ignore the registration fields and click the tiny blue link in the bottom right corner that reads “sign up for just a username.”
4. Finally, you’ve reached a form you don’t need to ignore! This is the signup form that can be reached directly with the URL https://signup.wordpress.com/signup/?user=1 .
When you enter your email address and username, the form will immediately tell you if either of them is already in use (if you signed up for a WordPress.com account in the distant past, here’s where you’ll find out about it). Enter a password, and the “Sign up” button will light up as your cue to proceed.
Now you have a WordPress.com account that you can use to connect to Jetpack.