I'm comming up on two years of having a wordpress site, and so I think it's past due that I give a shoutout to wordpress for being an awesome blogging / website building tool. I've had over 25,000 views to my site, and I've loved using wordpress! Wordpress is my favorite blogging tool out of the there (I've also used livejournal and blogger in the past), and is also a great website building tool tool. Besides this site, I've helped build a couple non-blog websites using Wordpress including my church and a friend's counseling website.
Before I get started talking about wordpress, there is one confusing nominclature I need to identify: The diffrence between wordpress.com and wordpress. WordPress is a free to use, opensource, blogging and website building tool (WordPress.org). WordPress.com is a commercial site built on the WordPress framework that lets users host their sites on wordpress.com. WordPress.com is great for any beginner, it's not hard to learn and offers a lot of customization options and pre-made themes: So it's easy to get a great looking site up and running in no-time. Wordpress.com offers free hosting (e.g., mikesoltys.wordpress.com) or makes it super simple to buy and map to your own domain (e.g., www.MikeSoltys.com). A disadvantage of wordpress.com is they do limit the custimization you can do and they reserve the right to put ads on your blog. You can pay fee's for additional control over your blog, and to remove ads, but it starts to add up. If you start on wordpress.com, it's not that hard to switch over to your own hosting later on if you decide.
For more advanced users (or if you're building a non-blog website), you may choose to host your own WordPress blog. To host your own wordpress site, you'll need your own server, and a domain name (Which you can usually buy through your host). This will cost you some money (maybe $50 a year for hosting and a domain), but allow you to take full control of every aspect of your site: including editing the css and scripts on your pages, and choosing if and where you want ads. If you decide to go this route, I'd highly recommend installing the Akismet plugin to help you avoid spam. There are lots of blogs about setting up a wordpress blog on your own server, so I won't go into that too much here, other than to say it's not hard, but also not for the faint-at heart.
I switched my website from wordpress.com to my own server after about a year, and i've really enjoyed the benefit of hosting my own webpage. I've tried offsetting some of the cost of hosting my own webpage by selectively placing ads in the blog using the ad injection plugin and google's Adsense program. It's important to remember that blogging is for fun: Don't try to make money by blogging. Plenty of blogs will tell you that you can get rich from blogging, and I highly doubt that unless you're getting thousands of views a day or have ads all over the place on your site. I do break even by having ads, and even make enough to buy myself a beer once in a while, but I'd continue blogging even if I didn't make any money at all.