If you’re considering starting a website, most likely you will seek advice from people who already have gone through the process. I stick to offering help to users on Twitter, but Twitter isn’t the only source, dozens of forums and websites exist to help people with their WordPress journey.
Most people will recommend going self-hosted vs going with WordPress.com. I am one who would also recommend a self-hosted website. One main reason is the customization you can do is very limited on WordPress.com also the price is a lot more compared to standard hosting.
The Main Advantage
The main advantage I see by going with WordPress.com is that your site is visible in the WordPress reader. The WordPress Reader is a place where you can search and follow blogs that you are interested in. It is easy exposure for new blogs to gain followers.
When you have a self-hosted site you do not get this visibility and it is up to you to build your own following. Depending on your focus it may be easy or hard to do.
People can still follow your blog (if you have JetPack installed) even if your self-hosted but you won’t show up in the search results. The best way to fix this is to be active on other people’s blogs. Commenting on topics that are related to your blog will help people follow you. That is how I bring in new followers to my blog, now don’t go spamming other people’s blogs. Offer good information that is complementary to the post you are reading.