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My girlfriend has set up a blog/website for herself on wordpress.com but also has a domain name she'd like to use when giving out her website URL, instead of a wordpress.com subdomain.

Wordpress has some info about that here:

http://en.support.wordpress.com/domain-mapping/map-existing-domain/

I'm interesting in knowing more about the pros and cons of handing over a domain to Wordpress like this. Has anyone done it?

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When you say "handing over a domain" to Wordpress - I wouldn't really be concerned about it. You aren't really handing over ownership of the domain, you are just changing the name servers for that domain. You can always change them to something else later if you decide to move your blog to another host, but want to keep the domain name.

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