Seems like it would be cheaper just to get the license and have it installed on a server. Even the lowest plan is $120/yr as opposed to $175 for the license. 18 months in and the license pays for itself. Although, not sure how hard it is to keep the software up and running. I assume on their cloud, they make sure of that. I know my hosting company will keep the servers up, but don't know if they can help with software (especially if it's not something they install).
I'm still a greenhorn when it comes to IP-board but I'm sure you can run it for a long time on your own server if you maintain the system and the database. You would need experience with databases to do that though and if you want to customise your forum, that would include CSS and PHP.
Also, $175 gets you the bare-bones version. I'm not sure what extra parts this forum has but once you start adding things like IP.Content and stuff, the price goes up. I don't know exactly what you mean by 18 months in and the license pays for itself, making a website self-sufficient isn't that easy.
Your hosting company might be willing to help you out if you run into problems but they'll probably charge by the hour for it unless they're (very) nice people and depending on what you ask of them.
I'm liking Wordpress. It's definitely not what I thought it was. Very user-friendly (so far) and lots of plugins. Still not exactly sure how to do what I want, but it looks like Wordpress is the best starting point. I just have to decide whether to buy what I need (looking at Genesis framework and Dynamik template seeing as I don't know how to code), or not. Am I willing to invest the time to do everything? Man, it's a tough call. Just so much to learn.
EDIT: On top of learning the software, then I also need to learn how to do graphics and that stuff to make things look prettier. And video editing, so my vids are worth watching. It would be like another full time job! Crazy.
Wordpress has evolved quite a bit and turned out pretty good. I'm not familiar with it myself but the things I wanted to get done here on the portal got done with minimal effort which is always a good sign for me
I don't know if you'll really need a framework for Wordpress once you get to grips with how it works. I do not know how much free time you have on your hands ofcourse but if you think you have enough, my advice would be to at least learn the basics of PHP and try to set up a simple Wordpress site to see what works and what doesn't. Even if you fail, you will still learn alot.
When I just started out at my current job I was as green as could be and I had to build our CRM (Client Relation Management or whatever) all by myself. I made huge mistakes as I built it, especially naming the columns in the database tables but looking back, I learned so much. There's still code in there that will make me cringe when I see it but whenever I have some time I update what I can.
I can look around this weekend to see if I can find some tutorials if you'd like me to. I just wouldn't pay money for something when you don't have a complete picture of what it is you're getting into.
As for HTML and CSS, those are a lot easier to learn as they're basically markup languages that tell your browser how something is supposed to look and where it's supposed to be (add some magic here and there). I'll also look up some good sites for that if you're interested.