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What are the important differences you need to know about WordPress.com vs WordPress.org before you start your blog or site?
They may look similar at a glance, but WordPress.com and WordPress.org are two totally different things. If you are planning to create a website using WordPress, it’s best to know the difference between the two so you can pick the right one for you. Here’s what you need to know about both platforms:
What is WordPress?
WordPress is a website engine or software you can use to create your websites or blogs. No matter what size or kind of website you want to build, you can use WordPress to construct it. This is why over 32% of websites use WordPress. Because of its flexibility, it’s the go-to when it comes to building awesome websites.
It’s a content management system that’s free to use and manage according to what you need for your site. It also has a lot of features, themes, and plugins.
What is the difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com?
When you use WordPress.org, you can download the free software, install it on your web server, and build your own site or blog. Some refer to this platform as a self-hosted WordPress. You will need to have a separate web hosting account to run your website.
Depending on the host, you can pick one-click installations to make it easier. How much you spend overall on your WordPress.org site really depends on your goals for your site or blog. You can build either a simple blog, an e-commerce site, portfolio website and or other kinds. It also depends on the features you want to put in your site and your budget.
WordPress.com is a commercial service in charge of hosting your site so you don’t need to do anything on your end. You will need to sign up for an account to start building your website. You can quickly have a website or blog in no time!
With WordPress.org, the software is totally free because of open-source development. Keep in mind you will need to pay either monthly or yearly fees for web hosting for your site/blog.
On average, you could spend around $46 – $100 per year to maintain your site, depending on the features you want and your goals. When you use WordPress.com, you can choose a basic, free plan or pay for premium upgrades to get more features.
Another difference is with WordPress.org, you may need to invest money up front, although it would be smaller overall in comparison to WordPress.com when you want to have more features and customization options. Keep that in mind when you choose the free plan for WordPress.com, as the options are few.
If you choose WordPress.org, you can have a website with a customized domain name for your URL, or simply “yourwebsite.com”. With WordPress.com and a free plan, you will have a subdomain wordpress.com.
This means your URL will look something like “yourwebsite.wordpress.com”. Although if you don’t want wordpress.com in your domain name, you can get a customized domain name when you select a paid plan.
WordPress.org allows you to upload your own plugins, customize backend code, and access files and database. You can also upload your own themes, for better website customization.
WordPress.com doesn’t allow you to upload plugins, has no file and database access, or no backend code. It gives you a selection of themes, free or premium, that you can use, but it doesn’t allow theme uploads.
With WordPress.org, you have all the options to monetize your blog and grow it as much as you want. You also don’t need to share your revenue with anyone. For WordPress.com users, you can monetize only for premium and business accounts, but it will be shared revenue.
Related: How To Make Money With A Blog
Pros of WordPress.org
You Have More Control of Your Site
You can pretty much do whatever you want with your website when using WordPress.org (as long as it’s legal of course). The site and the data are all owned by you. You don’t have to worry about your site getting shut down by someone else due to their terms.
You can upload plugins or apps to your website. This could either be free, paid, or custom. You can also do some modifications and add any WordPress theme that you want. Customized web designs are also a possibility when you use WordPress.org.
There are seriously so many beautiful WordPress themes that you can choose when you have a self-hosted site on WordPress.org. You can start with a free theme, but there are also paid themes if you want certain features.
My favorite places to buy themes are:
The software you will be using is completely free.
With your WordPress site, you can place ads on your website or blog and earn money off of it. All of the profits of this would then belong to you.
I don’t run ads on this site, but I do on my other blog. I recommend turning on ads once you hit 25k monthly sessions and can apply for Mediavine. Their payouts are much higher than you will earn on a platform like Adsense.
Create an Online Store
When you have a self-hosted WordPress site, you can have your own online shop that allows you to sell products. These can either be digital products or actual physical items. You can also choose your payment methods and also send your items directly from your website.
Create Membership Websites
Another way of earning money is through selling membership sites that offer premium content, courses, and other products. You will then be able to create your own online community.
Use Google Analytics
When you use Google Analytics for your website, you can do some analysis on your pages, links, optimize your SEO, and basically enhance your website. You will also be able to track stats.
Cons of WordPress.org
You Need Web Hosting
In order to store your website files and run your site, you will need to get a separate web hosting account. When you start, this costs around $10 a month (but you can get it for $4 per month with this coupon!) and will increase later on once traffic to your site increases.
Taking Care of Updates and Backups
You will need to be in charge of updating your WordPress website. You will also be responsible for backups, although you can install WordPress backup plugins to allow you to have automatic backups occur.
Pros of WordPress.com
Everything is Done for You
You don’t need to find a separate web host for your site since they also provide a hosting service. You will need to pick which plan works best for you. You also don’t need to think about updates, security, and backups since WordPress.com will also be in charge of those. All other technical issues will also be fixed by the WordPress.com team.
Easy to Use
If you are still a newbie and don’t know anything about website building, it may be easier to have WordPress.com take the reins and help guide you. Especially if you are just aiming for a small, personal project or blog, it may be more convenient and easier to use WordPress.com
Cons of WordPress.com
The pricing for WordPress.com can be a pro and a con. They have a completely free plan that has some limitations which I will discuss below.
However, to take advantage of many of the basic features you will want for a blog you would need to upgrade to their premium plan which is $99 per year. Starting a self-hosted WordPress.org blog is about $4 a month and will cost you less in the long run and gives you more control.
There are a number of plans you can choose from with WordPress.com:
Free Plan – features are limited.
Personal Plan – costs $36 per year
Premium Plan – $99 per year
Business Plan – $299 per year
VIP Plan – starts at $5,000 per month
If you are using a free plan, you will have to deal with their ads and banners on your site and your readers also seeing those ads. When you upgrade to a paid plan, you can have the option of not having those ads.
You are also not allowed to sell ads on your site. Although you can apply for an advertising program called WordAds that will allow you to share revenue. This is beneficial for you especially if you have a site with high traffic. If you chose the Business or Premium plans, WordAds is automatically available.
When it comes to plugins, you won’t be able to upload or install your own. If you have a free plan, there’s a preactivated one while business plan users can choose from available compatible plugins. Only the VIP plan will allow you to install plugins.
You are limited when choosing your themes and customization options are also restricted. You can use custom CSS if you have a business or premium plan.
You aren’t allowed to install Google Analytics or other programs so you are limited to their stats. You will not be able to properly track your site stats the way you want to. If you have a business plan though, you will be able to install Google Analytics.
WordPress.com can have the option of deleting your site or blog if they think you have violated their terms. You will also have “wordpress.com” on your URL name unless you would upgrade to a business plan.
Minimal Features and Storage
There are no e-commerce features or other payment methods/gateways. You also cannot create a membership site with WordPress.com.
A free plan would give you 3GB of hosting storage while a premium plan will give you 13 GB worth of storage. The business plan would allow an unlimited amount of storage.
When you compare WordPress.org and WordPress.com, you would need to consider what kind of online business you have and what goals you are trying to achieve.
If you want to have a personal blog and are not looking to gain profit from it, then WordPress.com is the better option for you. If you want to grow your blog or business and gain profit out of it, WordPress.org is recommended since it allows you to customize and gives you the flexibility and freedom to expand and improve your business.
The good thing about WordPress is that it’s open source even if you aren’t that great in building your website, you can still get help online from various resources and it will also help you to learn and grow your skills. If you prefer or have a budget, you can also just hire a professional to create and maintain your WordPress.org site.
If you started with WordPress.com, you don’t need to worry since you can always move to WordPress.org if you find that the features are too limiting for you.
How do I start a WordPress.org blog
The first thing you will need to do is have a domain name.
I like to buy my domains from Namecheap. They are less expensive than many other sites and provide more security and protection. A domain name will run around $10 a year. They do offer hosting as well, but I don’t recommend them for that.
This will be your website address and basically where your readers and audience will find you. If you have a certain name in mind, you need to check if that name is still available.
The next thing you would need to do is find a WordPress hosting service. My favorite host (and I’ve tried a lot) is called SiteGround. They have the best customer service out there, great uptimes and they are affordable too. Their beginner hosting plans start at around $3.95 per month when you use this coupon link.
I use SiteGround to host both of my websites and I currently am on their Go Geek package.
There are also automatic updates of the WordPress software. They are officially recommended by WordPress.org as a hosting service provider.
You can follow the full tutorial on how to set up your web hosting here.
Once you have set up your hosting, you can choose a theme, and start creating content for your site.
A lot of people compare these two platforms as WordPress.com being similar to renting a home, while WordPress.org is like owning your home. There are different pros and cons that come with each one but ultimately, it would depend on what goals you are trying to achieve for your site.
WordPress.org allows you the freedom and creativity to customize your own website or blog according to what you want and need. Although you would need to do more of the work yourself to host and manage your own server.
If you would rather have everything done for you, WordPress.com would suit you better. The only downside is if you want more customized features, you would need to pay more for it.
Which platform do you use? WordPress.com or WordPress.org?
Related Posts On WordPress:
- How To Launch Your Blog
- How To Set up WordPress Hosting
- Best WordPress Themes For Bloggers
- How To Add A Pinterest Widget To A WordPress Sidebar
- How To Migrate From Squarespace to WordPress
4 thoughts on “WordPress.com vs WordPress.org What is the difference?”
Thank you for this comprehensive explanation of the two sites. I was totally confused when I started my blog and had to endure the agony of switching to self-hosting after I was established. I wish I saw this post when I first started. Great stuff!
Oh gosh, I know it can totally be confusing to figure out the difference between wordpress.org and wordpress.com. For the longest time I just thought there was one! Hopefully, this can save the headache for someone else. I’m glad you were able to get everything moved over!
thank you mckinzie for detailed explanation on the difference. I want to start blogging and this was very helpful. Truly grateful!
So glad this was helpful for you. I know I was confused about the difference between wordpress.com and wordpress.org when I was starting!
Best of luck with your new blog!