Many of the new bloggers have confusion about the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. And we look at this in a very natural means. Though they are quite a different platform, they can create confusion in the mind of new bloggers. In fact, in time of starting this website, I was also fall confused because of the similarities in their names.
Hence I thought to write an article about WordPress.com vs WordPress.org, their similarities, differences, and how to choose the right platform.
This article describes the ultimate and most complete comparison between free self-hosted WordPress.org and WordPress.com. And our goal is to guide you in choosing the right platform for your needs.
WordPress.org is the real open source version of the WordPress. This is the most popular web publishing platform you heard great things about. It is 100% free to use, and all you need to have is your own domain name and a web hosting service.
[Suggested Reading: What is WordPress? Why You Should Use WordPress]
Below in this article, we have explained the pros and cons of using the self-hosted WordPress.org to create and publish your website or blog.
Benefits of Using Self-Hosted WordPress.org:
With WordPress.org, you are in full control of your website. You are free to do anything you desire and customize it as much as you want. Below list some of the pros or benefits of selecting WordPress.org to create and publish your website, and some reasons why it can be an ultimate choice.
- It is free, open source and super easy to use.
- Built You own your website and control all its data. Your site and site data will NOT be discontinued/deleted because someone thinks that it is against their terms of service (Hope you are not doing anything illegal).
- You can add free, paid, commercial, and custom WordPress plugins/apps to your website. Even you can develop your own plugin.
- You can customize your website design as and when needed. You can add any free or paid WordPress theme as per requirement. You can also use any design framework to create a completely new design or modify anything that you wish to.
- You can make money from your WordPress site by displaying ads without sharing revenue with anyone.
- You can use tools like Google Analytics for traffic and trend analysis.
- You can use self-hosted WordPress to build an online store to sell digital or physical products, accept payments, and deliver digital goods directly from your website.
- You can create membership sites and accept membership fees for providing access to premium content, courses, etc.
- You can also create a forum site for discussing products and build an online community through your website.
Cons of Using WordPress.org:
As every single element in this world has pros and cons, there are some cons of using WordPress.org site:
- Like all normal websites, for publishing WordPress.org site you will need a web hosting service. This is the location where your website files are stored on the internet. Initially, the cost is around $2-$10 per month. However when your website grows and gets more traffic, the web hosting costs will also increase, but if you can make enough money the costs would be covered.
- You are responsible for updating your site. But WordPress makes it easy to update your site by simply clicking on the update button (just single click), so it’s not a hefty job.
- You are responsible for taking site backups. Thankfully, there are lots of free and paid WordPress backup plugins that enable you to take manual & automatic backups.
WordPress.com is a hosting service started by the co-founder of WordPress, Matt Mullenweg, and run by the company named AUTOMATTIC Corporation. Because of the same founder, often new users confuse WordPress.com with the popular WordPress.org software.
The WordPress.com is nothing but a hosting service that runs websites on the WordPress platform. It comes pre-installed with WordPress.org software.
Currently, s of January 2018, it offers 4 hosting plans:
- Free – 0$ Plan (Free but very limited facilities and should use WordPress.com subdomain).
- Personal – $48 per year
- Premium – $96 per year
- Business – $299 per year
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of WordPress.com.
Benefits of WordPress.com:
The free WordPress.com platform is a nice choice for hobby bloggers and those starting a blog for their friends & family. Here are some of the benefits of using WordPress.com:
It’s free for up to 3GB of storage space. After that, you will have to switch to a paid plan for more space. (Personal plan $48 /year gives you 6GB, Premium plan $96/year gives you 13GB storage or Business plan for $299/year for unlimited storage).
You don't have to worry about updates or backups. WordPress.com will take care of all those basic tasks.
Cons of WordPress.com:
There are numerous limitations in free WordPress.com hosting which differentiate it from WordPress.org. Here are some of the cons or disadvantages of using WordPress.com:
- They compensate the free hosting by placing ads on all free websites. So your users will see ads, and you would not make money from it. If you don’t want your users to see those ads, then you need to upgrade to a paid plan (starting from $48 per year).
- You are NOT allowed to show your own ad. If your site receives high volume traffic, then you will be able to apply for their advertising program called WordAds where you share ad revenue with them. Only users running on Premium and Business plan can use WordAds without waiting.
- Free, Personal, & Premium plan users get jetpack basic features pre-activated. But you cannot install other custom plugins unless you are subscribed to their Business plan ($299 / year).
- You cannot upload custom or child themes. Free & personal plan users can only install from the limited free themes with limited customization options. Only Premium and business plan users can choose premium themes.
- Free or personal plan users can't make changes with CSS. Only Premium and Business plan users are allowed to use custom CSS.
- Normally, You are restricted to their traffic stats which is not as versatile as other analytics programs. You cannot add code from Google Analytics or any similar platform. Only Business plan users are allowed to install Google Analytics.
- They can deactivate or delete your site anytime if they think it violates their policy or Terms of Service.
- In all the plans, except business plan, they will display a powered by WordPress.com branding link.
- WordPress.com doesn't provide any e-commerce features or integrated payment gateways.
- You cannot create membership websites with WordPress.com.
As you see above, the WordPress.com hosting platform provides limited facilities when you are using their free, personal, or even premium plans. To unlock some of the more common and required features, you have to subscribe to their Business plan ($299 per year).
WordPress.com vs WordPress.org – Which One is Better?
If you are a personal or hobby blogger, and you don’t think of making money from your blog, then definitely the free WordPress.com is best for you.
If you are a business person or a professional blogger who wants to make money by publishing blogs, then our recommendation is to use the self-hosted WordPress.org. It gives you the power, freedom, and flexibility to grow your website your own way.
While you can take benefit from several advanced features provided with the WordPress.com Business plan ($299 / year), you can maximize your revenue by using a self-hosted WordPress site which costs much less than that.
In our expert opinion, WordPress.org is definitely the better platform if you are starting professionally.
How do I start a WordPress.org Website?
To start your own self-hosted WordPress.org website, you need a domain name and a hosting service.
A domain name is your blog's or website’s address on the internet such as google.com, financeorigin.com, certguidance.com etc. Web hosting is the place where your website's files are stored on the internet.
You can get the domain name from any provider, but we recommend getting the domain name from any of the below provider because of the competitive market price and good customer support.
Though it depends on your choice, we recommend using any of the below hosting provide your website because they have a very good reputation and have good customer support. Some of them also offers our readers a free domain + 50-60% off on hosting for 1st year.
- A2 Hosting
You can check out the article on how to install WordPress that provides a step-by-step guidance on how to install and setup WordPress. You can also email me or write in comment if you need any help in doing installation.
Can I Move From WordPress.com to Self-Hosted WordPress.org?
Often new bloggers who don’t know the difference between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org starts blogging with the free WordPress.com account. Once they witness the limitations of that platform, they want to switch to “the Real WordPress” i.e. WordPress.org.
If you are one of them then don't worry, you can definitely move your site from WordPress.com to WordPress.org and it’s fairly easy to move all of your content.
Use our step by step guide on how to move your blog from WordPress.com to WordPress.org as your ultimate reference guide from this site movement.
Final Showdown - WordPress.com vs WordPress.org - Summary:
The best way to describe the differences between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org is the difference between renting an apartment vs owning an apartment.
WordPress.com is similar to renting an apartment. It restricts your thoughts by means of providing you limited power and control over your website.
WordPress.org is like owning an apartment. Here you can enjoy full control over your website and you can do anything that you want.
Below table shows the summary of everything we discussed above in our WordPress.org vs WordPress.com comparison:
|Recurring Costs||Depends - $30-$200 / Year||Free||$96 / Year||$299 / Year|
|Hosting Storage||Depends on Hosting Plan, up to Unlimited||3 GB||13 GB||Unlimited|
|Full Theme Support||Yes||No||Limited||Yes|
|Full Plugins Support||Yes||No||No||Yes|
|Monetization Freedom||Full||No||Limited with Rev. share||Limited with Rev. share|
|Maintenance||Full Control||Auto by WP.com||Auto by WP.com||Auto by WP.com|
The Conclusion and Final Thoughts:
The confusion in the mind of new bloggers appears because of similar domain names. The confusion between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org is quite unfortunate for beginners.
As a final thought, our recommendation is as below:
If you are a professional blogger or business, there is no second thought about using the self-hosted WordPress.org. Because it gives you ultimate control over your website and provides you with the opportunity to fly on your own wings.
If you are a hobby blogger or casual blogger, you may use the service from WordPress.com as that will fulfill their purpose without spending a penny. Moreover, if you later thought of moving your site in WordPress.org you can do it easily.
We wish you all the best with your new website and hope that you would be able to choose the right platform.
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