Wondering what the difference is between WordPress.com and WordPress.org? WordPress.com and WordPress.org are two different online publishing platforms. Because of the similarities in names, it’s easy to get confused between the two.
Choosing the wrong platform can hinder the growth of your business. It may also lead you to waste your resources on a platform that doesn’t suit your needs.
In this article, we’ll explain the differences between WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org. We’ll also help you choose the platform that best suits your needs.
WordPress.org is the most popular website builder in the world.
It’s a 100% free software that enables anyone to build any type of website with ease. To be able to build a website on WordPress, you’ll have to own a domain name and web hosting.
Domain name: A domain name is the address of your website on the internet, like Google.com or IsItWP.com. It’s what your visitors type into their browsers to access your website.
Web hosting: A web hosting is where people store the content and files of their website.
When a visitor tries to access your website by typing in your web address (domain name), then they’ll be directed to the website files stored on your web hosting server.
After purchasing both a domain name and web hosting, you can install WordPress on your hosting server. Then you can start building your website on top of WordPress.
Let’s take a look at a few benefits of using WordPress.org.
WordPress.org enables you to build a website the way you want without any restrictions. You can customize your website to any extent. Since WordPress is a free / open source software and you host your website on a rented server, you do not abide by the Terms of Services of WordPress.com. That means you can build, customize, and grow your website with no restrictions.
You can find thousands of free WordPress themes that allow you to easily customize the appearance of your website. You can even build a custom WordPress theme and change the appearance to your liking.
It’s easy to enhance your website with additional features such as storefront integration via plugins. All you have to do is find the right plugin and install it on your website.
Unlike WordPress.com, you can run your own ads on your website without sharing revenue with your publishing / hosting platform.
You can also add tracking scripts such as Google Analytics on your website with no restrictions.
In a nutshell, WordPress.org gives you endless possibilities to build and grow your website.
There are a few downsides of using a self-hosted WordPress platform for setting up a website. Let’s take a look at them below:
- You can’t build a website for free. To create a site, you’ll have to purchase a domain name and web hosting, which may cost up to $110 per year.
- You need to set up WordPress before you can start logging into your WordPress dashboard. To save time and easy onboarding, you can purchase WordPress hosting, which comes pre-installed with WordPress. That way you can log into your WordPress site right away without any setup.
- You’re responsible for updating your WordPress core software, plugins, and themes. However, updating your WordPress is as easy as clicking the Update button, so it’s not too much work.
- You’re responsible for making backups and providing security for your WordPress site. Thankfully, there are tons of WordPress backup and security plugins that let you set up automatic backups and security.
WordPress.com is a freemium website hosting service, which is run by the same folks behind WordPress.org.
It enables you to start a website for free. If you need more features like custom domain name support, extended storage space, or design customization, then you can upgrade to a premium WordPress.com plan.
The WordPress.com hosting service has 5 plans:
- A limited free plan
- Personal: $36 per year
- Premium: $99 per year
- Business: $299 per year
- VIP: starting at $5000 per month
The free WordPress.com is a good platform for students and hobby bloggers who need to start a free blog. Here are some benefits of using WordPress.com:
- Free: You don’t have to purchase a domain name or web hosting to start a free blog. You can use a free WordPress.com subdomain instead.
- Easy setup: Setting up a free WordPress blog is as easy as creating a WordPress.com account and specifying the name and URL of your website.
- Easy maintenance: You don’t have to update WordPress or handle backups yourself.
The WordPress.com hosting comes with a lot of limitations. They are:
With the free WordPress.com platform, you’re not allowed to set up a custom domain name for your site. Though you can set up a free subdomain for your blog, the downside is that subdomains are not easy to remember for end users.
For example, this is what a free WordPress.com site URL looks like: http://yoursite.wordpress.com/
As you can see, you’ll be using WordPress.com as your domain name. Since the domain name doesn’t represent your brand, you lose your identity, making your site look unprofessional.
You’re not allowed to monetize your free WordPress.com blog with direct ads or with any ad networks like AdSense. You’re also not allowed to make money with affiliate marketing. If you run a high traffic site, then you can apply for their advertising program called WordAds where you share revenue with WordPress.com.
Unlike self-hosted WordPress, the free WordPress.com doesn’t allow you to install WordPress plugins on your site. If you want to enhance your WordPress site with plugins, then you might want to consider upgrading your plan.
You can’t upload a custom WordPress theme on a free WordPress blog. Only a limited selection of WordPress themes are available with the free plan.
No third-party scripts:
WordPress.com doesn’t allow you to install third-party scripts on your site such as Google Analytics. For user tracking, you’ll have to rely on the limited WordPress.com stats.
When you set up a free blog on WordPress.com, then you abide by the Terms of Service of WordPress.com. Their terms come with a lot of restrictions which could hinder the growth of your website down the line.
Without your consent, WordPress.com can delete your blog at any time if they think you’ve violated their Terms of Service. This makes the free WordPress.com less reliable. Nothing worse can happen to your site than losing your hard-earned reputation and your site itself.
WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org (FAQs)
Having helped thousands of users start WordPress websites on both WordPress.com and WordPress.com, we’ve found that people ask the same questions again and again. This is why we’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions regarding WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org.
WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org – Which one should I choose?
The free WordPress.com platform is best suited for hobby bloggers who don’t have a budget for building a site. If you don’t mind being restricted by the Terms of Service of WordPress.com, have no plans for monetizing your site, and don’t need an easy-to-remember custom domain name for your site, then WordPress.com could be the best choice for you.
On the other hand, with self-hosted WordPress, you get complete control over your site. You can also customize your website to any extent, add any enhanced features that you can imagine, and monetize your site the way you want.
Another major difference is that self-hosted WordPress offers the same set of features offered by the costlier WordPress.com Business plan. The business plan costs you $299 per year for a website, whereas, with self-hosted WordPress, you get the same set of features for as low as $110 per year.
How do I start a WordPress.org website?
To start a WordPress.org website, you’ll have to purchase a domain name and web hosting.
A domain name is the address of your website such as IsItWP.com or Google.com whereas web hosting is the where the files and databases of your websites are stored.
To easily understand what a domain name and web hosting are. Think of them this way: if a domain name is the address of your house, then web hosting is the actual house that the address points to.
When you’re starting out, the combined cost of domain and hosting can seem like quite a lot.
For more details, you should read our complete Bluehost review.
If you need guidance to build a web presence online with WordPress, then simply check out our guides below:
- How to make a website, step by step
- How to start a blog, step by step
- How to create an online store, step by step
Can I move from WordPress.com to WordPress.org?
To enjoy the free hosting service, users often start their site on WordPress.com. As their needs evolve, they realize that WordPress.com has many limitations, which hinders the growth of their website. This makes users move their site to self-hosted WordPress from WordPress.com.
If you’re looking to migrate your site, see our step by step guide on how to move from WordPress.com to WordPress.org.
WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org – Summary
The main difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org is who actually hosts your website. With WordPress.org, you host your own website, so you get full control over your site.
WordPress.com, on the other hand, takes care of all of the hosting for you. You don’t have to install WordPress, manage hosting configurations, back up your site, etc. While this provides you with great convenience, this also means you have less control over your site. You can’t customize the look and feel of your WordPress.com site, as you could with self-hosted WordPress. Plus, when you register an account with WordPress.com, you’re required to agree to their Terms of Service.
Choosing a Publishing Platform- Our Recommendation
We always recommend our users to start a site on WordPress.org because it’s the most flexible publishing platform in the world. You can easily choose a WordPress theme that matches your industry as well as your business’ unique needs. You can also find the right plugins to extend the functionalities of your site without having to hire a developer thanks to the huge WordPress.org community.
We hope this guide helped you understand the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org.
If you enjoyed this article, you may also want to check out the actual cost of building a website.