If you’re new to WordPress, you might be wondering about the difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com.
WordPress.com and WordPress.org are two very different platforms.
Often beginners confuse WordPress.com and WordPress.org, which leads them to choose the wrong blogging platform for their blog.
WordPress is the household that powers over a third of the internet.
Since choosing the right platform is crucial for your online success, we have created a comprehensive comparison of free WordPress.com vs WordPress.org (self-hosted version).
If you just want to start a blog or make a website the RIGHT way, then you can skip this article and head over to our guides here:
- How to Create a Website with WordPress (Ultimate guide)
Having said that, let’s dive in and take a look at the differences between self-hosted WordPress.org vs WordPress.com.
Table of Content:
WordPress.com vs WordPress.org Comparison
The one major difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org is who’s hosting your website.
WordPress.com, on the other hand, takes care of all of the hostings for you. You don’t have to download software, pay for hosting, or manage a web server.
With WordPress.org, You host your blog or website. WordPress.org is where you’ll find the free WordPress software that you can download and install on your web server.
WordPress.org is a self-hosted content management system (CMS), which means you’ll need to download the software onto your computer and source your web hosting
WordPress.org is a self-hosted platform which means you’ll need to source your hosting. Don’t be put off by this – it’s very easy to do. Once you sign up for a hosting plan, Providers like Bluehost then enable you to download WordPress.org with just one click. It is open-source and 100% free for anyone to use. All you need is a domain name and web hosting.
Below are the pros and cons of using self-hosted WordPress.org to build your website or blog.
With WordPress.org, you host your site (we recommend this). You are free to do anything you want and customize it as much as you need. Here are some of the benefits of using WordPress.org:
- Theme Design and Customization. WordPress.org wins hands down in terms of pure creative control. Its customization is limitless, and you can code everything from the ground up, should you wish.
- The WordPress software is free, open-source, and super easy to use.
- Ecommerce.WordPress.org is your best bet if you need a fully-fledged online store and wish to sell products in bulk. You can use your online store to sell digital or physical products, accept credit card payments, and deliver/ship the goods directly from your website.
- You can also create membership sites and sell memberships for premium courses, content, and build an online community around your website.
- SEO( search engine optimization). Due to the level of control WordPress.org gives you, you can make some manual changes to improve SEO.
- WordPress.org lets you install Google Analytics for free, for custom analytics and tracking site performance. WordPress’s built-in analytics are far from sufficient, offering the most basic of insight. This means installing Google Analytics is a must for anyone running a website.
- You can use customize your website design as needed. You can add any free or premium WordPress theme that you want. You can also create completely custom designs or modify anything that you want.
- You can make money from your WordPress site by running your ads without sharing revenue with anyone. WordPress.org is the safer option if you earn money through your website
- You can add free, paid, and custom WordPress plugins/apps to your website. A plugin is a feature that you can install through WordPress and use on your website, adding certain functionalities like email marketing, eCommerce, or analytics. It’s kind of like an app for your website.
- You own your website and all its data. Your site will NOT be turned off because someone decides that it is against their terms of service (as long as you are not doing something illegal). You are in full control.
There are very few cons of using the self-hosted WordPress.org site. Here are some of the disadvantages of using WordPress.org:
- Like all websites, you will need web hosting. WordPress.org is a self-hosted platform which means you need to source your hosting provider. This is where your website files are stored on the internet. Initially, the cost is around $3-$10 per month. However as your website grows and gets more traffic, the web hosting costs will increase as expected, but then you would be making enough money to cover the costs. For all your WordPress.org hosting requirements, you can’t do better than Bluehost.
- You are responsible for backups. Thankfully, WPvivid is the best free WordPress backup plugins that let you set up automatic backups.
- You are responsible for updates. You can easily update your WordPress site by simply clicking on the update button (1-click), so it’s not too much work.
The real cost of a WordPress.org website varies based on what you are trying to build (portfolio website, simple blog, eCommerce store, membership site). There are also other factors like free plugins vs premium plugins, free templates vs premium templates.
Our recommendation is always to use WordPress.org. See our guide on how to start a website.
With WordPress.com, on the other hand, it’s WordPress.com that takes care of all of this for you (easier to start, less freedom).
WordPress.com is a blogging platform. It uses the same WordPress software as WordPress.org, but is hosted for you and operates more as a website builder.
Everything you need to create a blog is built-in to WordPress.com, although you can install extra plugins to help make your site more advanced.
This platform is a good choice for hobby bloggers and those starting a blog for their families.
The WordPress.com hosting service has 5 plans:
- Free – Very limited.
- Personal – $48 per year
- Premium – $96 per year
- Business – $300 per year
- eCommerce – $540 per year
- VIP – starting at $5000 per month
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of WordPress.com.
Here are some of the benefits of using WordPress.com:
- Provides a free plan but you’ll need to upgrade to a paid subscription if your website requires more than 3GB of space. (Personal plan $48 /year gives you 6GB, Premium plan $96/year gives you 13GB storage, or Business plan for $300/year for 200 GB storage).
- Requires little tech experience
- You will not have to worry about updates or backups. WordPress.com will take care of that.
- Ideal for blog-specific websites. This branch of WordPress is synonymous with blogging (it’s the best platform for blogging websites) and it’s really easy to use in general because it’s a ready-to-go platform, meaning you can quickly get your website up and running.
- WordPress.com provides better help and support. If you’re on a paid WordPress.com plan, you’ll receive help via email and live chat.
There are several limitations of free WordPress.com which differentiate it from WordPress.org. Here are some of the disadvantages of using WordPress.com:
- Adverts on all free plan websites. Your users see those ads, and you don’t make money from them. If you don’t want your users to see their ads, then you can upgrade to a paid plan (starting from $48 per year).
- You cannot sell ads on your website, making it hard to monetize. If you run a high-traffic site, then you can apply for their advertising program called WordAds where you share revenue with them. Premium and Business plan users can use WordAds right away.
- Design and customization. WordPress.com is more of an out-the-box platform – you can make basic tweaks, but you’ll have to be on a high pricing plan if you want to make wholesale changes to your site. Free plan users can only install from the limited free themes collection. Premium and business plan users can also select premium themes. There are limited customization options for the free version. Premium and Business plan users can use custom CSS.
- No access to back-end code, database, and files.
- NO plugin upload is allowed. Free plan users get built-in Jetpack features pre-activated. Business plan ($300 / year)users can install from a selection of compatible plugins. WordPress.com VIP plan ($5000 / month) lets you install plugins
- You cannot add Google Analytics or install any other powerful tracking platform. Thus, you are restricted to their stats. Business plan users can install Google Analytics.
- Free WordPress.com websites come with a WordPress.com branded domain (e.g. https://yourwebsite.wordpress.com). You’ll need a paid plan to get a custom domain name (e.g https://www.yourwebsite.com).
- WordPress.com doesn’t offer any specialist support on its free plan. You can use WordPress community forums for help, but you’ll have to sift through the sea of information.
- They can delete your site at any time if they think that it violates their terms of service. WordPress.com does make you slightly uneasy knowing someone could pull the plug on your site in an instant.
- Your site will display a powered by WordPress.com link. It can be removed by upgrading to the paid plan.
- WordPress.com does not offer any eCommerce features or integrated payment gateways unless you switch to the eCommerce plan.
- You cannot build membership websites with WordPress.com.
WordPress.com hosting platform is quite limited when you’re on the free, personal, or even premium plan. To unlock some of the more advanced features, you have to be on the Business plan ($300 per year) or the VIP plan ($5000 per month).
WordPress.com vs WordPress.org (FAQs)
Let’s take a look at the most frequently asked questions regarding WordPress.com vs WordPress.org below:
Which is better: WordPress.com or WordPress.org?
While there’s no definitive answer to this question (it depends on your needs), WordPress.org is the bigger and more powerful platform. You can install premium themes and plugins, have complete creative control, and perhaps most importantly, actually own your website.
While you can get several advanced features with the WordPress.com Business plan ($300 / year), you can make that money go much further on a self-hosted WordPress site which costs $46 per year.
The best way to think about the differences between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org is like renting a house vs. owning a house.
WordPress.com is similar to renting a house. You have limited power and control over what you can and cannot do. You can’t do anything that you want.
WordPress.org is like owning a house. Where you have full control, no one can kick you out, and you can do anything that you want.
Can I Monetize the Free WordPress.com Website?
WordPress.com does not allow you to run ads on free WordPress.com websites. If you run a high-traffic website, then you can join their WordAds program and share your ad revenue with WordPress.com.
Simple display ads and affiliate marketing can be done more easily and effectively on WordPress.com
You have very limited options to monetize content on your WordPress.com website.
Can you switch from WordPress.com to WordPress.org?
Yes! First, you’ll need to find a hosting provider for WordPress.org. Then, you can simply export your WordPress.com site under settings, and import it to your new website through an importer plugin. This is recommended if you feel like you’ve outgrown WordPress.com, or want more creative control.
WordPress.com vs WordPress.org – Which one is better for Ecommerce?
WordPress.com also offers an eCommerce plan starting at $540 per year which is a hefty amount if you are just getting started. It is still limited in terms of features and you’ll have to follow WordPress.com’s terms of services for your eCommerce store.
WordPress.org offers the easiest way to build an eCommerce website. You can use WooCommerce to build your store or choose from many other WordPress eCommerce and membership plugins.
See our guide on how to start an online store without a high budget.
How do I start a WordPress.org Website?
To start a self-hosted WordPress website, you need a domain name and WordPress hosting.
A domain name is your website’s address on the internet such as google.com, aimworldgroup.com. Web hosting is where your website files are stored on the internet.
We recommend using Bluehost for hosting your website because they are one of the largest web hosting companies in the world. They’re also an official WordPress.org recommended hosting provider. Last but not least, they’re offering our users a free domain + 60% off on hosting.
For step-by-step instructions, you can check out our free guide on how to make a website.
What should you look for in a WordPress hosting provider?
Firstly, it’s preferable to go for a provider that offers WordPress-specific hosting. After that, things like one-click installs and automated updates for WordPress software and plugins should be top priorities. Then you have more general things, such as uptime, SSL security, and bandwidth.
You Should Use WordPress.com If…
You’re slightly less tech-savvy and want an all-in-one solution. It’s perfect for personal blogging sites, and you don’t care about making money from your website and can even be a great option for small businesses who may need a bit of help, but ultimately want control over their website.
You Should Use WordPress.org If…
You know how to code (not a must) or have the budget to employ a web developer. You can build any site imaginable – nothing is off-limits. You’ll also own your website, so there’s no risk of it being taken down. There’s no doubting WordPress.org is the more powerful and advanced option.
If you are a business or a blogger that wants to make money from your site, then we recommend using self-hosted WordPress.org. It gives you the freedom and flexibility to grow your website the way you want.
We hope that you found this article helpful in understanding the differences between WordPress.org and WordPress.com.
We wish you all the best with your website and hope that you chose the right platform: WordPress.org.
If so, you may want to follow our guide on Proven Ways to Make Money Online Blogging with WordPress. You may also want to see our guide on how to increase your blog traffic.