For a long time, WordPress has been the most common and easiest way to create your website. However, newcomers usually struggle with the difference between WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org. To the untrained eye, it all looks the same, and can you even blame these people? Well, don’t worry as I’ll explain the differences between WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org and hopefully help you decide which best fits your needs.
Since WordPress.com and WordPress.org are two different platforms, let’s see the differences, shall we?
WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org
The main difference is in who’s hosting your website. When it comes to WordPress.org, you are the one hosting your site (highly recommended), and with WordPress.com, it does it for you, which might be easier for you at first, but it also comes with fewer features and freedom of choice. You see, WordPress.com is more of a website builder, whereas WordPress.org is a self-hosted content management system that requires you to do most of the work.
It allows you to set up a WordPress website for free, but keep in mind that:
- Your site is bound to a subdomain
- You’re stuck with WordPress ads (unless you upgrade)
- You are limited to 3GB of storage
- You aren’t allowed to monetize your content
- You aren’t allowed to install plugins or themes besides the default ones
To be able to monetize your content and run a commercialized site, your only option is to upgrade.
You can get the “Personal” plan for $8 per month and a custom domain name for around $10-15 per year. I know, this totally ruins the free aspect of owning a site but simply never expect to make money without spending any first.
There are five plans available at WordPress.com:
- Free – you get a free site, but with limited features, so it is best to skip this one.
- Personal – get a custom domain name, email, and live chat support, and remove WordPress.com ads completely for $48 per year. You get 6GB of disk space and can sell subscriptions. It is suited to smaller blog sites and businesses.
- Premium – use advanced design tools, CSS editing, 13GB of disk space, Google Analytics, and monetize your website with ads for $96 per year. Best suited for freelancers and medium-size businesses.
- Business – install custom plugins and themes, premium and business theme templates, 200 GB disk space, and remove WordPress branding for $300 per year. Geared towards those who want to commercialize their online business fully.
- Ecommerce – promote and sell your products/services through your online store, get premium integrations, various useful tools, and customizable themes for $540 per year.
- VIP – contact them to get an offer on this plan here.
Since WordPress.com is a free platform, it is a very popular and good choice for bloggers and those who aren’t looking to extract the most out of a WordPress website.
You get 3GB of disk space for free, and if you need more space, you can switch to a paid plan. The “Personal” plan ($48 /year) offers 6GB of disk space, “Premium” plan ($96/year) 13GB, and the “Business” plan ($300/year) 200 GB.
No need to worry about updates or backups as WordPress takes care of that for you.
The biggest downside is that you can’t monetize your website and make a profit by placing desired ads on it. Nevertheless, there will be WordPress ads, which users can see, but you won’t make any money from them. You can upgrade to the “Personal” plan, so your users don’t see their ads, and this will set you back $48 per year.
However, you can apply for an advertising program “WordAds” that lets you share revenue with WordPress from the ads. You’ll need to have the “Premium” or “Business” plan to use it.
Another downside of the free version is that you can’t use plugins or custom themes. Still, you get built-in “Jetpack” features by default. There is a limited collection of themes that you can use in the free version.
You can’t add Google Analytics to track your stats and are restricted to their stats platform.
All free WordPress.com sites come with a WordPress.com branded domain. For example, “https://yourwebsitename.wordpress.com“.
WordPress can delete your website if it violates their terms of service, so be careful.
You won’t have any eCommerce features or integrated payment gateways and can’t build membership sites.
Unfortunately, if running the free version, you’ll have extremely limited abilities. Sure, you can get some nice features by upgrading to a better plan for not a lot of money, but still, if you are serious about your business, you are kind of forced to fork out the big bucks for the “Business” or VIP plan, which aren’t that cheap.
I would only suggest going with WordPress.com if you’re just starting out or just want to have the most basic setup that doesn’t take much effort on your side.
WordPress.org is a self-hosted platform that requires you to get your own hosting solution and a domain name. Easily sign up for a hosting plan and start building your WordPress site. Build your site with the most advanced tools out there and use various powerful plugins and themes that can be very useful in certain situations.
However, you’ll have to do site backups yourself, and this can be done easily with various WordPress plugins.
It gives you full ownership and control of your WordPress website. Unless you’re doing something illegal that is against their terms of service, nobody can shut down your site.
You’re allowed to customize all aspects of your site, use advanced tools (Plugins), and try out as many themes as you want.
Start earning money from ads on your site and/or from your online store.
Create and sell memberships online for extra profit.
Let Google Analytics do analytics and tracking for you.
Simply put, you get more features and freedom, and it is totally worth the price.
Since WordPress.org is self-hosted, you’ll need to source your web hosting, which costs around $5-$10 per month. Depending on which host you choose, you’ll have different but similar disk space, which is where your site’s files are stored online. At first, you won’t need a lot of disk space, but as you start posting more content, you’ll probably need more storage eventually.
Being that you’re fully in charge of your site and its maintenance, you’re the one responsible for updates and backups. Updating is easy and can be done quite quickly by clicking on the update button (1-click). When it comes to backups, just get a decent backup plugin, and it will do it automatically for you once you set it up.
As WordPress.org offers the use of advanced and custom tools, it does require a bit more skill. If you’re familiar with coding, it can help you bypass many obstacles. However, even if you’re a beginner, you can find various free tools and tutorials on how to do pretty much anything in WordPress, but it can take a chunk of your time.
Recap – WordPress.org VS WordPress.com
When To Use WordPress.com
If you don’t have coding skills and want a simple solution that is suited towards blogs and smaller businesses. It takes care of updates and site backups for you, so you can invest your time elsewhere.
When To Use WordPress.org
If you have coding knowledge or can afford a web developer to do it for you. Build the most advanced WordPress sites for any type of business. Since you’ll own the site, nobody can shut it down. It is definitely the more attractive and powerful choice since you can monetize and fully customize your site.
Even though managing WordPress.org looks hard, you can save a lot of time and hassle by simply using WordPress plugins to do the work for you.
If you’re looking to run an online store (e-commerce) and make a profit, you’ll need to spend some money first anyway, so it is best to go with WordPress.org if you ask me.
If you decide to try out the free version, and later you want to switch or upgrade your plan, you can easily transfer your existing content at any time.
If you still can’t make up your mind about which platform to choose, try the free version first to get a grasp of what a WordPress experience looks like. You can switch to a paid plan at any time and transfer your content, so there is no downside to it. However, keep in mind that WordPress.com isn’t the best solution for businesses looking to make a profit and is best suited towards bloggers. You’ll be limited and won’t be able to install plugins and themes. If this is something of importance to you (as it should be), go for WordPress.org and unleash the full power of WordPress tools and services. In this case, the more money you try to save on plans, the more you’ll actually lose as big businesses need most of the advanced features to operate properly.