WordPress.com or WordPress.org

WordPress.com or WordPress.org

WordPress.com or WordPress.org

Yes, you read that right, there is a WordPress.com and a WordPress.org!

Most people don’t even realize there are two or that there is a difference between them.  It actually leads to a lot of confusion because the two platforms are extremely different.

So, how can they be so different and have the same name?  Are they related? Which is the official WordPress? 

My hope is this article will clarify the confusion for you and enable you to decide if you should use WordPress.com or WordPress.org.

WordPress.org is the self-hosted WordPress.  It’s home to the most popular content management system (CMS), WordPress.  It was founded by Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little in 2003 as a blogging platform and has evolved into the most widely used website platform in the world.  When you hear people talking about WordPress, this is the one they are talking about.

By contrast, WordPress.com is a proprietary blog hosting solution owned by a company founded by Matt Mullenweg (co-founder of WordPress).  While it uses the same WordPress platform at its core, it has massive limitations in that you cannot upload plugins or use custom themes, unless you pay high premiums.  Often, people will start with WordPress.com and then move over to WordPress.org when they want more functionality, control and features.

So, despite having the same name, WordPress.com and WordPress.org are not directly related.

Now, let’s look at the major differences …

The major difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org is who is hosting your website.

With WordPress.org YOU host your own website which is why it’s often referred to as self-hosted.  Now, of course you won’t actually host your own website, but you are responsible for finding a host.  Then you’ll install the free WordPress software.  Don’t let this intimidate you, almost all hosts have a one click install so it’s super easy.  For hosting, I highly recommend Siteground.

With WordPress.com the hosting is taken care of for you.  It’s all built in.  While that sounds simple and great and while it can also be done for free, there are major disadvantages to this as follows:

  • You can only place your site under a subdomain
  • You cannot remove WordPress.com’s ads and branding from your site
  • You get limited disk space
  • You cannot monetize your blog
  • You can’t install any themes or plugins that aren’t available on the platform by default

So which one is right for you? Should you choose WordPress.com or WordPress.org?  Here is a table outlining the major differences:

WordPress.org

WordPress.com (free version)

  • Full theme support
  • All plugins allowed
  • Hosting cost
  • Monetization freedom
  • Branding freedom
  • All SEO features
  • Powerful analytics
  • Ecommerce store
  • Membership sites
  • Maintenance
  • You own your own website
  • Limited theme support
  • No plugins allowed
  • Free
  • Limited monetization
  • Pay to remove branding
  • Limited SEO control
  • Limited analytics
  • Cannot create an ecommerce store
  • Cannot create a membership site
  • No maintenance

Let’s discuss some of these differences by outlining the pros and cons of each option.

Pros of WordPress.org:

  • Software is free
  • You own your website and all its data. You are in full control.
  • You can add free, paid and custom plugins to your website
  • You can customize your website design using any free, paid or custom theme and page builder
  • You can monetize your site by running ads
  • You can use powerful tools like Google Analytics
  • You can create an online store to sell products, accept payments and ship the goods directly from your website
  • You can create membership sites

Cons of WordPress.org:

  • You’ll need web hosting and you’ll have to pay for that
  • You’re responsible for updates
  • You’re responsible for backups

As you can see, there are very few cons to using self-hosted WordPress.

Pros of WordPress.com (free version):

  • Great choice for hobby bloggers
  • It’s free for up to 3GB of space and after that you have to switch to a paid plan
  • They take care of updates or backups

Cons of WordPress.com (free version):

  • They place ads on the websites.  Your visitors will see those ads and you won’t make any money from them.
  • You are not allowed to sell ads on your site
  • You cannot upload plugins
  • You cannot upload custom themes
  • You are restricted to the stats they give you and cannot use Google Analytics
  • You cannot have a custom domain name
  • They can delete your site at any time if they think it violates their terms of service
  • Your site will display their branding
  • The free version does not offer any ecommerce features or payment gateways
  • You cannot build membership sites

While many of the restrictions of WordPress.com will be removed if you opt for one of their paid plans, those plans often cost more than self-hosted hosting.  For example, Siteground offers hosting for as low as $6.99 per month.  If you’d like to find out more about Siteground, read this blog post.

I always recommend that my clients go with WordPress.org or self-hosted WordPress.  I want what’s best for my clients and, in my opinion, WordPress.org is the best option.

If you need help with your website design, please fill out my contact form.  I’d love to connect with you and find out how I can help you thrive online.

I hope this article helped you to better understand the differences between the two platforms and that it will help you to make an informed decision about your website and what’s best for you.  So, will you choose WordPress.com or WordPress.org?

If you think someone else could benefit from this article, please use the icons below to share it. Please feel free to share your comments about the platform you use for your website.

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