Despite the popularity of WordPress, it’s confusing for new users in the beginning. that there are two types of WordPress available on the net.
But what is the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org?
TL;DR: The key difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com is who is hosting your website?
- WordPress.org is where you’ll download the free WordPress software and install it on your own (or rented) web server. It gives you all the possibilities to build your website without coding.
- However, in the case of WordPress.com, it takes care of all of the hosting for you. But, you’ll have to pay a big “price” for this. You will get a lot of restrictions.
In the following, I help you to figure out the differences and which one should you choose for your needs.
What is WordPress.com?
The WordPress.com is a community service.
It works just like Blogger, Tumblr, Wix or Weebly but WordPress.com is focusing on bloggers.
It provides a system so you can start an online presence for free under certain restrictions.
The main benefits are to being free and simplicity.
If you want to try, you just need to register on their website. You choose a username for yourself and you already started your own website.
You really can’t make a big mistake.
The look of your page is provided by pre-designed templates so you don’t have to make your site design. You don’t have to pay attention to updates as you work in a system managed by others, so the operators are responsible for your security. All this is absolutely free.
Unfortunately, being free has its own downsides.
There will be many limitations to designing your .com web site.
They have paid functions too, I’ll give you more details later. Before that, let’s look at how WordPress.org works.
What is WordPress.org?
WordPress.org was actually based on WordPress.com’s blog engine. Yet, when we talk about WordPress, we are almost 99% thinking of WordPress.org.
This well-done blog engine has become independent over time and has been freely developed by an expert community. So it was a very well-functioning system compared to blog platforms, and they started many developers started developing it. The result was an incredibly smart content management system.
WordPress.org is, therefore, more than a simple blog platform. It is a standalone content management system so-called CMS.
To use WordPress.org, you must have your own domain name and web hosting, but you can download, install, and use the system completely free.
After that, the sky is the limit. You can build a blog, website, or eCommerce store on WordPress. Most importantly you don’t have to touch codes at all.
If you would start right now, you can download WordPress anytime.
Currently, more than 30% of websites available on the internet are running on WordPress, and this number is constantly increasing. It is by no coincidence.
It is important to know that you only get the software for a WordPress.org website, but you need to create the essentials for the system to work.
You will need a place where you host your website. You need to choose a web hosting provider for this. You will also need an address to access your website. This will be your domain name. Here’s how to find the right web hosting provider.
WordPress.org is ideal for both small and large users or businesses. You can freely create your webpage yourself, but you can also outsource the work for a web agency.
Comparing WordPress.com and WordPress.org
You now have basic informations, but the choice is a long process and it worth consider the details. That’s why we now look at the differences.
It is true that all two options are available for free, but you know that nothing is free nowadays.
But it does matter what you spend your money on.
On WordPress.com, your website can work for free, but your domain name will function as a subdomain and the extension will definitely be wordpress.com.
That’s not really professional. The free domain (as well as the free email address) will destroy your credibility.
Of course, you can buy your own domain to remove WordPress from your address, but you have to upgrade your package and you have to pay for the domain.
For a .blog domain it’s $22/year and you have to upgrade to the $3/month plan and for a .com domain it’s $18 and you have to upgrade to the $5/month plan. Suddenly the offer is no longer so tempting, right?
For WordPress.org, you must buy a domain name. You can choose any unregistered domain name and extension. There may be minor differences in domain prices, but usually, it’s around $15 a year.
The cost of web hosting varies greatly, depending on the plan and company you choose.
Starting with WordPress.com, it’s free, and it will stay free under 3GB of usage. Don’t worry you probably not going to outgrow this.
For WordPress.org, you will need to rent web hosting. I always recommend the smallest plan from Siteground for beginners. It’s $3.95/month but you have to pay it at least for a year. I give more details about web hosting here.
There is an important difference between the two sites, beyond the price. The data stored on WordPress.com is not really yours. You can’t have full control until you choose the self-hosted WordPress.org solution.
At WordPress.com, platform operators will run ads on your page. That is how they make money on you.
However, if you want to get rid of advertising, you will have to upgrade your plan which is at least $36/year.
That is not a good deal.
So if you want a completely flexible, ad-free website, on your own domain WordPress.org will be the cheaper and better solution!
On the other hand, if you want to start a website at the cheapest, you can get a free account with WordPress.com. However, this decision involves a great deal of sacrifice.
Let’s see the price differences in a table. For the WordPress.com I show the free plan features.
|unique .com domain name / year||~$15|| ~$18 |
(plus $5/month plan)
|hosting / year||from $46|
|Storage space (kinda irrelevant)||10GB|
(depends on web host)
|No ads||Free||$3/month plan|
Features and Limitations
We talked about the price but let’s see what you get and what you don’t get on the different platforms.
Restrictions with WordPress.com
There are a lot of restrictions on WordPress.com. Since there is a business behind their service, you have to pay for some things in return for the system and web hosting.
Let’s look at how WordPress.com restricts the websites they have created (these are true for the free plan).
- You can choose from a few WordPress themes and you can’t use your own.
- You cannot use your own plugins.
- The size of the hosting is limited – 3GB – although it will be enough.
- The content on your page is not only up to you (they run ads).
- You cannot use another service for your own advertising (such as Google AdSense).
- Limited design customization.
- No business and eCommerce features (in the free plan.
Features of WordPress.org
Oppositely, the WordPress.org restrictions list is super short.
WordPress.org gives you the total freedom to create your website!
- You use a theme you want.
- Use a plugin you want.
- Use a page builder you want.
- You’ll be the master of your content.
- You can upgrade your system how you want.
- You can check all the features in this post.
Responsibilites of having a WordPress.org website
However, greater freedom means more responsibility.
In the case of a blog platform, you can’t do really harmful things because of the restrictions.
There is a longer learning curve to understand WordPress.org.
You are responsible for:
- Choosing a web hosting provider
- Choosing the domain name
- Installing the WordPress system
- Choosing a theme
- Building and maintaining a safe WordPress environment
- Upgrading WordPress, your theme and plugins
- If something goes wrong, you have to figure out the problem or find someone for the job.
This may seem like a lot for first reading, but it is worth it.
The website is usually the cornerstone of every business or project o it’s responsible for your success.
The point is that with the content management system available on WordPress.org, you can create a professional website, whatever your purpose.
It is very important that you don’t have to know any programming language because WordPress developers made it easier to you.
They are constantly adding new features, creating themes and plugins to serve the users.
So WordPress.com or WordPress.org?
It depends on what you want to do with your website. What is your goal?
If you just want to create a simple personal blog and don’t want to bother with installation, design, or updates, then WordPress.com may be your choice.
However, if you want to create your own blog or website without any constraints and it doesn’t bother that you have to add a little more responsibility to your project then WordPress.org will be the best choice for you.
Our choice: WordPress.org
It is clear to us that WordPress.org is the real WordPress.
It’s a very good system that you can use to create a professional website. It is relatively easy to use and its future is secured: a lot of people are constantly developing, making it a better system.
It’s flexible and because of that, the best choice for 90% of the people.
Yes, you have to learn to manage and maintain this system. But the reward is huge
If you want to ask a question or need some further help to make a responsible decision, please feel free to write a comment.