When you are planning on building a website using the WordPress platform for the first time, seeing wordpress.com and wordpress.org is a little bit confusing. So what is the difference between the two websites?
What is WordPress.com?
WordPress.com is a fully hosted version of WordPress, meaning that all of the hosting, security (server side) and SSL certificate are taken care of for you. What it provides is a quick, easy a free to use platform for building a website that is mainly geared towards blogging.
WordPress.com does have paid plans that allows you to remove the WordPress branding and ads from your site and also to use your own domain names, rather than the .wordpress.com sub-domain that is included with all free WordPress.com websites.
• Hosting Included
• Free SSL Certificate
• Free .wordpress.com domain
• Free plan
• Easy to get started
• Easy to learn and use
• No optimisation required
• Paid plan required for all features
• Limited plugin & theme selection
• WP branding & ads on free package
• Limited customisation options
• No access to website code
• Business/Ecommerce plans are expensive
The Free, Personal and Premium plans are all quite limited in terms of features that are offered. If you want access to all of the features, then you will need to go for the Business or Ecommerce plans but they still don’t offer the same freedom and control that you get with a self hosted WordPress website.
Who is WordPress.com Good For?
WordPress.com is ideal for anyone who wants to quickly and easily start blogging as a hobby but doesn’t want to have to deal with the technical aspects of running a website.
WordPress.com vs WordPress.org Video
What is WordPress.org?
WordPress.org is the website that provides the core WordPress software for self-hosted websites. In order to build a site using the WordPress software, you will need to have a domain name, buy some hosting and then install the WordPress software. Fortunately, most hosting providers have one click installers to make the process easier and some even do it for you!
This is the most popular option out of the two and many of the popular blogs, news websites and ecommerce websites that are built using WordPress use this method. Even though the learning curve is steeper than with WordPress.com, you do get far more control over your website and there are much more options available in terms of plugins and themes.
• More customisation options
• Not tied to WordPress.com hosting
• Large selection of Plugins & Themes
• Access to source code
• Lots of online guide & tutorials
• You own the website
• Software is completely free
• Need to pay for Hosting
• Requires a domain name
• Steeper learning curve
• Needs optimising & securing
Who is WordPress.org Good For?
Creating a self-hosted WordPress website is ideal for anyone who wants to do more than just blog as a hobby. If you want to blog and potentially make money from it with affiliate links or Google AdSense, then the self-hosted option is much better. The same also goes for ecommerce, membership and subscription sites.
Also if you want the freedom to customise your site how you want, then going self hosted is the better option as the theme and plugin selection is so much larger.
WordPress.com vs WordPress.org Comparison Table
|WordPress.org||WordPress.com (Free)||WordPress.com (Business)|
|Monthly Cost||Depends on Hosting||£0||£20/m|
|Storage||Depends on Hosting||3gb||200gb|
|Custom Domain (URL)||✔||✖||✔|
|SSL||Depends on Hosting||✔||✔|
|Access to Code (PHP, CSS etc)||✔||✖||Some|
|WordPress.com Branding & Ads||✖||✔||✖|
|Support||Depends on Hosting Company||✖||✔|
Conclusion – Which one is Better?
The opinion of most bloggers/content creators/business owners, including myself is that having a self-hosted WordPress.org site is the better way to go out of the two, especially as good quality WordPress hosting can be had for less than £5 a month.
If you planning on using WordPress for building an ecommerce website, then the self hosted .org is the better option as it offers more ecommerce features and options.
If you would look like to learn more about starting a self hosted website, then check out my WordPress Tutorial.
This is because you have so much more control over your website and even though the learning curve is a bit steeper to start with, the rewards are going to be worth it in the long run as it is YOUR website, you can pick and choose the direction on which you want it to go.
Now, I’m not saying WordPress.com is bad, as it is a very easy way to get started and if you just want to write some blogs posts but nothing more, then it is a very good options and the free and cheaper plans are great starting points. However, if you find your site is starting to grow and you would like to possibly turn your site into a business, then moving to a self-hosted site is not the easiest process.