What’s the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org?

What’s the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org?

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What’s the difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com? A beginner bloggers guide to understanding which WordPress platform you should be using.  

Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links for which I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase. Thank you for your support!

If you’re looking to start your blog on WordPress you’ll no doubt be faced with a confusing question. What is the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org? In fact, often new bloggers will not know there are two quite distinct platforms and will go ahead and begin their journey on one without investigating the pros and cons of each.

So, what’s the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org? And which platform is the best one for me? 

Wordpress.com vs wordpress.org

To start with, both have the same founder. Which is confusing! They both use the same software, no surprise there. And, of course they have the same name. But each platform is very different. 

The simplest way to explain it to new bloggers is this:

WordPress.com 

WordPress.com is a hosted platform that is perfect for hobbyists or people who are simply writing a blog for a passtime and not wanting to monetise. WordPress.com is an easy way to start a blog with little technical knowhow required. But it is limited in the way you can customise your blog in terms of appearance, advertising and add ons. WordPress.com can get pricey if you wish to make a lot of custom changes as you need to purchase the higher plans. 

WordPress.org

WordPress.org is a self hosted platform where you have to set up your own domain and hosting…. But there are many benefits to a self hosted platform for bloggers who are looking to get serious about blogging. You have full control over your site and are able to monetise your blog. WordPress.org requires a bit more technical know how, but a great host company will usually help you through this. 

Let’s delve a little deeper, while still aiming to keep this as easy as possible and simple to understand if you are a new blogger! I know it can get very confusing, very fast! 

WordPress.org Pros and Cons

Pros 

  • You have a mega customizable and flexible site. Allowing you to create both the appearance you wish and add plugins to your site. 
  • Monetisation is an option with WordPress.org. You can make an income on your blog with paid ads and affiliate links. 
  • Cheap to set up and run. Hosting your new site can also be cheap in my opinion. Siteground hosting starts at $6.99 a month. Downloading the WordPress software is free and is open source. 
  • Custom domain URL – you can create your own custom URL with a WordPress.org site. Giving your site your own unique identity.
  • You own your site. 

Cons

  • You need to download the WordPress software first, although most hosting providers will help you with this. Siteground did all this for me when I switched. 
  • You set it all up. So, it does take time and does mean you have to be a weeee bit tech savvy. But, again, most hosting companies are only too happy to troubleshoot with you. You also handle backups and updates, but there are plenty of plugins to assist and some hosting providers help you with security backups. 
  • You pay for hosting. Hosting is not part of the free software. You need to pay to host your site somewhere. I recommend Siteground! 
  • You need to get your own custom domain name.

WordPress.com pros and cons 

Pros

  • Easy peasy to set up. Its basically all done for you. You just choose your theme and can tweak the appearance a little. 
  • Free, for the basic plan. Which means you can literally set up a blog completely free.
  • No hosting or servers to worry about. WordPress.com takes care of all this for you. Simple. 
  • Easy maintenance. You don’t need to worry about things like backups and updates as WordPress.com handles this for you. 

Cons 

  • The basic plan is pretty basic. In order to upgrade their next plan up is the personal one at $60 per year. But in order to add plugins you’ll have to move to the business plan at $300 a year. So, to customise and get a bit fancy, you’ll have to lay out a fair bit up front. 
  • You’ll only get a WordPress.com domain name, such as myfabulousblog.wordpress.com on the free plan. In order to get a custom domain, you’ll be required to upgrade. 
  • The appearance of your site is limited as you are not able to make custom changes on the free and lower plans. Although the premium plan and higher will allow you to do this. 
  • You can’t use the free plan to build a site for commercial purposes. Which means you can’t monetise your site. 
WordPress.comWordPress.org
SetupVery simpleDifficult
CostCan be costlyVarious options
FlexibilityLimited on lower plansHighly customizable
MonetizationCan be limitedLots of options
PluginsVery limited on lower plansLots of options

Wrap up

It really is a personal choice as to which platform you choose the go with. If you’re wanting to simply have a place to share your thoughts then WordPress.com might be the option for you. 

If you think you might want to get a bit more serious and turn your hobby into a business, then WordPress.org offers you the flexibility to grow your business as you wish. 

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org for beginners just touches on the basics of the two platforms. Giving you a sense of where to start. There are plenty of amazing technical and in depth articles available on comparisons between the two that would be super helpful if you want to delve a little deeper! 

Cover image by Ivan Samkov from Pexels


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