WordPress.com vs WordPress.org: Here’s the Difference (2022 Comparison)

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org

If you’re reading this blog post, you’re probably interested in creating a website, either for your business, blog, or other personal/professional endeavors, but you’re unsure whether to use WordPress.com or WordPress.org. Both platforms have their own benefits and drawbacks depending on your needs. In this post, we’re talking about the key differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org so you can make an informed decision about which one is right for you. So keep reading!

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org: The Basics

It’s important to know what we mean by “WordPress.com” and “WordPress.org” before we get into the comparison.

What is WordPress.com?

WordPress.com is a hosted platform, which means that WordPress takes care of the technical aspects of running your website for you. All you need to do is create an account, choose a domain name, and start creating content.

What is WordPress.org?

WordPress.org is the self-hosted version of WordPress. This means that you host the software on your own server, and you are responsible for updates and security. You also have more control over the look and feel of your website, and can install any plugins or themes you want.

What is Website Hosting?

Storage servers for WordPress site

Hosting is the process of making your website available online. It’s a bit like renting space on the internet for your website. It’s where you “park” your site so people can find it when they type in your domain name. Websites are hosted on something called a “server,” which is essentially a fancy word for a computer that stores all the files for your website and makes sure they are accessible to visitors, no matter where they are in the world.

A web host, or web hosting service provider, is a business that provides the technologies and services needed for the website or webpage to be viewed on the Internet. Websites are hosted, or stored, on servers. When internet users want to view your website, all they need to do is type your website address or domain into their browser. Their computer will then connect to your server and your webpages will be delivered to them through the browser.

What About Self-Hosting Your Website?

Yes, you can self-host your website, but it’s important to know that this comes with a few challenges. First, you need to find a good web hosting provider. Second, you need to make sure that your website is always secure and up-to-date. And third, if something goes wrong with your website, it’s up to you to fix it.

Many of the pros and cons of either using WordPress.com or WordPress.org revolve around this concept of hosting. If you’re looking for an easy, all-in-one solution, WordPress.com might be the best option for you. However, if you’re looking for more control and flexibility, WordPress.org is the way to go.

WordPress.com Benefits

WordPress.com site

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of using WordPress.com or WordPress.org.

Ease of use

WordPress.com is a very user-friendly platform. It’s easy to set up and start creating content. There’s no need to worry about updating the software or backing up your data, as WordPress takes care of all of that for you.

Cost

WordPress.com is a free platform, so you can, in theory, create a website without spending any money. If you want to use a custom domain name, however, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid plan. Otherwise, WordPress will provide you with a free domain name, which will be a subdomain of WordPress.com (e.g., yourwebsitename.wordpress.com). Additionally, if you want to scale your site up to contain more complex features, you might, again, have to upgrade to a paid plan. We’ll cover this aspect in more detail in the “cons” section, so stick around.

Security

Since WordPress.com takes care of security for you, you don’t need to worry about hackers or malware. WordPress.com offers security measures including two-factor authentication and regular backups so that your site stays safe.

Support

If you run into any problems, WordPress.com has a very comprehensive support system to help you troubleshoot and resolve any issues you may have. Additionally, there is a large community of WordPress.com users who are happy to help each other out. Whatever question or concern you may have, someone has probably already asked it and there’s likely a solution out there.

WordPress.com Cons

While WordPress.com does have a lot of great features, there are also a few downsides to consider.

Limited control

Since WordPress.com is a hosted platform, you don’t have as much control over your website as you would with WordPress.org. For example, you can’t install plugins or themes on WordPress.com, and there are some limitations to what kind of content you can post. Another downside is that you don’t own your website. If WordPress.com decides to shut down your website, you won’t have any say in the matter. It’s worth noting, though, that this is unlikely to happen unless your website violates WordPress.com’s terms of service.

Ads

If you’re using the free version of WordPress.com, then your site will include ads from WordPress. These ads can be distracting and take away from the professional look of your site. You can choose to remove these ads, but that requires upgrading to a paid plan.

Limited customization

While WordPress.com does allow you to customize your site to a certain extent, you’re still limited in terms of what you can do. Design is also somewhat limited, as you can only choose from a few pre-made themes. Many of the themes also require a paid upgrade to unlock all of the features.

Fewer features

Similarly, since you can’t install plugins or themes, you’re limited in terms of the features and functionality you can add to your site. If you want a website with specific features or functionality, like an eCommerce store, WordPress.com might not be the best platform for you.

Pay to play

There are many desirable features offered by WordPress.com that are only accessible through a Business or eCommerce plan. These plans start at $25 & $45 per month. If you want to use a custom domain name, for example, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid plan. The same goes for features like Google Analytics integration, unlimited storage, and the ability to remove WordPress.com ads from your site. That, and you only get 3 GB of free storage. After that, you have to upgrade from your free plan.

Monetization is tricky

While you can monetize a WordPress.com site, it’s not as flexible as it is with WordPress.org. For example, if you want to run ads on your site, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid plan. Even then, your only option is WordAds, which is a program run by WordPress. You don’t have the option to use other ad networks like Google AdSense. If you’re a blogger, you won’t have much luck making money (like through affiliate links) through WordPress.com. This is because influencer networks tend to only work with self-hosted WordPress sites, not WordPress.com sites.

WordPress.org Benefits

You have more control

When you use WordPress.org, you have more control over your WordPress site than you would with WordPress.com. This is because you can install any themes or plugins you want, and you’re not limited in terms of what kind of content you can post. You also have access to the code, so you can make customizations as desired if you have the technical know-how.

It’s free! Well, sort of.

While there are costs associated with using WordPress.org (you’ll need to pay for hosting, a domain name, and any plugins or themes you use), the platform itself is free.

You can monetize your site

For people that want to make real money from their website, WordPress.org is often seen as the better, or more robust, option. This is because you have more control over your website and thus can do things like run ads (through any ad network, not just WordAds) or sell products through an online store. You can also try affiliate programs, which allow you to make money from your blog by promoting another business’s products and services.

No ads

One of the benefits of using WordPress.org is that there are no ads on your website unless you choose to add them yourself. This will give your website a more professional look and feel.

More features

When you use WordPress.org, you have access to more features than you would with WordPress.com. This is because you can install any plugin or theme you want, and there are no restrictions on what kind of content you can post.

WordPress.org Cons

You need to self-host

Perhaps the biggest cons of using WordPress.org is that you need to self-host your website. Meaning, you’ll need to find a web hosting service and pay for it monthly (or yearly). While there are some free web hosting services available, they’re often not very reliable. Additionally, you’ll need to purchase a domain name, which can cost between $10 to $20 per year. So while the phrase “free WordPress software” might sound exciting, keep in mind that there are some costs associated with using WordPress.org.

You’re responsible for updates and security

Another downside of using WordPress.org is that you’re responsible for keeping your website up-to-date and secure. This means that when a new WordPress update is released, you’ll need to install it on your website. Similarly, if a plugin or theme you’re using needs an update, you’ll need to take care of that as well. Additionally, you’ll need to install security plugins and take other measures to protect your website from hackers.

You need some technical knowledge

To use WordPress.org, you’ll need at least a basic understanding of how websites work. For example, you’ll need to be able to install WordPress and set up your hosting account. Additionally, if you want to make any customizations, you may need to be familiar with HTML, CSS, and/or PHP. While you can find tutorials for everything online, it will still take some time and effort to get things set up. Depending on what you want your website to “do” and how you want it to look, you may need to hire a developer to help you out.

Pay to play (part two)

While WordPress.org is free software, you will need to pay for web hosting and a domain name. A web hosting service provider can charge you anywhere from $2 to $100 per month, depending on the type of hosting service you choose and the features you need. Similarly, WordPress plugins can be free or paid, depending on the developers. Many plugins start with a free or “lite” version and then offer a more feature-rich paid version. The same goes for themes.

When Should You Use WordPress.com?

To put it simply, WordPress.com is a suitable choice for anyone who wants to create a relatively simple website with a WordPress software that takes care of all the hosting and maintenance for them. If you’re not interested in the hassle of self-hosting and don’t mind the limited customization options, then WordPress.com could be a good fit. Additionally, if you want a free website, WordPress.com is definitely worth considering. While there are some paid plans available, they’re not necessary unless you need certain additional features or storage space.

When Should You Use WordPress.org?

On the other hand, WordPress.org is a better solution for anyone who wants more control over their website and doesn’t mind taking on the responsibility of self-hosting and maintaining their site. If you want to be able to monetize your website or have access to more features and customization options, then WordPress.org is the way to go. Additionally, if you’re planning to create a website for a business, then self-hosting with WordPress.org is usually the better option.

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org in Terms of Cost

Person with calculator weighing the cost of WordPress.com vs WordPress.org

Another factor you may want to consider is cost. As we mentioned earlier, WordPress.com has both free and paid plans available, while WordPress.org is completely free to use. However, keep in mind that with WordPress.org, you’ll need to pay for web hosting and a domain name (unless you get a free domain through your web hosting provider). In most cases, self-hosting with WordPress.org will still be cheaper than paying for a WordPress.com plan. For example, Flywheel– one of the most popular web hosting providers – offers several affordable plans, starting with the “Tiny” plan at $13/month. You can learn more about Flywheel and what plan is right for you by clicking here.

Conclusion

Hopefully, this article has helped you understand the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. While both platforms have their own pros and cons, it’s ultimately up to you to decide which one is better for your needs. If you’re still unsure which route to go, you might try out WordPress.com first and then migrate to WordPress.org if you find that you need more control over your website. This process is surprisingly pretty simple and straightforward.

Whichever platform you choose, we wish you the best of luck with creating your WordPress website!

Frequently Asked Questions

Which is better for SEO, WordPress.com or WordPress.org?

In general, WordPress.org is better for SEO than WordPress.com. This is because you have more control over the optimization of your website when you self-host with WordPress.org. For example, you can choose a comprehensive SEO plugin like Yoast or RankMath and use it to optimize your website for search engines. Additionally, with WordPress.org, you can edit your website’s code, which gives you more control over how search engines crawl and index your site.

Is WordPress.com more secure than WordPress.org? Why?

This is a bit of a controversial topic since both WordPress.com and WordPress.org are relatively secure platforms. However, some people argue that WordPress.com is more secure since it’s a closed-source platform and all security updates are handled by the WordPress.com team. On the other hand, with WordPress.org, you’re responsible for installing security updates and plugins, which some people feel makes it less secure. Ultimately, both WordPress.com and WordPress.org are secure platforms, but WordPress.com might be slightly more secure since it’s a closed-source platform.

Can I self-host a WordPress site?

Yes, you can self-host a WordPress site. In fact, this is what WordPress.org is for. If you want to self-host a WordPress site, you’ll need to purchase a domain name and hosting plan from a web hosting provider. Once you’ve done that, you can install the WordPress software on your web server and start creating your website.

Is self-hosted WordPress free?

No, self-hosted WordPress is not free unless you plan to use your own web server. Otherwise, you’ll need to purchase a domain name and hosting plan from a web hosting provider. However, the WordPress software itself is free and open source.

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Disclaimer: Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links, which can provide compensation to me at no cost to you if you decide to purchase a paid plan. These are products I’ve personally used and stand behind. This site is not intended to provide financial advice and is for entertainment only. You can read our affiliate disclosure here

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About the Author

Kouressa is DOS’s resident Website Content Manager. In this position, she directs the content creation for DOS’s website development projects. She develops SEO strategies, maps out the overall direction of content per website, and helps facilitate the creation of that content.

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