When newly introduced to WordPress, you will likely come across the wordpress.com and wordpress.org platforms. While both platforms share the same name and operate with the same software, they offer very different options when it comes to starting a WordPress site.
Both wordpress.com and wordpress.org are website building platforms that provide a complete content management system. In order to choose the right one, you need to understand what each one offers, in terms of what your website or blog hopes to achieve.
We will first explain what WordPress is, then the difference between wordpress.com vs wordpress.org, as well as their individual pros and cons.
- What is WordPress?
- WordPress.com vs WordPress.org
- Advantages of self-hosted wordpress.org
- Disadvantages of self-hosted wordpress.org
- Benefits in using wordpress.com
- Limitations of hosted wordpress.com
What is WordPress?
WordPress is the most popular content management system used to create and manage websites and blogs. It is a free and open-source software based on PHP and MySQL. And with WordPress, any non-tech savvy individual can create either a simple blog or even a complex website.
There are two distinct ways of using WordPress for website creation: either on wordpress.com or wordpress.org platforms.
WordPress.com vs WordPress.org
The major difference between wordpress.com and wordpress.org is in the way your site is hosted. If you go with wordpress.com, then you have a hosted site that does not require a domain name purchase and a hosting plan. On the other hand, wordpress.org requires you pay for a domain name and a hosting plan by yourself.
Having a self-hosted website means you have to download the software at no cost from http://wordpress.org, get a domain name and web server to host WordPress, and use it to build your website.
You can fully customize your website by installing your preferred themes and plugins. Unless you someday decide to edit WordPress core functions, having a self-hosted site does not require knowledge of programming and web development , particularly if you need to make changes to core files.
This means that anyone who is familiar with a word processor can manage a self-hosted WordPress.
WordPress.com Hosted by Automattic
WordPress.com is a hosting service platform created by Matt Mullenweg and owned by Automattic. By offering a free hosting service, it allows users the opportunity to create and own WordPress websites on a subdomain of wordpress.com in a matter of minutes.
Besides the free plan, there are other paid plans which are Blogger, Personal, Premium, Business, and eCommerce. If you need any additional features to the free hosted WordPress, you may upgrade to any of the paid plans.
Advantages of self-hosted wordpress.org
Here are some of the advantages of building your site with WordPress.org
- You are fully in control of your website and have unlimited customization options.
- You have liberty to publish any content that suits you without having to adhere to the rules governing websites on the wordpress.com platform
- Also, you have access to an unlimited number of free and premium WordPress themes and plugins.
- It allows you “create” and install custom themes tailor-made to suit your preferences
- When you manage a self-hosted WordPress site, you can freely run your own ads to make money from your website.
- No third party ads will be run on your site unless you add some to it.
- You can add an eCommerce store to your website by installing the WooCommerce plugin. You can also sell any products you decide to stock.
Disadvantages of self-hosted wordpress.org
When your site is self-hosted, you are fully responsible for the online presence of your site and this means some extra work.
- You are required to pay for a domain name and a hosting plan.
- Also, you have to take care of all file backups and software updates. You can, however, take advantage of specialized backup plugins to make this easy.
- The security of your self-hosted WordPress is entirely up to you. Gladly, there are plugins that can help enforce security rules. Please read our WordPress Security guide to learn more.
Benefits of using wordpress.com
Despite the limitations of WordPress.Com, there are some benefits:
- Your site can be setup in minutes.
- It offers free 3GB storage space.
- You can focus entirely on creating your content as you do not have to worry about updates and file backups.
- It is a perfect choice for hobby blogging, portfolio and family websites because you can immediately build a website with their 100% free plan.
- You have access to technical support
Limitations of hosted wordpress.com
Despite the few benefits of a WordPress.com site, there are major limitations you want to seriously consider:
- On the wp.com platform, you do not have a full control of your site.
- You run the risk of losing your site if you go against the rules of WordPress.
- WordPress.com is a commercial platform. To make their profit, they place ads on all websites hosted on the free plan. This means there really is nothing you can do about it unless you upgrade to a paid business plan.
- The free plan only allows you install a limited number of themes on your website.
- You are not allowed to upload custom or premium themes and plugins. This is because the extensibility of wordpress.com is very limited.
- Unless you upgrade to Premium and business plans, you cannot add custom CSS
- The only way to remove the powered by wordpress.com or blog at WordPress.com is to upgrade to a paid Business plan.
- There are no provisions for eCommerce and integrated payment gateways.
- If your site is able to generate a lot of traffic, you may be granted the privilege to advertise with WordAds on request, and share the revenue with them.
With the flexibility and control you get with self-hosted WordPress.org, this is undoubtedly the better option.
However, if you are just starting and want to see how WordPress works without spending time or money on a host, then check out WordPress.com.
Building your website or blog with wordpress.org makes you absolutely responsible for the hosting and all that comes with it. For any serious website owner or blogger, this shouldn’t be a problem. With this added responsibility comes the freedom to do whatever you want with your site. That’s incredibly important if you are creating a site that you want to see grow. However, the decision is up to you. You now know the pros and cons and the difference between wordpress.com vs wordpress.org so you can make an informed decision.