WordPress.com vs WordPress.org Compared – Pros and Cons

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org

When newly introduced to WordPress, you will likely come across the wordpress.com and wordpress.org sites. While both WordPress.org and WordPress.com share the same name and operate with the same software, they offer very different options when it comes to starting a WordPress site. So let’s see WordPress.com vs WordPress.org comparison.

Both wordpress.com and wordpress.org are website blogging 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 blog or website 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.


  1. What is WordPress?
  2. What is the difference?
  3. Navigating User Experience and Setup
  4. Closer Look at Features
  5. Transparent Comparison of Expenses
  6. Tailored Platform Recommendations
  7. Frequently Asked Questions

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org – 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 personal 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 are WordPress hosts. 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 to pay for a domain name and a hosting plan by yourself.

Self-hosted WordPress.org

Having a self-hosted website means you have to download and install 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.

Self-hosted WordPress.org

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.org.

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 WP websites on a subdomain of wordpress.com in a matter of minutes.

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org - host

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.

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org - plans

The choice between WordPress.com and WordPress.org significantly impacts user experience and site management, catering to diverse user needs and technical proficiencies.

WordPress.com: Streamlined Simplicity

WordPress.com is designed for simplicity and ease, offering a streamlined experience that is particularly appealing to beginners and those seeking a hassle-free approach to website creation. Users can quickly set up a site without worrying about hosting, security, or technical maintenance. This managed platform automates many processes, including updates and backups, allowing users to focus primarily on content creation and site management. However, this convenience comes with limitations on customization and control, making it a trade-off between ease of use and flexibility.

WordPress.org: Empowering Flexibility

Conversely, WordPress.org provides a robust platform for those who prioritize flexibility and full control over their website. It caters to users with varying levels of technical expertise, from beginners willing to learn to advanced developers seeking to implement custom solutions. While the initial setup requires more steps, including hosting selection and software installation, the platform offers unparalleled freedom in customization, from themes and plugins to detailed SEO and e-commerce integrations. This open-source approach demands a more hands-on role in site maintenance and security, appealing to users who value customization over convenience.

WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org: A Closer Look at Features

When choosing between WordPress.com and WordPress.org, understanding their features is key. Here’s a breakdown to help you decide which platform suits your needs.

Customization: Themes and Plugins

WordPress.org shines in customization. You can install any theme or plugin you like, opening a world of possibilities for your site’s design and functionality. Whether you need a specific look or a unique feature, WordPress.org has you covered.

WordPress.com offers a selection of themes and plugins, but with limits. The free plan has restrictions, and you’ll need to upgrade for more options. It’s simpler but less flexible.

SEO: Boosting Your Site’s Visibility

SEO is crucial for your site’s success. WordPress.org allows full control over SEO settings. You can use powerful plugins like Yoast SEO to optimize your content and improve search rankings.

With WordPress.com, SEO tools are available but limited on the free plan. Advanced SEO features require a paid plan, making it less ideal for those serious about ranking high in search results.

E-commerce: Selling Online

Planning to sell online? WordPress.org is the go-to choice. It supports WooCommerce, a powerful e-commerce plugin, letting you create a robust online store. You have full control over your shop’s design, products, and customer experience.

On WordPress.com, e-commerce is possible but with conditions. The free plan doesn’t support online selling. You’ll need the Business plan or higher, which can be costly.

Transparent Comparison of WordPress.com and WordPress.org Expenses

A critical aspect of choosing between WordPress.com and WordPress.org is understanding the associated costs. This section offers a transparent analysis of both platforms’ expenses, from initial setup to potential long-term investments.

WordPress.com: Defined Plans and Incremental Upgrades

WordPress.com simplifies budgeting with its structured pricing plans, each designed to cater to different user needs, from personal blogs to full-fledged business sites. As of the latest update, the plans include:

  • Free Plan: Offers basic functionality suitable for hobbyists or personal projects, with WordPress.com ads and branding.
  • Personal Plan ($4/month, billed yearly): Introduces a custom domain and removes WordPress.com ads, ideal for personal use.
  • Premium Plan ($8/month, billed yearly): Expands creative freedom with advanced design tools and some monetization capabilities, suitable for freelancers.
  • Business Plan ($25/month, billed yearly): Provides access to 50,000+ plugins, advanced SEO, and the ability to install themes, catering to small businesses.
  • eCommerce Plan ($45/month, billed yearly): Designed for online stores, this plan includes comprehensive eCommerce features, payment integration, and premium storefront themes.

While WordPress.com offers a straightforward path to scaling your website, each plan upgrade introduces additional costs. Users must assess the value of these added features against their specific requirements and budget constraints.

WordPress.org: Hosting, Themes, and Plugin Costs

Opting for WordPress.org entails a more granular approach to budgeting, with costs spread across hosting, domain registration, and optional premium themes and plugins:

  • Hosting: Prices vary significantly based on the chosen provider and plan, from affordable shared hosting options (starting as low as $2.95/month) to premium managed WordPress hosting services.
  • Domain Registration: An essential yearly expense, typically ranging from $10 to $15, though some hosting providers offer a free domain for the first year.
  • Premium Themes: While there’s an abundance of free themes, premium options offer advanced features and dedicated support, with prices varying widely.
  • Premium Plugins: Essential for extending your site’s functionality, the cost of premium plugins can add up, depending on your site’s specific needs.

WordPress.org users enjoy unparalleled flexibility and control but must be prepared to manage these ongoing expenses, making it crucial to select hosting and premium additions judiciously.

Tailored Platform Recommendations: Aligning with Your Web Endeavors

Selecting the right WordPress platform—WordPress.com or WordPress.org—requires careful consideration of your technical expertise, long-term objectives, and budgetary framework.

This section offers nuanced recommendations to guide various user groups in making an informed decision that aligns with their specific needs.

For Hobbyists and Personal Bloggers

If you’re embarking on a personal blogging journey or pursuing a hobbyist website with minimal financial investment, WordPress.com’s Free or Personal Plan is an excellent starting point.

These plans offer a user-friendly interface, eliminating the need for technical know-how related to hosting and maintenance. The trade-off in customization and control is often acceptable for users whose primary focus is content creation rather than complex site functionality.

For Freelancers and Creative Professionals

Freelancers and creative professionals seeking a balance between ease of use and the ability to showcase a unique personal brand should consider the WordPress.com Premium Plan.

This plan provides enhanced design tools and sufficient customization capabilities to create a professional online portfolio or blog, without the complexities of self-hosting. However, for those requiring specific plugins or themes to showcase their work, transitioning to WordPress.org might offer the desired flexibility and scalability.

For Small Business Owners

Small business owners aiming to establish a robust online presence with room for growth should lean towards WordPress.org. The self-hosted platform’s extensive plugin ecosystem and theme availability allow for a highly customized website that can evolve with the business.

While this option demands a higher level of technical engagement, including managing hosting and security, the investment can significantly pay off in terms of website performance and scalability.

For E-commerce Ventures

Entrepreneurs venturing into e-commerce should prioritize WordPress.org due to its seamless integration with WooCommerce and other e-commerce plugins, offering full control over the online store’s functionality and customer experience.

While WordPress.com’s eCommerce Plan provides a simplified entry into online selling, the flexibility and potential for customization with WordPress.org are unparalleled, making it the preferred choice for a scalable e-commerce platform.

For Non-Profits and Educational Institutions

Non-profits and educational institutions with limited budgets yet requiring a professional online presence may find a suitable solution in WordPress.com’s Business Plan, which offers a balance between ease of use and access to advanced features.

However, for those with access to technical resources, WordPress.org presents an opportunity to build a fully customized site tailored to their unique needs, from fundraising campaigns to educational content.

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org – Conclusion

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.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the main differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org?

WordPress.com is a hosted platform that simplifies website creation and maintenance by managing hosting, security, and updates for you. It offers various plans, including a free option, but with limitations on customization and control.

WordPress.org is an open-source software that gives you full control over your website, including the ability to install custom themes and plugins, but requires you to manage hosting, security, and updates independently.

Who should use WordPress.com?

WordPress.com is ideal for beginners, hobbyists, and those who prefer a hassle-free approach to website creation and maintenance. It’s also suitable for users who do not require extensive customization or who are working within a tight budget and can work within the constraints of the provided plans.

Who should use WordPress.org?

WordPress.org is best suited for users who need full control over their website for customization, want to use custom plugins or themes, or plan to run an e-commerce site. It’s recommended for businesses, professionals, and individuals who are comfortable managing their own hosting and website maintenance or are willing to hire someone to manage it.

Can I switch from WordPress.com to WordPress.org later?

Yes, you can migrate your website from WordPress.com to WordPress.org if your needs outgrow the capabilities of WordPress.com. The process involves exporting your content from WordPress.com and importing it into a new WordPress.org installation. Keep in mind that you’ll need to arrange for web hosting and domain transfer as part of the migration.

Are there any hidden costs with WordPress.org?

While WordPress.org software is free, you will incur costs for web hosting, domain registration, and potentially premium themes and plugins. It’s important to budget for these ongoing expenses and any additional costs related to website maintenance and security.

Can I monetize my WordPress.com website?

Monetization on WordPress.com is possible, but it comes with restrictions. The free plan displays WordPress.com ads on your site without revenue share. To monetize your content, you’ll need to upgrade to a higher-tier plan that allows for ad revenue sharing, affiliate linking, or selling products and services.

Is WordPress.org more secure than WordPress.com?

Both platforms can be secure, but WordPress.org requires more proactive management to maintain security. WordPress.com manages security for you, making it less of a concern for users. With WordPress.org, you are responsible for implementing security measures, such as regular updates, backups, and security plugins.

How much technical knowledge do I need for WordPress.org?

Managing a WordPress.org site requires a basic understanding of web hosting, domain management, and site maintenance. While it’s user-friendly, you may need to learn some technical aspects or seek assistance for more complex tasks or troubleshooting.

 This post was written by Sam Mulaim

Hello! I’m Sam - the founder and CEO of FixRunner WordPress support. When I started FixRunner one of my goals was to help people run a successful website and overcome WordPress issues. I don’t have much time these days to write new posts but when I do I enjoy it very much.

Last edited by: FixRunner Team