Which Is The Best WordPress.com vs WordPress.org?

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WordPress.com vs WordPress.org image of hand holding the blue WordPress logo

Are you certain you know the differences between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org? The differences between the two are often a topic of confusion for WordPress beginners. And with good reason too!

The two platforms have similar names. The only feature to distinguish them is com or org on the end. These names do not offer a meaningful difference at a glance. Plus, one would think the similar names would mean equally similar platforms. But this is not the case.

Whilst they both use the WordPress content management system. They both have vastly different uses, access to features and costs.

So, if you wondering what the differences are between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org then this blog post will make it crystal clear. As well as give you an idea about which platform is better for who.

But before we jump into the differences between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org. Let’s have a look at what WordPress is and why people choose it.

If you are considering the differences between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org then chances are you’ve heard raving reviews about how WordPress is amazing. And that it’s perfect for your blog. But do you know anything more than – it’s the best content management system for your blog?

What Is WordPress?

Do you know the difference between wordpress.com vs wordpress.org?

WordPress is a content management system (CMS) which is software you can use to create and manage digital content. Which means it is highly tailored to write content for blog posts, news, publishing and articles.

It is also open-source software, which means individuals freely collaborate on it to provide updates and patches etc. The people who contribute have copyrights to their modifications only. So thousands of contributors are responsible for the WordPress software of today. This is one of the main reasons it is free.

So Why Should You Use WordPress?

WordPress is one of the most popular content management systems. 31% of the entire web uses WordPress. And nearly 50% of the top million websites also use WordPress. Plus it has 13 years of proven history making it a reliable and trustworthy system.

WordPress Is A Powerful Tool For Big & Small Brands

Both big and small brands use it. Including CNN, PlayStation, Beyonce, Disney and many more famous brands. Such a variety of users shows just how versatile the system is and that it’s scalable.

Easy To Learn With Bloggers In Mind

To start using WordPress, you need little to no coding knowledge. The Classic Editor, which you use to write your content, is similar to Word. But will soon be moving over to the WordPress Gutenberg editor in 5.0. Which aims to be an updated and even easier tool to use.

WordPress Is Extremely Flexible

WordPress excels at being flexible. With access to 56,203 plugins and more in the WordPress.org repository. You can find plugins for virtually anything you need without having to code.

The Important Differences Between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org

Now that you have an understanding of what WordPress is and why it is one of the best platforms you can use. Let’s look at the important differences between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org.

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org both use the same open-source WordPress system. They are both free to use.

But the confusion and main difference between the two is that WordPress.com is hosted on WordPress.com servers.

Whereas WordPress.org requires you to have your own hosting and domain. Both of which are not free!

Web Hosting: If you are not sure what web hosting is. Allow me to explain. It is often a plan with a company that allows you the use of their online servers to store the files for your website. Different Hosts have varying allowances, such as file space for a monthly fee. Most web hosting plans for beginners, range from around $3 to $10 per month. You need to make sure your web host is suitable for WordPress though. WordPress has some suggestions of hosts that meet their minimum requirements here.

So whilst WordPress.org is free to use, there are other costs you can associate with it. As you’ll have to pay for WordPress hosting and get your own domain name (which is basically your URL like thisismyblog.com)

This is not the only difference between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org though. Sadly, it’s a little more complex. But the following sections will clear this up!

WordPress.com Features

Also known as the free WordPress, because you can create your own WordPress website on the platform for free. Don’t be fooled though. Whilst it is free, it comes with a heap ton of restrictions. Making it difficult to create a website that is truly unique to you.

Also, it’s worth noting it only starts as free. WordPress.com does have paid plans for Personal ($4/month), Premium ($8/month) and Business ($25/month). All of which are billed for a yearly total.

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org options for WordPress.com subscriptions.

WordPress.com Is Difficult To Monetize

If you use the free plan of WordPress.com. You will not be able to monetize it easily with Ads. As all free sites come with WordPress.com advertising and banners. The entire revenue from these goes straight to WordPress.com.

There is the option to use WordAds, where you can keep a portion of the revenue. But there is a catch. Whilst you can apply for WordAds while on the Free plan or Personal plan. To join is subject to your traffic, content and having your own domain name.

WordAds are inferior when it comes to earning revenue for views. With earning reports as little as $2 for 22k impressions and $111 for over 200k impressions. Plus, not to mention bloated Ads with no control over placement. It doesn’t seem worth the effort, does it?

If you want to run your own Ads you’ll need to pay for the Business plan ($25/month) or above.

Contrary to popular belief, you can use affiliate links. Albeit with some restrictions.

You can add affiliate links to your WordPress.com content as long as the primary purpose of your blog is to create original content, and as long as the code for the ad is supported.

WordPress.com, 2018

Another new feature to WordPress.com, now also lets you use Simple Payments on Premium plans ($8/month) and above. Which allows you to add PayPal payment buttons onto your site.

There Is A Strict Limit To WordPress.com Customization Options

Important wordpress.com vs wordpress.org differences. A beginners guide of the vital differences you need to know before you start

If you use the Free or Personal plan then WordPress.com limits your access to free themes. To get access to more premium themes you’ll need to be on the Premium plan or higher. Even on the premium plan, they still limit the options they provide. So if you find a theme you like elsewhere then you can’t use it unless you upgrade to the Business plan ($25/month).

Even if you manage to find a free or premium theme that you like. It is also worth noting that the Free and Premium plans only give you basic customization options. If you want to edit the CSS of your theme then you’ll also need the Premium plan or above.

Free Plans Get Limited Support

All paid plans get email and live chat support. But if you are a Free plan user and have an issue. Then the only support you have access to is on the WordPress.com forums.

Basic Site Stats

Unless you are using the Business plan, you will be restricted to WordPress.com basic site stats. As Google analytics are not allowed on the other plans.

WordPress Plugins Are Locked Behind Business Plans

Like many other features, we’ve looked at so far. Plugins are another feature stashed away in the Business plan. All other plans only get access to Jetpack, and whilst there are currently 42 Jetpack modules. Which can cover many options you may need on your site. It’s still very restricted compared to the 56,000 plugins on the WordPress.org repository.

Important Site Tasks Are Managed For You

With any website often comes many tasks that you are responsible for. But with WordPress.com there is an advantage of many of these tasks being done for you. Important tasks like keeping your WordPress system updated and your website backed up are some examples.

You Have No Control Over Your Data

As scary as it sounds. If your website violates the Terms of Service then WordPress.com can delete your website. Along with all the data that goes with it.

WordPress.com Branding

All WordPress.com websites will display a Powered by WordPress.com link. Which again, you can only remove with a Business plan.

WordPress.org Features

Which is the best? WordPress.com vs wordpress.org

WordPress.org, also known as self-hosted WordPress. Since you have to provide your own web hosting and domain.

There are no paid plans for using WordPress.org. The cost is solely dependant on your web hosting price and domain name.

For comparison, Bluehost’s barebones Basic plan is $3.95/month which includes both web hosting and a domain name.

Siteground, who is another WordPress web hosting company, that WordPress.org recommends. Start at $3.95/month for web hosting and an additional $1.32/month ($15.95/year). That’s $5.27/month in total for web hosting and a domain name.

WordPress.org Gives You Full Customization Control

For $4 to $6 per month WordPress.org, lets you customize your website in any way you like. You get full control of any theme you install, including the ability to edit the CSS. And you can install any theme both free and premium from any vendor you like. You can even create your own theme to use if you like.

Monetize Your Website Your Way

With a self-hosted WordPress.org, you can monetize however you see fit. You can use affiliate links without worrying about restrictions.

You can use Ad Networks you prefer, such as Google Ads. Plus payment rates are better than WordAds. Since no revenue is deducted elsewhere before it reaches you.

It’s Your Data

With WordPress.org you won’t have to worry about your website suddenly being deleted because someone decides it is breaking the Terms of Service.

Access To All Plugins

On WordPress.org you also get access to all 56,000 plugins in the repository. With access to these plugins, you open your website up to lots of useful features and tools. To make building your dream website a piece of cake. But be mindful that not all plugins are free.

Analyze Your Stats

Since you are able to edit and customize your WordPress.org website however you like. It is also possible to add the powerful Google Analytics to your website. So you can track information that is more indepth on your websites stats. Which can provide you with valuable information on your traffic and what content is working best.

You Are Responsible For Everything

Whilst WordPress.org gives you massive amounts of flexibility. It also comes with added responsibility. This means that you need to look after your WordPress updates, plugin updates, security, maintenance, backups and restore WordPress from backup if you need to.

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org Overall Differences

There are many differences between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org.

In particular, WordPress.com makes the differences between the two more complex with its varied plan levels.

However, if we were to compare like for like. The Business plan is the closest comparison to WordPress.org.

The main differences between the Business Plan on WordPress.com vs WordPress.org are these:-

WordPress.com Business Plan

  • $25 / month, payments are taken yearly.
  • Restrictions in the Terms of Service may result in your website being deleted if it violates these terms.
  • Important website maintenance, such as updates and backups are taken care of for you.
  • Email and Live Chat support.
  • Monetization is limited by the Terms of Service. Whilst affiliate links, selling your own products and sponsored posts are all allowed. Their policies specify websites cannot do this in a dominant way. So caution is advised.
  • Advanced website traffic information, if you install Google analytics.

WordPress.org

  • $4 to $6 / month, for smallest plans on Bluehost and Siteground.
  • You are responsible for all maintenance, backups and updates.
  • No restrictions based on a Terms of Service or risk of the account being deleted.
  • WordPress support through your web hosting, if included.
  • Easily monetize your website using the methods you want with no Terms of Service restrictions.
  • Access to detailed website traffic information if you install Google analytics. So you can see what works well and what doesn’t.

As you can see WordPress.com vs WordPress.org is much simpler when you look at it this way. WordPress.org looks like a no-brainer, with significantly lower monthly costs and full control of your website.

But what if you don’t want to pay for your WordPress website just yet?

Well, this is where the WordPress.com Free plan comes in.

WordPress.com Free Plan

  • $0 / month.
  • Limited customization to free themes, basic customization options and no access to editing CSS.
  • Your site will display WordPress.com branding.
  • Maximum of 3GB online storage space for your web pages and images etc.
  • Plugins limited to Jetpack only.
  • No support other than the forums.
  • Restricted to a subdomain (yoursitename.wordpress.com)
  • Bloated ads loaded on your site, which you have no control over placement and you do not receive any revenue for them.
  • Difficult to monetize with heavy policy and design restrictions
  • Basic website traffic information, making it difficult to analyze what is popular and works well on the website.

So Which Is The Best WordPress.com vs WordPress.org?

Wordpress.com vs wordpress.org - Choose the right wordpress platform for your blog.

The best platform for you depends on what you want out of it. But also your budget.

If you are serious about creating a WordPress website for your blog or business. Then hands down WordPress.org wins. Why? Because it is an extremely affordable option even for beginners. With all the customization and control, you could ever need. Plus monetizing will be easier to implement when you decide to.

However, if WordPress.org is not in your budget just yet. Then WordPress.com may be your best bet. Whilst it is heavily restricted it is a good place to start out if you just want a personal website or to blog as a hobby. It’s also a risk-free option to test the waters if you’re not sure if blogging is for you. Since WordPress.com paid plans and most web hosting plans require you to subscribe for a minimum period.

But What If I Decide I Want To Switch To WordPress.org Later?

That’s a good question! If you decide to start with the Free plan on WordPress.com then you are not stuck with it forever. In fact, if you decide you’ve outgrown the Free WordPress.com plan or just want to upgrade. It’s not difficult to switch to WordPress.org.

Better still, WP Beginner has a guide to do it yourself. But even if you find it a bit too technical for your liking. Or would rather have someone with more experience do it for you. Then they even have a free transfer service you can use. Yes, you read that right, free!

And that’s it! You should now have a clear idea on the differences between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org.

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4 thoughts on “Which Is The Best WordPress.com vs WordPress.org?”

  1. Hi Lisa,

    Great post – thanks for sharing.

    WordPress.com could be a good option if you’re happy with creating a small hobby blog that you’ll never be interested in monetizing, although only in the free or lower-cost packages. If you’re in any way serious about growing your blog, WordPress.com’s top Business plan is the one you’ll need as it provides advanced features and functionality, but there’s a huge drawback in that it ends up being exponentially more expensive for the first year versus a self-hosted WordPress.org blog. Because of this, I just don’t think there is enough value for money from starting off with WordPress.com.

    When you add in all of the additional benefits of WordPress.org such as full monetization capabilities and having complete control and ownership over your content, it was the obvious choice when I started my latest blog.

    Thanks,

    Jonathan

    1. Hey Jonathan,

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment.

      I totally agree.

      I remember trying to figure out the whole WordPress.com vs WordPress.org back when I started this blog. The whole thing was very confusing but I ended up picking the self-hosted WordPress.org option. A decision I definitely don’t regret.

  2. Thanks so much, I am just starting out and loving your information on blogs. It is a great addition to a course I just completed, and now things are starting to click into place even more. Maybe I will look at transferring my blog to a wrodpress.org…. Thanks!

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