WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org: What are the key differences?

When looking for the best medium through which you can get your blogs started and working effectively, you have a choice to make between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. These two platforms have unique features that serve different purposes you will need to build an outstanding blog or website.

Differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org

WordPress is a channel through which most websites on the internet are built, powering more than 40% of all functioning blogs and websites. One of the significant differences between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org is their hosting policy and the cost, as well as the fact that they are two separate companies.

Key Takeaways

  • WordPress.com provides a free website with hosting and domain included, but customization is limited.
  • WordPress.org gives you maximum control, but you’ll have to purchase a hosting plan and domain.
  • Create a website quickly and easily with WordPress.com default themes and plugins
  • UsingWordPress.org, you can design your website based entirely on your preference.
  • Restrictions put in place by WordPress.com might limit your monetization strategies

 

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org: PROS & CONS

Is WordPress.com and WordPress.org the Same Company?

It’s easy to get confused about WordPress.com and WordPress.org as they both share the same name. Due to this many believe  that both WordPress.com and WordPress.org are the same company. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth. The presence of the .com and .org in WordPress represents that they are of different platforms and functions.

What is WordPress.org?

WordPress.org is a gateway through which websites are created. It is the most reliable form of website builder because it allows you to host your website personally. It is also regarded as a self-hosted WordPress because it is an open-source platform that will enable you to adopt a domain name and select a hosting web service.

Pros:

  • Control – You are given automatic control over the website which you build. You can implement as many changes as you want without limitations.
  • Plugins – Every option available for WordPress plugins (custom, free, and paid) can be installed.
  • Monetization – Financial proceedings made from advertising and other channels are all yours to enjoy.
  • Customization – Customizing your website is made easier. Any design and theme of your choice will be the focal representation of your website.
  • Membership – You can create a community for membership sites which can expand your audience and web content.
  • E-commerce - Building an E-store within your website will give you the leverage to sell products and services and receive payments directly.

Cons:

  • Hosting – WordPress.org can only be used after buying a web hosting service and a domain name.
  • Updates – You must perform any updates to your site. The good news is that this update can be performed with ease by simply pressing the update button.
  • Installation – You can only begin work on your website when you have installed the necessary tools, such as WordPress, which can be done by following the guide provided by your hosting company. With only a simple installation button, your website becomes active.
  • Security – Data generated on the site and its security is your responsibility. With the aid of the in-built backup plugins, you get the chance to protect your files, data and beef up the security of your site without any complications.

What is WordPress.com?

WordPress.com is a platform where users can create a free website. It has an in-built hosting server that controls every detail on your website. It offers payment plans to users who intend to improve their site’s outlook with custom designs, storage facilities, domain names, etc. However, this plan only becomes effective once you upgrade the site from free to premium WordPress.com.

These plans come at a cost that is represented below;

  • Free: It offers limited service.
  • Personal: it requires a yearly payment of $48 to keep it going
  • Premium: With an outright payment of $96 per year, you get this package unhinged.
  • Business: Keep your website afloat by parting with $300 annually.
  • E-commerce: $540 yearly will get you this package.
  • VIP: You’ll need a minimum of $5000 monthly to enjoy this

Pros:

WordPress.com has some undeniable qualities that favor its users, such as;

  • Free – Having no capital does not hinder you from owning a website on WordPress.com. It allows you to own a website without paying for a hosting service or domain name. You get an initial free space of 3GB for data storage.
  • Easy to use - It has an easy-to-use interface that does not require setting up any features. You create your account, and it automatically sets up your website for you using the name and URL you provide.
  • Automatic Updates - No need to stress over updates and backup, they are done automatically.

Cons:

Unfortunately, users who create their website on WordPress.com are open to many disadvantages which might affect their websites in the long term.

  • Free Advertisement - Due to WordPress.com having total control of your website, free ads are placed on your site without your consent, and no form of revenue is given to you following these ads. However, these ads can be avoided when you upgrade your site to a paid plan.
  • Monetization restrictions - Due to the regulation of your site by WordPress.com, you cannot make as much money as you want from advertisements. You will need to apply the WordAds feature, enabling you to share ad revenue with WordPress.com. This is available with a paid subscription plan. With either a Premium or Business plan, the WordAds feature is automatically made available to you.
  • Limited Customization - You are limited to applying only free custom themes. Improvements on the custom themes only come following an upgrade to a premium or business plan which offers you custom CSS.
  • Plugins – Installing plugins is not accepted on a free website as it comes with built-in plugins. However, upgrading to the business plan will give you more plugin options you can install on your website.
  • Membership sites - There is no avenue for you to include a membership website on WordPress.com
  • Payments – Accepting payments on your website is only possible when registered on the E-commerce plan.
  • Terms of Service - Your website is at the mercy of WordPress.com and can be closed down following a violation of their terms of operation and service.
  • Domain – Custom domains that allow you to use a preferred name (http://yourwebsite.com) of your choosing on your website are reserved for subscription plans. The free plan initially offered by WordPress.com will always include a subdomain (http://yourwebsite.wordpress.com).
  • Analytics – The statistics they provide you with are what you are expected to use. There is no room for Google Analytics in the free plan unless you upgrade your site to a business plan.

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org: PROS and CONS Summary Table

WordPress.comWordPress.org
Pros* Free plan

* Easy to use

*Automatic Updates

* Complete control of your website

* All financial proceedings are yours

* Every design and customization is based on your preference

Cons* Limits the user’s control.

* Split revenues.

* Subscribing to specific plans will determine the feature you can employ on your website.

* Requires purchasing a domain name and web hosting service before creating the website

* You must perform all updates.

* Your website’s security and data backup is your responsibility.

What is a host? Self-Hosting vs. Managed Hosting

A host is an independent company with access to servers connected to the internet. These servers will give the intended user the leverage to set up your website and also make them available to the internet. Using a host will ensure that your website is well protected and give you absolute control over every action performed on the site. The significant difference between WordPress .com versus .org is the hosting service provided.

Self-Hosted / WordPress.org:

Just as the name implies, WordPress.org is a platform that allows you to host your websites after purchasing a hosting web service. A hosting service on your website will confer complete control to you, allowing you to make all the decisions that govern your website.

A self-hosted website will also guarantee the use of your specific domain name. The sole power to design, input plugins, accept payments, create membership sites, and make as much money as you desire will become possible when your website is built on WordPress.org.

Managed Hosting / WordPress.com:

Unlike WordPress.org, where you can host your site personally, WordPress.com will provide the hosting service for your website, allowing them to have absolute control over it. Websites built with managed hosting will get automatic updates and assisted support as they operate. A managed hosting platform will limit the activities you can perform on your site and regulate them to benefit themselves.

Creating a website through WordPress.com is initially free. However, further site usage will become difficult because other features you need to make your website operate seamlessly are tied to a subscription plan. These subscription plans come with different packages and therefore require you to spend more money to allow you access to these extra features.

 

Which Version is Right For You?

The choice of which platform (WordPress hosted vs self-hosted) is suitable for you is dependent on the reason for which the website is created.

WordPress.com is the ideal choice for those who are not interested in monitoring or having control of their sites, but are more concerned about providing their services (photographers, artists, doctors, etc.).

WordPress.org is the best option for you if you’re a tech-savvy individual. You will have total control over your site and will not have any monetization limitations. However this also means that you are responsible to perform all upgrades and monitoring for your site.

 

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org: An In-depth comparison

Choosing between WordPress.org vs WordPress.com is the first step before creating a website. As we delve into some key features available in both WordPress.com and WordPress.org., consider what your website needs are, weigh up both options and select accordingly.

1. Pricing, Cost, and Domain Names:

WordPress.com is designed to offer you the opportunity of creating a free website. However, this free website is limited and you’ll need to subscribe to a paid plan to fully utilize your website. Having your website hosted on the WordPress.com platform will automatically attach a subdomain for free. The cost of these paid subscription plans varies depending on the package, with prices ranging between $4-$50 monthly. You can choose the personal, premium, business, e-commerce, or VIP plan.

WordPress.org, however, requires purchasing domain name and hosting service before creating your website. Ideally, with $15 yearly, you get to own a unique domain name, and with $35-$40 annually, you get access to a hosting service. With a domain name and hosting service in place, you get complete control over your website and implement any change you desire at your convenience.

2. Help & Technical Support:

Help and technical support is vital for ensuring that your website runs smoothly even when you don’t have the skills to do so.

WordPress.com users will get the assistance needed to navigate through their issues when the website is upgraded to a subscription plan. However, the free plan will give you access to a limited level of support from guides made by other individuals. The level of technical support also varies with the type of upgraded plan on your site. The personal and premium packages come with email and live chat support, whereas the business and e-commerce plan comes with live chat support that prioritizes your issues and offers immediate solutions.

WordPress.org does not offer you expert technicians that can help you with your website issues. You rely heavily on the support you can get from manuals and guides, and you have the opportunity to communicate with other experienced bloggers, which will help you navigate the terrain.

3. Ease of Use:

It’s useful to have a certain level of technical know-how. However, if your technical ability is limited, consider how easy it will be to operate the site from either platform.

WordPress.com provides a step-by-step guide on how the site works without you having to apply any special skill.

WordPress.org will confer all the responsibilities of understanding the site and its working on you. The designs, page layout, contents, and every other website aspect is yours to decide.

4. Theme Options:

A dull theme will cause your audience to lose interest.

WordPress.com offers you a limited list of themes that are available for usage on your website. However, this list is boosted following a subscription to any paid plans. With about 200 premium themes at your disposal following a subscription to either business, premium, or e-commerce packages, you can induce appealing themes to your site.

WordPress.org, however, has an endless list of themes available for your website. You are spoilt for choice with what option of theme to use because there are over 9,000 customizable themes at your disposal. Applying any of these themes will not require you to upgrade your website.

5. Plugin Availability:

Plugins give an additional boost to your website that will improve its functionality.

WordPress.com limits the application of plugins on a website with a WordPress.com domain. The degree of plugins that can be added to your website depends on your registered subscription plan. Free, personal, or premium plans will only have the opportunity to use the default plugins. However, with an upgrade to either the business or e-commerce plan, you will have the capacity to install more plugins.

WordPress.org gives you a wide range of plugins (paid and unpaid) with which you can increase and enhance the functioning of your website. Having a domain name alongside a web hosting service has automatically given your website the edge of having multiple plugins available for your use.

6. WordPress:

WordPress is computer software designed to assist in the creation of websites. It branched into two; WordPress.org and WordPress.com. They are two separate entities with the basic function of building a website. The websites they create are independent of one another and although similar, they have significant differences

WordPress.com will limit the control you have over your website and will function based on their terms.

WordPress.org will give you all the rights and control over your website and  will work according to your command

7. E-Commerce Features:

Converting your website to a money-making platform is possible when you set up your site with the proper tools.

WordPress.com has an e-commerce subscription plan that helps you to successfully monetize your website. Allowing you to sell goods and services, providing you with the appropriate SEO skillset, enabling payment acceptance, etc, can be accessed by subscribing to the e-commerce plan with a $540 annual charge.

WordPress.org does not  offer you the e-commerce feature, however, you can install third-party e-commerce plugins. These plugins will allow you to transform your site into an online store.

8. SEO:

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) increases organic traffic to your site by making it more visible on a search results page.

WordPress.com has in-built SEO properties that give your website a unique advantage to get noticed during search results. However, with a business and e-commerce plan in place, you can implement these SEO tools on an advanced scale.

WordPress.org will give you complete control of the SEO tool. This will allow you to make any alteration to improve how the SEO tool works and become highly ranked and more accessible to your audience.

9. Blogging:

98% of internet blogs are built with WordPress

WordPress was created generally to build blogs. It has within its specifications the required features to help you build a successful blogging site. With its content management system, access to images, videos, and links, the dashboard for blog management, and a scheduling option for a blog post, it is well-equipped to help you create your website.

WordPress.com ultimately operates as WordPress software. It is designed uniquely to facilitate blogging activities. Having a website built on the premise of WordPress.com will save you the extra cost of buying a hosting service.

WordPress.org has a different outline. Your website will operate solely as you want it to without any interference. However, it also offers you the option of including a blogging section on your website.

10. Security & Backup:

Protecting your files, content, and data is a necessary action that must be performed on your website.

WordPress.com will automatically back up your data and secure every file on your website with the most recent updates. There is no need for close monitoring because WordPress.com will handle all updates in its entirety.

WordPress.org will require you to secure your site and back up your files manually. It demands a high level of maintenance and  is a time-consuming process that might hinder you from performing other duties. When a website on the WordPress.org platform is undergoing an upgrade, there is potentially a delay before gaining entry to the site.

11. Monetization

WordPress.com restricts you from making money on your website unless you subscribe to plans that accommodate making money. However, even with an upgrade to your website, you still have to split the proceeds of any financial activity on your website with WordPress.com. There is also no room for membership sites and affiliate marketing.

WordPress.org is the right platform for you if making money from your website is important. There are no restrictions on monetization options, whether through membership sites, affiliate marketing, or advertisements. You are in absolute control of your website and can make as much money as you want. With the use of plugins for ads, you get to manage your WordPress dashboard effectively.

12. Customization Possibilities:

WordPress.com hampers your ability to chop and change the outlook of your website. You have to make do with what is provided for you, depending on your subscription plan.

WordPress.org gives you the freedom to implement unique features, designs, and themes to customize your website to your desired outlook. It gives you the leverage to adjust and change as many times as possible any feature, themes, and plugins on your site, depending on recent updates.

13. Storage:

WordPress.com limits the size of data you can store. Although, when you upgrade your website to any paid plan, you will be given considerable storage for your data’s safekeeping.

WordPress.org has made storing data easy due to the presence of a hosting web service on your website. All generated data are stored in the hosting service server, which offers a large space to keep any form of data.

14. Setup:

Setting up your website is necessary before it becomes operational.

WordPress.com has an easy setup process that is neither time-consuming, nor financially unsettling. It’s a step by step process to start a website. Choose your preferred name for the website. Apply any of the available designs to your website. Then voila, your website is ready for use. You can always upgrade to a paid plan and get other advanced features.

WordPress.org is slightly different. You must purchase a host and domain name before setting up your website. After the purchase, then you can go on to creating your website without delay. You get the advantage of setting up your website to look exactly how you want it without any restrictions.

 

WordPress.org vs WordPress.com: A Comparison Chart

WordPress.com

(Free Plan)

WordPress.com

(Paid Plan)

WordPress.org
Software or SubscriptionFree SubscriptionSubscriptionSoftware
Free$4 – $45 per month
Requires a separate web hosting account
Use a custom domain (URL)
Upload themes
Install Plugins
Edit backend codes (CSS)
Free themes (templates)
Free plugins
Accepts payments
E-commerce compatibility
Storage3GB6GB – 200GBDepends on the hosting service
SSL CertificateDepends on the hosting service
Advanced design customization
Ads
SupportVia hosting company
Stable hostingDepends on hosting company
Remove WordPress.com branding

The Cost of using WordPress.com vs WordPress.org

The cost between using WordPress.com vs WordPress.org varies significantly. Not only in terms of what you pay, but also in terms of time commitment and monetization opportunities.

WordPress.com allows you to create a website for free, is easy to set up and requires minimal maintenance. But unless you sign up to a paid plan, you’ll encounter a number of limitations.

  • Your website will always have a subdomain added to its name.
  • A free plan website on WordPress.com will not generate any money from Ads placed by WordPress.com, and there is no option to remove these Ads.
  • The storage space allocated to a free plan website on WordPress is about 3GB which is insufficient to store your data and files.
  • Making money on a WordPress.com website is reserved for those with higher subscription plans, such as business and e-commerce plans.
  • The cost of an e-commerce plan is $14 monthly, and about $15 yearly for a custom domain.
  • The free plan website has access to only the default set of plugins and designs. For $300 annually, the business plan will give you access to install and use these features.

WordPress.org operates with a different method:

  • Your website can become fully operational with as low as $35 and, in subsequent years, $50 to stay afloat.
  • The website created on a WordPress.org platform must have a paid host and domain name.
  • The paid hosting service will therefore ensure that you gain complete control of your website and allows you to use the website in any way you see fit.
  • All rights, actions, and revenue are yours to conduct once your website is developed on a WordPress.org channel.

Final: WordPress.com_vs_WordPress.org

 

Wrapping Up: Choose Which is Best For You

It goes without saying that it is not a competition whether WordPress.com or WordPress.org is better. Instead, it is a choice for you to make depending on which of these platforms is most suitable for you.

A WordPress.org website is your best bet if you want to:

  • Primarily generate money.
  • Have different monetization channels (ads, accepting payments, affiliate marketing)
  • Create a membership site where you charge people for their content, running ads for companies at your desired price, accepting payment, allowing affiliate marketers to use your site at a set fee.
  • Maintain absolute control over every action on your website
  • Be responsible for monitoring your website, including; updates, installing plugins, themes and designs

A WordPress.com website is your best bet if you want to:

  • Mainly provide information and assist your audience in getting the news firsthand
  • Have a website focused on personal blogs
  • Create a website that is Free, Easy to use and Low maintenance
  • Avoid paying for separate hosting and domain

Next Steps: What Now?

  • Decide the type of website you want to create and what it will be used for.
  • Research which platform matches your website needs.
  • If you settle for a WordPress.org website – search for a hosting company that will give you the best service for your unique site.
  • If your choice is WordPress.com, be prepared to pay an upgrading fee to any subscription plan to enjoy its multiple amazing benefits.
  • Set up the website account following the guides made available to you.
  • Apply default designs, themes, and plugins to the site. You can always upgrade to a paid plan supporting additional features on the WordPress.com platform. While with WordPress.org, you can easily change these features without having to pay for them.
  • With WordPress.org ensure you keep the website running smoothly by performing its needed updates on time. WordPress.com automatically takes care of the updates.

Useful Resources:

FAQ

Can I transfer my WordPress.com site to WordPress.org?

Yes, you can. There is no holdback from transferring your WordPress.com site to WordPress.org. When this migration is performed, you begin to enjoy every benefit that is associated with WordPress.org sites.

Can I Monetize a Free WordPress.com Website?

Unfortunately, you cannot monetize your free WordPress.com website because WordPress.com restricts this type of website. You will need to upgrade the website from a free plan to a business or e-commerce plan before you can monetize it effectively.

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org: Which one is better for Ecommerce?

Websites with WordPress.org hosting are better suited to the e-commerce feature. Using WordPress.org will allow you to monetize your website without any restrictions. Unlike WordPress.com which will require you to be subscribed to a specific plan before enjoying some of the benefits of e-commerce.