If you are new to WordPress, you might have wondered about the two versions of WordPress i.e. difference between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org.
Are you confused about why there are two of them? Can’t decide which WordPress platform to choose? You are not alone.
In this post, we will discuss everything you need to know. First, we will give a brief description of ‘WordPress‘ which is essential to understand the two platforms (WordPress.com and WordPress.org).
What is WordPress?
WordPress is an open-source software based on PHP and MySQL. It is a free content management system (CMS) with which you can create blogs and websites. You can download the software for free, install, use, and also modify it as is open-source software.
Initiated as a blogging platform, WordPress is now widely used for various types of non-blogging websites including eCommerce sites. Doubtlessly, WordPress is the king of the CMS market today that powers 40% of all websites online.
So if you want to create a WordPress-based website, you have two options to choose from; WordPress.com or WordPress.org.
It is often confusing as people fail to make clear distinctions between them. So, let’s alienate and discuss each platform first.
Overview: WordPress.com vs WordPress.org
Let’s start with a brief introduction to look at how they differ from one another.
1. What is WordPress.com?
Let’s make it simple. WordPress.com is an online platform where you can start a blog or build a website for FREE. It is quite a similar platform to Blogger or Tumblr where you can create your own blog and publish content.
WordPress.com is a fully hosted platform backed by a company called Automattic. Automattic uses the ‘WordPress software’ to power WordPress.com. It ensures high-quality, spam-free, and secure hosting of your website forever for FREE of cost.
It means that you are away from the worry of finding a hosting provider if you choose WordPress.com. Additionally, it takes care of your website security, maintenance, backup, and software updates.
At WordPress.com, you don’t have to download and install the software, pay for hosting, and domain name. So, free hosted WordPress.com is the easiest platform to build a WordPress-based website. However, there are some limitations.
2. What is WordPress.org?
WordPress.org is the home to open-source software WordPress. This is where you can download the WordPress software and install it on any web host to create a website. When people just say ‘WordPress’, they often intend to say ‘WordPress.org’, not ‘WordPress.com’.
It is a self-hosted platform which means that you need to find a hosting company on your own along with a domain name. Website performance, security, and overall aspects of your website are all of your responsibilities which mostly depend on the quality of web host you use.
You will have enough freedom and customization possibilities on this platform. WordPress software is FREE but you need to spend money on the hosting.
At WordPress.org platform, if you want to build a WordPress-based website, you have to download and install the software, find a host that demands both time and money. So, choosing the WordPress.org platform means making your hands dirty.
WordPress.com vs WordPress.org – What’s the Difference?
WordPress.com and WordPress.org both are for creating WordPress-based websites but they are fundamentally different.
The key difference between these two WordPress flavors is ‘Hosting‘ or who hosts your website. WordPress.com is a fully hosted platform while WordPress.org is a self-hosted platform allowing you to host WordPress installation on your own server.
Other major differences are about customization ability, maintenance, and security, etc.
Getting Started: WordPress.com vs WordPress.org
It’s really easy to start a website in both the WordPress platforms. But, let’s see how the process differs from each other.
1. Start a Website in WordPress.com
To start a website in WordPress.com, you need to go to their official website first. Since WordPress.com is a fully hosted platform, you can create your entire website from the official site itself. Your website will be fully hosted by WordPress for free.
Then, click on Start your website and login to your WordPress account or create a new one. Now, the first step is to select the name and the domain name of your website. You can change or skip the name of your website later but you still need to enter the domain name for your website.
You can also view whether a domain name is available for free or not for your website. If not, then you might have to select a premium plan for it.
After you have selected your domain name, click on Continue.
Now, you need to select the design of your website’s homepage. You can select any of them from the multiple choices available. Then, you can also change it afterward if necessary.
You will be followed with a few more steps to customize your website on the basis of fonts and features for your website. After that, you need to select a pricing plan for your website and then your website will be created.
You can further customize your website from the WordPress.com dashboard if needed.
2. Start a Website in WordPress.org
Creating a website in WordPress.org is a bit different than in WordPress.com. First, you need to get a domain name from a domain name registrar.
Then, you have to get a hosting service for your website. Since WordPress.org is a self hosted platform, you have to find the hosting services yourself.
If you need any help on it, you can view our list of the best WordPress hosting services.
After that, you need to install WordPress on your hosting account. For this, all you need to do is add the site name, tagline, and domain for your WordPress website from the account page. We have used a Bluehost account for this demo.
After you have entered all the necessary information, Bluehost will install WordPress for you automatically.
Now, you have to login to your WordPress website. You can do so with the website URL with a path /wp-login.php.
Enter your login details and start customizing your website.
If you need any further information, do visit our guide on how to create a WordPress website.
Our Verdict: WordPress.com is a bit easier to get started as it is a fully hosted platform.
Customization Options: WordPress.com vs WordPress.org
Both the platforms provide users with a lot of customization options for your website. Let’s see how they differ.
1. Customization Options in WordPress.com
WordPress.com provides you with many different customization options. You can choose from over 100+ free themes and 200+ premium themes. But, you are limited with just these themes and cannot use custom themes for your website.
You can also use a live customizer to customize the menu and widgets for your website.
If you want more functionalities for your website, plugins can also be installed on your website. But, they will be available for you only if you upgrade to the business plan. However, the plugins provided are very limited and provide basic additional functionalities like comments, stats, etc.
You can also customize the custom CSS for your website if you need to edit further.
2. Customization Options in WordPress.org
The customization options in WordPress.org are on the next level compared to WordPress.com. You can find any type of theme for your website with WordPress.org since you can use custom themes. There are hundreds and thousands of themes to choose from from different sources.
If you need a free theme, you can easily find it from the official WordPress theme repository in WordPress.org.
It’s the same thing with plugins as well. You can find a large variety of free plugins on the WordPress plugin repository with over 50,000+ plugins to choose from. If any type of feature or functionality needs to be added to the website, we’re sure that you’ll find it for your website here.
All the additional customization options for your website may vary depending on the theme or plugin that you use.
But, if you want to customize your website even further and have knowledge on coding, you can use the Theme Editor too. Here, you can access and change the theme files using codes and make necessary changes to your website.
This can be very useful if you have knowledge on programming or if the functionality you want to add on your website is not available on any themes or plugins.
Our Verdict: WordPress.org clearly has more customization options for your website.
Security: WordPress.com vs WordPress.org
The security in both the platforms are quite strong. However, the real difference lies in the control of the security services. So, let’s have a look at how they differ as well.
1. Security in WordPress.com
As mentioned earlier, WordPress.com is a fully hosted platform. So, this also means that every aspect of the security is handled by WordPress itself.
This includes various procedures of encryption, firewall protection, monitoring, and security testing. Furthermore, they even look after your backup and recovery.
They also provide your websites with full HTTPS and SSL support along with two factor authentication.
These security features are full proof systems which secures your website and has zero vulnerabilities.
2. Security in WordPress.org
The security for your website in WordPress.org is a whole different story. You need to manage everything for your website regarding security from backups to firewalls system monitoring. Luckily, there are many WordPress security plugins that provide you with all the necessary services for your website.
Similarly, you can also find a wide variety of best WordPress backup plugins if you need a plugin for website backup and recovery too. There are also many anti-spam plugins if you want to get rid of the spams
Our Verdict: WordPress.com manages every aspect of security on your website. But you can get more control and variations from WordPress.org for the security of your website.
WordPress.com vs WordPress.org: Which is Cheaper?
A basic website with WordPress.com subdomain is completely free at WordPress.com while it costs you some dollars to start any website with WordPress.org. You need to purchase a web hosting plan and domain to launch your website on a self-hosted WordPress.org platform.
But if you want a fully-featured business website with your own domain name, more storage, custom design, and no advertisements, WordPress .com will become more expensive than WordPress.org.
For example, let’s take the popular paid plan at WordPress.com ‘Premium’ which costs you $96 per year. It comes with a 13GB website storage space.
On the other hand, you have multiple hosting plans from different hosting providers that range from low to high prices. Let’s take SiteGround’s ‘GrowBig’ plan for example which comes with 20GB space. And the price is $71.4 per year which is a lower price than that of the WordPress.com ‘Premium’ plan.
Our Verdict: WordPress.org is the winner considering cost in the long run.
Monetization: WordPress.com vs WordPress.org
After looking at the total cost of both the platforms, it is also important to note out how you can make money with them as well.
1. Monetization in WordPress.com
WordPress.com has very limited monetization options. It only lets you add your own ads using WordAds. You cannot add any more third party custom ads like Google Adsense, OpenX and so on.
The only remaining method to monetize your content is by using affiliate links or sponsored posts.
2. Monetization in WordPress.org
WordPress.org provides you vast options for monetization as well. You can easily add advertisements from third-party ads like Google Adsense, OpenX, BuySellAds, and so on. It even has Google Adsense optimized WordPress themes to make your work easier.
Furthermore, you can also manage your affiliate programs and links using one of the WordPress affiliate plugins.
Similarly, you can also sell products on your website with WooCommerce and earn more money. These monetization features are all thanks to the incredible flexibility of WordPress.org.
Our Verdict: If you want to make more money from your website, just go with WordPress.org
Rather than one being superior to another platform, WordPress.com and WordPress.org both can be the best/ most appropriate platform for you depending on your need and resourcefulness. They both have pros and cons.
So, let’s discuss which platform fits perfectly for whom.
1. Why Pick WordPress.com?
If you are a beginner creating your first website, WordPress.com is perfect for you. First of all, it’s super easy and super fast to set up a website. You don’t need to bother about WordPress installation, hosting, security, maintenance, and backup. You get them all for free.
Free website on WordPress.com comes with limitations, though. Say ‘YES‘ to WordPress.com, if you are okay with the following limitations:
- You don’t get a custom domain and limited website space.
- You cannot make custom design changes. Be happy with what’s already there.
- It doesn’t allow you to add your own ads and earn money. Instead, you have to tolerate ‘WordPress.com’ ads that are shown by default.
Paid plans at WordPress.com will provide you more freedom and control over your website but not as much as in WordPress.org.So, WordPress.com is better for beginners, content-focused bloggers, anyone with little time, anyone willing to work less.
2. Why Pick WordPress.org?
If you want to build a website of your own that is unique and stands out of the crowd, WordPress.org is the right platform for you. Find a suitable hosting plan, install WordPress, pick a beautiful theme, and start building. If you are a layman without any knowledge of WordPress and how the web works, starting with WordPress.org platform through this process may sound quite difficult but what it all takes is a little more time.
Most importantly of all, WordPress.org platform offers you full freedom, customization possibilities, monetization options. However, with great freedom comes great responsibility. Say ‘YES‘ to WordPress.org if you are okay with the conditions/ limitations below:
- You are ready to buy a hosting and get a domain. It doesn’t come for FREE.
- You are responsible for everything; security, maintenance, backup, and updates. You have enough time and resources to keep your site up and running.
Despite all, full freedom and complete control you get in WordPress.org are worth the responsibilities that come by. So, WordPress.org is a better platform for anyone willing to create unique websites, and build a strong online identity or earn money, be it, beginners or experts.
Starting out with WordPress.org is getting your hands dirty and your hard work actually pays off. At the end of the day, your work will be rewarding.
You can create build your website any way you like. Get the full control over what feels or what design to give on your site. You are free to use any custom theme from thousands of free and premium WordPress themes. Add any free or premium WordPress plugin and extend any functionality needed on your site.
You get a custom domain name – an online brand identity. You can monetize your site and earn money.Considering major differences freedom, control over the website, cost, customization, and monetization options, WordPress.org is WINNER.
We hope that we have cleared your concern on WordPress.com vs WordPress.org. Both are great platforms to build websites. It all depends on your needs and requirements for the website.
If you want a simple website just for a while, WordPress.com can be quite helpful for you too. But the unlimited customization features and options along with complete control of your website from WordPress.org, this can do wonders for the growth of your website.