Frequently it is a point of confusion for those wanting to start their own blog on WordPress, only to find out that there are two platforms available – WordPress.com and WordPress.org. So what’s the difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com?
Here is the short answer: WordPress.org grants you far more freedom but comes at the price of forcing you to ‘do-it-yourself’, while WordPress.com does a lot of the things for you (such as hosting, maintenance, your domain name, etc), but comes at the price of limited freedom.
Installing WordPress.com is a snap, the domain name is already provided for you (with the .wordpress extension) and hosting is provided as well for no charge.
Hosting is where WordPress.com truly excels in for basic blogs, you get top notch hosting with WordPress.com, built-in automatic backups for your website, security and spam protection.
Maintenance (updates and such) is already taken care of as well, allowing you to focus on creating content for your website.
All great things right? There are, of course, plenty of disadvantages of using WordPress.com as your platform though you can fix most of them with some pricey upgrades.
The most notable disadvantage is that you are unable to upload any plugins of your own, with WordPress.com you have nearly two dozen built-in plugins that come pre-installed, which represent a small fraction of the tens of thousands available on WordPress.org (in addition to the thousands of premium plugins).
You can upgrade to ‘WordPress Enterprise’ for a whopping $500 a month which will give you access to about a hundred or so plugins on the WordPress.com website.
Still small potatoes compared to the tens of thousands on the WordPress.org website.
Your domain name is also going to be displayed unprofessionally since it comes with a .wordpress extension (yourwebsitename.wordpress.com).
Like with plugins, you have the option of upgrading to your own domain name without the .wordpress attached to it, for $18 a month.
Ads are another negative aspect of WordPress.com, well, ads that aren’t yours as WordPress ‘might’ host ads on your blog, though you can shell out $30 a year to get them removed.
Space is free but only for up to 3GB, after that you’ll need yet another upgrade to keep your blog running. For $99 a year you get 13GB of space and for $299 a year you get unlimited space.
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Themes are also limited since you can only upload a free theme from the WordPress.com website and have very few customization options.
There are alternatives though, the WordPress website does have some decent looking premium themes available, with most of them well over $50 each.
If you feel comfortable doing things yourself, such as purchasing your own domain name and web hosting, and want to set up a professional blog, then this WordPress platform is probably your best option.
Like with WordPress.com, this software is freely available and has the added benefit of being extremely customizable. With it, you can easily set up your own website using a free or, feature rich, premium theme and have access to tens of thousands of free and premium plugins to add pretty much any feature you can think of to your website (contact form, gallery, social share bar, shortcodes, etc).
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Basically, WordPress.org has nearly every positive feature WordPress.com has with the added benefit of having no restrictions.
Feel free to add ads to your website, customize your theme, buy premium themes on other websites and install any plugin you want.
A few things are missing though, notably a web host. Yes, if you plan on going with WordPress.org you will need to find your own web hosting service which range in price from $5 – 12$ a month.
Most web hosting services come with a free domain name for a year, so after that free year is over you will also have to pay $10 ~ a month for your domain name.
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So which is better, WordPress.org or WordPress.com?
While it is always good to factor in costs, in this case it should not be the main factor when deciding what platform to choose from, especially since you will probably be performing some type of upgrade down the road when using WordPress.com.
You also need to consider that ‘free’ usually tends to be mediocre, at best.
The deciding factor when choosing which WordPress to use is simple, what kind of website do you plan on making?
If you are going for something like a gallery, personal website, or just a casual blog that you only post to a few times a month then WordPress.com is definitely the best option.
WordPress.org is the exact opposite. That is, it is great for blogs that you plan on dedicating a lot of time to. Professional sites or blogs that you want to eventually get lots of traffic to, business websites.
Websites that you plan on trying to heavily monetize, these are sites that WordPress.org is best used for as you are going to need total control over your hosting, plugins, theme customization, advertising, etc.
Here are, an easy to understand infograph
via Matt Clark that helps new users who want to build their own website, but don’t know the differences between WordPress.org and WordPress.com.
Created because there is a lot of confusion regarding the two WordPress software versions, this simple infograph compares important features including themes and customization options.
How much freedom you have when it comes to ads on your website when using either of the two software, what your domain name options are, what hosting options you have when using WordPress.com and maintenance responsibilities.
If you plan on creating a professional website and grow your traffic, then WordPress.org is your best bet as you’ll be able to customize it to your liking and have plenty of functionality with feature rich plugins and premium themes, something that is an unavoidable necessity if ever want to have a professional blog in whatever industry/niche you are in.
Please, do vote for your favourite wordpress platform and let us analyse the best one.