As the most popular site-building software, WordPress powers more than 43% of the websites on the internet today. But there are two major versions of WordPress; and misunderstanding these may cost you a lot. So, before you start a WordPress site, you should know the difference between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org. To make the right choice for your website and hosting needs, it is essential to understand what makes both .com and .org so unique.
Several key aspects separate WordPress.com from WordPress.org, but choosing between the two options mainly depends on how much control over the design and management of the website is needed. The key difference between the two is in the hosting. Therefore, let’s take a closer look at the self-hosted WordPress.org and hosted WordPress.com sites.
WordPress is an open-source software written in PHP, which integrates with MySQL databases to provide custom publishing solutions to users. The core of WordPress can be extended using extra code and is used mostly in content management.
WordPress.org is the official website from where you can download core WordPress files, extend WordPress with various themes and plugins, and get support in case of an issue.
WordPress.com is hosted on WordPress but is fully controlled and managed by Automattic. You can build a website yourself for almost no cost but it is very limited and doesn’t offer you much wiggle room. Additionally, everything is browser-based, so you don’t have to download any software to run your website.
Renting vs. Owning : WordPress.com vs WordPress.org
Deciding which platform to build your website on can be a hard task. Before we start to go into the technical details, the easiest way to think about the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org is to imagine them both as a house you want to live in. One provider offers you to pay rent; the other house is for free sale; respectively.
When you rent your house, you are limited in the way you can alter the looks of it or how many people can live there. You are unable to buy additional property to expand and do not have full control to edit things as you wish. However, it is cheaper than buying a house, and if you don’t want to live there anymore, you can simply move out after the end of your lease period.
When you buy a house, you have full control over the outlay of the rooms, the placement of every single wall, the interior design, and so much more. If you feel like expanding the garage, that’s an option. When you own, the possibilities are endless.
Owning a house also brings a lot of responsibilities with it. It means that you handle the upkeep and care of your home. You also manage relationships with every company and service provider to keep your home functioning as it should.
Both “house” options or hosting platforms come with several pros and cons; it all depends on your budget, your skill level, and, last but not least, your expectations.
Since WordPress.com offers a free service, many new users opt for this route in the beginning. It stays free for up to 3GB of storage space, and there are no extra costs for a sub-domain name (like wpgaurav.wordpress.com) or web hosting.
If you need more space to customize certain aspects of your website, you’ll have to switch to one of the paid plans.
WordPress.com is hosted on WordPress but fully controlled and managed by Automattic. You can build a website yourself for almost no costs but it is very limited and doesn’t offer you much wiggle-room. Additionally, everything is browser-based, which means you don’t have to download any software to run your website.
After signing up for an account, you can choose one of the free themes and start creating your site online. You won’t have to worry about staying on top of updates or making any backups; because the platform will take care of it for you.
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to install any plugins or custom themes; only the premium plans offer a selection of compatible plugins and themes.
WordPress.com is ideal for anyone wanting to launch a personal blog, share thoughts online, or test a certain idea. The free WordPress.com platform is the ideal choice for bloggers, but as easy as the setup and maintenance process is, as little can you adjust to make your page your own.
Unless you upgrade to a premium plan, WordPress.com also places ads on all free websites.
At the same time, you cannot sell any ads on your site unless you apply for their advertising program WordAds, which is a shared revenue program.
You won’t be able to run an eCommerce platform or start a membership site unless you pay plenty and if your website violates their Terms and Conditions, WordPress.com can delete your site anytime.
WordPress.org is an open-source software and free to use. To start a self-hosted WordPress website, you first need a domain name and a hosting service to store your website's files.
The cost of a WordPress.org website varies based on what kind of website you have in mind. Web hosting costs will increase as your website grows and gets more traffic.
The price tag for a simple blog is smaller than for an eCommerce store or a membership site. You also have the choice between thousands of templates as well as endless plugins, both free or premium priced.
With WordPress.org, you have to organize your hosting and take care of the software installation yourself. On WordPress.org, you can find the actual WordPress software as a free download, which you can install on your own web server.
In many cases, you won’t actually go that route, but rather start with the decision for the right web hosting for your needs. Most hosting providers offer an easy 1-click WordPress installation on their platform. A WordPress.org page comes with more responsibilities, like making sure your domain name gets renewed on time and all necessary updates as well as backups. Luckily, all this doesn’t require any coding know-how, just some planning skills.
If you start off with a free hosted website, chances are you will outgrow the limitations. It is fairly easy to switch from a hosted WordPress.com site to the self-hosted WordPress.org website.
WordPress.com vs WordPress.org: Which one to choose?
If you want to save time and be in control from the very beginning, we recommend starting with a WordPress.org site right away. It opens you the flexibility to create the website of your dreams. You can upload and install free or premium themes and plugins, edit the code behind your site, have access to your site’s database, and you can customize it any way you want.
WordPress.org also allows you to generate revenue by creating an online store to sell products or services. You can accept payments online via credit card or other payment services and create a paid membership page.
But this is only the start of a long list of possibilities for how to generate revenue with a self-hosted website.
Another advantage is that as your website grows, you can measure your website performance by using powerful tools like Google Analytics, Search Console etc., for analytics and traffic monitoring.