WordPress.com vs WordPress.org – Which is Right for You?
If you are reading this, I am pretty sure you must be new to blogging and have no idea about the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. Both are owned by Automatic and both help in creating blogs hence most of the new bloggers might assume both are the same. Not really. Let me make this clear for you. You must be thinking WordPress is WordPress right? Well, make sure you remember this very seriously, IT IS NOT.
Be sure to understand the difference before you proceed with creating your blog. I am writing this with my personal experience. Initially, I started off with WordPress.com, obviously; I did not read any such article before I started (completely my mistake) and landed up with the wrong WordPress.
Let me break it down for you.
First things first. Leave all the other features aside. If you plan to monetize your site then there is absolutely no confusion, WordPress.org is the only answer.
What is WordPress.com?
WordPress.com is ready to use and is extremely simplified. You just need to sign up, get a domain name with them and select a plan. It is free to start with if you are ok with a sub-domain (domainname.wordpress.com) but if you prefer an individual domain and not a sub-domain of WordPress.com, you will have to buy their premium plan. You need to be very clear that WordPress.com is a hosted service similar to Blogger or Weebly which means that you create a website which is hosted and maintained on Automattic’s servers.
What is WordPress.org?
WordPress.org is also popularly known as a ‘self-hosted WordPress blog’ which means you set it up with a hosting provider get a domain name and get started. You can customize anything you want as working on this platform is extremely flexible.
When someone mentions ‘WordPress’, they usually mean WordPress.org. Anyone can download WordPress and use it but you are not allowed to create a site in their servers instead you need to find your own hosting provider hence the name Self-Hosted WordPress.
How is WordPress.org different from WordPress.com?
Both the platforms are different at multiple levels. I have explained below the most significant differences which will help you in choosing the right platform.
1. Your blog could be shut down anytime by WordPress.com
Yes, this may come as a shock to you. I was shocked too. I had my site FromSizeZerotoWiseHero up for 3 months on WordPress.com. As I had just started blogging for a few months, I really had no clue that I was using a more restricted WordPress platform. I had decided to do an article where I needed to add affiliate links so I went up to read the Terms & Conditions. I was shocked to realize for the first time that WordPress.com does not allow affiliate links and was further taken aback when I read that they could shut my site down whenever they wanted to. Clearly, it was a very unpleasant day for me as my entire plan of earning through my log and months of hard work getting views on my site just went down in the drain.
If you want to know more about what is allowed and not allowed on WordPress.com, read this.
2. WordPress.com is a more limited platform than WordPress.org:
WordPress.com offers you few hundred themes internally whereas WordPress.org lets you choose from thousands of themes both internally or loading from external sources.
If you do not like the way an element looks in your website or need to change or add an element, you can easily do this by adding a plugin from the thousands of available plugins in WordPress.org. Sadly WordPress.com does not let you use a plugin which means you just have to stick with the defined elements hence customization of the blog as per your taste is quite difficult and impossible in most of the cases.
3. WordPress.com has strict advertising policies
When you start a website, you would want to monetize it in the future. You would expect to make an independent decision on how you would want to earn your blogging revenues. WordPress.com does let you monetize your site but again their strict policies make it difficult for you to reap 100% revenue from your blog.
One way you can monetize your site from WordPress.com is by applying for WordAds. For that first you will have to be at least a premium member which means you require to pay them an amount for a year and then can you apply for the program. But their approval process is tedious and you have no control over what adds to put up where.
There are other monetization options like adding affiliate links, sponsored posts or selling a product but the WordPress.com specifically mentions that- “We do not allow sites where the vast majority of content is sponsored content”. Hence, WordPress.com has the power to shut down your site if it believes that your site is more inclined towards earning revenues than drive traffic. Do you want someone else to have so much power when you are doing all the hard work?
I have only one line to say for self-hosted WordPress in this context- you are free to do whatever you want to earn revenues.
4.WordPress.org make you look more professional rather than WordPress.com
Let me be straight with you. WordPress.com is great but if you intend to share your work in the professional industry to get further assignments or to collaborate, you might have a better shot if you are on a self-hosted platform like WordPress.org as this shows that you understand the complexities of managing a blog.
5. WordPress.org has powerful SEO and Analytics
WordPress.com has inbuilt SEO but does not allow you the freedom of using powerful external plugins. For more powerful SEO, you will need to upgrade your plan to business which can cost you quite a lot. Also, WordPress.com has its own analytics which is quite good actually but you will be missing on other powerful analytics plugins such as Google Analytics which is only available if you upgrade to a business plan which costs $800 per month.
WordPress.org lets you install the best SEO plugins to help you maximize your SEO potential and increase your rankings in search engines. It also lets you install Google Analytics is one of the best analytics tools which gives you a detailed insight of your website visitors, views and stats. The best part is that all these plugins can be installed for free.
6. Premium WordPress.com is costlier than WordPress.org Self-Hosting:
WordPress.com offers a free sub-domain for up to 3 GB of storage after that you will have to reach for your wallet. Premium plans start from $48 to $300 a year.
WordPress.org is absolutely free but you will have to pay for a hosting plan and a domain name. The standard charge of a domain name is $10 per year. Hosting charges start from $40 for the first year and increases from the next year. Also, as your website grows, you may have to upgrade your plan. You have the option of using a single host for multiple websites.
The expenses are completely dependent upon the type of website or websites you wish to create. If you create a similar website on both the platforms, you will notice that you are paying more on the hosted WordPress.
7. WordPress.com is a maintenance-free & secure platform:
‘With freedom comes more responsibility,’ this saying goes true for self-hosted WordPress as you are completely responsible for maintaining, troubleshooting and backing up your website, you can use the help of plugins or individual developers but it is still complicated and time-consuming. By default, there is no security but good hosting companies include free SSL certificates along with their hosting plans.
WordPress.com does everything for you, you just need to sign up and choose a plan, that’s it. You will be free from any other worries and can focus just on developing good content. It automatically back-ups your content too and is secure as it provides free SSL certificates with their plans. But the lack of flexibility is an issue but if you just want to create content and these limitations work for you, then you still can think about using this hosted platform.
8. WordPress.org has no support like WordPress.com
WordPress.com has a dedicated support team to help you with any technical glitches. This is a one-stop solution to any issues you may face with this platform.
On the other hand, WordPress.org as such has no dedicated support. DO not worry that does not mean you will get help from nowhere. Remember you are buying hosting from an outside company such a SiteGround or Bluehost and their support team is available if you have any hosting or site related issues. You can contact individual developers for issues with plugins or themes. The process may be time-consuming as you will have to take support from multiple channels but still, you will get help if needed.
What should you use- WordPress.com or WordPress.org?
You need to figure out your blogging priorities first only then will it be clear to you which of the two WordPress (WordPress.com or WordPress.org) is the right one for you.I am not going to be biased here towards any platform. I have noticed a lot of negative reviews about WordPress.com by many other bloggers but frankly, I was using this platform for almost 9 months and I had a wonderful experience. It was so simple to use with practically no issues that if you have no-blogging knowledge, you still can create a blog in minutes and start writing. On the other hand, WordPress.org is complicated at a certain level and you will be spending a lot of time doing side-activities other than writing but again the limitless features and freedom makes it a creators paradise. You need to figure out your blogging priorities first only then will it be clear to you which of the two WordPress (WordPress.com or WordPress.org) is the right one for you.
If blogging is just a hobby to you and you really do not want to get into the complexities of creating a self-hosted site (which is time consuming), troubleshooting, occasional coding, regular back-up, etc. then WordPress.com is one of the best-hosted platforms for you. You can also try other similar platforms like Blogger or Weebly.
If you are passionate about blogging, do not want any restrictions on your website and want to keep 100% revenue you generate then WordPress.org is the best option available in the market.
What are your thoughts on WordPress.com vs WordPress.org? Would you like to add any other differences to the list? Do you have any further questions? Let us know in the comments section below!
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About the Author
An Electronics & Communication Engineer by education and a Blogger by passion, Pooja is the owner of and blog consultant at 'The Blogipedia'. She is a spiritual soul, travel enthusiast and a health fanatic who shares her journey through another blog she owns 'From Size Zero to Wise Hero'. A certified Digital Marketing student who has learnt the complexity of blogging from scratch and intends to share the same with you.Learn more