WordPress.com vs WordPress.org – A Practical Comparison

WordPress is the most popular and widely used CMS for building websites. Over 43% of the websites on the internet are powered by WordPress. With WordPress, you can build your website quickly. The software is free. The popularity of WordPress is growing by the day and so is the community. Many people are still confused with what’s the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org.

There are many beginners who confuse both these platforms which leads them into doing something inefficient. In this post we’ll know the distinctions between wordpress.com and wordpress.org.

The objective of this article is to point out the differences between wordpress.com and wordpress.org and help you pick the right platform for your needs. So, let’s get started.

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org

There are many differences between wordpress.com vs wordpress.org but the primary difference is who’s hosting your site. On the basis of hosting, let’s try to understand the difference:

WordPress.com

With wordpress.com, you don’t have to worry about purchasing a hosting plan, as your site will be hosted on wordpress.com. One of the major advantages of wordpress.com is that you don’t have to bother with basic maintenance and security.

You can start building your website on wordpress.com for free and upgrade to a paid plan whenever you want. There are 4 paid plans: Personal, Premium, Business, and eCommerce. It is better to switch to a paid plan because the free plan lacks many essential features. For example, it limits you to 3GB storage and a subdomain (mysite.wordpress.com).

Again, if you are on a free plan, you can’t install any premium themes or plugins. You also can’t use Google Analytics on your website. This is a huge drawback as plugins and themes make your site great. To install themes and plugins you need to purchase the Business hosting plan from WordPress.com.

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WordPress.org

Many of you have probably heard about the term “The real WordPress”. Well, that term mainly refers to wordpress.org which provides the open-source WordPress CMS. Anyone can download the software for free from the WordPress.org website. All you need is a domain name and a hosting service and you are good to go.

With the wordpress.org version of WordPress, you can purchase your own hosting service and pick your own domain name. You can then install a copy of WordPress on that hosting. This is why wordpress.org is also called a self-hosted platform.

Pros and Cons

Since we are talking about wordpress.com vs wordpress.org it is only normal we point out the pros and cons of both these platforms. To help you understand which one is best for you, we need to point out the pros and cons.

Pros of wordpress.com

WordPress.com might not give you that much freedom but the plus side is that you don’t have to worry about purchasing a hosting plan. You can also rely on wordpress.com for the basic maintenance and security. These are probably the biggest perks of using wordpress.com especially for new bloggers.

With that being said, let’s take a look at some of the other pros of wordpress.com

  • It’s free for upto 3GB of space
  • It automatically does the updates and backups for you
  • Suitable for those who are just starting out

Cons of WordPress.com

The wordpress.com platform is meant to give the newcomers a place to start 

WordPress.com is really great in terms of security and performance. Also their VIP package is said to be the best (WordPress) hosting service in the world. But it is also very expensive. When compared with wordpress.org in general, wordpress.com has many disadvantages.

It doesn’t provide much freedom when it comes to development and customization. You are also limited to a 3GB storage and you have to use a subdomain (For example: myblog.wordpress.com) in the free plan.

When comparing to wordpress.org, there are more cons of wordpress.com than pros. Let’s take a look:

  • You cannot select your custom domain name in the free plan.
  • You cannot build membership websites with wordpress.com free.
  • You cannot install plugins and themes unless you are using expensive business plan. You can use premium themes on the Premium plan but not plugins.
  • If your website traffic is high, you can apply for their advertising program called WordAds. You get a percentage from WordAds. If you have Business or Premium plans, you can apply for WordAds right away. Business and eCommerce plan users can also use third-party ad programs like AdSense.
  • Limited customization options for the free plan. Only Business and Premium plan users can use custom CSS codes.
  • You cannot use Google Analytics or any other powerful tracking platform, unless you are using the Premium or higher plans.
  • WordPress.com can delete your site if they think your website is violating their terms and conditions.
  • WordPress.com doesn’t allow any eCommerce features or payment gateways in most of their plans. For that you need to purchase their eCommerce plan.
  • A “Powered by WordPress.com” link will be displayed on your website. To remove that you need the Business or higher plans.

WordPress.com offers a secure and optimized way to run a WordPress site. If you’re okay with the customization policies and pricing, then it can be a good fit for your website.

Pros of WordPress.org

Since you now know the pros and cons of wordpress.com, it’s now time to check out wordpress.org. This version of WordPress offers you a lot of freedom and full control over your website. You can customize your website any way you want.

You can install plugins and themes and use your own domain. Let’s take a look at the pros of wordpress.org:

  • The WordPress software is open-source and free for all! You will have access to your WordPress files.
  • You own your website and everything on it that you created.
  • You can install free, paid or your own customized WordPress plugin on your website.
  • You can use any theme you want. You can use custom CSS or you can add your own designed theme if you want.
  • You have the best monetizing options. You can run your own ads including other ad programs.
  • You can use powerful analytics like Google Analytics.
  • You can also build a membership website and sell memberships for premium contents and build a community with your WordPress website.
  • You can build an eCommerce website to sell digital or physical products and accept payments from diverse payment gateways.

Cons of WordPress.org

When creating your own website, we prefer using this platform, but there are a few cons of wordpress.org

  • You need to install WordPress software manually. But many companies offer a 1-click WordPress installation system so that you won’t have much trouble installing the software.
  • You will need to purchase your domain hosting. Since you will own your website and everything in it, you need to purchase your own hosting service.
  • The maintenance and security of your website is your responsibility. There are various plugins and services for WordPress security that you can use.
  • You need to keep your own backups.

The cons of wordpress.org are really not a big deal. There are many great hosting platforms that offer quick WordPress installations and there are several WordPress plugins that offer great maintenance services. Our recommendation, wordpress.org is still the better choice.

Pricing

At this point, you might as well know about the pricing of both these platforms. Even though wordpress.com gives you a free CMS, there are several other requirements to it as we have seen from the previous section. But let’s compare the two platforms in terms of pricing:

WordPress.com pricing

From the previous sections, we learned that wordpress.com does let you setup your website for free. Though it’s free, it does have some downsides to it and the wordpress.com paid pricing is very expensive. For a good web building experience, you need to purchase some of their higher plans. 

Currently wordpress.com has the following 6 pricing plans:

  • Free
  • Personal – $48/year
  • Premium – $96/year
  • Business – $300/year
  • eCommerce – $540/year
  • VIP – varies could be $2000-$10,000

We haven’t talked about the WordPress VIP plan much but it is the most expensive and arguably the best managed WordPress hosting service out there. However, we do not recommend the cheaper wordpress.com plans as those are not suitable for a growing business. If you decide to go with wordpress.com, make sure you purchase the premium or higher plans for better results.

WordPress.org pricing

WordPress.org hosting is more affordable. You can launch a completely functional website for $35 for the first year and then $50 for the 2nd year and the years after that. You can go with Bluehost, DreamHost, and SiteGround as these are recommended by wordpress.org. 

You can also check out WP Engine and HostGator as these are also very popular and give you amazing performance. 

Here are some of the benefits of hosting on HostGator:

  • The starter plan costs only $5.95 per month
  • Free SSL + Free domain on all plans
  • WordPress free installed
  • 45 days money back guarantee if you’re not satisfied with the performance

Check out our list of best WordPress hosting services for some great WordPress hosting options.

Conclusion

The confusion between wordpress.com and wordpress.org started because of the similar domain names. But through this article, we tried to explain the key differences between both these platforms. We also pointed out their pros and cons. 

As you can see, wordpress.com does provide a world class hosting service, but gives you little freedom to work with. On the other hand, wordpress.org gives you more freedom but leaves the maintenance and security on your hands. 

Ultimately the decision falls upon you. We hope that our article helped you in finding which platform is better for you. If you found this post helpful, or if you have any queries or corrections, please let us know in the comment section. We wish you all the best on your WordPress ventures.


Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links and we may receive a small commission if you purchase something by following them. However, we recommend services/products that we believe good to serve your purpose.

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