WordPress is a powerful platform for blogs and websites.
There are two types of WordPress, self-hosted WordPress.org and commercial WordPress.com.
You might be wondering about the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org.
In this article, we’ll cover the differences between the two platforms so that you can make an informed decision for your website.
What are the main differences between WordPress.org and WordPress.com?
WordPress.com hosts your site on their servers for a fee, while WordPress.org is self-hosted, which means you pick your WordPress hosting provider yourself.
WordPress.com and WordPress.org give you the same dashboard to build your website or blog. However, access to features and tools is determined by where you host. For example, self-hosted WordPress.org affords more control over backend design decisions such as colors and fonts, plugins, and themes.
WordPress.com and self-hosted WordPress are not affiliated in any way, except through their shared software code.
WordPress.org is a self-hosted self-funded project being developed by the community for the benefit of the community, whereas WordPress.com is run and funded entirely by Automattic with their main focus being self-hosted sites.
The WordPress.com service is often mistaken for the real thing by those who do not know the difference between these two platforms.
Let’s examine the main differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org.
The most obvious difference between self-hosted WordPress.org and hosted WordPress.com is that self-hosted (WordPress.org) means that you will be self-hosting your blog or website at a WordPress hosting company.
This means WordPress.org self-hosting allows you to pick your WordPress hosting provider whereas WordPress.com only allows you to host with them.
Self-hosted WordPress is normally a cost effective option, it normally costs $3 to $5 per month to self-host your WordPress blog at a WordPress hosting company as opposed to paying around $25 per month for a WordPress.com account.
The WordPress.com hosted service gets very expensive for adding additional features such as Ecommerce capability or access to plugins and themes. These features come included free at most WordPress hosting companies.
When you self-host at a WordPress hosting company, you get access to use plugins for your WordPress website. By using WordPress.com, you are locked out of using WordPress plugins unless you upgrade to a Business plan. This can be very costly. In order to build an Ecommerce website on WordPress.com, you require an Ecommerce plan, which is even more expensive. Self-hosted WordPress provides total freedom for you to use the fully library of 50,000 WordPress plugins.
Similar to plugins, WordPress.com limits your ability to access and install themes unless you’re on a Business plan at a minimum. In WordPress.org, you can browse hundreds of free and premium themes with an incredible variety of features, designs, layouts, and color schemes. This allows you to fully customize the look and feel of your website in ways you simply won’t be able to on WordPress.com.
WordPress.org is a popular CMS (content management system) and website building platform.
The reason why WordPress.org is also referred to as self-hosted WordPress is because it can be used on servers at a web hosting company on your choice.
Let’s take a look at some of the advantages of using a self-hosted WordPress or WordPress.org for your website or blog.
When it comes to which type of WordPress set up works best, we always recommend self-hosted WordPress to give you the most freedom and control over your WordPress website.
Here are some of the main advantages of self-hosted WordPress:
- You can use self-hosted WordPress to build an Ecommerce website to sell products, get customers to pay by credit card, and arrange shipping directly from your website.
- You can install free, paid, and custom WordPress plugins on your website.
- You can customize your website design. You can modify any free or premium WordPress theme on the market.
- WordPress hosting providers will normally let you host multiple WordPress websites under a single web hosting subscription.
- You can make money from your WordPress site through running ads and don’t need to share your ad revenue with any third-party.
- Self-hosting your WordPress website at a WordPress hosting is cost effective.
- You own your site and all of its contents and data. Your site will not be shut down just because someone deems it inappropriate (unless you are doing something illegal).
There are some disadvantages to using a self-hosted WordPress website, however, there are very few:
- Installing WordPress may be difficult for some beginners. Luckily, most popular hosting providers offer a 1-click installation option for WordPress which simplifies the process. You can also follow online tutorials or ask your WordPress hosting provider to help you.
- You are responsible for keeping your WordPress website updated. Normally, WordPress updates can be done with 1-click or be automated.
WordPress website pricing can vary based on the complexity of the site you decide to build. There are also other factors that influence pricing such as a free theme vs premium theme and free plugins vs paid premium plugins.
Building your own website on WordPress doesn’t need to cost a fortune. By using WordPress.org, you can get a website online for as little as $84 per year.
If you’re ready to started with self-hosted WordPress, you can claim 100% one-time off WordPress hosting, a free SSL certificate, and email courtesy of Skystra.
Get fast performing WordPress hosting for $7 per month!
When to use WordPress.org
We recommend self-hosted WordPress to 99% of users.
WordPress.org is excellent for businesses that need an Ecommerce website. You can install WooCommerce and configure it to sell products without any additional costs.
If you’re a developer or looking for full website control over code, design, and special features, WordPress self-hosting gives your the freedom to insert custom code and use custom themes.
Many people want to monetize their websites or blog, running ads is a good way to do that. Self-hosted WordPress allows offers control over where and how ads are displayed on your website. Also, you keep all of your ad revenue for yourself.
Bloggers and freelancers opt for self-hosted WordPress to control costs and get access to free and premium themes available in the WordPress library and marketplace.
Whether you’re a business owner, blogger, freelancer, or small business, self-hosted WordPress will provide a robust and versatile website building platform.
The WordPress.com hosting service has pricing plans at a variety of price points, including a free plan (there are limitations, more on that below).
WordPress.com provides you with WordPress to build your website, however, your website will be hosted on their servers. This means you will host your WordPress website at WordPress.com and not a different WordPress hosting company.
Here are the main WordPress.com hosting plans:
- Free plan – No development of any kind. You will get assigned a branded .wordpress subdomain and WordPress.com ads will run on your website.
- Personal plan – $4 per month. No plugins, no themes. You can remove WordPress.com ads.
- Premium – $8 per month. No plugins. You can access paid premium themes.
- Business – $25 per month. Theme and plugin access. Access to advanced website management tools.
All of WordPress.com plans are to host one WordPress website. For any new website, you will require a separate plan.
Let’s explores the advantages and disadvantages of using WordPress.com as your WordPress hosting service.
The WordPress.com platform is a good option for absolute beginners who want to get their feet wet and not spend any money at first.
If you’re just dipping your toes and don’t plan to monetize, customize, or brand your website, the WordPress.com free plan can be a good fit.
Here are some advantages of using WordPress.com:
- It’s free for up to 3GB of space. After that, you will have to switch over to paid plans in order to access more storage space.
- With WordPress.com, you don’t have to worry about updates or backups because they are handled exclusively by them.
Using WordPress.com has some several limitations that set it apart from using WordPress.org.
These drawbacks apply on WordPress.com plans unless you’re using the higher priced plans, which run up to $25 per month and up for one WordPress website. Even then, you will still miss out on features provided by using WordPress.org.
Here are the main disadvantages of WordPress.com:
- It is not possible to upload plugins on free, personal, and premium accounts. Business account users can install select plugins for $300 per year, while the WordPress VIP program offers premium plugin installation at a cost of $5000 per month.
- On free and personal plans, you can select from a very limited collection of free themes however you cannot upload custom themes. Only premium and business plan members can install custom and premium themes.
- On the basic plans, you are not able to install Google Analytics or any other powerful tracking platform. Business plans allow for the installation of Google Analytics.
- WordPress.com places ads on sites created for free. Your website visitors will see those ads, which generate revenue for WordPress.com, not you. You will have to upgrade to a WordPress.com premium plan at a minimum if you want to remove their ads from your website.
- Customized domains aren’t included with WordPress.com free sites, however you can still register a domain name for a yearly fee.
- Your website will display a powered by WordPress.com link unless you upgrade to a Business plan.
- WordPress.com can delete websites if they violate the terms of service, it is up to their sole discretion.
- WordPress.com cannot be used to build membership websites.
- WordPress.com does not let you run your own ads on your website, which makes it difficult to monetize your site. If you run a high-traffic site, you can apply for WordPress.com’s advertisers’ program called WordAds where you share revenue with them. Premium and Business plan users can use the program through their subscription.
- WordPress.com does not contain any Ecommerce features or integrated payment gateways by default. You will have to switch to an Ecommerce plan if you want online store tools and features.
- If you want to add custom code or develop any elements on your WordPress website, WordPress.com will not let you.
When to use WordPress.com
Given the significant limitations and cost of WordPress.com, we normally recommend using self-hosted WordPress over WordPress.com.
However, there are some cases where WordPress.com works better.
It can be a good choice if you want to build a simple website without any need for monetization, selling products, or managing website settings on your own.
WordPress.com also offers more control over ads than self-hosted WordPress sites by allowing you to create blacklists of advertisers they do not want to appear on their self-hosted WordPress site. If that’s an important feature and you’re willing to pay business hosting fees, WordPress.com can be a good choice.
If you’re interested in WordPress and building a website, but aren’t ready to make the commitment or spend any money, WordPress.com’s free plan offers a great place to learn before taking the plunge.
We get many questions from people learning WordPress. The biggest confusion is always between WordPress.com and WordPress.org and which is better to build and run your website.
We’ve answered the most frequently asked questions to help you understand the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org.
Is WordPress.com or WordPress.org better?
WordPress.com and self-hosted WordPress websites are both great options for individuals and businesses.
The major reason why you would choose one over the other is because of features, ease-of-use, and cost.
If you are not looking to make money off your blog or brand it, then go with a free WordPress.com account.
If you are a website owner or blogger looking to brand your website and for long-term income from your website, then we recommend a self-hosted WordPress.org built website.
Self-hosted WordPress offers the freedom and flexibility to grow your website and gives you total control over plugins, themes, and your data.
It is easier on your budget to get a self-hosted WordPress site than an advanced WordPress.com Business plan, which is $300 per year, per website.
Our WordPress experts believe WordPress.org is the better platform, which is why most bloggers and business owners use it.
Are WordPress.com and WordPress.org the same company?
No. WordPress is an open-source software project, and self-hosted versions of WordPress are developed and released by a community dedicated to constantly improving it.
WordPress.com is a WordPress hosting company managed by Automattic.
WordPress.com and self-hosted WordPress are not affiliated in any way, except through their shared software code.
WordPress.org is a self-hosted self-funded project being developed by the community for the benefit of the community, whereas WordPress.com is run and funded entirely by Automattic with their main focus being WordPress websites hosted on WordPress.com subscriptions.
WordPress has a huge community of selfless volunteer developers, designers and contributors working hard day in and day out to make it better for self-hosted WordPress users. That is why self-hosted WordPress is much more feature-rich than WordPress.com’s plans, which limit tools and features.
Can you make money with a free WordPress.com site?
You are not able to make money or monetize your WordPress website on a free WordPress.com plan.
Free WordPress.com sites are not allowed to display ads. If you run a high traffic website, then you can sign up for their own WordAds program and share the revenue with WordPress.com.
On a self-hosted WordPress website, you are free to monetize your WordPress website with ads, affiliate links, and by selling your own products by building an Ecommerce online store.
Is WordPress.org free to use?
A self-hosted WordPress site that you install on your own free web hosting is free to use.
Hosting and domain names are very affordable, you will spend $3 to $5 per month on average for a starter web hosting plan and between $10 to $15 per year for a domain name.
Is WordPress.com or WordPress.org better for Ecommerce?
WordPress.org is the simplest and best way to build an Ecommerce website through free plugins like WooCommerce or any other WordPress-compatible Ecommerce plugin available in the WordPress plugin library.
WordPress.com also offers an Ecommerce hosting subscription. It costs about $540 per year, which is a lot for someone just getting started and limits features available to you.
Can I migrate my website from WordPress.com to WordPress.org?
Currently, it is possible to migrate self-hosted blogs from WordPress.com to self-hosted WordPress.org providers.
Many hosting companies offer a free WordPress migration, while others offer it for a flat fee.
You can also migrate your WordPress website on your own if you feel up to the task, however, getting it done by professionals is always best.
What are the main benefits of WordPress.org?
Self-hosted WordPress.org websites provide several benefits, namely:
- Better pricing
- More control and flexibility over your site’s design
- Access to more themes, plugins, and widgets
- Ability to monetize with online ads, affiliate links, and Ecommerce
Can you make money with self-hosted WordPress?
You can monetize self-hosted WordPress sites using ads, affiliate links, and by selling your own products by building an online store using WooCommerce.
Self-hosted WordPress offers a lot of flexibility in how you can monetize your site so it can be an easy way to earn income even on even a small blog.
WordPress.com sites are not allowed to display ads, unless you sign up for their affiliate program and share the ad revenue with self-hosted WordPress.
How do self-hosted WordPress and hosted WordPress.com differ?
When you self-host a WordPress website, you pick your own WordPress hosting company to build and host your WordPress website.
At WordPress.com, you will host your WordPress website at WordPress.com on a free or paid subscription.
Which WordPress hosting is the best for self-hosted WordPress.org websites?
There are many WordPress hosting companies for self-hosted WordPress. Our expert team consistently ranks Skystra as the best WordPress host.
For beginner friendly WordPress hosting, HostGator is a good option. They offer an easy 1-click WordPress installer, free SSL, and a free domain name on new accounts.
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