Which One Do You Pick WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org?

WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org thing is confusing, huh. First off, what needs to be known right away, WordPress.org and WordPress.com, are two entirely different web solutions.

One gives you an entirely different *thing* than the other.

There aren’t many circumstances in which a brand’s “.com” domain is separate from its “.org” domain. We’re used to seeing the same thing under every domain extension that a brand may have.

Well, it’s just modified for WordPress. But before we discuss the differences between the two, let’s get an essential piece of the puzzle out the way:

#WordPress.org vs. / #WordPress.com – IN KNOW WAY THE SAME? 

What is WordPress?

Setting aside .org and .com fiasco, let’s keep it simple.

WordPress is the most popular website engine of them all. It’s software that you can use as the operating system of your website.

WordPress is to your website what Microsoft Windows (or Mac OS) is to your computer.

WordPress used by more than 34% of websites on the internet and capable of handling any type or size of the site. It packs an immense amount of features that can be extended endlessly with the use of different themes (and the ability to make custom designs) and plugins (extra features). It is the perfect solution.

Okay, but what are the significant differences between the two?

WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org

Here’s an easy way to remember what the difference is. Look at the domain extension of the WordPress you’re interested in:

  • 👐 WordPress.org – “.org” stands for “organization.”
  • 💰 WordPress.com – “.com” stands for “commercial.”
The images shoes the differences between WordPress.org and WordPress.com one is paid for and the other is free but have many limitations

The critical difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org is who’s hosting your website. With WordPress.org, you host your site (we recommend this). WordPress.com, on the other hand, takes care of all of this for you (more comfortable start, less freedom).

Here’s the summary:

WordPress.com

Complete all-in-one website building solution / no hosting needed / domain optional / free and paid plans available / less technical

WordPress.org

Website software /open-source/free/ DIY solution / you need hosting, and domain name before you can launch your site / takes a while to go through the steps 

💰 Which is cheaper?

There’s the catch!!!. The topic of pricing between the two is a problematic one. There are a lot of options available with both versions of WordPress, but they’re also very different under the hood. Look at it as if you were buying a car you can buy the standard model with standard features, or you can the one that has only a few premium options or go all out and by the one with all the bells and whistles, cars nowadays can and park themselves but you going to pay for those features. The same logic comes with building a website and its cost. It all depends on whether you wat the standard model, some premium features, or the one with all the bells and whistles. That’s the process involved when building a website or blog with either platform, plus what it costs:

WordPress.com

  1. Go to WordPress.com and sign up for an account
  2. Provide all your access details for the new account
  3. Set the name of your site, pick a design
  4. Pick the plan that’s best suited to your needs. Those go from $0 to $25 a month – more on these below
  5. Register a new domain for the site if you’ve chosen a paid plan in the previous step
  6. Finalize the setup and configure your website

WordPress.org

  1. Start by picking a third-party web host for your future website. The prices go from $3 to $30 a month – more on these below
  2. Register with your web host of choice
  3. During the registration process, select a checkbox to indicate that you want WordPress installed on your setup (read: you’ll get WordPress installed automatically by the host)
  4. Finalize the hosting purchase and log in to your new WordPress dashboard
  5. Configure your site, pick a design

The website building process is different depending on which you choose.

While WordPress.com does give you an entirely free plan, you are limited in what you can do with that site:

  • You can only use WordPress.com’s subdomain – can’t hook up a custom domain name
  • There will be WordPress.com’s advertising on your site – you don’t earn anything from those ads
  • You get only 3GB of website storage
  • You can’t use the website for any commercial purpose
  • You get a limited choice of themes and can’t extend the site via plugins

Want more features; you can get one of the paid plans. Here’s how those play out:

See WordPress.com pricing

Note. Keep in mind that while the tables above do say “custom domain name,” this doesn’t mean that you get it bundled in. You still need to pay for that separately.

When you add things together, running a decent commercial website on WordPress.com will cost you around $111 annually ($8 / month for WordPress.com itself + $15 / year for the domain name).

In comparison, with WordPress.org, you do need to invest money upfront, but the investment is usually smaller overall, especially for new sites.

To launch a website with WordPress, you do need to get a hold of a web server and a domain name (which you need to take care of entirely separately from what you get from WordPress.org).

As it turns out, you can get a high-quality hosting package for a WordPress site at around $35 / year. When we factor in the cost of the domain, that’s $50 annually in total to run a website based on WordPress.org. Roughly half what you’d pay with WordPress.com.

The only tough part is how to choose a web host that’s quality. We have a whole comparison of the top options right here, but if you don’t have the time to go through all that, you can go to Bluehost and get a hosting setup from them. It’s a respected company with tons of options for WordPress. Here’s what’s good about Bluehost’s offering:

To an extent, Bluehost acts very similarly to WordPress.com here, but it’s just cheaper. Overall, you also get to use universal themes on your site and install whatever plugins you wish. You have the freedom to do whatever you want, improve anything, and customize all your needs on your website. 

WordPress.com will still only give you limited access to customizations, even if you agree to pay a premium.

While it might be early to jump into buying your hosting, when you’re ready to do it, make sure you use the above link for Bluehost. It is an affiliate link (meaning that we’ll get a small commission). However, it will also unlock a $2.95 vs. $3.95 discounted price for you. You won’t get this discount if you visit the Bluehost site in any other way than via the link above.

🔎 WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org – a more in-depth take

Note: Would you rather watch a video on the main differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org?

WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org: overall, Offers free hosting but limits your website space to 3GB on the open plan. 

It doesn’t come with free hosting. You’ll have to look for a host yourself, and pay for it separately.

It gives you a free subdomain — something like YOURSITE.wordpress.com. If you want a custom domain, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid plan. It would be best if you got a custom field on your own (additional costs apply).

You get underlying security and backups handled for you. There’s some level of protection from your web host, but for the most part, you need to secure your website yourself. The same goes for backups – those you need to enable via plugins as well.

The team behind WordPress.com handles everything about the technical performance of your website. If something doesn’t work at any point, you can’t do anything but wait for the team to fix the issue. You get to choose the plugins and the performance settings of your website. It requires some work, but you are in full control of what happens on your site.

It offers a limited number of themes for you to choose from. It comes with limited customization options, as well. Lets you take and install any item you want, and also do all the customization you want. You can also create your themes if you know your way around PHP coding.

It allows you to use third-party plugins only if you get the $25/mo plan. For the other projects, you only get a narrow range of pre-built features. You can’t add extra features to your site that aren’t already provided by the default WordPress.com environment. WordPress.org offers you the freedom to install any free or premium plugin you want. It’s vital if you want to customize your site to the point where it fits your needs hand-in-glove.

You can’t have your ads on your site. However, WordPress.com displays *their* ads on your site – that’s the price you pay for having the platform for free. To remove those ads, that’s at least $4/mo. You can have as many ads and as many forms of monetization as you like (also, choose any ad service you want). The good news is that you keep 100% of your earnings.

👍👎 The pros and cons of WordPress.org and WordPress.com

Instead of listing each individual set of pros and cons, I’m focusing just on the advantages one platform over the other. In other words, if you see something being a pro for one platform, it means that the separate platform doesn’t have it.

PROS and CONS: 

It takes less time to set up a WordPress.com site than it takes to set up a WordPress.org site. It gives you much more customization options than WordPress.com.

Newbies can use it. Even if it’s your first time launching a website, you will still be able to do everything yourself. It’s a free and open-source platform.

Takes care of updating and backing up your site automatically, so you don’t have to worry about anything. You’re in full control of your website. You can do whatever you want with it.

It’s free for a small and straightforward site, and you get technical support. You can use custom themes and custom plugins.

🤔 How to decide between WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org?

In most situations, WordPress.org was intended for those of us who are not afraid to get our hands dirty, and those who want to have full control of their sites. It’s also the perfect platform for any business site and professional project.

WordPress.com, on the other hand, is great for personal blogs and sites with no commercial intent.

Here’s a side-by-side to help you decide:

WordPress.com

  • lets you build a website quickly
  • offers a 100% free plan
  • doesn’t give you full control of the site
  • is extra easy to use if you don’t have much experience with websites
  • makes perfect sense for small personal projects/blogs
  • allows you to pick only from a limited number of themes (designs) and doesn’t let you create your own
  • has limited extension possibilities

WordPress.org

  • gives you full control of your website
  • lets you use a custom design
  • doesn’t limit how you can monetize the site (great for business websites)
  • is incredibly customizable
  • requires you to buy your hosting and domain name
  • even though WordPress itself is free.

📚 Further reading

So what’s it going to be for you? WordPress.com or WordPress.org?

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