When you’re starting a new site, there’s a good chance you’ll host it on either WordPress.com or WordPress.org. While WordPress is the most popular website platform around, few people understand the difference between its two service offerings.
Surely WordPress is just WordPress, right?
Not as such. While any WordPress configuration is an easy and simple way to build your site, there are still a number of important differences. The thing is, WordPress is used by everyone from bloggers to major corporations.
Of course, all of these users need basic things like ease of use and reliability. However, this is where the similarities stop.
Let’s take a look at how WordPress accommodates its different user groups.
WordPress.com or WordPress.org – Explained
As we’ve seen, WordPress offers their service from two different top level domains.
They both do very similar jobs but in extremely different ways. In this article, you’ll learn the differences between both of the WordPress web builders: WordPress.com and WordPress.org.
Before we dive to the nitty gritty details, the basic difference is that WordPress.org is aimed at larger enterprises, or sites which need more flexibility and customisation. My contrast, WordPress.com is geared towards working as an out-of-the-box solution.
In other words, as a general rule, WordPress.com is easier to get up and running, whereas WordPress.org allows larger organisations to create the exact site for their needs.
WordPress.com or WordPress.org – The Differences
With that in mind, let’s dig a little deeper into some of the core differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org.
One of the biggest differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org relates to hosting options.
If you choose to have a WordPress.com website or blog, you have access to free hosting from WordPress itself. Whereas WordPress.org is self-hosted, meaning that you’ll have to pay for a dedicated hosting service.
Which one is better? Ultimately it really depends on the situation you are in.
For a smaller blog or website, the better option WordPress.com. If it becomes more successful and it takes over the world, then you can consider moving your site to WordPress.org as you will have access to much more features.
This would also mean you will need to start to pay for your hosting.
With that being said larger sites, e-commerce stores and larger blogs can be made and hosted and hosted on WordPress.com, they may not just reach their full potential.
For larger sites, it’s generally better to use WordPress.org, which would mean you need to get your own hosting. There are plenty of hosting services out there and finding the perfect one for you may be a bit hard.
Have a look at our WordPress Hosting page to find the best hosting options for your site.
Along-side free hosting with WordPress.com, you’ll be given a free domain name. This will be subdomain of WordPress. Unfortunately, this means that the web address is not yours.
To combat this, you can purchase a domain from WordPress.com when purchasing your plan.
For instance if someone called James started a design blog, they might call it “James design blog”. They could then get the URL jamesdesigndotblog.wordpress.com for their web address. However, this is not great.
They might then choose to buy a domain such as jamesdesign.blog instead, and map it to their WordPress.com site.
On WordPress.org you will need to buy your own domain name before finding hosting. This domain name will be solely yours and it will not be part of a sub domain. There are many companies that offer domain names for sale.
Most of them offer a domain name alongside their hosting. And if you really wanted to, you could even have an emoji domain.
Site Ownership and Intellectual Property
One of the biggest questions when it comes to WordPress.com and WordPress.org is, ‘Who owns what?’
In theory you own everything, apart from the domain name WordPress.com gives you when you sign up for free.
Anything that you post to your site or blog that is hosted on WordPress.com is yours.
That means if you own a website that insults people or promotes illegal activities it can be taken down by WordPress themselves. But all the content is still yours.
If you want to move your site from WordPress.com to WordPress.org you can do so without running into any problems when transferring content. You made the content therefore it will always be yours.
This content can be lost if a site is taken down by WordPress, unless you have created a backup. You also get to keep the domain name if you have bought it.
When it comes to WordPress.org, the site is yours and every part of the site is also yours. This includes the domain name you have, the content and ultimately the hosting of the site.
A big con of WordPress.com relates to Plugins. Specifically, you can’t use them in free versions of WordPress. This means tools such as Yoast and many other popular plugins cannot be used.
A lot of people don’t realise this fact and then need to move to WordPress.org in the future.
On the business plan you have access to third party plugins However, this is quite expensive for a hobbyist blogger or website owner. At this point it may be worth looking into moving to WordPress.org.
On WordPress.org you are allowed to install all sorts of plugins onto your dashboard. These can help your websites perform better, check your sites comments for spam and many other possibilities.
Limitations of WordPress.com and WordPress.org
One limitation that WordPress.com has compared to WordPress.org is its theme support.
On WordPress.com this is limited, so finding the right theme for you may be a bit difficult. By contrast, WordPress.org has full theme support and each of these can be fully customised.
Free WordPress.com sites only have upto 3GB of storage space, which could prove a problem for sites with videos and lots of images. Therefore a WordPress.org site may be more appropriate and it might be a little expensive for smaller users.
Your WordPress.com site is also not monetized which means you cannot promote adverts on your site. If your site reaches a user traffic of over 25,000 users you can sign up to revenue sharing for advertising on your site.
But if your site reaches this amount of traffic, why are you not on WordPress.org yet?
On WordPress.com you only can see the analytics already installed for your site. No third party plugins are allowed. These plugins can really help your sites traffic.
You also can’t have an online store on WordPress.com. It would just be easier on WordPress.org. There is also no maintenance on your WordPress.com site and you can’t gain members. Maintenance will have to be done by you.
Final Verdict: WordPress.com or WordPress.org
Realistically, WordPress.com and WordPress.org are each useful in different scenarios. For instance, if you want to quickly set up a blog which is easy to keep up to date, WordPress.com is perfect.
If you need more more customisation or to monetise your site, it’s worth going with WordPress.org
For a large company you will need a WordPress.org site. This is because you want and need the site to attract traffic, and the best ways of doing this is making it your own with a personal touch. This is much easier on WordPress.org.