WordPress.com vs WordPress.org – What’s The Big Difference?

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org

If you start with WordPress, you will probably face a prevalent question.

Is it WordPress.com, or is it WordPress.org? What’s the difference between the two?

I get it. With practically the same names, the confusion is pretty natural.

What’s the difference between the two? While building a website, what’s it going to be in the WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org battle?

Yes, this article will cover the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. But to begin with, let’s start with the absolute big difference between the two.

WordPress.org, AKA self-hosted WordPress, is an open-source software application that can be downloaded by just about anyone and utilized however they desire.

With WordPress.org, you will need to buy your own domain name and web hosting. You have complete control over every aspect of your website.

WordPress.com is one particular “site as a service” execution built on the WordPress.org software. WordPress.com hosts your website and deals with whatever for you, however at the expenditure of some flexibility.

wordpress.com vs wordpress.org

Recent modifications made by WordPress.com have actually served to only blur the lines more– but that’s still what the core distinction between the two boils down to.

In the following post, we’ll dig much deeper into the two choices and reveal to you how this core distinction in fact plays out when it concerns creating a website.

Introducing: WordPress.com vs WordPress.org

Before covering the features, let’s quickly introduce the players.

Simply to repeat:

WordPress.org is an open-source software application managed by the non-profit WordPress Foundation.

WordPress.com is a for-profit company owned by Automattic that uses the WordPress.org open-source software.

The two are formally separate entities, though the informal lines can get blurred because Matt Mullenweg is both the creator of the WordPress Foundation and the creator of Automattic.

As a result, the two entities remain closely linked.

Both Platforms Make It Easy to Create a Website

At this moment, it’s exceptionally easy to create a site with both WordPress.com and WordPress.org. With that being stated, it’s tough to reject that the procedure is even more straightforward with WordPress.com.

Here’s a fast summary of what it requires to start with each choice.

How to Create a Website With WordPress.com.

With WordPress.com, creating a new site is actually as simple as creating an email account. No requirement to fool around with hosting or domains.

I’ve listed out the entire process of creating a new site with WordPress.com below.

Step #1: Create An Account on WordPress.com

Visit the WordPress.com website

Click ‘Get Started’ on the top right-hand side corner.

Create an account in WordPress.com, Step 1

You could go ahead and create a new account by either entering your email address and setting a password or creating an account by using your Google or Apple ID.

Step #2: Select Your Site Name

Once you have created an account, you will be prompted to enter a domain name.

Create an account in WordPress.com, Step 2, Selecting a domain name

If you already own a domain name, you could click on the ‘Already own a domain?’ link, displayed below the search field.

If you do not have one, enter the domain.

For instance, I’ve searched for the domain name ‘freewptutorials’.

Select a domain name, WordPress.com set up process

While I own the domain name ‘freewptutorials.com’, the purpose of this article is to show you, how to create a website using WordPress.com without buying a domain and hosting.

WordPress.com offers you various domain extensions to choose from. Go ahead and select the free option, below the WordPress.com recommended options.

Step #3: Choose A Plan

In the final step of your setup process, you will be prompted to select a plan.

WordPress.com Set up process, Select a Plan

Again, since we would like to create a website free of cost, ignore the plans and click on ‘Not sure yet? Start with a free site’ option.

Step #4: Welcome to your WordPress.com Dashboard

The setup process will start, as shown in the image below.

Set up process for WordPress.com

And once this is complete, you will be directed to your WordPress.com dashboard.

Account Created, WordPress.com Dashboard

As shown in the above image, your site has been created!

The whole procedure takes simply a couple of minutes and you’re off to the races.

How much Does It Cost to Create a WordPress.com Site?

WordPress.com varies from 100% free to $24.92 per month.

With the free plan, your website,

  • Is a subdomain of WordPress.com– like yoursite.wordpress.com. For, e.g., as shown above, my domain will be ‘freewptutorials.wordpress.com
  • Displays WordPress.com ads
  • Has minimal storage area

If you go with the paid plans, you’ll have the ability to use your own domain and eliminate the advertisements, but you’re still limited in what you can do with your website (more on this later).

How to Create a Website With WordPress.org

With WordPress.org, the procedure isn’t rather as basic as simply developing an account. That being said, the process is still quite beginner-friendly these days.

Generally, you’ll need to get your own:

  • Domain name
  • Webhosting

Then, you can install the self-hosted WordPress.org software by yourself. Nowadays, many hosts make this procedure as basic as clicking a couple of buttons– no code needed.

Some hosts, like BlueHost, Kinsta, WPX Hosting, and Cloudways, even provide a pre-install WordPress for you so that you don’t need to do a single thing.

You could refer to my free online course on WordPress for Beginners to learn how to create a website using WordPress.org.

How Much Does It Cost to Create a WordPress.org Site?

The only set expenditures with a WordPress.org website are:

Web hosting– can be as cheap as $3-5 per month, but goes into $100+ for performance-oriented managed WordPress hosts.

Domain– ~$ 10 annually for a “. com” domain.

When you’re just starting, you’ll typically be great developing a site for just ~$ 50 each year total.

WordPress.org Is More Flexible For Most Users

Among the amazing things about WordPress are its vibrant third-party theme and plugin communities. Themes and plugins essentially let you make substantial changes to how your WordPress website both looks and functions.

With WordPress.org, you’re totally free to set up whatever WordPress plugins and themes you desire, while WordPress.com doesn’t let you install themes and plugins on a lot of plans.

WordPress.org Themes and Plugins

Can You Install Third-Party Extensions on WordPress.com?

For the longest time, the answer to the concern was a hard no. Current changes make it a bit murkier, though the response is still no for most WordPress.com users.

Considering that August 2017, WordPress.com users who spend the $300 (annually) Business strategy have the capability to set up third-party WordPress themes and plugins. That gives those users basically the exact same power to install extensions as self-hosted WordPress users.

Users of all other plans, both complimentary and paid, are not so fortunate. That is, users on Free, Personal, or Premium WordPress.com plans can not set up third-party themes and plugins.

This is among the significant drawbacks of WordPress.com.

WordPress.com basically sacrifices flexibility in exchange for simpleness.

That tradeoff might be worth it to you if you just desire a casual pastime blog. But if you want a website that you can adjust and really make your own, you’ll discover that much easier to achieve with WordPress.org.

Can You Set Up Third-Party Extensions on WordPress.org?

We already covered the distinction here. However, let’s go through it quickly anyway.

With WordPress.org, you can install any one of the countless third-party styles, plugins, and WooCommerce extensions on your site. You have 100% control of what happens on your site.

WordPress.com Streamlines Security, However, Isn’t Inherently More Secure

Because most WordPress.com plans are a closed community, sites that you create with WordPress.com are often more protected by default. With that being said, as long as you put in place the proper fundamental WordPress security practices, WordPress.org is just as protected.

How WordPress.com Manages Security

With WordPress.com, you don’t need to think of security. Since the system is locked-down, you do not have the authority to make your site susceptible, even if you wanted to for some odd factor.

How WordPress.org Deals With Security

Once again, WordPress.org is just as secure as WordPress.com. You’re the one who’s responsible for carrying out that security.

It’s not explicitly made complex– your host can help with some parts, and WordPress security plugins can do the majority of the rest for you.

You need to pay more attention to security on WordPress.org than on WordPress.com. Remember– that’s the tradeoff you spend for more flexibility.

WordPress.org Lets You Monetize Your Site Nevertheless You’d Like

Beyond minimal versatility, among the major drawbacks of WordPress.com is that you’re limited in the manner ins which you can generate income from your site. We’ll go through the constraints listed below.

With WordPress.org, on the other hand, you have zero limitations. You can monetize your site by means of actually any technique that you choose. You can even discover helpful marketing plugins to help you do it!

WordPress.com Monetization Limitations

  • Google AdSense: Only permitted on Business plans
  • BuySellAds: Only allowed on Business plans
  • Affiliate marketing: This allows affiliate links, but not for “sites that exist mainly to drive traffic to affiliate links.”
  • Sponsored Posts: Allows sponsored posts but does not permit “websites where the huge bulk of the content is sponsored material”
  • eCommerce store: Only readily available on Business plans

Basically, unless you’re willing to pay for the $300 organization plan, you’re limited in how you can make money from your site. Plus, you’re restricted by WordPress.com meaning that the number of affiliate links or sponsored posts is too many, even on the business plan.

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org: Which Should You Choose?

In the end, self-hosted WordPress.org is the best choice for many serious sites.

Its versatility when it pertains to setting up extensions, altering performance, and picking monetization methods makes it superior to WordPress.com.

If you have a site with them but wish to transfer to a self-hosted platform, we have a complete step-by-step guide: How to Migrate WordPress.com to WordPress.org.

Yes, you will need to pay more attention to updates and security, however, neither is particularly complicated.

With that being stated, WordPress.com absolutely fits. If you simply desire a casual pastime website and/or do not mind sacrificing versatility in return for ease of use, WordPress.com is still a solid choice.

Additionally, WordPress.com’s Service plan is blending the conventional line between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. Time will inform how this modification manifests itself, but for now, it’s too early to inform.

At this point, it’s straightforward to create a website with both WordPress.com and WordPress.org. Its versatility when it comes to setting up extensions, altering performance, and choosing money-making methods makes it remarkable to WordPress.com.

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