WordPress is an open-source Content Management System (CMS) used to create websites and blogs. It is the world's most popular CMS that allows users to manage content without coding or other technical knowledge.
Though WordPress is easy and beginner-friendly, users, at times, get confused and end up with questions like,
Is WordPress a blog writing platform? Can it help me build a website?
Several such questions surround WordPress, but there is this one question that has confused beginners the most for quite some time now.
What is the difference between wordpress.com vs wordpress.org?
Beginners often get confused about the difference between wordpress.com vs wordpress.org. Well, you can't help but notice they share the same name. But does this mean they are one and the same? No! They are two different organizations.
Often, beginners are not even aware that they are different because there is this misconception that WordPress is only a blogging platform.
Ok, let's take one step at a time. Let us first understand the difference between .com and .org, and then go on to learn about wordpress.com vs wordpress.org.
Difference between .com and .org
Let's understand what .com and .org mean. Well, they are called domain name extensions. They are the last part of a domain name/URL that visitors type in to access your website. Domain name extension .com is used by businesses for profits, while .org is generally used by non-profit organizations.
Now let us go on to learn about wordpress.com and wordpress.org. The significant difference between wordpress.com vs wordpress.org is who hosts your website. With wordpress.org, it is self-hosting, meaning you need to take care of your website. Whereas, wordpress.com takes care of your website for you.
So, when we say WordPress, are we talking about wordpress.com or wordpress.org?
Long story short, when we say WordPress, we generally refer to wordpress.org and not wordpress.com. In fact, WordPress/self-hosted WordPress/wordpress.org all refer to the same thing, whereas we refer to wordpress.com only as wordpress.com. So, whenever we say WordPress in this blog, we refer to wordpress.org and not wordpress.com.
WordPress.com vs wordpress.org
Still, the question remains. Which WordPress should you use for your website? Before going into wordpress.com vs wordpress.org, let us better understand the differences by considering factors that are essential when starting a website,
- The cost of using wordpress.com varies from free to several dollars based on the package. Apart from providing for free, wordpress.com offers four paid packages, namely Personal, Premium, Business, eCommerce. As the name suggests, each one of these plans is best suited for the respective usage.
- I can hear you asking, 'Why should I pay for something when I can get it for free?' Well, free is not as good as it sounds. By using wordpress.com for free, you only get a subdomain of WordPress, meaning your site URL will look like yoursite.wordpress.com. And also, WordPress runs its ads on your website, which is kind of fair considering you got it free.
These are a couple of reasons why you shouldn't start with free wordpress.com. Check our article here, where we give you 10 solid reasons why a free website is not good for your business.
- wordpress.org is free, open-source software. Though free, before starting your website, you need to have a domain name and a good web host. After this, you need to install WordPress on your host.
To further ease the process, we recommend you use quality web hosts like Bluehost, where the installation is done in a couple of clicks.
- Though wordpress.org is in itself free, the cost of domain and hosting adds up to setting up your website. But, all these charges are comparatively less than what you will have to pay for a paid plan in wordpress.com.
In fact, here is a detailed video tutorial on How to create a website with wordpress.org.
Plugins & Themes
- wordpress.com has a limited set of themes and plugins for you to install on your website. It doesn't allow you to install and use any third-party themes or plugins unless you use the Business plan. All you can use is the limited set of built-in themes available on the site.
- Regarding plugins, you can't even upload your own and customize the website. So, if you don't use the Business plan, you will need to sacrifice the luxury of using any third-party themes and plugins.
- wordpress.org allows you to customize your website as you wish. They also provide you with thousands of free themes to start your website. It is crucial to choose the right one out of thousands because it dictates the look and feel of your website.
And it's quite natural to get lost in the world of themes. You can easily get confused about what themes to use on your website. Worry not! Download our free guide on the Top 10 Free Themes you can use on your website.
- Once set on a theme, you can move on to install the necessary plugins. While Themes decide the look of your website, plugins help you add specific features to your websites like a contact form or payment gateway.
- wordpress.org has a depository of tens of thousands of plugins where you can install as many third-party plugins as you want. The ability to add third-party themes and plugins gives you full control over your website. Check our list of 25 Free Must-have plugins on your WordPress website.
- wordpress.com doesn't give you any control over your website's Search Engine Optimization (SEO). And as it doesn't allow you to install any third-party plugins, you cannot utilize the benefits of any of the popular SEO plugins. Unless you use a business plan where you can install plugins, wordpress.com doesn't allow you to use third-party SEO plugins.
- With having no control over SEO, it's hard for you to keep track of how your website ranks on search engines and how much traffic it eventually generates.
- Between wordpress.com vs wordpress.org, SEO becomes easy with wordpress.org, which is optimizing your website to rank better in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). There are plenty of plugins exclusively available for SEO and better ranking of your website.
- With features like fast loading speed and good uptime, choosing the right hosting can improve your SEO and positively impact your website.
To understand more about SEO and why it is important for your website, check our blog here.
- wordpress.com doesn't allow you to run ads on your website unless you use a Premium or Business plan. Moreover, they run their ads on your website, which doesn't look appealing as the ads displayed won't be related to your content.
- So, unless you use a Premium or Business plan, you have no control over how to make money off your website.
- wordpress.org doesn't restrict you in any way when it comes to ads and monetization. You can publish as many ads on your website. And as always, you can make use of ad specific plugins available at your disposal. wordpress.org respects your hard-earned money and lets you keep whatever money you make out of ads.
Security & Maintenance
- With wordpress.com, Automattic, the team behind WordPress takes care of most of the security concerns for you. They make sure the software's up to date and also have regular backups of your website.
- With wordpress.org, the security of your website mostly depends on the web host and the plan you have chosen. As it is self-hosted, you need to put in the extra efforts to ensure the safety of your website.
- For the most part, all you need to do is to keep WordPress updated to its latest version, as they regularly roll out updates to strengthen the security. Apart from this, you can also use the security plugins available on WordPress.
- From a maintenance perspective, you need to have regular backups of your website just in case of any unfortunate events. Oftentimes, the hosting provider will have regular backups for your website. Also, there are several plugins in WordPress that can help you with regular backups and ease the maintenance process.
Which one should you choose?
Now that you have got some fair knowledge about both wordpress.com and wordpress.org, it should be easy for you to make a decision. But, are you still not sure which one to use for your website? Worry not, let us make it much easier for you. How about some professional insights to help you with the decision?
Well, between wordpress.com vs wordpress.org, our pick is wordpress.org. Yes, we would choose wordpress.org over wordpress.com any day. The idea of getting a free website with wordpress.com may sound tempting but it won’t be effective in the long run. You may get started for free, but say you need to add a third-party plugin, or even monetize your website, it is not quite possible with wordpress.com.
Eventually, you will need to upgrade to a paid plan and that will cost you more than the domain and hosting charges for wordpress.org. Be a casual blogger or an eCommerce owner, you need to have control over your website. That’s why you should choose wordpress.org over wordpress.com.
Ok, choosing one between wordpress.com vs wordpress.org is just a starting point on your WordPress journey. You need to learn WordPress in a professional way to unlock its full potential.
By learning WordPress professionally, you can create websites of professional standards, all on your own. Yes, you can build websites all on your own. And the best part is, there is no coding, you can drag and drop to add anything.
To help you with your journey, we have gathered and put out an exclusive course for beginners like you. Check our Advanced WordPress course, where we teach how to create a professional website in less than 7 days. We talk everything about WordPress that's there for you to know.
Imagine how cool it would be to create a website on your own! Well, All you need to do is enroll in our course and Master WordPress.