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The Comparison - WordPress.com vs WordPress.org

The Comparison – WordPress.com vs WordPress.org

WordPress.org is the official website of WordPress – one of the most popular blog open source script, and WordPress.com is operated by the founders of WordPress.org to provide the commercial blog hosting software as a service after the WordPress’s success. Simply, they’re not the same thing.

However, the comparison of WordPress.com and WordPress.org is to compare host a blog on WordPress.com or download WordPress from WordPress.org and self-host a blog. Are there any differences and how can you make a choice? To help you eliminate the concern and clearly understand the 2 flavors, we have made this introduction below.

Before going through the details, you can have an overall understanding of the differences between .com and .org via the table in below.

Rating WordPress.com WordPress.org
Hosting Full-Hosted Self-Hosted
Domain Name yourdomain.wordpress.com www.yourdomain.com
WordPress Software No Yes
Cost 2 of 5 4 of 5
Monetization 2 of 5 5 of 5
Themes & Plugins 3 of 5 5 of 5
Ease of Use 5 of 5 4 of 5
Maintenance 5 of 5 3 of 5

About WordPress.com

WordPress.com is a commercial blogging platform based on WordPress. Using the platform to create a blog is easy, as you do not have to look for a web host and download the software. The platform can be free, but to remove the limitations included in the free package, you need to pay. Automattic, the company that owns and operates WordPress.com, is founded by a co-creator of WordPress software.

About WordPress.org

As WordPress is open source software, WordPress.org is the official place where you can download the software, learn how to use WordPress, download free themes and plugins, read news, get involved in the development of WordPress, share ideas and experiences with other users, and ask for support. It works like a big community with millions of participants. No hosting or other paid service is offered there.

Blog Ownership – Self-hosted WordPress Is Significant Better

The biggest difference of .com and .org might lie in who is the real master of the website. Actually, WordPress.com is developed for those who do not want to spare much energy or time on updating their website, nor do they want to manage the backups of the content and security issues.

Blog OwnershipThat is to say, if you build a site on WordPress.com, the team of WordPress.com is responsible for all the work related to hosting, security, updating and backups. But at the same time, you need to know that the team can shut down your site even without notice because you do not have the ownership of the site.

However, if you build a WordPress blog from scratch by downloading the software from WordPress.org and installing it on your own domain name and hosting service, you can get complete control over the site, develop it, change the look and feel, and even close it. You can do nearly whatever you want as you own it yourself.

Cost – WordPress.org Wins

Judging from the primary cost, WordPress.com seems to be a more affordable solution because it has a free package which does not charge in the very beginning. This package includes 3 GB storage, and additional storage can be purchased. No eCommerce or premium themes are included; no video is allowed, and ads can only be removed when you pay additional $30/yr. The other 2 packages are priced at $99/yr and $299/yr respectively, and only the premium Business plan supports eCommerce.

CostIn addition, when creating a website with WordPress.com, one can easily realize that “wordpress.com” is contained in the domain name by default, such as “yourname.wordpress.com”. You may say that you don’t like this and want a custom domain name. In this case, you need to cost some budget.

Some other fees you may need to pay when you host with WordPress.com include:

  • Guided transfer to a self-hosted WordPress blog: $129 per blog.
  • Custom design: $30 per blog per year (only for changing the color scheme of your site).
  • VideoPress: $60 per blog per year.

The WordPress software that can be downloaded on WordPress.org is free and open source, so that you do not need to spend a penny, but this does not mean everything is free because hosting does cost. As the software needs to reside on a web server, you have to buy a WordPress hosting package which costs about $5/mo usually. Besides, you need a domain name. That’s all.

Installation – WordPress.com Wins

InstallationSince WordPress.com is fully hosted, there is no need for you to download the WordPress software. To start with WordPress.com and have access to all the resources there, you just need to register an account and login.

WordPress.org is just a WordPress community. To make a website, you need to download the WordPress software on the official site and install it on your web server. But actually, Installing WordPress is extremely easy. Many excellent web hosting providers, such as InMotion Hosting, can provide you with 1-click installation of WordPress so you are able to get a site ready in a few minutes, even if you know little about coding stuff.

Flexibility & Customization – WordPress.org Wins

WordPress.com does come with some highlighted features. For example, it offers over 270 themes in the showcase for you to design websites and blogs. Also, you can make use of the popular social networks to share your contents, including Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, and so on.

But as many bloggers are sharing the WordPress.com platform, you are not allowed to upload your own gorgeous themes as well as the powerful plugins, for the WordPress.com team thinks that these themes and plugins may cause some security risks. Moreover, you cannot get the permission to modify the PHP code of your site.

CustomizationIf to start a website on WordPress.com is to rent a platform in the community and you cannot do any changes to it, then to host a website with the software on WordPress.org is to buy your own house and you can customize it as much as you like.

At present, there are a total of more than 1,700 themes and 36,400 plugins available on WordPress.org. Besides, you are free to upload those that are developed by yourself as you like. You can also have full control over the ads on the site and benefit from them as well. Moreover, you are capable of editing the PHP code behind your website so as to make your WordPress site work more effectively.

Monetization & Tracking – WordPress.org Wins

If you run a small sized blog on WordPress.com, you can hardly make money with your blog by serving ads. The platform has restrictions that you cannot sell ads until you get stable page views of 25,000 on a monthly basis. When you have gone beyond the number, you can try the Ad control feature which is free, but you will have to share the ad revenue with WordPress.com team in the ratio of 50/50 percent. How unreasonable it is!

In terms of tracking and statistics, WordPress.com offers their own analytics which you can use for basic understanding of your traffic. But as you are not allowed to add custom codes to your site, you cannot use third-party analytics software to conduct in-depth analyses.

MonetizationThe situation is completely different when you build a blog with WordPress.org. Since you have full control, you can place ads on your blog as you want, and make use of third-party analytics software like Google Analytics to track visits, conversion rate and many other things. The freedom is yours.

Maintenance & Responsibility – WordPress.com Wins

As is mentioned above, you have less control over your site on WordPress.com, which also means that you can spend much less time and energy dealing with the maintenance of the site. Since the WordPress.com team handles most of the tasks, you do not need to worry about the update of WordPress core, themes, plugins, and the problems that may be brought by these changes, of course. When you are limited in time, you can just leave your blog to the team and it will not break down.

On the contrary, WordPress.org allows you to enjoy more flexibility and control over your site, but at the same time, you need to shoulder more responsibility. You should find a proper hosting package, install and update all components, do SEO, take security measures, deal with spam, and so on, on your own. To do all these things is time-consuming and sometimes not easy for beginners.

MaintenanceIf you want to keep a self-hosted blog but want someone to help maintain and develop it, there are also solutions. You can hire a professional, or you may purchase a managed WordPress hosting plan from a reliable web host like BlueHost. Using managed service spares you from most of the technical problems because you are backed by a dedicated team. However, both solutions come with an increased cost.

Conclusion: WordPress.com Or WordPress.org?

As you have learned most of the pros and cons of WordPress.com and WordPress.org, now it is easier for you to make a decision. Generally, if you are a blogger who does not want to spend any time and energy on update, backup and security, and simply want to focus on the content, then go with WordPress.com.

However, if you are a professional blogger who wants to showcase your items elegantly, a business dealer who intends to start a business site, or anyone who needs to have full control over the website, then WordPress.org is absolutely the perfect choice. In the case that what you need is to start a new self-hosted WordPress blog, you may consider the web hosting packages from the companies below.

Infographic about WordPress.com VS WordPress.org

This is the infographic from Mike Wallagher at startbloggingonline.com introducing about the difference in an easy way.
Infographic about WordPress.com VS WordPress.org