WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org - Whats the Difference?

Discover Which Version of WordPress Should You Use for Your Website

WordPress.org vs WordPress.com
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Okay, so you've decided on using the WordPress platform for your blog / website. That's great as WordPress is one of the most popular and powerful website and blog building tools available.

But wait! When you do a Google search for "WordPress" you may have noticed they're are two versions of this popular platform: the WordPress.com version and the WordPress.org version. Naturally, you're if you're reading this you're probably wondering what's the difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com and which is the right choice for your online business?

The purpose of this article is to answer that question and help you make the right choice.

See Also: 5 Ways to Grow a Huge Blog Audience and Make More Money Blogging

WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org - What's the Difference?

The first thing to keep in mind, is that WordPress essentially works the same in either format. WordPress is a content management tool, that runs more blogs worldwide than any other platform. What we are going to compare are fine details between these two options. Having chosen WordPress means that you are going to have a stable and functional blog (and website).

Here are the basic differences between the .com and the .org versions of WordPress:

What is WordPress.com?

WordPress.com is where you can get a free blog. You don't need to pay for hosting or a domain. You don't need to pay for plugins - because you aren't able (allowed) to use them. Learn more about WordPress plugins.

You don't need to worry about editing the back-end of the site - because its just not possible. With this free hosted solution, you get the power of WordPress but without the ability to customize it.

WordPress.com Benefits

  • It’s free
  • It's much easier to setup than the self-hosted WordPress option
  • Everything is taken care of: setup, upgrades, spam, backups, security, etc
  • Your blog is on hundreds of servers, so it’s highly unlikely it will go down due to traffic
  • Your posts are backed up automatically

WordPress.com Cons

  • They provide 100+ themes which you can modify and edit the CSS, but you cannot run a custom theme
  • You can’t customize the PHP code behind your blog
  • You can't use custom third-party themes / templates
  • You can’t upload plugins (a huge disadvantage!)

The Bottom Line: WordPress.com is for people who want to blog, but don't want to edit the blog, have access to advanced features, or monetize it.

What is WordPress.org?

WordPress.org is where you can download free software (or the blogging platform) to install on your own site. Because it is on your own server, you can use plugins and edit the theme (it isn't very hard). You basically have full control and access over the theme look and feel as well as the ability to use advanced features through plug-ins.

For most people who are looking to make money online, you'll want to have access to more customization and plug-in features.

WordPress.org Benefits

  • Ability to upload themes - giving your site a custom look
  • Ability to upload plugins - giving your site more (and unique) functionality
  • Complete control to change code if you’re technically minded
  • Complete freedom to do what you want on your site, because you own it

WordPress.org Cons

  • You will need to spend money to host your own website (see our list of the top budget friendly web hosts here)
  • Requires more technical knowledge to set up and run
  • You'll have to stay on top of updating your website and keeping it secure (this can be easily outsourced)

The Bottom Line: WordPress.org is for people who want a professional blog, full control of appearance and the ability to use plugins that will aid in monetization. Basically if you're looking to make money with your blog, you'll want to go with the self-hosted WordPress.org option.

WordPress.org vs WordPress.com Bottom Line

If you are just using your blog as an online diary / journal and a way to update people on things in your life then the no cost / low tech WordPress.com can be a good option for you. However if you are looking to start a blog or starting an online business for commercial purposes then I highly recommend WordPress.org, which is also known as a self-hosted WordPress installation. This will give you the flexibility to build and grow your business.

Once you've successfully set up your blog you'll want to start driving traffic to it. See this article on the top 5 ways to get massive amounts of traffic to your blog.

Editor's Note: Benefits/Cons are quoted (and edited) from WordPress.com.

Note: Edited by Online Business/Hosting Expert Brian T. Edmondson

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