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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You've decided that you want to start a new blog and start making money on the internet.

There is no doubt that you've seen dozens and dozens of blogging solutions (both free and paid) and one of the solutions that comes up again and again in your research is WordPress.

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.

If you've dug any deeper in using the WordPress platform you've probably come across two options of using WordPress, which can be somewhat confusing... WordPress.com and WordPress.org.

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.

Let's take a look at WordPress.com and WordPress.org and discuss the pro's and con's of each.

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:

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 (this is a huge pitfall of using the .com version of WordPress).

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

Basically, the trade-off is that it's easier to use but limited in options and functionality.

WordPress.com Benefits

  • It’s free (there are paid options available, but you're better off with a paid version of WordPress.org).
  • It's much easier to setup than the self-hosted WordPress option so you could probably do this yourself and not need to pay to have a professional do it for you.
  • 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

  • While they do provide 100+ themes, you cannot run a custom theme which is important for many looking to have a more professional, unique look and feel.
  • You can’t customize the PHP code behind your blog limiting the amount of flexibility to customize your site.
  • You can't use custom third-party themes / templates which is one of the best benefits of using WordPress (the .org version).
  • 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. If you're looking to blog to keep a personal journal then this could be a good option, but if you're looking to actually make money online then you're better off with WordPress.org.

    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 and feel.
    • Ability to upload plugins - giving your site more (and unique) functionality.
    • Complete control to change code if you’re technically minded or would like to outsource advanced website features.
    • Complete freedom to do what you want on your site, because you own it (like make money!).

    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 (though you can just outsource the technology).
    • You'll have to stay on top of updating your website and keeping it secure (this can be easily outsourced as well).

    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.

    Though there are costs associated with website hosting, outsourcing design and customization, etc. the barriers to entry with an online business are extremely low compared to a traditional offline business.

    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.

    Most web hosting companies (such as BlueHost) allow you to install WordPress for free; which is essentially the self-hosted WordPress.org option. (See our list of top-rated budget friendly webs hosts here.)

    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 and discover the top ways you can market your business online for free.

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

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