Oh, dear WordPress… Why you so complicated? Many new bloggers get confused with the very first question: which WordPress version will be the best fit? Here are the differences between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org!
As a website designer myself, I’ve dealt with my client’s confusion more than once.
What are the differences between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org? Which is the best option? What is a self-hosted website? And how to, goddamn, get started???
I’ll try to make this easier for you.
If you’re just getting started, make sure to check out this full guide to starting a blog, from setup to design, from content to monetization.
The differences between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org
WordPress, in general, is a website creation platform. No matter which site you choose, you will have the same WordPress admin panel.
In short, WordPress.com is the cheap, easy, hobby-blogger version.
WordPress.org is the real deal. It’s the self-hosted website platform, the one you need to pay for!
But why should you?
Let’s look into the differences between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org
WordPress.com is free
As said, the most basic version of WordPress.com is free. This allows you to create a simple website and publish blog posts.
With the new Gutenberg WordPress editor it can be quite a nice process. First, you choose a free theme (site design), then update it based on your needs. Later you can write blog posts and share it with others.
For the free version, you don’t have many customization options.
Besides that, you won’t have your personal domain. Your website will be yournickname.wordpress.com
For WordPress.org you need to purchase the hosting
Hear me out. To set up a WordPress.org website, you need to FIRST purchase the hosting. THEN, you get one-click WordPress install and this installation counts as WordPress.org
- You don’t need to sign up on WordPress.org
- You don’t need to have any previous accounts
- You just purchase the hosting and THEN set up WordPress
The range of hosting pricing is very wide. For example, you can get the cheapest hosting for around $3/monthly (not suggested). While others, more effective and trustful hostings will start at $5/monthly for the first year and around $8-$10/monthly later.
Most hostings will require for you to pay a full year up-front. However, they also have a money-back guarantee so if it’s not working for you, don’t worry!
My favorite hosting is Siteground. I’ve used them for 5+ years and have created plenty of client websites with Siteground as well. They have great service, good speed and wonderful support.
If you do want to opt-in for monthly payment instead of yearly, go for Lyrical host. These days they are becoming more and more popular among bloggers. They have a great community with very personal attention given to each customer. The pricing is higher, it starts from around $12/monthly. You can use code TRP10 for an additional 10% off!
Or you can also check Dreamhost for cheaper monthly option!
WordPress.com design options are limited
On WordPress.com your website is built based on their free themes. While the new Gutenberg block editor gives quite many new customization features, the design options will still be limited.
First of all, most of the beautiful WordPress themes won’t be accessible for you.
If you’ll have any specific updates you’d want to make, you won’t have any access to helpful tools like CSS or page builder plugins.
Many themes can also be very limiting when it comes to the layout.
WordPress.org gives you full customization options
With a self-hosted WordPress website, you have all the freedom to make your site whatever you want it to be.
From a simple blog with elegant design to outstanding online marketplace or membership site with creative page layouts.
With WordPress.org you’ll have the access to both free and paid WordPress themes, as well as plenty of helpful plugins!
WordPress.com doesn’t support plugins
Plugins is what makes the website complete! A plugin is like an app for your website.
Plugins give a chance to set up email marketing, add social media sharing icons, improve website speed and usability and way beyond. And the free version does not support uploading or using plugins.
WordPress.org, on the other hand, gives you full customization options, including plenty of free plugins to use.
Limited monetization options
If you’re thinking about creating a website for monetization, ditch the idea of starting with the free site right away.
Overall, it’s really hard to monetize a free website.
- Most affiliate networks will require you to have a self-hosted website.
- You won’t have a chance to put out ads
- No products will trust a free blog for any kind of sponsored content
Overall, the trust level will be really low.
Besides that, the free WordPress website won’t give you a chance to create your own store (unless you opt-in for a more expensive plan – more info further!). So even if you’d want to sell your own products, for example, eBooks or templates, you still won’t have a chance to sell them directly.
WordPress.com will try to rip you off with each upgrade
See, if you do have a free WordPress.com website and one day you think, hmmm… maybe I should take blogging more seriously and make something out of it?! You might want to UPGRADE.
It sounds exciting and the right thing to do…
Most of the WordPress.com upgrades is a huge ripoff and here’s why.
If you do want to have full freedom over your website, use more features, have more options, you’d need to upgrade.
WordPress.com vs WordPress.org when it comes to pricing…
With WordPress.org you pay for full customization anything from $50 to $120/per year. Let’s say, on average it’s $70/per year. Around $6/per month. This gives you a chance to have your personal domain (for an additional yearly price of around $10).
With WordPress.com you can get a chance to add your personal domain + get email and chat support for $5/month. It’s not even your hosting, your website, it’s just a chance to add your domain (which you still have to pay for separately). This is the same amount you’d pay for the hosting, paid for nothing but a chance to use your own domain…
For $10/month, you’ll get more customization options but no full freedom anyway. Yes, it gives you more chances to upload other themes and customize your site but most of the popular WordPress design elements still won’t be accessible to you…
For $30/month, NOW you can get PLUGINS & THEMES which, for self-hosted WordPress website is the MAIN THING TO HAVE. So you overpay around 6 times for the basic features and customization options.
For $50/month, you can also open up and add your shop. TEN TIMES the price of a self-hosted website where you can add a shop in any plan.
When to choose WordPress.com?
I suggest choosing WordPress.com if you’re a complete beginner and want to blog for fun. If you don’t have any blog monetization plans and you just want to share your thoughts, feel free to use WordPress.com!
You might think “I’ll get started with WordPress.com and then move…” which yes, is possible.
However, often moving can be a hussle and you will need to revisit many of your past posts to update the details.
When to choose WordPress.org?
WordPress.org is the usual choice if you want to be serious about blogging, create a business website, monetize your writing, place ads in your posts, work with affiliate marketing, get sponsored post options, open up your e-commerce shop, create a membership site or overall have the freedom to do with your website ANYTHING.
How to get started with WordPress.org?
Many people are scared of the learning curve and feel like starting a self-hosted website will be too much of a hussle.
However, it doesn’t have to be all that hard!
First, choose the hosting you want to use. I suggest Siteground as my top choice. But you can read more hosting reviews here.
Then, purchase the hosting and follow the instructions for WordPress installation. Usually, WordPress installation is a one-click process that will take up to 5 mins to load and be all set up.
From there, you can log into your account through yourdomain.com/wp-admin
That’s your WordPress panel! Now, you need to choose a theme, upload and customize. Then, start publishing!
I hope this guide to the differences between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org gave you a good insight and lightened up the path you should take!
Got any more questions? Leave them in the comments!