[UPDATED: JUL 2022]
For the longest time, most people didn’t know there were two versions of WordPress. If you aren’t in the “know” then it can be very confusing. Most bloggers will suggest starting out on WordPress, but don’t make the distinction between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org and which one you should go with.
Often beginners confuse WordPress.com and WordPress.org, which leads them to choose the wrong blogging platform for their needs. And at times, even those who know that they are two different platforms are not aware of the differences between them.
So, today, I’m going to clear the confusion for you. While the two versions of WordPress are similar at their core, one comes with more limitations while the other one may come with an expense. But more about that later on.
What is WordPress?
In a nutshell, WordPress is an open source software that you can use for free. It gives you the freedom for you to use, modify, build upon, and redistribute the software in any way you like without paying any fees to use it.
Obtaining the WordPress source code necessary for a self-hosted WordPress website is completely free. However, there will be some costs associated with purchasing a domain name and web hosting. I will discuss the cost of using the open source WordPress software later in this article.
PRO TIP: “Source code” is the part of software that most computer users don’t ever see; it’s the code computer programmers can manipulate to change how a piece of software — a “program” or “application” — works. Programmers who have access to a computer program’s source code can improve that program by adding features to it or fixing parts that don’t always work correctly (Reference: Opensource.com).
For more videos visit WordPress Bootcamp.
Wait, you’re ready to just start a blog or make a website the RIGHT way, then you can skip this article and head over to my guides here:
Let’s take a look at the differences between the free WordPress.com vs WordPress.org (self-hosted).
WordPress.com vs WordPress.org –
What is the difference?
The best way to understand the difference between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org is to take a look at each platform individually.
The free version of WordPress is obtained via WordPress.com. You simply create an account to receive your free WordPress website, which will be installed on the WordPress servers.
However, there are some limitations to having a free WordPress website, namely:
- It will have a WordPress.com sub-domain (//yoursite.wordpress.com)
- You will only have access to certain themes and design is limited
- Only certain plugins will be available
You can overcome these limitations by paying a monthly fee to WordPress.com. There are three accounts to choose from: Personal, Premium, and Business. The more expensive accounts add additional support, more server resources, and more functionality. The price of WordPress websites includes server hosting. You can learn more at the WordPress.com pricing page should you prefer this option.
Self-hosted WordPress websites are installed on your own server. To install a self hosted WordPress website, you must download the source code for WordPress and upload it to your server, and install the application. You will also need your own domain name when running a self-hosted WordPress website.
Installing a self-hosted WordPress website does require a few technical steps, including pointing your domain at the server and installing a database for WordPress. To avoid these steps, you can use dedicated WordPress hosting companies like WP Engine, BlueHost WordPress Hosting, or my personal favorite GoDaddy as they offer a /month WordPress hosting special!
Once installed, you will have complete control over your WordPress site. You can decide which plugins to use and which theme to run. There will be no restrictions over what you do with your website.
WordPress Flexibility Rocks the Web
No matter if you decide to go with WordPress.com vs WordPress.org the most important thing is to plan ahead so you pick the right solution for your web presence. Of course, there are many other web design platforms that can help you design your web presence with a few clicks but I can’t stress it enough: your long-term goals for your website & pre-planning are the key and selecting the right software for your website will eliminate potential headaches down the road.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in October 2020 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness. In addition, I believe in transparency. If you use my referral links above, then I will get a small commission at no additional cost to you.