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Whether you are just getting start with building your own website or you already have your own website, you’ve probably heard of WordPress. However, one thing you may, or may not be, familiar with, is there are two different versions of WordPress: WordPress.com vs WordPress.org. Both serve the same purpose, to help you build a website, but in the same instance, both are VERY different. My goal here is to make this the most in-depth comparison of wordpress.com vs wordpress.org so you can choose the right platform for you!
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WORDPRESS.COM VS WORDPRESS.ORG – THE SIMILARITIES
There are many difference between wordpress.com vs wordpress.org, but I’m going to start with the few similarities. You can click WordPress.com vs WordPress.org – The Differences if you want to jump straight to where these two platforms differ.
The great thing about using WordPress, is that both are Completely Free to use. You don’t have to pay WordPress ANYTHING to build your site. Now, that does come with a caveat for both platforms, but I will touch on that later in this post.
Both .com and .org versions allow for easy customization of your website.
Disclaimer: I had no prior experience with WordPress before building this website your on right now. If I’m being completely honest though, I have had quite a bit of technical experience when it comes to computers and technology.
Setting my personal experience aside, there are TONS of free tutorials and videos online that can help you with virtually everything related to both wordpress.com and self-hosted, wordpress.org.
As you can see in the images below, the back-end interface of the website, or the pages that control and help build your website, look fairly similar between both wordpress.org and wordpress.com:
That is really where the bulk of the similarities between wordpress.org vs wordpress.com end. Really, if you can use one platform, you won’t have much issue using the other. The real question is HOW are you wanting to use the platform. That’s where the differences come into play.
WORDPRESS.COM VS WORDPRESS.ORG – THE GOOD AND THE BAD
Both the .com and .org versions of WordPress give you similar functionality, but the features, what’s included, and the control on your website are completely different. There are four paid plans in addition to the free WordPress.com plan:
- Free: No cost, but limited functionality
- Personal: $5/month
- Premium: $8/month
- Business: $25/month
- VIP: Starting at $5,000/month
WORDPRESS.COM: THE GOOD
- Free to get started (up to 3GB)- There is no start-up cost and you can have your website up and running in minutes (I actually signed up for an account and I was editing my site in less than 5 minutes). However, if you are going to need more than 3GB of space, you are going to need to upgrade to one of WordPress’ paid plans.
- You get access to themes – There are a number of free and paid themes to choose from. If you upgrade to the “Premium” or “Business” WordPress plan, majority of these paid themes become available at no additional cost to the user. (Themes control the look and feel of your website and how the user interacts with your site).
- WooCommerce support – Although this isn’t available for the free plan, if you upgrade to the Business plan, you can now create a WooCommerce store on your website. I have never used WooCommerce personally, but I’ve heard great things. You can check that out on the WooCommerce website if you’re interested in selling products online.
WORDPRESS.COM: THE BAD
- Only 3GB of free storage – If you are just going to run a casual blog this may not be a big issue for you, but if you are looking to post a lot of pictures on your page, you will need to upgrade to the paid plans to get more storage (Personal Plan $5/month – 5GB storage, Premium Plan $8/month – 13GB storage, Business Plan $25/month – unlimited storage).
- WordPress advertisements – On the free plan, WordPress can place banners and advertisements within your site. By upgrading to any of the paid plans, WordPress removes these ads.
- WordPress subdomain – On the free WordPress plan “.wordpress.com” will show up in your site url (see image on right). To upgrade to a domain that removes “.wordpress.com,” you will need to upgrade to one of the paid plans.
- Limited opportunity for monetization – unless you upgrade to the Premium or Business plan, there is no way to monetize your website on WordPress.com. Along with the WooCommerce support we mentioned earlier, you can utilize WordPress’ own WordAds Program once you update to Premium or Business. Unfortunately with WordPress.com, there is no way to integrate Google AdSense into your website.
- Lack of Analytics – Now, WordPress does provide their own analytics for your website (site traffic, clicks, page views, ect), but this information is very limited. The most well-known and FREE website analytics tool to date, Google Analytics, is not available on WordPress.com unless you upgrade to the Business Plan.
As you can see, WordPress.com is very limited in what features you have access to, especially in the free plan. Of course, you can always upgrade to one of the paid plans, but in my opinion, this can get rather pricey.
Next we’ll get into my personal preference and what I would recommend, WordPress.org.
WORDPRESS.ORG: THE GOOD
- Free to set-up – Just like WordPress.com, the “self-hosted” WordPress.org is free to set up. What is different between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org, however, you will never need to upgrade plans with WordPress to gain more features when using WordPress.org. Although set-up is free, you will have to pay for domain and hosting from a 3rd party, but this will be WAY cheaper than upgrading to any of the WordPress.com plans. Will discuss more below.
- Theme and Plugin Access: You get access to countless number of free and paid themes and plugins. You are never limited in what themes your plugins you use with WordPress.org.
- Unlimited Customization Options – When using WordPress.com, you will need to pay to access Advanced Customization options. On WordPress.org, you have complete control over everything on your site.
- Unlimited Storage – With WordPress.org, there is no need to upgrade to another plan to gain more storage. You have unlimited storage to fill your website with all the content you wish.
- Monetizing your Site – There are no limitation on monetization when you use WordPress.org. If you want to add Google AdSense, you can. Want to add an eCommerce store on your website? No problem.
- Membership Sites – If a membership site is something you are looking to build, you will not be able to do this with WordPress.com. WordPress.org, however, allows you to create membership sites (there are several very useful plugins to help accomplish this. BuddyPress is one I am currently testing now).
- Connecting to Analytics – With WordPress.org, you are able to connect your site to various analytics sites for tracking site traffic, clicks, ect. Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager are two of the best tools out there for tracking your website, and best of all, they are FREE to use.
WORDPRESS.ORG: THE BAD
- Purchase your Own Domain – With WordPress.com you are able to purchase your domain and host on WordPress, but with WordPress.org, you will need to do this from a third-party. Luckily, most third-party sites make it super easy to purchase and link directly to WordPress.org. Bluehost (Affiliate Link), is my recommended site for domains and hosting site. You can check out my guide to setting up WordPress on Bluehost if you are interested in getting started.
- Hosting – WordPress.com offers hosting included with their plans. On WordPress.org, however, you must get hosting from a third-party. Luckily, like purchasing a domain, purchasing hosting is really easy to do with Bluehost (Affiliate Link). Currently, you are able to get a FREE Domain and SSL (security) when you purchase a hosting plan with Bluehost.
Disclaimer: I am an affiliate for Bluehost. By purchasing through this link, I do receive a small profit. This comes at NO ADDITIONAL cost to you. You are not required to use this link, but it is always very much appreciated!
- You have to take care of your own backups – With WordPress.org, you are responsible for managing your own website backups. There are plenty of plugins that can handle this for you. This article lists off the best 9 Plugins for WordPress in 2019.
WORDPRESS.COM VS WORDPRESS.ORG: THE VERDICT
As you can see, WordPress.com can be rather limited when it comes to the control and features of your site. If you are planning to start a casual blog, just for the sake of writing, or looking to test out WordPress, this may be a decent (and free) option for you to choose.
Having said that, If you are planning to create a full-fledged online business or have any plans to monetize your site in the future, I would HIGHLY recommend going with WordPress.org.
Comparatively speaking, the cost of upgrading to a WordPress.com paid plan vs starting out with WordPress.org, you are much better off paying for the third-party hosting and purchasing your own domain rather than upgrading on WordPress.com. Below, I have illustrated my EXACT costs for domain and hosting with Bluehost (Affiliate Link) while using WordPress.org. I’ve even included costs for themes and plugins that I have purchased so you can see what my total cost for this website has been. This is in comparison to using the highest-featured Business Plan on WordPress.com.
WordPress.org (My Costs) – 36-Months
Total: $277.19 for 36-Months
WordPress.com (Business) – 36-Months
Business Plan – $25 per month ($900 for 36-months)
Domain Name (free for first year) – Approx. $20 every year after
Themes – $0 (unless choosing to purchase)
Blog Designer Pro (Affiliate Link)- $39 (one-time)
Total: $979.00 for 36-Months
COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS
CAN I SWITCH OVER TO WORDPRESS.ORG FROM WORDPRESS.COM?
If you have already started a website with WordPress.com and are looking to switch over to WordPress.org, this is very much possible. It’s also a good thing to note, if you have purchased a plan on WordPress.com within the last 30-days, you can still get refunded for the cost of that plan. If you are outside of that 30-day window, unfortunately you will likely not get refunded for those months. In order to get your website switched over, you will need to purchase hosting from a third-party.
I’VE SWITCHED TO WORDPRESS.ORG, HOW COME WORDPRESS KEEPS CHARGING ME FOR A DOMAIN?
If you originally signed up for WordPress.com and purchased one of their paid plans, you likely received a free domain for a year. After that year, WordPress will begin charging you, yearly, for that domain. This is similar if you were to purchase a domain through another third-party. You can switch that domain over to your third-party hosting site if you choose, but it is not required.
IF I CHOOSE TO USE WORDPRESS.ORG, DO I NEED TO PURCHASE A “.ORG” DOMAIN?
No. You are able to set up your domain with any suffix you prefer, assuming it is available. Majority of websites that allow you to purchase domains, allow you to search for specific domains and their availability. If you are looking for a new domain, you can actually search for a domain in the sidebar of this page (you may need to scroll back up a bit) —–>
WORDPRESS.COM VS WORDPRESS.ORG
Hopefully this information has been useful for you in deciding between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org. If your just getting started with creating or even rebuilding your website, the team at FLOWJI has put together this awesome Website Success Checklist that I highly recommend checking out!
After reading this, if you are still uncertain about which WordPress to use my previous post can help you decide what kind of business/blog to start.
Don’t forget to subscribe to the blog to receive updates when new posts are uploaded. I try to put up new content each week!
QUESTION OF THE DAY
What are you doing on your website, right now, to monetize your site? How is that working for you?
I am an entrepreneur and adventure enthusiast, looking to break free from the Nine-Five grind. I'll show you what has worked and is currently working for me, as well as what hasn't worked so well.