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vector graphic showing a comparison of wordpress.com vs wordpress.org - the company logos side by side with "vs" in the middle

When it comes to WordPress, there are two main options. – WordPress.com and WordPress.org.

Both platforms have their unique benefits and drawbacks. This fact can make it difficult to decide which one is right for you.

In this article, we will discuss the similarities and differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. Our goal is to help you make an informed decision about which platform works best for your needs.

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org Comparison

WordPress.com and WordPress.org are both popular content management systems (CMS). They each come with their pros and cons, which we will discuss in more detail below.

Choosing Between WordPress.org or WordPress.com

WordPress is available in two different packages:

  • WordPress.org
  • WordPress.com

Knowing the difference between the two platforms will help you avoid choosing the wrong WordPress software.

What Is WordPress.org?

WordPress.org is self-hosted CMS software that you must download and manage on a private server. The WordPress.org software itself is free, but you can only create a live website with it when you get a domain name and web hosting.

What Is WordPress.com?

WordPress.com is hosted by Automattic, the company responsible for building and updating the WordPress platform, and you won’t need a private server to use the platform.

Once you sign up for a free or paid WordPress.com subscription plan, you can create an account, and start building your blog or website.

WordPress.org vs WordPress.com

The table below will help you compare both CMS platforms to determine which is a better fit for your needs.

FeaturesWordPress.orgWordPress.com
Web HostingYou must find a web hosting provider, and there will be a monthly subscription fee.WordPress hosting is available for free in the basic plan.
ThemesYou can use the default theme or opt for any of the commercial themes available on the platform.You are limited to pre-installed themes that cannot be modified.
Plugins You can create custom plugins or use any free or paid plugin to get the functionality you need.There are no plugins and you cannot build a custom solution.
eCommerceYou can build eCommerce sites to sell online services, subscriptions, digital goods, and physical items.There is no provision for creating an online store.
AdvertisementsYou can advertise freely, and charge others to promote their products and services on your website.You cannot place adverts on your website, and subscribers to the basic plan must display “Powered by WordPress” on all their web pages.

When to Use WordPress.org

WordPress.org is preferable if you need to add custom functionality to your website. It is also the best option for users that have extensive branding requirements.

eCommerce stores, businesses, affiliate marketers, and serious bloggers are better off using WordPress.org.

When to Use WordPress.com

WordPress.com is ideal if you are satisfied with a website with fewer bells and whistles.

Users that are unwilling or unable to pay for domain name registration and web hosting should also opt for WordPress.com.

The free version of the platform is good enough for hobby bloggers and professionals looking to create simple portfolio websites.

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org: Hosting Requirements

When looking at the similarities and differences inside the WordPress.com vs WordPress.org debate, you need to understand the hosting service requirements.

vector graphic showing a handful of the best managed wordpress hosting company logos

WordPress.com: Managed Hosted

Managed WordPress hosting is a service type where the provider manages the technical aspects of the website for you.

It includes things like security, speed, updates, and uptime.

With managed hosting, you don’t need to worry about these technical details.

You can focus on creating content and publishing it on your website.

WordPress.com is a managed hosted platform, which means that Automattic manages all of the technical aspects of your website for you.

Why Do I Need Managed Hosting?

Managed hosting works well for people who don’t want to deal with the technical side of website building.

It’s also a good option if you don’t have the time or skills to manage your website yourself.

It can save money spent on developers or designers.

What Is the Cost of Managed Hosting?

The platform keeps things simple by offering two plans to its customers.

You can choose between the WordPress Free plan and the WordPress Pro plan.

You won’t pay any money when starting the WordPress Free plan.

However, it includes ads on your website and offers limited storage space.

If you want to increase your storage space and gain additional functionality, you need to upgrade to the WordPress Pro plan.

The Pro plan costs $15 per month and bills annually.

It unlocks the following features that the WordPress Free plan doesn’t provide.

  • Free custom domain for one year
  • 50 GB of storage space
  • Well-rounded Premium theme selection
  • A menu of plugins to choose from
  • Premium support
  • Removal of ads from the website
  • Social media tools
  • SEO tools
  • Free email for three months
  • Website backups

The WordPress Pro plan includes a 14-day money-back guarantee.

WordPress.org: Self-hosted

WordPress.org is a self-hosted platform, which means that you need to find a web hosting provider and install WordPress on your server.

After installing WordPress, you can manage all of the technical aspects of your website.

You will manage activities such as security, speed, and updates.

Why Do I Need to Self-host?

Self-hosting works best if you value the control you gain over your website.

You won’t run into any restrictions as you build on a self-hosted WordPress website.

With this option, you can upload anything you desire to the site.

It’s a process that makes it simple to directly fix all issues as challenges arise.

Traffic monitoring becomes easier.

You’ll find plenty of options that help view traffic numbers.

It’s critical to monitor this metric over time.

Use the information to adjust your search engine optimization in ways that meet your search ranking goals.

Other reasons to go the self-hosting route include the following.

  • Access to a larger number of plugins and themes
  • More storage
  • Improve technical support
  • Free email accounts

What Is the Cost of Self-hosting?

The cost of self-hosting will depend on the web hosting provider you choose and the type of plan you select.

Generally, shared hosting plans are the most affordable.

They start at around $50 per year.

They can increase to a few hundred dollars annually, depending on the features you need.

If you want more control over your website, you may need to select a VPS hosting plan.

These plans give you a virtual private server, which means that your website will have its own space on the server.

You can expect to pay around $100 per month for this type of hosting plan.

For high-traffic websites, you’ll need to select a dedicated server.

With this type of plan, your website will gain a physical server.

The price tag is much higher than other hosting plans, starting at $500 per month.

You can also find WordPress hosting providers that offer all-inclusive plans.

These plans include hosting, a domain name, support, and security features.

The costs of these plans will start at around $25 per month.

Here are two examples of quality hosting companies and the plans they offer.

We’ll focus on shared hosting here.

It’s usually the best way to begin a WordPress.org website while keeping costs down.

SiteGround hosts almost three million WordPress.org websites.

It comes with built-in security features and quality website speed features.

The website hosting company offers three main plans.

  1. StartUp: $3.99/mo introductory price ($14.99/mo after the first year)
  2. GrowBig: $6.99/mo introductory price ($29.99/mo after the first year)
  3. GoGeek: $10.69/mo introductory price ($39.99/mo after the first year)

Bluehost offers 1-click WordPress installations and a free SSL certificate.

It offers these four shared hosting plans.

  1. Basic: $2.95/mo introductory price ($10.99/mo after the first year)
  2. Plus: $5.45/mo introductory price ($16.99/mo after the first year)
  3. Choice Plus: $5.45 introductory price ($20.99/mo after the first year)
  4. Pro: $13.95 introductory price ($32.99/mo after the first year)

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org: Which Is Better?

The most effective way to select the appropriate WordPress platform is by evaluating your needs and budget.

If you want a simple platform with limited features, WordPress.com is the best option.

The costs are reasonable.

You won’t need to manage any technical aspects of the website.

If you’re looking for more control over your website or want to add customizations, self-hosting with WordPress.org is the better solution.

vector graphic showing an illustration of things to write about - people using writing items to write a blog post

Which Is Better for eCommerce?

To set up an online store, self-hosting with WordPress.org is the preferred option.

With this platform, you can select from a range of eCommerce plugins and themes.

You’ll also have more control over the security and performance of your website.

WordPress.org allows you to integrate your website with the following eCommerce solutions.

You need these tools to set up a functional online store.

They allow you to add features such as a shopping cart, checkout process, and payment gateway.

Which Is More Secure?

Both WordPress.com and WordPress.org are secure platforms.

However, self-hosting with WordPress.org gives you additional security options.

You can install more advanced security plugins to protect your WordPress website.

If you host your website with a reputable WordPress hosting provider, they’ll take additional steps to secure your website.

For example, WP Engine provides customers with a managed WordPress security solution that includes firewalls and malware scanning.

Which Is Cheaper?

The costs of both WordPress.com and WordPress.org will depend on the features you need.

If you want a simple website with limited features, WordPress.com will cost less.

When you want to add design customizations, advanced security plugins, and SEO options, you’ll spend more on your website with WordPress.org.

Which Is Easier To Use?

WordPress.com is ideal for beginners who want to set up a website without any fuss.

You get a more structured way to build your website.

Fewer bells and whistles typically equate to greater ease of use.

At the same time, you shouldn’t think that using WordPress.org requires a rocket science degree.

Most website hosts now provide a 1-click WordPress install option.

Once you log into the WordPress.org back office, it’s relatively straightforward.

The key is that WordPress.org offers more options inside its CMS area than WordPress.com.

Suffice it to say that both platforms make it easy to build a site.

You might consider WordPress.com as the option offering the simpler option.

Themes: Which Is More Customizable?

When it comes to themes, WordPress.org is the clear winner.

The platform provides access to thousands of free and premium themes.

By comparison, WordPress.com offers a more limited selection of themes.

With WordPress.org, you can also upload custom themes that you create yourself or purchase from third-party developers.

If you want maximum control over the appearance of your website, self-hosting with WordPress.org is the better solution.

Plug-ins: Which Is More Flexible?

Like themes, plugins are more plentiful on WordPress.org.

With over 54,000 plugins available, you can find a WordPress plugin for just about anything you want to do.

On WordPress.com, you’re limited to a few dozen plugins.

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org: Final Verdict

As you can see, WordPress.com and WordPress.org both have their strengths and weaknesses.

The best way to decide which platform is right for you is by evaluating your needs and budget.

vector graphic showing a comparison of wordpress.com vs wordpress.org - the company logos side by side with "vs" in the middle

Before making a decision, you should invest time in thinking about your long-term goals.

  • Are you building a website for personal reasons?
  • Would you rather use something easy to use “out of the box”?
  • Is turning a profit with your blog unimportant to you?

If the above questions describe your situation, you should strongly consider using a WordPress.com website.

On the other hand, your long-term goals might include business-oriented goals.

Do you plan to steadily grow any of the following types of businesses?

  • Coaching program
  • Online course
  • Affiliate marketing
  • e-Commerce store
  • SaaS company
  • Local business
  • Network marketing
  • Digital marketing agency

If this is why you’re considering building a website, then you need to choose WordPress.org.

For business, WordPress.org is your winner.

As an entrepreneur and website owner, you need the WordPress.org customization options we described above.

You need the option to connect your hosting account to SEO plugins that improve website speed, for example.

Google takes website speed quite seriously when ranking you against your competitors.

You’re also going to want advanced design options as your business grows.

In the beginning, any WordPress theme will work well.

However, you will want the ability to hire designers down the road.

If you’re locked into a WordPress.com website, it will create a hassle to change it over to WordPress.org.

If you know you have big business and website dreams, it doesn’t make sense to think small now.

Invest in a self-hosted WordPress.org website from the beginning.

Doing so means you’re starting your business correctly.

Wrapping Up

The WordPress.com vs wordpress.org debate won’t end anytime soon.

Make your choice after weighing the pros and cons of each option against your long-term goals.

If you need a simple personal WordPress blog, consider WordPress.com.

If you’re an entrepreneur, choose the clear winner for business needs: WordPress.org.

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