Ever wondered what’s the difference between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org? If you ever thought about starting a WordPress blog you might have come across this question. Some of you may only know one flavor of it. If you already have a WordPress blog but you haven’t spent a cent on it, the chances are you are using the WordPress.com version.
In this article we will cover what are the differences between the two and what version of WordPress you should use for your needs.
WordPress.com vs WordPress.org: Comparison
Here are the main differences between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org versions.
- Imagine if you rent out a house. WordPress.com is just like the Blogger and Thumblr. You can just sign up and start blogging. WordPress.com takes care of your site security, maintenance and updates. Your site is hosted on their servers.
- Imagine if you own a house. You have the full control. You are responsible for your site security, maintenance and updates. Unlike WordPress.com, you have to have your own server to run your WordPress site.
Furthermore we can compare the two versions of WordPress using 5 main aspects. Which are Cost, The amount of knowledge required, Use of themes and plugins, Limitations and Monetization. And then we will explain what you should pick for your needs and why.
Both flavors of WordPress are for free. In WordPress.com you can just sign up for a free plan and start blogging. But for specific needs you have to spend some amount of money on premium plans. In WordPress.org, they have made the core files available for free but you have to find a hosting service where you can install and a domain name for your identity. To make it easy to understand we have divided the cost section into few sub sections.
- Domain Name: You will get a subdomain of WordPress.com with a free plan, ex: yoursite.wordpress.com. If you want a top level domain you have to upgrade to an advanced plan which costs you about $8.25 a month. That’s $99 per year. Still you don’t get the full control over your domain.
- Hosting: Free & fast hosting provided by WordPress.com site.
- Storage: 3GB free with free plan. Their Premium plan includes 10GB of extra storage and Business plan includes unlimited storage space which will cost about $99 and $299 per year respectively.
- Ads: We all hate ads. If you don’t wanna hate you can upgrade to their Personal plan by spending $36 per year.
- Domain Name: Choice of your domain registrar. Price varies between $10-$15 while some domain registrars provide domains for a discounted price as low as $1. Our recommended hosting providers like Bluehost, SiteGround and InMotion Hosting give a free domain when you sign up for a plan.
- Hosting: Hosting starts from $2.99 with Bluehost and you can find a shared hosting plan for $3-$15 from other hosting providers. But as your site gets bigger and popular you have to upgrade your hosting plan to more expensive package such as VPS or Dedicated server. Please note that a shared plan can handle up to 400000 page views per month so it won’t be a big issue for starters.
- Storage: It depends on your hosting plan. Many providers offer unlimited storage with their plans. Some of which are truly unlimited while some of them are ‘unmetered’.
- Ads: No ads with WordPress.org version. Thanks
Winner:- WordPress.org – Obviously.
2) Required Knowledge
WordPress.org requires more knowledge to work with. Your online presence depends on what you do. When you choose WordPress.com, the process is simpler. It’s just a matter of understanding of a user language. But when you choose WordPress.org you have to take care of few things such as design, functionalities, domain specified changes as well as you have to manage WordPress updates which might break site’s functionalities if you are using poorly coded plugins or themes. Obviously you can hire someone to do the necessary changes for you but that’s going to cost you some amount of money.
Winner:- WordPress.com – I would prefer the hard way. But in the beginner perspective I’d say WordPress.com wins this category only because it doesn’t require much knowledge to start with.
3) Use of Themes and Plugins
WordPress plugins and themes are key terms. Your site’s functionalities can be extended using plugins as well as you can make your site stand out using themes that are well designed. Let’s see how each supports for themes and plugins.
- Themes: WordPress.com has few hundreds of free themes and premium themes. But you can’t upload a custom theme of your choice. You can’t edit a theme or add any function in order to make you site ‘cool’.
- Plugins: There are few inbuilt functions you can work with. Some of them are paid so they will get activated when you go for a higher plan. In fact you can’t upload plugins in WordPress.com, which means you can’t use any plugin you have installed or you can install in self hosted WordPress.
- Themes: WordPress.org has uncountable number of themes and frameworks for free and as paid versions.With WordPress.org you can install any free or premium theme according to your choice. You can tweak the code if you want or you can use a custom designed theme to make your site stand out.
- Plugins: Yes you can upload plugins in WordPress.org version or you can write a plugin for your specific needs and extend your site’s functionalities.
Custom CSS: With the Premium plan of WordPress.com you will get the ability to add custom CSS to the theme you are using. You can change colors, backgrounds and do some few modifications to the theme but that’s going to cost you $99 per year.
Winner:- WordPress.org – Obviously
With WordPress.com you can’t edit core files, explore your web disk or connect to your server via FTP. But everything is possible when you choose WordPress.org. Sky is the limit 🙂
- Google Analytics: WordPress.com comes with a basic analytics system. Unfortunately you can’t integrate 3rd party analytics like Google analytics with Free, Personal or Premium plans but their Business plan supports for Google analytic integration. Roughly costs about $299 per year. This is a serious downfall for WordPress.com version. With WordPress.org you can integrate any kind of analytics regardlessly it’s Google analytics, Alexa or Piwik.
Monetization? That we can do, but certainly there are few things you should know before picking a version of WordPress if you are planning to make a living from your site or planning to take blogging into your career.
- You have two options if you want to monetize your blog with WordPress.com version. You can sign up for their WordAds program or you can use WordPress.com VIP which costs you $5000 a month. In WordAds program they run ads on our site on their behalf but in WordPress.com VIP you can start using your own ads and earn money. Also in WordAds there are only two positions available for you to list their ads.
- Yes, you can use ads, place anywhere you want and start earning right away. Simple as that.
We recommend WordPress.org – Simply because the chances are less that you are going to have problems in the future.
All our sites are running on self hosted WordPress. Also if you are currently using WordPress.com and you want to move your site to WordPress.org, please read this guide.
Which Version of WordPress Should I Use?
It depends. But we recommend to use self hosted version of WordPress if you care about your online presence in a higher priority. And make sure you have got plenty of time and effort if you choose self hosted WordPress because you are gonna learn a lot!
- If you want a simple website or you don’t want to spend lots of time on your site. Then WordPress.com would be a great option.
- If you want a WordPress multisite, an eCommerce website or if you are planning to make a reputation through your site.