WordPress.com vs WordPress.org. Which one should you choose?
In this post, you’re going to learn the exact difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org.
You’ll also get a thorough comparison
- Pros and Cons
So that you can get all your questions answered and choose the right platform for building your first website.
Let’s get started:
What is WordPress?
WordPress is an open-source content management system software.
It’s both free as in “free beer” and also gives you the freedom to modify it according to your needs.
That’s why WordPress is used by 62.7% of all the websites that use a content management system. Or 35.9% of all websites.
WordPress comes with all the features to build a simple blog or a simple website. But you can use WordPress plugins to extend WordPress and build any kind of website.
For instance, here are the different types of websites you can build with WordPress:
- Ecommerce stores
- Business websites
- Social networks & community websites
- Helpdesk, documentation & support websites
- Training courses websites
- Membership sites
- Auction websites
- …and more.
What is WordPress.org?
WordPress.org is a community website, where you can download the WordPress software (for free).
This means you only get the software from WordPress.org. And unlike WordPress.com, WordPress.org does not come with a website hosting service.
Once downloaded you can install WordPress on your hosting server. And start building your website.
It also hosts:
- WordPress plugins
- WordPress themes
- Official documentation
- Support forums
- And a showcase of websites built using WordPress.
This website is run & managed by the open-source community of WordPress.
You can download the latest WordPress zip file from WordPress.org. And, you can create what is called a standalone WordPress website.
- Hosts the latest stable version of the WordPress software, which can be downloaded for free.
- Hosts the official directory of free plugins and themes that are reviewed and rated by the community.
- Above all, it also has in-depth documentation for users as well as developers who want to make changes to WordPress or build their own plugins and themes.
- Community support forums with a super-helpful community.
- Shares the latest news and information about WordPress, and the community.
WordPress can be downloaded for free from WordPress.org. But you’ll still have to buy:
- Web hosting ($3 – $50 a month)
- Domain (~$10 a year)
- Plugins & themes ($9 – $199 a year)
Pros & Cons
Building your own standalone WordPress website has the following advantages:
- You own your website and all the content on it. No one can shut down your website, because it’s again their terms and conditions.
- Because you own the website, you’re free to modify the code and functionality of your website any way you like.
- You can extend the functionality of your website by adding free, or premium plugins.
- You can make your website look any way you want, using a free or premium WordPress theme. Or even create your own theme.
- You can use powerful third-party tools like Google Analytics, Facebook Pixels, MailChimp to grow your website.
- You can monetize your website any way you like. Use third-party ad networks like Google Ads, set up a membership site or run an e-commerce store.
On the other hand:
- You’ll have to buy your own hosting. For smaller website’s hosting is relatively cheap and starts are $3 a month. But as your website grows, your hosting costs will also increase.
- You’re fully responsible for maintaining your website. This involves regularly updating WordPress, plugins, and themes. And keeping your website backups for a bad day.
What is WordPress.com?
WordPress.com is a premium hosted version of WordPress.
WordPress.com is run & managed by Automattic.
All basic features on WordPress.com are free.
But, you have to pay a fee for premium features including domains, backups, antispam software, etc.
Now that you the difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com, let’s look at the differences in the features they offer.
- A hosted version of WordPress with 3-200 GB space.
- Prices vary from free-$540 per year.
- It comes with a few pre-selected WordPress themes and plugins (some of which are paid).
- In-depth documentation for users.
- Premium, priority support for paid users.
- $0 – $540 a year for hosting.
- Custom domain not available in the free plan.
- A limited selection of plugins & themes included.
Pros & Cons
If you’re new to building websites WordPress.com gives you the following advantages:
- It’s a hosted solution. You don’t have to worry about installing or configuring WordPress.
- You don’t have to worry about website security, maintenance, and backups. WordPress.com takes care of that.
- It comes with a free plan with up to 3GB space and a xyz.wordpress.com domain name. Premium plans cost anywhere from $48 a year to $540 a year.
On the other hand, WordPress.com has quite a few cons:
- Your website may be turned off if it goes against WordPress.com’s terms and conditions.
- If you’re on a free plan, WordPress.com places ads on your website. You have to upgrade to a paid plan to remove ads.
- WordPress.com serves its own ads, called WordAds. This means you cannot use third-party ad networks on WordPress.com websites.
- You cannot install any third-party plugin or theme, that is not approved by WordPress.com. Unless you’re on the business plan.
- You cannot change the code of your WordPress.com website.
- WordPress.com comes with its own analytics. You cannot use third-party analytics solutions like Google Analytics.
- You cannot accept payments on WordPress.com hosted websites. Unless you switch to their top Ecommerce plan.
Comparison between WordPress.org & WordPress.com
|Hosting Cost||$46 – $100 / year||Free||$96 / year||$300 / year|
|Hosting Space||Unlimited||3 GB||13 GB||200 GB|
|Install Any Theme||Yes||No||No||No|
|Install Any Plugin||Yes||No||No||No|
|Add Custom Code||Yes||No||No||No|
WordPress.org vs WordPress.com FAQs
Do you still have questions? Here’re some common questions people ask about the two.
Which is better – WordPress.com or WordPress.org?
It depends on you.
WordPress.org is better for you if you:
- Want complete control of your website, including how you use it, modify it, or monetize it.
- Don’t have the $540 a year to start your own e-commerce store.
- Can manage your hosting and website maintenance.
On the other hand, if you don’t want the headache of maintaining your website, WordPress.com may be right for you.
How can I monetize my WordPress.com website?
There are three ways you can monetize your WordPress.com website:
- Signup for their E-commerce plan ($540 a year) to launch your own e-commerce store.
- Signup for the WordAds program. That way, WordPress.com can display ads on your website and share the revenue earned from these ads with you.
- Promote other people’s products via affiliate links to your content. So that you can earn affiliate commissions.
What is better for ecommerce – WordPress.com vs WordPress.org?
If you’re looking for a reliable infrastructure to manage your e-commerce store, without the maintenance headaches, WordPress.com is right for you.
However, you’re better off going with WordPress.org if you:
- don’t have the $540 a year, needed for the WordPress.com Ecommerce plan.
- want to use an e-commerce system other than WooCommerce.
- are building membership, LMS, or a subscription site.
If you don’t have the time or resources to maintain your website, WordPress.com may be right for you.
On the other hand, if you want complete control over your website, on the ways to monetize it, and can maintain the website on your own, you cannot go wrong with WordPress.org.
Where’s your website hosted? Tell us in the comments below.