WordPress.org vs WordPress.com – Which is Better?

Most new users who want to start a WordPress site don’t know that there are differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. These two provide the same WordPress content management system and WordPress website builder.

However, there are many differences between them. Knowing how they differ can help you immensely in making the right selection for your new site and WordPress hosting requirements.

What Are WordPress.org and WordPress.com?

Before we look at what WordPress.org and WordPress.com are, it’s important that we know what WordPress is.

As a matter of fact, WordPress is the most popular website building software that’s mostly preferred by experienced and novice web developers because of its amazing features and flexibility.

This software is open-source and available for free, so users can modify and share the features with other users who are present in the WordPress community.

The core WordPress system or software package is available for download by anyone from WordPress.org. Alternatively, this core WordPress software can also be installed as one of the elements of a hosting package from a reputable web hosting company.

So basically, the difference existing between WordPress.org and WordPress.com emanates from self-hosted and hosted websites, so your choice of them depends on how much control you need over your site’s design and management.

Self-Hosted Vs Hosted Sites

Self-hosting is an arrangement where a website owner has got full access to the site’s code and files and can deploy them in any manner they like.

A self-hosted website has its unique domain name and is hosted by one of the many hosting services providers who provide hosting space for different kinds of self-hosted websites.

What’s amazing with self-hosted websites is that the owner is free to make as many changes to the website as possible to make it unique. Additional functions can be incorporated to include personalized features that are not always available with off the shelve solutions.

A hosted website uses space that’s provided by a hosting services provider and it can be a comprehensive service solution for those who desire to publish their website content quickly and effortlessly, without having to handle complex designs, website maintenance, technical issues, and complex code.

In other words, WordPress.com is a robust hosted platform that runs on the vastly popular WordPress software.

On the other hand, WordPress.org helps to avail a complete WordPress site-package for download and for use by those who want self-hosting

WordPress.com: A Hosted, Easy to Use Option?

WordPress.com avails a wide array of tools that are required to host a WordPress website.

It provides a WordPress platform to help get your site up and running quickly and efficiently, even when you are not proficient with coding and other site-building technologies.

Moreover, WordPress will take care of future management and maintenance of the website.

At the simplest level, what a user requires is just to sign up and get a free account, choose the best theme, and start publishing. It’s because of this that WordPress has become very popular for students, creatives, and bloggers who are interested in the diverse range of customization choices that are provided byWordPress.org.

With WordPress.com, multiple plans are offered and the most basic is a free account.

However, this is good for novices who want to set up a simple website with little or no customization required. But for more options and services, you’ll need to add a custom theme, and this requires you to move up and become a paid subscriber.

Among the available plans are Personal, Business, and Premium. Each of these plans will cost you money and allows for greater customization and a wider control over your website, therefore making it look more like a self-hosted WordPress website.

It’s the amazing level of convenience and ease of use that makes a WordPress.com website appealing, but there are a few drawbacks also.

Unless you upgrade and get a personalized domain name, you’ll always have “WordPresss.com” as an extension to your site name, which doesn’t look professional at all, especially if you are cautious about developing a business brand or anything related.

This extension in your website name is a clear indicator that you are using a hosted site, which doesn’t augur well with most people, especially if you are using the site to offer a professional service or carry out business activities.

WordPress.org: Versatile and Incredibly Hands-On

WordPress.org is where WordPress software files reside. These files are simply a collection of different templates developed using PHP programming language, and which any user is free to modify and use them as desired.

In WordPress.org, you’ll find a wide range of customizable plugins for added functionality, a visual editor, and beautiful templates.

WordPress has features that will be of great use to both beginners and experienced website design professionals, who want to work directly with its style sheets ad files for exact customizations.

However, with this self-hosted version of WordPress, a user will be tasked to maintain the website, to install addons and elements which are useful for website customization.

Detailed Comparison Between WordPress.com & WordPress.org

After we’ve looked at the above basic differences between WordPress.com and wordpres.org, let’s now go ahead and see how they compare in terms of key features.

1. Themes

Without hesitation, themes are the main defining features of WordPress sites and WordPress.com site offers numerous selections of pre-made WordPress themes for free.

All that you require with these free themes is to add the requisite content and your site will be up and running. Unless you are going with a premium version, it’s impossible to add a theme from another source, other than the options you’ve been given.

With a self-hosted version of WordPress, users have the freedom to install and also change themes at will, and they’re free to choose themes from any source.

On the administrator’s dashboard, both premium and free themes can be customized using tools that are provided.

However, more experienced website developers who know how to code can work directly with the files to customize the website. You’ll find that premium themes offer more customization features than the free themes.

2. Plugins

With every site-plan which WordPress.com offers, users don’t have to worry about getting additional plugins installed because already they have enough of them preloaded.

Some of the built-in plugins include social media sharing plugins, contact forms, Google analytics, and more.

Other plugins cannot be installed on a WordPress.com website, and this limits the options that are available, especially for professional users who have a specific requirement.

However, self-hosted WordPress, or (WordPress.org) is somewhat different since it boasts of an amazing list of free and premium plugins.

These bits of code are made available by many collaborators in the WordPress community who work hard to produce plugins that add certain functions that are not normally available in core WordPress installations.

Plugins perform different functions that include building online stores, creating a form, creating tables, building sliders, backing up sites, and many more.

The users can also go a step ahead and fill the analytics-tools gap on their websites by installing the Jetpack plugin, which is a complete social sharing plugin that’s built by WordPress.com.

3. Domain Names

The domain name that you choose becomes your website’s online identity and it’s advisable that you own your own domain.

With self-hosted WordPress websites, you’ll be able to own your own domain and with self-hosted WordPress, it will become evident that your website is being hosted on a platform owned and operated by a third party.

Unless you are going to pay for a custom domain, a WordPress.com website will always have an extension- “WordPress.com” after the domain name you have chosen and that doesn’t look professional.

4. Monetization

Since the worpress.com website is free, you aren’t allowed to run ads.

However, if you have a site that attracts amazingly high traffic, you can opt to join their WordAds program- an arrangement that allows you to share your advertising income with WordPress.com. It’s also possible for you to put some affiliate links on your content, but generally, you’ll face some serious limitations.

Conversely, WordPress.org allows you to monetize your website by having as many relevant ads as possible within your content. You’ll not be required to share the revenue with anyone.

This is why WordPress.org is the best option for businesses and other professionals who want to make money from their websites.

5. E-commerce Capabilities

Most people who want to make money online will absolutely want to offer products for sale and this requires that you have your website converted into an e-commerce platform.

With WordPress.org, you’ll find it easy to build an e-commerce site. There are innumerate WordPress plugins which you can use to add eCommerce functionality to your website.

In WordPress.com, an eCommerce plan starts at $540 for a year, which is quite expensive, especially if you are getting started. This plan still offers limited customization resources even with the hefty price tag which it carries.

6. Migration

Most often new users who really don’t know what difference exists between WordPress.com and end up starting a website using www.WordPress.com which is a free service.

However, after some time, they start noticing the limitations which this free plan offers and start looking for ways to migrate their sites to WordPress.org.

Fortunately, it’s possible to migrate your website from WordPress.com to WordPress.org together with the content. Some free blog-setup services are available to help you do a seamless migration.

7. Pricing

WordPress.com Pricing: Six different pricing plans are available with WordPress.com and range from free to a high of $45/month. All of these plans should be paid upfront, so it’s important to know this before you get started.

WordPress.org pricing: While the WordPress software is available free of cost, you will spend some money to design and also create your website. Here are the typical costs which you will incur while creating a WordPress.org website:

Domain registration: $10-$15 annually.
Hosting costs: $30-$300 annually.
Premium plugins: $10-$1000 annually.
A premium theme will cost you $35 to $200 (one-off cost).

Final Thoughts

There is no better way to think about WordPress.org and WordPress.com than from the perspective of a person renting a business premise versus owning it. Renters are faced with serious limitations as there are many things they cannot do, while owners have full control over their premises, so they can do what they want and in their own way.

So, if you’re a blogger and don’t care about generating money from your blog, then a free WordPress.com site will suffice.

However, if you are serious about making money online from your website, then it’s imperative that you go with the self-hosted version-WordPress.org. This guarantees you of amazing levels of flexibility and freedom, and you will be able to grow your site in the best way you think.

Moreover, while you are able to get world-class website building and customization features with WordPress.com business plan that will cost you $300 annually, with the self-hosted plan that goes for $46 annually, that cost will go away higher.

In our opinion, WordPress.org is the better choice. This is the platform where small and big businesses and bloggers are.

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