WordPress is the most popular way to build a website. But despite its popularity, there’s one question that many new users still struggle with – what’s the difference between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org?
If you search for “WordPress” on Google, the two websites will rank #1 and #2. And if you’re new to WordPress, you might not know which one to use.
WordPress.com vs WordPress.org: The key difference
The WordPress software, located at WordPress.org, is a free, open source content management system. To use the WordPress software, you need to install it on a web server. And that’s the key difference between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org.
- If you download WordPress from WordPress.org, YOU host it. You set it up with your own hosting provider and use it on your own website, which gives you a ton of flexibility. This is why WordPress.org is often also called self-hosted WordPress.
- WordPress.com, on the other hand, is a blog/website platform based on the WordPress.org software. Instead of needing to download the software and host it yourself, you can just sign up for a WordPress.com account and have a working website right away.
The cost of using WordPress.com vs WordPress.org
WordPress.com does allow you to set up a website entirely for free, but there are some downsides to this:
- You can only place your site under a subdomain
- You cannot remove WordPress.com’s own ads and branding from your site
- You get limited disk space of 3GB
- You can’t monetize your blog or website
- You can’t install plugins or any themes that aren’t available on the platform by default
If you do want to use your site for a commercial purpose, you will have to pay at least $8 / month on your WordPress.com plan + the cost of a custom domain name usually in the range of $15 / year. In total, this means at least $111 annually to run a site on WordPress.com.
With WordPress.org, on the other hand, you can launch a completely functional website at $35 for the first year and then $50 every year after that.
To make that happen, you first need to pick a web host. We have some suggestions for you here, but if you’re in a hurry, just go with Bluehost. They’re a respected company with tons of options for WordPress. Here’s what’s good about Bluehost’s offering:
- You can get started at $2.95 / month
- You get a free domain name for the first year
- WordPress will be installed for you automatically
From a user’s point of view, Bluehost works similarly to WordPress.com – as in, you sign up, pick a hosting plan, tell them to install WordPress for you, finalize the purchase and you’re good to do.
Plus, what you also get is complete freedom over what you want to do with your site – something that WordPress.com doesn’t give you. Go here to get started with Bluehost and WordPress.org.
If you need some more info before making up your mind, here’s a more in-depth look at the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org:
WordPress.com vs WordPress.org: Pros and cons
Each version has its own pros and cons. (Although, I personally think the .com version has more cons than pros. But you can decide for yourself!)
When to use WordPress.com
With WordPress.com, you don’t have to worry about purchasing hosting or maintaining your site. It also can be free, though there are paid plans as well.
The free plan limits you to 3GB of data and a subdomain (like mywebsite.wordpress.com). It also includes WordPress.com ads.
Furthermore, you won’t be able to install your own “plugins” or “themes” unless you pay for the expensive business plan. Plugins and themes are one of the most helpful things about the WordPress software because they make it easy to customize your site, so that’s a pretty big loss.
When to use WordPress.org
WordPress.org has to be set up with your hosting provider. In most cases, this is a simple one-click install, and is really easy.
In fact, if you purchase your domain name from your hosting provider, you don’t even have to worry about changing DNSs. It will be done for you!
You can also monetize your website however you want, which is great if you’re planning to make it a business.
Even though there’s a bit more of a learning curve, in the long run you’ll thank yourself for making this decision.
Ready to get started? As mentioned, we recommend Bluehost as the place to launch your WordPress website. The setup is easy and they help you along the way, too. For more guidance, here’s our 15 minute tutorial to starting a WordPress website.
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