WordPress.org vs WordPress.com – Which Should You Choose for Building Your Website?

Which WordPress platform is better is often a point of contention among WordPress enthusiasts. The difference between the two platforms is something beginners might not even realize until they have already made their choice only to end up realizing it’s not what they had in mind in the first place.

The difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com boils down to the difference between a self-hosted and a hosted platform, with WordPress.org being the self-hosted and WordPress.com being the hosted version. To know which one you should choose for building your website, you must first analyze the pros and cons of each.

WordPress.com

WordPress.com is a hosted platform, which means that all the technical aspects that go into running a website are handled for you by the same provider. With WordPress.com, you get a free WordPress subdomain (which will look like yoursite.wordpress.com), free web hosting, free backups for your website, as well as free updates and security.

wordpress com pricing

Although there is a Free WordPress.com plan, it’s quite limited, and we only recommend it for small personal blogs, and only if you don’t mind WordPress placing ads on your site. This Free plan comes with 3 GB storage, pre-installed plugins, dozens of free themes, basic design customization, and community support.

If you want to get rid of ads, get email or live chat support, a bit more storage (6 GB), and a custom domain name, you can upgrade to the Personal plan for $4/month. Neither the Free plan, nor the Personal plan allow you to monetize your site or install third-party plugins.

The Premium plan, which costs $8/month, allows you to monetize your site through the WordAds program, but if you decide you want to install third-party plugins as well, you’ll have get yet another upgrade to the Business plan.

The Business plan is the most full-featured plan, providing unlimited storage, SEO tools, possibility to install third-party themes or plugins, integration with Google Analytics, and it allows you to remove the WordPress.com footer branding. All this for $25/month.

As a quick summary of the above, here are the pros and cons of WordPress.com:

Pros of WordPress.com:

  • Free hosting and maintenance (updates, backups, security, etc.);
  • Free subdomain or possibility to add custom domain with higher tier plans;
  • Free plan suitable for small hobby blogs;
  • Pre-installed plugins and themes.

Cons of WordPress.com:

  • Limited control and features with the Free plan;
  • Ads placed on all Free websites;
  • Monetization possible only if you upgrade to Premium plan or higher, and only through the WordAds program, which requires you to share your revenue with them;
  • Installing third-party plugins and themes is allowed only with the Premium plan;
  • No eCommerce features or payment gateway integration available;
  • No custom analytics tools, except for the Business plan which integrates Google Analytics.

WordPress.com is great for those who don’t have the maintenance skills required to run a website on their own, and they’d rather focus on creating and publishing content, but they don’t plan on monetizing it.

WordPress.org

If you choose WordPress.org as the platform for your website, you’ll have the opportunity to fully control everything that goes into building a website. This means that you’ll have to purchase your own domain, choose your own web hosting, deal with updates, backups, security issues, etc. But this also means that you’ll have full control over every aspect of your website.

You can install WordPress.org for free, choose from thousands of free and premium plugins and themes, add eCommerce functionality or any other functionality you wish, and monetize your blog or website however you see fit.

download wordpress org

When you’re looking for hosting for your WordPress site, you’ll be pleased to find out there are multiple web hosts offering managed WordPress hosting that comes with the same maintenance benefits as you would get with a WordPress.com plan.

When it comes to WordPress hosting, BlueHost, InMotion Hosting or HostGator are some of the hosting options we recommend looking at. Some of these web hosts will even offer a free custom domain name for a year.

This freedom of control, customization and monetization is why many people will forgo the benefits of a hosted platform and opt for the self-hosted version of WordPress.

That being said, here are the pros and cons of WordPress.org:

Pros of WordPress.org:

  • It’s free and fully customizable;
  • You can add free or premium plugins and themes;
  • You can monetize your site however you see fit and without having to share revenue with anyone;
  • You can use custom analytics and site traffic tracking tools or other tools you might need;
  • You can turn your WordPress site into an online store and start selling online.

Cons of WordPress.org:

  • You are responsible with buying your own domain name and finding hosting;
  • You are responsible with ensuring that themes, plugins, WordPress core are all up-to-date;
  • You’ll have to deal with security and backups.

WordPress.org is the go-to choice for those who want to be in full control over their site and don’t mind dealing with the particularities of buying a domain or finding a web host.

We recommend WordPress.org for professional bloggers, online stores, business websites, or anyone who plans on monetizing their website and have the flexibility to customize their site with no restrictions.

So, Which Should You Choose for Building Your Website?

The WordPress.com vs WordPress.org debate will always come down to the type of website you’re planning to build. If you want a casual blog that you don’t plan on monetizing, the free version of WordPress.com will do just fine. If you don’t want WordPress to place ads on your site, you can easily get rid of them by switching to the Personal plan.

If you do plan on monetizing your blog or site, and you want to have control over what plugins, themes, and other tools you can install, WordPress.org is the way to go. The cons of WordPress.org mentioned above (maintenance, security, backups, etc.) can be easily dealt with if you choose a good managed WordPress hosting plan.

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