Biggest Differences Between WordPress.org and WordPress.com
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Biggest Differences Between WordPress.org and WordPress.com

WordPress, the household name that powers most websites, is the favorite among many. But did you know that there are two WordPress platforms? WordPress.org and WordPress.com are two entirely different platforms for two other organizations. 

There aren’t many instances where a brand’s “.com” domain is separate from its “.org” domain. A brand under every domain extension usually refers to the same thing. That said, it’s different for WordPress.

WordPress.org and WordPress.com Explained

Setting the .org and .com aside, WordPress is the easiest and most popular way to create a website. Technically speaking, it is an open-source content management system, a tool used to create and manage websites. As of this writing, WordPress powers more than 40% of websites worldwide. 

So, whether you choose the .org or .com domain, the one you ultimately choose depends heavily on your requirements.

WordPress.org

WordPress.org

Known as self-hosted WordPress, this is the open-source software managed by the non-profit WordPress Foundation. Here, you’ll find the free WordPress software you can download and install on your web server to create a website. With WordPress.org, yes, you host your website. 

The software doesn’t cost anything on its own, but you need a hosting account to use it, which often comes with a price tag. 

WordPress.com

wordpress.com

An all-in-one ‘website as a service’ platform built on the WordPress.org software is a for-profit business owned by Automattic. They host your website and handle everything for you. You don’t have to download software, worry about the hosting, or manage a web server. 

However, you will need to create an account on WordPress.com. To get started, you can sign up for the free plan. All you have to do is go to WordPress.com and sign up for an account. You’ll be able to start building your website immediately. Bear in mind that many website features are paid upgrades.

Most significant Differences Between WordPress.org and WordPress.com

Understanding the critical differences between WordPress.org and WordPress.com is crucial, especially for beginners. If you don’t, you may end up choosing the wrong platform. Having the right platform from the beginning is pertinent, as this will determine your online business’s path to success. 

Getting Started

To start on WordPress.org, you need a domain name (website address) and a WordPress hosting solution (where your website files are stored online). You’ll need to do extra homework when shopping for the right WordPress hosting solution, which will depend on your budget, needs, and expectations.

Most web hosting solutions include a domain name and a web hosting control panel (tool to manage your website, web hosting account, etc) such as PleskcPanel and SPanel. Once you have selected your web host, you’ll get access to one or more methods of installing WordPress on your hosting account during the setup process at the web host’s platform. This may vary with different web hosts. 

With WordPress.com, starting a new website is as simple as creating an account. You won’t need to look into domains or web hosting solutions; they take care of these. The process takes only a few minutes; you can roll up your sleeves and get to business.

Flexibility

WordPress.org gives you complete control of your website. You can do anything as much as you need since you’re the master of your website and all its data. On the other hand, WordPress.com owns your website, and users can decide to pull the plug on it at any time if they believe something is off.

Themes

Themes are essential to uplift the look of your WordPress website. With WordPress.org, what you can do with themes is pretty much limitless. You can pick from tons of free themes available from the official directory at WordPress.org. You can also install other free or premium WordPress themes that you can find on the Internet. 

For WordPress.com, the number of themes you can use depends on the specific plan you sign up for. While the Free and Personal plans give you access to around 100 free themes, the Premium, Business, and E-commerce plans also provide access to all free and premium themes.

Plugins

Plugins are used to help extend your WordPress website’s features, enhancing it. When it comes to a WordPress.org website, you can install any plugin you wish, no matter where you host your website. You not only have access to over 50,000 plugins, you can also install other free as well as premium plugins from elsewhere.

However, for WordPress.com, you can only install plugins if you’re on the Business or eCommerce plan, where you can use the same 50,000+ plugins mentioned above. So, if you’re on the Personal or the Premium plans, you’re out of luck with plugins.

Customization

Both WordPress.com and WordPress.org run the same software – the native WordPress software. However, the key difference is that WordPress.com incorporates various other mechanisms, interfaces, and limitations on the top to gain more control. In other words, your customization choices for WordPress.com websites are much more limited. 

Since WordPress.org is open-source, you can do anything you want to fashion your website to your preference, including writing custom code on your own. To sum it up, you can only do what WordPress.com allows, but with WordPress.org, you can do whatever you want.

So, yes. WordPress.org takes the trophy in terms of creative control. Its customization is limitless. 

Monetize your Website

Since WordPress.org gives you freedom and flexibility, it is generally better to choose this platform if you want to make money from your website. You have zero restrictions regarding Ads and any other monetization method you prefer.

However, when it comes to WordPress.com, you’re severely limited as they do not allow you to run Ads on the Free and Personal plans. Additionally, on the Free plan, you cannot remove their Ads from being displayed on your website. Worse, you can’t even earn from them.

You can join their WordAds program (if your website garners high traffic), but you’ll need to share your Ad revenue with WordPress.com. Unless you subscribe to WordPress.com’s higher-paid plans, you’re restricted in how you can make money from your website. 

Security & Maintenance

WordPress.com takes the load off you and looks into the security and maintenance for you. This includes automatic updates and SSL certificates. You can’t do anything since the whole system is a closed ecosystem. In short, you’re relying on WordPress.com’s internal security and all the mechanisms that they have built around it.

wordpress support plans

That said, you’ll get automated site backups and one-click restore only if you’re on the Business or eCommerce plan. Please carefully consider this, as having backup and restore functions is crucial to any website’s long-term success.

Meanwhile, for WordPress.org, as the name suggests—self-hosted WordPress—this would mean that you’ll need to take care of your website’s security and maintenance aspects, including looking into your web hosting security

Although WordPress.org software is built to adhere to the security requirements and standards, it is best to improve your website’s security further. You want to ensure your website is always safe, including looking into software and security updates. 

Since you’re sitting in the driver’s seat when using WordPress.org, you’re fully responsible for implementing the WordPress security best practices. In short, you’ll have to pay more attention to security on WordPress.org than on WordPress.com; a tradeoff is that you must pay for more flexibility.

Pricing

WordPress.com offers both free and paid plans. The free plan is 100% free with no strings attached. You can create your website on WordPress.com’s subdomain (e.g. yourwebsite.wordpress.com) and have up to 3GB of disk space. However, you’ll have to be okay with WordPress.com’s ads displayed throughout your website.

WordPresscom_Pricing

The paid plans range from $4 to $45 per month. Each comes with different features but provides a free domain for one year with unlimited email support. As you can see, each plan caters to different purposes; the ‘Premium’ is best for freelancers, the ‘Business’ is meant for smaller businesses, and the ‘eCommerce’ targets online stores.

WordPress.org software is 100% free. If you wish to make your online presence visible to the public, you’ll need a web hosting solution and a domain name at a price. This price tag varies with the web hosting solution you choose. 

So, if you want to start a basic, small website without worrying about monetizing it, WordPress.com could be the cheaper option, as you can rely on their free service to get things done.

Conclusion

As you can see, there’s more to WordPress than meets the eye. It’s separated into two different platforms from two distinct entities. Both WordPress.com and WordPress.org have their ups and downs. That said, certain circumstances will motivate you to choose one.

If you wish to create a website without express intention to monetize it, go for WordPress.com. You can get started for free, the setup is easy, and you don’t have to worry about security and maintenance. However, if you want to launch a business website that you want to have complete control of, do it on WordPress.org. 

It all depends on what type of website you want, your budget, and, last but not least, what you expect from it.

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