The Difference Between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org – Which One To Use?
Are you wondering what the difference between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org is? More importantly, which one to use?
These are two major questions I asked myself when I started blogging so I’m here to help you understand the following:
- What are the key differences between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org?
- Which platform is right for you?
- Who is more secure?
- Plus, some more good stuff…
Let’s dive in.
What Is WordPress?
‘WordPress‘ is a service that allows you to build your website using WordPress software (also known as a content management system or CMS for short).
It’s a free software tool you use to create and manage your one-of-a-kind website.
The best part?
You do not need technical skills, coding skills, or to download software to use it because it runs online.
Why Use WordPress?
That’s a great question and I have a great answer for you…
WordPress is the mothership of all blogging platforms. It’s the largest publishing platform in the world powering over 43% of all websites!
Some of the most notable name brands use WordPress like:
- The Rolling Stones
The Key Difference Between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org
Right off the bat, the two terms may seem similar, but there is one important word that differentiates the two platforms, Hosting.
When you see the terms WordPress.com and WordPress.org, ask yourself this question…who is the hosting provider?
- WordPress.com is a managed host or a self-hosted WordPress website.
- WordPress.org you choose your hosting provider for your WordPress site (e.g. Bluehost, HostGator, SiteGround, etc.).
If you choose to set up your website through WordPress.com, they are your hosting provider.
If you choose to set up your website through WordPress.org, you will need to pick a hosting provider that manages WordPress websites.
► For the top 3 WordPress web hosts (recommended by WordPress themselves), click here.
Speaking of hosting, what does that mean?
Website hosting is a secure place for you to store your website online for the world to see.
Think of your website host as the foundation or outer shell of your house (e.g. brick, vinyl, stucco). Inside your house are your furniture and decor or in this case, inside your host is the spot where you store all your data…content, images, videos, and code.
Both platforms, WordPress.com and WordPress.org allow you to build and customize your one-of-a-kind website. It’s the hosting that truly differentiates the two platforms.
Next, let’s touch on the key differences to know about WordPress.com vs WordPress.org.
What Is WordPress.com?
As mentioned earlier, WordPress.com is a hosting provider that manages your blog or website. You build your website using WordPress software.
You may install WordPress.com and use it for free if you are a registered user.
This is a great tool for new bloggers starting out who want to create a free website.
► If you’d like to know how to start a blog free using WordPress.com, click here.
Here are the perks…
- No software to download
- Free hosting (premium hosting and security are included)
- Free blog or website
- A free domain name (e.g. www.yourdomain.wordpress.com)
- Free pre-installed beautiful themes to choose from
- The option to add ‘share buttons’ to your content to share across your social media channels
- Free storage up to 3GB of space
- Updates and backups are handled by WordPress.com (you don’t need to worry about this)
Here are the limitations…
- You are limited to how you are allowed to monetize your blog (you can not sell ads on your website)
- You do not own your free WordPress.com branded subdomain (e.g. www.yourwebsite.wordpress.com)
- Sometimes ads are placed on free websites and you do not make any money from it
- You can’t upload plugins
- You can’t upload custom themes
- You can’t install powerful tracking platforms like Google Analytics (you are limited to using WordPress.com stats only)
- Your website may be deleted at any time if WordPress.com thinks you violate its terms of service
- You can not sell products or make a storefront with WooCommerce
When using the free version of WordPress.com it’s like ‘renting’ your website, you do not own your website but you always own your content. If you want to ‘own’ your website consider WordPress.org or upgrade to WordPress.com Business Pro.
What Is WordPress.org?
WordPress.org (also known as self-hosted WordPress or the ‘Real WordPress’) is the actual software you use to create your beautiful one-of-a-kind website. If you’ve heard of WordPress, you’ve most likely heard about WordPress.org.
It’s free software installed on your chosen web host that you have complete ownership of. You may also download WordPress.org and install it yourself. Again, it’s 100% free to use.
The costs that come into play are with your hosting provider to ensure you have a reliable, secure, high-performing successful website. Like our previous ‘house’ analogy, you wouldn’t build your house without a foundation nor should you build a website without a host behind you.
Keep in mind you’re the primary person to bring together the software, hosting, and installation process.
There are hosting providers that easily install WordPress.org for you like the following WordPress-recommended web hosts:
Here are the perks…
- You own your website and all its data
- You may add customizable plugins that are free or paid
- Customize the design any way you want through free or premium themes
- You can monetize your site by running your own ads (you won’t have to share the revenue)
- Use powerful tracking tools like Google Analytics
- Create a storefront
Here are the limitations…
- Backups to your website are your responsibility
- Updates are your responsibility
- You will need to install WordPress.org (as mentioned, some hosting companies take care of this for you)
- You will need website hosting
Overall, WordPress.org is a great option for blog owners who want complete control, ownership, and flexibility in building their websites from the ground up. You control the overall functionality and tools on your website.
How To Know Your Website Is Secure
If your website URL shows up like this https://www.yourwebsite.com, then you know it’s secure. This is because of the ‘https’ in front of your website’s URL.
This is known as a SSL Certificate (Secure Sockets Layers Certificate) which is a bit of code injected on your web server to secure online communications to your website. It is essential for protecting your website and your user’s experience.
In the example below, I searched the website ‘Intensive Therapy for Kids’ via Google Chrome and the URL shows this website is secure. Google will display a lock icon for secure websites.
And if it’s not secure, it will show up like this. Google will let you know if the site you are browsing is not secure.
Your hosting provider should automatically have this type of security in place (known as a SSL Certificate) for you to add to your site.
For WordPress.com website users…
WordPress.com automatically has a WordPress SSL certificate in place to save you the time and expense of having to do it yourself.
For WordPress.org website users…
Check with your hosting provider to see if they handle this for you or search their help documents on how to set up your SSL Certificate yourself.
Now if your web host does not have an SSL Certificate in place (and they should)…
You will need to use a Certificate Authority (CA) company to verify your website’s legit. The price for a SSL certificate may vary from $10 per year to hundreds, depending on which CA you use and the type of SSL certificate you need. Again, check with your hosting provider as the majority already have an SSL Certificate.
If you’re wondering if WordPress.com or WordPress.org is more secure, it really boils down to your hosting provider and how they handle the SSL Certificate process for you. 🙂
WordPress.com and WordPress.org Similarities
Now that you know what differentiates WordPress.com and WordPress.org, let’s cover a few things they have in common:
- Both were started by WordPress founder, Matt Mullenweg
- Based on your hosting plan, both platforms allow plugins and theme customization
- You may move your ‘house’ to other hosting providers
- You may move your WordPress.com website to WordPress.org (and vice versa)
Which Platform Is Right For You?
In all honesty, the version you choose comes down to your needs, skills, and the type of functionality you want your site to have.
Remember, to think of it this way when you’re comparing WordPress.com vs WordPress.org, you are comparing hosting packages and the services provided by your hosting provider.
When it comes down to it, you are really looking at WordPress.com vs hundreds of other hosting providers (e.g. Bluehost, HostGator, Dreamhost, SiteGround, and the list goes on).
To Wrap It Up…
Since you need website hosting no matter which platform you use, do your due diligence.
Here are a few important tips to keep in mind when finding the best web host for your blog:
- Data security
- Great reputation
- A variety of plans to choose from
- 24/7 customer support
- Server reliability, loading speed, and uptime guarantees (this is especially important once your website traffic starts to grow)
No matter who you choose, WordPress.com or WordPress.org, will be the right decision for you based on your needs and goals!
Until the next post, happy blogging!
Do you have any other tips to add about WordPress.com vs WordPress.org? Let me know in the comments below. Your input means a lot and helps other fellow bloggers who read this post!
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About The Author
Linds is the proud mom of two little miracles, Mono Mono twin girls, and one AMAZING older brother! She is the founder and content creator of Mono Mono Twins, Intensive Therapy for Kids, and Co-Founder of The LENN Foundation (a 510c3 that helps children with cerebral palsy receive grants for intensive therapies to thrive). ♥
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links for your convenience. I only recommend deals or items I love because you might like them too! With my affiliate relationships, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thanks so much for supporting Mono Mono Twins!