WordPress.com and WordPress.org aren’t they the same thing? If you are just starting with WordPress this is probably one of the first question that comes to your mind. WordPress tips number one: In reality, they are 2 very different platforms. One is easy to use, initially free but a restricted service. While the other is completely free, unrestricted and highly customizable. We have put together this stellar guide to help you choose which one you should use to build a WordPress website.
Before we get deeper into the differences here is a summary of the main differences and a couple of WordPress tips between the 2 platforms
- WordPress.org is meant to be used on a self-hosted platform. You will have to download the software and are free to use it however you want. You will need a domain name and web hosting to be able to use it.
- WordPress.com is software as a service. It is a hosted platform, build using the WordPress.org software, easier to use and less technical but at the expense of flexibility.
When using both platforms, you will ultimately end up with a WordPress website. However, each platform will take you to your goal in a very different manner. Think of it as buying a house vs renting a house. When you buy a house, you are ultimately responsible for it, you can make changes to it as you wish. You also take care of all the repairs and maintenance that it needs. This is essentially an example of WordPress.org
On the other hand, if you rent a house, you get to live in it every day just like when you buy it. You could probably customize it by giving it a paint job of your choice, that too with permission from the owner but you can’t start erecting walls to create 2 rooms out of one. Any major repairs and maintenance are not your responsibility. This is an example of WordPress.com
WordPress.com is a platform similar to Wix, Squarespace, Weebly, and Shopify. They all make it easy for you to get started and are user-friendly.
Now let’s take a deeper look at the differences in the two platforms.
WordPress.com is initially free and you will get a subdomain one you sign up (www.yourwebsite.wordpress.com) If you wish to use your own domain name you will have to get a paid plan. Plans start from as low as $4 per month to $45 per month depending on the features you need.
WordPress.org is free and can easily be downloaded and used. However, you will need to purchase web hosting and a domain name. A domain name will cost you about $12 per year and a decent shared host will cost you about $5 – $10 per month. If you opt for a VPS or a dedicated server costs can start going high. If you are just starting out a decent shared host should be sufficient.
A Few WordPress Tips and FEATURES
WordPress.org is limitless. You are free to use any plugins, themes (both free and paid), you can customize your website as you wish and can get the help of a web developer to build your website.
Putting ads on your site, email signup forms, eCommerce functionality, etc are all at your disposal. WordPress.org gives you complete control over your website. If you have some time on your hands, want to build a powerful website and can handle a few technicalities, WordPress.org is best suited for you.
WordPress.com, on the other hand has several limitations. You can only use a handful of free themes and you will start with a 3gb storage limit. Social media integration is taken care of and blogging features such as sharing, commenting, polls are all present. However, there is not much more that you can achieve with WordPress.com
You cannot customize the code of your website, and the customization options are limited. You will be locked into whatever WordPress.com allows you to modify.
Bypassing restrictions and adding features will involve upgrading your account.
WordPress.com offers backups with the free plan.
With WordPress.org since you are hosting the website, you are responsible for backups. Most web hosts will offer automated backups. Make sure you consider automated backups before signing up with any host.
When it comes to security, both WordPress.com and WordPress.org are equally secure. However, with WordPress.org even though the core is secure, themes and plugins you install may not be. You are ultimately responsible for the security of your website.
Backups are extremely essential if you are using WordPress.org as it will be your first point of fallback in case anything goes wrong.
Pros and Cons of WordPress.org and WordPress.com
While some of the pros and cons are already covered, here is a general overview of the pros and cons of the two platforms
Pros of WordPress.org and WordPress Tips
- You own the website and the content
- You can customize each aspect of your website as per your requirements
- Start a Membership or an eCommerce website easily
- Unlimited choice of themes and plugins
- Ability to customize the code of your website
Cons of WordPress.org
- A little technical knowledge is required to get started with hosting and a domain name
- You are responsible for backups and security
Pros of WordPress.com
- Faster to deploy than WordPress.org
- A free plan is available
- Backups and security are done for you
- Beginner friendly and easy to use
Cons of WordPress.com
- The free plan will have ads on your website from WordPress.com
- Limited revenue sources, you cannot use Google AdSense and other similar platforms
- You cannot modify the code of your website
- An upgrade to the $25 plan if you want to use plugins is required
- You don’t own the website and content, your website can be deleted for a terms of service violation
Can you switch between the two platforms?
Technically it is possible to switch between the 2 platforms. If you are moving your website from WordPress.com to WordPress.org you will simply need to export the content from WordPress.com and import it in WordPress.org
Switching from WordPress.org to WordPress.com may not be so straight forward. If you are looking to import your pages, posts and any other content, that might be possible, but you may need to change the theme of your website if you are using a paid one. Any plugins you have installed may not work. You will likely lose some functionality of your website.
Conclusion of WordPress Tips
So which platform is suitable for you? The answer will depend entirely on what you are trying to achieve with your website. If you are just starting out, want to be up and running as soon as possible and don’t want to get your hands dirty with technical aspects of your website then WordPress.com may be suitable for you.
Depending on if you need complete control over your website, have some time on your hands along with some technical knowledge and want to use paid themes along with plugins for added functionality then WordPress.org might be better suited for you.