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What is the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org?

Guide
by James Holloway Agency Partnership Director

It’s easy to get WordPress.com confused with WordPress.org, but what actually is the difference between the two and how do you know which one is the right one to use?

WordPress.org

WordPress.org is where you will find the hugely popular open-source content management system – the ‘real’ WordPress – and it is completely free for anyone to download and use. The WordPress software can be downloaded from WordPress.org which then needs to be installed on a web server. It is also known as ‘self-hosted WordPress’, meaning that you set up WordPress with your own hosting provider and use it on your own website.

WordPress.org gives you complete control to do whatever you want to do with your website. You can spend a little or a lot and you will get out of it what you put in. With it, you can build online shops, create membership sites, and install powerful analytics tools including Google Analytics to help you to make the most of your site.

Ideal for:

  • More flexibility
  • Better for businesses
  • Full control
  • Can monetise your site via ads

Downfalls:

  • You need to find your own web hosting (which has associated costs)
  • You are responsible for updates and backups

WordPress.com

WordPress.com is a hosting service created by the co-founder of WordPress. It allows you to set up a website for free by signing up for a WordPress.com account with options to upgrade to Personal, Premium, Business or VIP plans.

Ideal for:

  • Blogging as a hobby
  • Low maintenance starter-sites

Downfalls

  • Your site must be under a subdomain unless you upgrade to a business plan
  • You have to pay a fee if you want to use your site commercially as the free version is very limited
  • The free version will have ads places on it so your visitors will see ads without you making any money from it.
  • You aren’t allowed to sell ad space even on the paid premium plans but you can use WordAds which splits ad revenue with them.
  • You cannot install Google Analytics unless you are on a business plan
  • No eCommerce or integrated payment features

Choose WordPress.com if…

…you are just looking to set up a personal blog, and aren’t fussed about making money from your site. It’s easy to use and you don’t have to worry about hosting or updates.

Build a site on WordPress.org if…

…you are a business or a blogger looking to make money from your website. The WordPress platform offers true freedom and flexibility to create whatever you want, you can improve and amend it over time, and you can scale as your traffic increases.

Do you need help with a WordPress build? We are a white label development, specialising in front end WordPress and Magento builds, as well as HTML email. Contact us to see how we can help.