WordPress.com vs WordPress.org: What’s the Difference?

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So you’re finally ready to start your blog and launch a website…congratulations! You’ve spent countless hours doing your research to decide that you want to use WordPress for your blog. Good move.
But now you’re realizing that there are two WordPress options out there…wait… what?
The world of blogging is complicated enough. But blogging giant is putting us to the test and making things even more complex by offering two platforms, WordPress.com and WordPress.org.
Do you know the difference? Do you know what each one can do? Do you understand their limitations?
Don’t feel bad. You’re not the only one that might not know the differences right off the bat. There is quite a bit of confusion around the two, so we’re breaking down all the differences once and for all.
Which is better? Why does it matter? Which one should you choose?
Keep reading to learn the differences between the two and figure out which one is right for you.

1. What is the Difference Between WordPress.com and WordPress.org?

Lots of users are feeling confused by what the differences are among the different types of WordPress software. It’s a lot to unpack, but we’re breaking down the most significant differences between these two platforms.
Now you’re probably thinking “they’re both WordPress, so what does it matter?” Keep reading and you’ll know why.
One of the most distinct differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org is that one offers a full domain and one offers a sub-domain. This is crucial if you care about who’s actually going to be hosting your site.

With WordPress.org, you can download their open-source software and install it on your own web server. With WordPress.com, they do the hosting for you.
It’s easy to have WordPress host your site. But when they host, they have full control. They own your content. They can delete your page whenever they want. You won’t have to shell out any money for hosting, but with their “free hosting” you’ll have limited control.
So the most important step is to decide if you want a full domain or a sub-domain.
If limitations are a concern, you’ll want to go with WordPress.org. WordPress.com has much more limitations, as they’re the host and have ultimate control over your site.
With WordPress.org you’ll enjoy a full domain. WordPress.com only allows you to enjoy the benefits of a sub-domain.
Do you care about who owns your content? You should. You own all content on your site if you use WordPress.org. With WordPress.com, you do not. When someone owns your content, they can shut you down whenever they want.
If you want to keep your blog safe and keep it under your control, use WordPress.org. If you don’t care who owns your posts and images, then WordPress.com might be the better option for you.
The truth is, most people don’t really understand the difference between the two… but some people do. If you want your website to be taken seriously, opt for WordPress.org.

2. Do You Want a Full Domain or A Sub-domain?

To know if you need WordPress.org or WordPress.com you’ll need to decide if you want a full domain or a sub-domain. A sub-domain is part of a larger domain.
For example, WordPress.com is a full domain, while StartABlog123.WordPress.com is a sub-domain.
When you sign up for a WordPress.com account, they’ll assign you a domain name such as YourNewBlog.WordPress.com. If you sign up for a WordPress.org account, you’ll get your own custom domain like YourNewBlog.com.
If you’re creating a brand new blog without a lot of strategy, a sub-domain from WordPress.com might be best. If you want to present yourself to the online community as a serious entity, opt for a WordPress.org account where you have more authority over the site.
Whether your blog garners lots of attention or doesn’t attract any readers at all, at least you can rest assured knowing that you’ve got more control.
This is one of the main reasons why people choose WordPress.org over WordPress.com. Knowing that you have ultimate control over your content and site is priceless.

3. WordPress.com Has More Limitations Than WordPress.org

One of the main reason that users love WordPress is that it offers the option to customize a website with dozens (or hundreds) of different themes. If you’re familiar with the platform, it’s easy to spot a WordPress site when you see one. And that’s not a bad thing.
With your choice of WordPress themes, you can customize your site to look the way you want. Regardless of your theme or the tone of your website, WordPress makes it easy to create a clean, polished, and professional look.
When you self-host with WordPress.org, you’ll enjoy over 1,500 free themes to choose from so you can customize your website to look exactly how you want. With WordPress.org, the customization options are essentially endless since you have full control over your site’s php and CSS files. You can even make a custom theme from scratch if you have web development skills.
With WordPress.com you can pick from about 100 free themes, which doesn’t leave much creative freedom.
Keep in mind that the number of themes you can choose from relates to the number of plugins and add-ons that are available. You’ll have to keep that in mind when deciding between the two platforms.
Depending on your choice, you’ll experience certain limitations. These limitations dictate exactly how much you can customize your blog site.
With WordPress.com, you won’t be able to add popular apps such as AWeber, GetResponse, or MailChimp. These are all viable options for users that want to grow their email lists and level of readership.
Another drawback to WordPress.com is its size limitations. You can sign up for a basic WordPress.com account for free. But if you find yourself going heavy by posting lots of images and content, you may need up to upgrade to the premium plan.
A premium WordPress.com will run you about $99 per year.

4. Want To Own Your Content? Listen up.

Do you want to own your content? On WordPress.org you can. With WordPress.com site you can’t. Yes, you read that right. The WordPress platform you choose dictates whether you own the content on your site.

With WordPress.com you don’t claim ownership of the content or the blog you’re posting on, which is one of the major reasons why it’s free in the first place.
Take a step back and think about this for a moment; everything has a price. If your content is original and creative, you’ve probably already figured out what you need to do.
Opt for a self-hosted WordPress.org account and you’ll own your content, keep control, and turn your blog into a money-making business. By self-hosting with WordPress.org, you can keep control of your own content.
You’ll also maintain the rights to sell your website or blog without needing permission from WordPress. With WordPress.org you can place ads, monetize your blog, and create a source of revenue.
Deciding on which platform you choose means that you’ll have to decide how much control you want or need. Keep in mind that with WordPress.com you’ll have very little control. They own your site and your content, and that means that they can shut it down whenever they want.

5. Want Readers to Take You More Seriously?

If you’re creating a blog to reach out to family and friends, WordPress.com might be the platform for you. But if you have any plans to build your blog, build a following, and earn revenue, it’s not recommended.
We get it…the idea of a free blog site is very appealing, but you’ve got to know that nothing comes for free. Everything has its price.
Perhaps you’re creating a blog for fun. Maybe you’re trying to build your business. Either way, it’s important to know that free blogging platforms are getting more and more strict about their rules. They also decide what content is permitted.
When you post on a free blogging platform it’s important to know that the platform can delete your blog without any warning. You don’t have full control. They don’t care where you are in your blogging career. You may take your blog seriously, but they may not.
There is one other main drawback to WordPress.com – they can add advertisements to your blog. With ads, your blog can look spammy and cheap. If you’re serious about building your blog, it’s best to go with a self-hosting plan.
When you self-host with WordPress.org, you have the option monetize your blog down the road. With enough readers, your blog can make you some money.

6. The Most Common WordPress Questions Answered

To help you in your decision to choose WordPress.org or WordPress.com, we’re answering some of the most asked questions about the two.

Which is better for business?

For businesses, we recommend using WordPress.org. You want to present your business in a professional manner.
You want to have full control over your content at all times. If you want your business to be taken seriously, WordPress.com won’t cut it.
For other blogs, should I use WordPress.com or WordPress.org? The answer to this question depends on your plans for you blog.
If you’re committed to presenting great content and increasing readership, choose WordPress.org.
If you’re blogging as a hobby and have no intention of expanding or monetizing it down the road, WordPress.com will suffice.

Which is the better platform?

WordPress.org is the far superior choice. With WordPress.org you’ll enjoy lots of customization capabilities and hundreds of free themes. You’ll also have integrations that can help you grow your readership.
WordPress.com is the cheap option, and it is much less reliable than its .org counterpart.

What is the pricing for each?

WordPress.com offers a basic package that’s completely free. For the blogger who wants more options and features, they also offer a premium package that costs $99 per year.
WordPress.org is free to download, but you’ll need to pay for the domain and hosting. Domain and hosting can range from $46 – $100 per year.

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org Summary

There are many differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. To decide which one is right for you, you’ll need to ask yourself what the purpose of your blog will be.
Once you know the kind of blog you want to publish, deciding which WordPress platform to use will be easy.
WordPress.com has limitations. With a free account or a premium account for $99/year, you’ll enjoy 100 free themes and some plugins and add-ons.
But you won’t be able to add some popular apps (like MailChimp). You won’t actually own your content (WordPress will), but they will host your site.
With a .com account, WordPress can run ads on your blog, delete your page whenever they want, and dictate what content is appropriate.
You won’t be able to monetize your blog and instead you’ll have a URL that shows you’re a sub-domain. Also, you might not be taken seriously by readers.
If you’re serious about creating a blog and building your readership, WordPress.org is the way to go. With WordPress.org you’ll own your content. You’ll be able to choose from 1,500 free themes.
You’ll experience fewer limitations than you would on WordPress.com – and people will take you more seriously.
WordPress.org is free to download and it will give you a full domain, but you’ll have to pay for hosting, which can cost about $100/year. If you decide to sell your blog you can do so without needing permission.

With WordPress.com, you can’t. Deciding which platform to choose is easy. If you’re serious about blogging, opt for WordPress.org. If you’re blogging as a hobby, WordPress.com is a great alternative that can be completely free.
Whichever you decide to use, get started. Pump out some great content. Add some cool photos. Make your voice heard.

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