Key Differences & How to Pick (2022)

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WordPress is the most popular way to build a website, powering 42.9% of all the websites on the internet. But despite its popularity, there’s one question that many new users still struggle with – what’s the difference between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org?

If you search for “WordPress” on Google, the two websites will rank #1 and #2. And if you’re new to WordPress, you might not know which one to use. Trust us – you’re not alone, which is why we’re here to help.

This article will explain the key differences between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org and help you pick the best one for your needs.

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org

The key difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org is who’s actually hosting your website.

With WordPress.org, you host your own site (we recommend this). You’ll purchase your own web hosting service and then you’ll install the WordPress software on that hosting.

With WordPress.com, on the other hand, it’s WordPress.com that takes care of all of this for you (easier to start, less freedom). You just register for an account and you can start building. And that’s the major difference.

Nowadays, hosting companies, like Bluehost or SiteGround, make it almost just as easy to host your own WordPress site as it is to sign up for a WordPress.com account, with the benefits of being cheaper and offering more freedom.

The cost of using WordPress.com vs WordPress.org

WordPress.com does allow you to set up a website entirely for free, but there are some big downsides to the free plan at WordPress.com:

  • You can only place your site under a subdomain
  • You cannot remove WordPress.com’s own ads and branding from your site (probably the biggest downside of a free version)
  • You get limited disk space of 3GB (so, it’s best to do some backups and prepare storage space elsewhere)
  • You can’t monetize your blog or WordPress.com website
  • You can’t install plugins or any free themes or premium themes that aren’t available on the platform by default, which means you’re missing out on one of the best parts of the service, being limited only to the default WordPress plugins and WordPress themes

If you do want to use your site as part of an ecommerce plan, you will have to pay at least $14 / month on your WordPress.com plan + the cost of a custom domain name is usually in the range of $15 / year. In total, this means at least ~$180 annually to run a site on WordPress.com.

However, we still don’t recommend those cheaper WordPress.com plans because they still don’t let you install any themes, useful plugins, or open-source software.

If you do want to install custom themes and third-party plugins on your WordPress.com site, you’ll need at least the Business plan, which will cost you $33 / month if paid monthly or $25 / month if paid annually. That means running a full-featured WordPress site or WordPress blog on WordPress.com will cost you $300-$400 per year.

With WordPress.org, on the other hand, you can launch a completely functional new website at $35 for the first year and then $50 every year after that.

To make that happen, you first need to pick a web host. We have some suggestions for you here, but if you’re in a hurry, just go with Bluehost. They’re a respected company with tons of options for WordPress. Here’s what’s good about Bluehost’s offering:

From a user’s point of view, Bluehost works similarly to WordPress.com – as in, you sign up, pick a hosting plan, tell them to install WordPress for you, finalize the purchase and you’re good to do.

Plus, what you also get is complete freedom over what you want to do with your site – something that WordPress.com doesn’t give you. Go here to get started with Bluehost and a WordPress.org website.

If you need some more info before making up your mind, here’s a more in-depth look at the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org:

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org: Pros and cons

Each version has its own pros and cons. (Although, I personally think the .com version has more cons than pros. But you can decide for yourself!)

When to use WordPress.com

With WordPress.com, you don’t have to worry about purchasing hosting. What’s more, you also don’t need to worry about basic maintenance or security, which is one of the biggest perks of WordPress.com.

WordPress.com also can be free, though there are paid plans as well.

The free plan limits you to 3GB of data and a subdomain (like mywebsite.wordpress.com). It also includes WordPress.com ads.

Furthermore, you won’t be able to install your own plugins, templates or themes unless you pay for the expensive business plan. Plugins and themes are one of the most helpful things about the WordPress software because they make it easy to customize your site, so that’s a pretty big loss. The ability to use plugins is one of the main strengths of content management systems like WordPress.

If the thought of changing a domain name server (DNS) or backing up your website data sounds incredibly daunting, WordPress.com may be the way to go to create a basic blog/website. But if you want any kind of flexibility, look for monetization options, or want your site to grow in the long run, WordPress.com can be very limiting.

When to use WordPress.org

A WordPress.org site has to be set up with your hosting provider. In most cases, this is a simple one-click install, and is really easy.

In fact, if you purchase your domain name from your hosting provider, you don’t even have to worry about changing DNS. It will be done for you!

Plus, WordPress.org has much better customization options. You’re able to install plugins, use custom website themes, and do just about anything you want with your site.

You can also monetize your website however you want, which is great if you’re planning to make it a business.

If you want full control over your site and the best possible options, go with WordPress.org.

Even though there’s a bit more of a learning curve, in the long run you’ll thank yourself for making this decision.

Ready to get started? As mentioned, if you’re looking for quick monetization of your efforts, we recommend Bluehost as the place to launch your WordPress website. The setup is easy and they help you along the way, too. For more guidance, here’s our 15-minute step-by-step tutorial to starting a WordPress website.

If you prefer this in video, check this tutorial out:

Create your WordPress site today

It’s easy to get lost in details when you are not very familiar with something. Same goes here. If you’re still undecided which version of the WordPress platform is the best option for your next website, let’s make things even simpler.

So, is it WordPress.org or WordPress.com?

  1. WordPress.org is for website owners who want to be independent, e.g., SEO users, ecommerce stores / online stores. Using WordPress.org means that you build everything on your own from the ground up. Most importantly, you’re free to install any tools you like and control the overall website functionality. This is the best choice if you want to be completely on your own with some added help from your favorite WordPress hosting platform.
  2. WordPress.com is good for you if you don’t want to get your hands dirty with hosting, third-party tools, and installing custom website functionality by hand. You just sign up and get an online space of your own instantly. The downside is that you won’t be able to customize it much unless you go with an expensive plan. That might be a perfect option for bloggers, beginners, people building their own websites, small business, small forums.

If you ask us, we’d go with WordPress.org. If the setup part is what scares you, we recommend Bluehost, a popular hosting platform that will install WordPress for you during checkout. You sign up for a monthly $2.75 and your WordPress site will be ready to use in just a few minutes. We’re always vouching for Bluehost because it’s cheap, even when it comes to its premium plans, and basically does all the work for you. Plus, you get a domain name for free.

Have any other questions about WordPress.org vs WordPress.com? Leave a comment and we’ll try to help out!

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