Are you confused by the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org? If so, you’re not alone. The two websites are related but distinctly different. As you move forward with your own website initiatives, it’s important to understand them both and how you can maximize the relative benefits of each.
WordPress is an open source web platform that you can use to build a full featured website or blog that can be managed just by using your web browser. Anyone can download it for free from WordPress.org, but it must be installed on a web server before it will work. This means you need to select a web host where you can rent space on a computer and use their web server. Web hosting costs anywhere from about $5.00 per month to hundreds per month depending on the features you want. Most web hosting packages include access to automated scripts that will install it for you with just a few clicks.
Once installed, you have complete control over your website, including the ability to install custom themes and plugins or monetize your site to create a supplemental revenue stream through ads and affiliate marketing. You can also modify your database or modify the underlying PHP code to build your own customizations.
If you plan to customize your site through the use of premium themes like those you can purchase from StudioPress or Woo Themes, you must use the self-hosted version which you’ll download from WordPress.org. That is where you’ll also find thousands of plugins and free themes to further customize and extend your site.
WordPress.com is a free hosted version that enables you to build a simple blog or website in just a few minutes. All you need to do is sign-up for an account.
There are also a number of other upgrades available for purchase such as ad removal, disk space upgrades and video hosting. If you ever decide to move from the free-hosted version to your own self-hosted solution, you can pay their engineers to handle the entire transfer for you.
The free-hosted version provides built-in pre-selected plugins that enable you to manage and request feedback from your readers, conduct polls or add ratings to your posts. You can also enable a mobile theme which optimizes your site for tablet computers and smart phones.
Which Do I Choose?
If you are looking to build a basic website or blog, WordPress.com will get you started with easy setup, free web hosting, automated maintenance updates, and pre-selected features all for no cost.
|Easy Setup||Complete Ownership & Freedom|
|Free Web Hosting||Custom Themes|
|Automatic Updates||Custom Plugins|
|Pre-selected Plugins and Themes||Accessible Code|
|No Cost to Get Started||Web Hosting Required|
If you prefer complete control over your site’s content and presentation or want to use advanced functionality like e-commerce or monetize your site with ad revenue, you’ll be much better served with the self-hosted solution. With the self-hosted solution, you’ll need to purchase a domain name and rent space from a web host, but you’ll also be able to take advantage of the thousands of professional plugins and premium themes available to you in the marketplace.