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Both of them are WordPress, how can there be any difference right? You would be wrong. This article will explain the differences and how they can apply to your unique situation along with a professional recommendation as to which flavor of WordPress is right for you.

What is WordPress.com?

WordPress.com is the commercial version of the open-source project and is where you can host a free WordPress blog/website with some limitations or pay for certain upgrades. This flavor of WordPress runs on the same software as WordPress.org, however opting to use this solution relieves you from having to manage your own WordPress install on a web hosting provider, such as GreenGeeks.

Now of course you know nothing is for free in this world, so WordPress.com will place ads and place restrictions on your website. This is how they can run a free service.

What is WordPress.org?

WordPress.org is the open source component of WordPress.com and is the software that powers over 60 million websites worldwide, including this website. This is the heart and soul of the project and is community-driven, this is where the code is built by developers, tested, and pushed out to the public. You’ll also find thousands of themes and plugins to use to make your website even better.

In addition to that, WordPress.org is where you would go to meet other developers, read news on the project and a whole lot more.

Now that we know the difference, let’s dive into an in-depth comparison between the two flavors.

WordPress.com Advantages

  • You can build your blog up to 3 GB of space, after which you’ll need to pay for additional space. As of October 29, 2013 this would cost you $19.95 per year for 5GB or $289.97 for 100 GB for a year.
  • They will make regular backups of your website.

WordPress.com Disadvantages

  • No Plugins - One of the great things about WordPress is the ability to use plugins that can tons of great features to your website. However, WordPress.com does not allow you to upload and install plugins. In order to have this functionality, you would have to join their VIP program which starts at $3700 per month.
  • Advertisements - They place advertisements on all free websites using WordPress.com. If you want to get rid of the ads, you would have to pay $29.97 per year. Even if you upgrade, your website still will display “Powered by WordPress”.
  • No Income Opportunity – It is against the rules to sell advertising on your website unless you reach 25,000 page views per month. However, when you do reach that number you would have to apply for their Ad control feature. The application doesn’t cost anything, but you would have to share the ad revenue 50/50.
  • No custom themes - There are hundreds of thousands of themes built for WordPress and you don’t have the ability to use any of them. Instead you will be limited to the themes that millions of others have used. They do have a design upgrade for $30 per year, but all that lets you do is change colors and fonts.
  • No Advanced Analytics – You will not be able to use custom analytics software which is crucial to analyzing and building traffic to your website.
  • No control - If you violate their terms of service, they can simply delete your website without notice. They have been known to change your theme without your permission along with many other control related concerns.

WordPress.org Advantages

  • It’s free to install and use. GreenGeeks actually makes it very easy with a 1-click installer.
  • You will be able to use Plugins
  • You will be able to make use of the hundreds of thousands of custom themes available on the Internet.
  • You can sell advertisements and keep 100% of the money for yourself.
  • Custom analytics and traffic tracking.
  • Most importantly, you own your data. You’re in full control of your web presence.

WordPress.org Disadvantages

  • You will be responsible for updates, but it only takes 1-click from the dashboard and is automatic. Not really a disadvantage. Goes back to being in control.
  • Finding a suitable hosting provider which will cost you a bit of money anywhere from $3 to $7 dollars per month.  As your website grows, it will cost you more as well — but you should be making money from your website to cover the costs anyway!
  • You are responsible for backing up your WordPress website. Since you’re able to use plugins, you’ll be able to install a WordPress backup plugin to take care of that for you.
  • You will be responsible for preventing spam on your blog, however once again, there’s a plugin for that. Simply enable Akismet from your dashboard and you won’t have to worry about that either.

 So which flavor is right for you?

If you’re a personal blogger with no intention of ever earning a dime from your blog, then it’s recommended that you go with WordPress.com. However, if you’re looking to create a website or start a blog that will make money then a self-hosted WordPress.org website or blog is the best option.

Here’s some food for thought though. Let’s say for example that you do use WordPress.com and end up purchasing a custom domain, remove the ads and get a design upgrade. It would cost you approximately $80 per year, and the kicker, you’re still not in control.

However, if you decided to use GreenGeeks to host your WordPress website, where the cost is $95.40 for the year, with its 20% discount and free domain name, you’re looking at $76.32 all in and with full control. You also get 24/7 support!

There is also no difference in the way it operates. You would post blog posts or create pages just like you normally would on either platform.

So, with that being said. It’s recommended that you use self-hosted WordPress.org, so you’re able to be in full control. Choice is paramount in an ever changing landscape that is called the Internet.

Here’s an Infograph that we’ve made to make it easy to illustrate.

self-hosted WordPress vs WordPress.com Infograph

About The Author

Comments

  1. Harsh Agrawal

    Thanks for putting such a nice explanation. For the first-timer this is very useful and handy to know the difference, and pick the right platform. My vote always go for self hosted WordPress, as it offers more feature and control…

  2. Justin

    Fantastic comparison! Glad to see other people out there explaining the differences and guiding people along about WordPress. Not sure I agree with the final conclusion depending on the client, but ya know. Good stuff.

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