Since they both have the same name and the same co-founder, it’s no wonder why people get confused.
This post will break down the differences between the two and show you why you should use WordPress.org instead.
What is WordPress.org?
WordPress.org is the real home of the popular WordPress platform which is designed to be software that’s 100% open-source aka free for all its users.
This site actually doesn’t offer WordPress services for you, but just the latest copies of the WordPress software for you to install on your own web host. That’s why why people refer to it as “self-hosted WordPress,” because you host your own website and install the WordPress software your web host obtained from WordPress.org.
Since you’d be installing WordPress yourself, you’ll have complete access to all of WordPress’ files and features.
What is WordPress.com?
WordPress.com is a hosting service founded by one of the co-founders of WordPress.org. It was created as a simple way to connect users to the WordPress platform by providing hosting and maintenance services.
Since WordPress.com will be hosting your site, you’ll have limited use of WordPress’ features while using the Free Plan. If you pay a premium monthly subscription fee, you’ll have more and more access to WordPress’ features depending on the plan you choose.
You’re not actually paying for WordPress with the subscription fees, cause again, WordPress is 100% free. Instead, you’re actually paying for the hosting service WordPress.com provides.
WordPress.com has 4 of their plans for you to choose from: Free, Personal, Premium, and Business shown on their website.
The Free Plan doesn’t come with much at all, just access to free themes with limited customizations, and free hosting with a WordPress.com subdomain (ex. aspiringbloggers.wordpress.com).
The Personal Plan is $4 a month and is basically just the Free Plan with email/live chat support, and a custom domain name (ex. aspiringbloggers.com).
The Premium Plan is $8 a month and comes with premium themes that allow advanced customizations of your site’s appearance. It also gives you the option to monetize your site and remove the “Powered by WordPress” branding.
The Business Plan is $25 a month and lets you use WordPress plugins, install commercial themes, integrate Google Analytics and Adsense.
What you can’t do on WordPress.com without paying $25 USD/month:
To make things clear, the WordPress.com’s plans are saying if you don’t pay $25 USD a month for WordPress.com’s Business Plan, you won’t be able to:
Install Plugins – Plugins are what makes WordPress the most popular platform available. With over 60,000 plugins available (free and paid) at your convenience, you can use plugins to instantly add features such as newsletter integration, Google Analytics tracking,
Install Commercial Themes – Commercial themes are created by individual developers and sold on third-party market sites such as Envato Market and Themify. Although non-business plans for WordPress.com have a database of free/premium themes for you to use, they don’t compare to the number of commercial themes you can find elsewhere.
Integrate Google Analytics – Google Analytics is the most advanced and popular website tracking service. When connected with your blog, it provides you with detailed metrics which includes: page views, average user session times, and target audience information. This can be integrated via plugins.
Monetize With Google Adsense – WordPress.com has its own monetization service called WordAds which is included in WordPress.com’s Premium Plan and above. WordAds allows you to put auto-generated ads on your site which pays you per click, except WordPress.com takes a cut out of the revenue you earn. With the business plan, you can install other ad programs such as Google Analytics which provides more targetted ads for your audience and lets you keep 100% of your ad earnings.
Access SEO Tools – WordPress SEO tools are usually integrated via plugins. These tools give bloggers basic guidelines for getting more traffic from search engines.
Why I recommend going Self-hosted with WordPress.org
Significantly Lower Costs – Instead of paying $25 USD per month, you can run your blog for as low as $8 – $10 USD per month. Most companies will even give you 60% off for your first year of hosting with them which brings down the cost to around $3 – $4 monthly while you experiment with the all the features of WordPress blogging. Why pay extra when you don’t have to? Use that money towards something else.
No Limitations – By choosing a web host and going self-hosted, you don’t have to worry about any WordPress restrictions whatsoever and can do all of the above. You can freely install plugins, commercial themes, and track and monetize your site.
Personalized Emails – Many web-hosting companies give you the free-of-charge option to create your own customized emails with your domain in it. (ex. [email protected]). WordPress.com doesn’t let you create emails.
Quick Setup – It takes only about an hour to set up self-hosted WordPress blog. Once you’ve decided on a web host, WordPress is installed with the click of a button. After that, the rest is low maintenance.
Customer Support – If you choose a reliable web host, you’ll be spoiled with live customer support that’s ready to help you when you’re in trouble.