WORDPRESS.COM VS WORDPRESS.ORG – Key Differences & How to Pick One

white keyboard in pink background

If you are reading this post, then you’re probably planning to start your very own blog or online business. But you have just found out that there are two remarkably similar-looking platforms out there: WordPress.com and WordPress.org.

Or maybe, just like I initially did, you have already started a blog on WordPress.com and you have now come across this other thing everybody seems to be talking about: WordPress.org.

WordPress is currently the most authoritative platform available, powering over 30% of all websites on the internet.

If you are relatively new to this side of the online world, the two concepts may become confusing. But do come along and find all the differences, the easy way!

This post contains affiliate links. Read disclosure.

WordPress.com – Your all in one solution

If you are looking for a free and easy way to get started, this can be an excellent option. You’ll have your blog up and running in no time and you can start publishing content right away.

This is actually built by the same people who developed WordPress.org but made to be a simplified version of that. It’s basically a plug and play kind of option.

Here, however, if you are looking to have a more complex and custom-made website, besides being harder to obtain, it will also imply that the costs will skyrocket because you’d need to purchase one of the advanced packages.

Another downside, in my opinion, is that with the free option, you will not be able to get a custom domain. Instead, your website domain would look like www.domain.wordpress.com.

Regarding the site’s looks, you’d get some free themes to choose from, which are limited but should get you well started!

You’ll only notice rates rising (at a fast pace!) when you are ready (or in need) to use more advanced functions or have your own www.domain.com.

While this is a great option for a personal website that doesn’t intend to grow into something else, it does not give you the freedom you may be expecting.

Concerning security, WordPress.com is the best! They will do all the work for you, making sure your website is not only secured but also backed up on a regular basis.

screen shot of my first blog, The Plant Studio
Here’s a screenshot of my first blog, The Plant Studio created with WordPress.com

WordPress.org – Your open-source software

Vastly distinct from the above, if you are looking to have complete control over your site’s design and content opportunities, you definitely want to proceed with WordPress.org.

Get ready to read a lot of tutorials and watch videos nonstop, because creating your very own self-hosted website using WordPress.org, is no easy task at the start. It does get a lot better though, promise!

To save you the trouble of running the whole show on your own, most hosting companies (those you pay to have your own www.domain.com running online), such as SiteGround or DreamHost will make it super easy. These are both recommended by WordPress.org itself and I have great experiences with both.

Concerning security and backup, with WordPress.org you will need to find your way around the best plugins to use, install them on your server and customize the settings according to your needs.

screenshot of houseplants blog, Officially Planted
Here’s a screenshot of my upgraded houseplant blog, created with WordPress.org

Monetizing your website with WordPress.com VS WordPress.org

With the starter plan of WordPress.com, you will automatically see ads on your website. These are their ads, not yours. You can only remove those by upgrading from your free plan.

But to have your own ads via WordAds, you will need yet another plan upgrade.

On another hand, with WordPress.org you can choose any ad service you like. And you’ll get 100% of your earnings.

Online Business Opportunities

If your idea is for your blog or website to be a personal page, WordPress.com may be the best solution. However, if you aim for it to become a business one day, this option will turn out to be quite costly.

Of course WordPress.org also comes with its costs. If you want to have a premium theme or need specific plugins or plugin upgrades, you will need to pay for those. You might even need to pay a professional to help you set it all up. Being that, in the end, the final deal might become a lot more pricey with this option. But, going back to the basics, with WordPress.org all you really need to make it work is web hosting (there are several options out there, as mentioned above, including SiteGround and DreamHost starting for a few $ per month) and a domain name (at a flat fee yearly or included with your web hosting plan).

Final thoughts:

Now, don’t get me wrong, both WordPress.com and WordPress.org are great options, to be frank!

It all comes down to whether you are looking to have a personal website/hobby blog, or rather hope to monetize your website and use it for business purposes.

Let’s pretend your website is your home:

  • With WordPress.com, we are looking at a fully furnished apartment within a private condo from which you don’t need to get out of for anything. You have a bar, a supermarket, a swimming pool, an in-house doctor, your friends and family within walking distance.
  • With WordPress.org, you are purchasing a piece of land, to which you need to get building permits, just to start with. Then, you’ll need to shop around for project and building companies, and also get the materials. There will be a lot of work before moving into that home, but it has the potential to be nothing less than your dream home!

See the differences now? I cannot tell you whether one platform is better than the other. That’s something you’ll need to figure out on your own, depending on your goals and the purpose of your website.

Here’s a little something to help you get started:


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