WordPress.com vs WordPress.org: Which Should You Use?
If you’re looking to create a new WordPress website, you may have come across this common dilemma: What is the difference between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org? And which one should you use for your site?
Let’s take an in-depth look at both.
What is WordPress.com?
WordPress.com is the fully-hosted website platform, meaning you simply have to create an account and set up your content. WordPress handles the rest.
By going to WordPress.com and following their three-step sign-up process, you can have a website in minutes. You can start using WordPress.com for free with a WordPress.com subdomain name such as yourname.wordpress.com, but you can upgrade to paid plans for more features.
What is WordPress.org?
WordPress.org is their self-hosted product, meaning that you can download the free software available at WordPress.org. You then need to then set up those files on your own host or server.
You can purchase web hosting plans from sites like SiteGround, Bluehost and WPengine, to name a few. Hosting plans can cost anywhere from $2.95 per month to $35+ per month.
You will also need to purchase a domain name to go along with this site, as no free subdomain is provided with WordPress.org.
Difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org
While the core difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org is where your site is hosted, there are other differences between the two that can make a big impact to your overall WordPress experience.
Features, Access, Control & Difficulty
One large benefit of using WordPress.com is that WordPress handles all of the more complex technical work for you – there is no need to worry about software updates, server settings, or hosting plans. But many professional web developers choose to use WordPress.org instead due to the increased level of access, control and flexibility.
For example, with WordPress.com, you will not be able to add Google Analytics, add SEO tools, install custom plugins and themes or remove the “Blog at WordPress.com” credit in your site footer until you upgrade to the highest-level Business plan for $25 per month. With WordPress.org, all of these options are available to you by default, with no extra cost. Your ability to customize your site with WordPress.org is nearly unlimited.
In addition, you have additional access to your website files, data and server settings and domain name settings with the self-hosted solution (WordPress.org) that you simply do not have with WordPress.com.
With this added access and control, remember that “with great power comes great responsibility.” WordPress.org has a slightly steeper learning curve, and takes more work to set up and maintain.
The Cost of WordPress.com vs WordPress.org
Next, let’s compare the price of WordPress.com and WordPress.org
WordPress.com starts as a free website solution; however, the you will be limited to the WordPress.com subdomain, limited on the theme and customization options, and you’ll see WordPress.com advertising and banners on your site.
Typically, if you’re using your WordPress.org site for a business or commercial purposes, you’ll want to upgrade to a higher plan.
If you’re looking to create a personal blog or website, you may be able sufficiently use the Personal plan for $4 per month. For a more professional site, WordPress recommends the Premium plan ($8 per month) for entrepreneurs and freelancers and the Business plan ($25 per month) for small businesses.
With each of the paid WordPress.com plans, you get one free domain credit. You can use the domain credit to either register a new domain name, or transfer or map one you already own. You will need to pay for the annual renewal of this domain name or additional domain names separately. Domain name renewal through WordPress.com for a .com domain name is $18 per year.
If we calculate this out, the Personal WordPress.com plan will cost you $48 in the first year and $66 per year thereafter due to the added cost of the domain name renewal. *
A Premium WordPress.com plan will cost you $96 in the first year, and $114 per year thereafter. *
A Business WordPress.com plan will the cost you $300 the first year and $318 per year thereafter. *
Let’s compare this to the costs of a WordPress.org site.
With a WordPress.org site, the whole WordPress CMS (Content Management System) is free for download. You will need to purchase a hosting plan and a domain name.
On the lower end, your cost for web hosting will be about $4.95 per month for your first 12 months and $7.99 per month thereafter. These are the fees for Bluehost, one of the more affordable hosting providers. Some hosts, including Bluehost, provide you with a free new domain name in your first year. You can renew domain names starting from about $14.99 per year after that.
In total, WordPress.org can cost as little as approximately $60 for the first year, and roughly $111 each year after.*
Should you use WordPress.com or WordPress.org?
If you’re looking for a simple site to use as a personal blog or for non-commercial purposes, WordPress.com may do the trick. The benefit of using WordPress.com is that there is little technical work required to set up and maintain the site. And if you don’t need a lot of features, customization options you may elect to use the free or Personal plans – these can save you money over time compared to WordPress.org.
For larger websites, or websites used for commercial and business purposes, we generally recommend WordPress.org. Not only will you have more control over your site, but you will also have more features available to you for a potentially lower cost.
The last thought when deciding between WordPress.com and WordPress.org is your future plans for your site. If your site is small now, but you intend to grow the site in terms of content, features and functions, you may decide to use WordPress.com from the start. We find that many small businesses quickly out-growing the WordPress.com plans.
If you started your site on WordPress.com – Can you move to WordPress.org?
The short answer is yes. If you already started your site on WordPress.com, but you’ve outgrown that option or are deciding now to switch, do not fear, you can switch your site over to WordPress.org with the built in import/export feature. Here is an excellent guide to walk you through that process.
If you have any questions about WordPress, or which option you should use, feel free to contact us at any time.
* All costs are rounded estimates based on November 2018 prices and first-year promotions of domain and hosting plans. Estimates do not include fees for additional services, add-ons, or taxes.