What Is The Difference Between WordPress.com And WordPress.org?
Last Updated on April 27, 2023 by Chris
WordPress is an excellent and convenient way to host your website on life, but this service comes in both .com and .org versions, so what’s the difference between them? Because, despite having a similar name, they aren’t identical, and choosing the correct service is crucial for the success of your business, hobby, or even blog.
WordPress.org is an open-source software letting you customize and host your website personally, including security, maintenance, and installing plugins. In contrast, WordPress.com is a premium service offering a collection of designer themes, several pricing tiers, and hands-off maintenance.
Now that we know the basics of these two products, we can ask which is best for your situation. While it might seem clear that WordPress.com is a paid option, that doesn’t mean it’s always best, even if you’re not on a budget. Read on to learn why that’s the case.
What Is WordPress.com?
WordPress.com is a specific version of the open-source WordPress software hosted by Automattic. Although both WordPress and Automattic share a founder, they’re not identical. Instead, WordPress.com is a hosting service offering several price ranges for different budgets and needs. Automattic is the company that hosts, maintains, and develops WordPress.com.
What WordPress.com lacks in versatility, it makes up for in ease of use. This product is exceptionally straightforward, only requiring registering for an account. The company handles the rest, letting you pick a website theme, focus, and target market.
A free WordPress.com account is a perfect way for beginners to get into website creation. Even with the free version, WordPress.com offers several themes and convenient plugins for your website.
Tiers scale upward, starting at $9 per month and capping out at the big-business exclusive $25,000 per year VIP package. The ideal tier for most companies falls roughly in the middle, at the Business tier. This option costs $21 per month and allows for deep customizability, social media integration, and premium support.
Regardless of your option, however, WordPress.com offers a great product. Managed hosting takes care of the costs of finding an external host and offers remarkable reliability.
WordPress.com also handles security and maintenance at every level. You won’t be expected to update your website, troubleshoot anything or make backups. Instead, WordPress.com handles all of this work seamlessly. This feature is a genuine highlight of the package for content creators and businesses without dedicated tech support.
With this option, you’re also guaranteed an SSL certificate, adding more respectability to your site. The tradeoff to this feature is that you don’t get a custom domain name at lower levels. Instead, your domain name will always end with “wordpress.com.”
Another issue with WordPress.com is its customizability. Unless you fork out the cash, you’ll be pretty limited in how you can present the page. That’s not a tremendous downside; the standard themes are nice enough, but it is something to remember for branding purposes.
The regulations are also worth considering with WordPress.com since the service won’t let you host anything literally. Instead, they have strict standards for what content they allow on WordPress.com platforms. Likewise, they control your ads unless you pay extra to share revenue.
Regardless, WordPress.com is a simple and practical iteration of WordPress software. Everyone from Disney to your dad uses WordPress.com because it is intuitive, relatively affordable, and saves the effort of designing a website.
What Is WordPress.org?
WordPress.org is the open-source version of the famous WordPress software. Thanks to that, everyone can use and customize it as they see fit. WordPress.org is an excellent option for anyone on a budget or consumers who prefer to fine-tune their websites.
This software comes alongside hundreds of plugins and dozens of attractive themes, so you don’t need to be a code wizard to use it either.
It’s also prevalent. Nearly 45% of all websites use WordPress in some capacity. This code is ubiquitous and abundant. A massive community surrounds it, so you’ll never need to jump in blindfolded or feel lost working with this free product.
If you want to start a simple blog, a competitive eCommerce store, or a company website, WordPress.org can accommodate you.
However, since this software is free, nobody is obliged to host your webpage. That’s a hidden cost that can quickly add up; if you use WordPress.org, expect to pay a hosting fee. Fortunately, many companies offer tailor-made WordPress.org hosting plans, but this service is never pro bono. WordPress.org might appear free to download, but that doesn’t mean it’s free to operate.
On the other hand, this immense freedom lets you advertise as much as you want, allowing you to recoup your hosting expenses.
Unlike WordPress.com, the .org version also lets you operate a storefront.
WordPress.org is also a paradise for any developer who plans to use plugins. If you know how to install it, WordPress.org can support it. So, if you enjoy complex sites with many options or need to install a specific plugin for your business, this software version is ideal.
You can install everything from a customizable image gallery to a store page or SEO optimization. There’s also a thriving community and forums for third-party plugins, too. WordPress.org can even support tracking scripts and analytics, though.
However, this deal goes both ways. Because you can install any plugin you want, and you’re responsible for upkeeping them yourself. The onus is on the user to regularly update their themes, plugin, and security certificate. Likewise, you must back up your site; while some plugins do that automatically, you must install them.
Because it’s a free product, WordPress.org doesn’t inherently have an SSL certificate either. You can choose a unique domain name and host whatever content you like. Still, your site won’t necessarily be secure or appear reputable. Unless you put the work in, it isn’t.
The Cost Of Using WordPress.com Vs WordPress.org
A free WordPress.com account is genuinely free. You won’t need to pay a cent to use this relatively limited service. In contrast, WordPress.org webpages still require external hosting; depending on your metrics, the cost can quickly add up.
You’ll need to pay two unavoidable costs for a WordPress.org page; the first is the hosting. The second is your domain name, which can cost about $10 per year. Although some web hosts offer a free domain name, you can expect to be restricted somehow. Don’t be surprised if the host requires you to add their name to your domain name.
However, web hosts like Bluehost, GoDaddy, and Siteground offer plans tailored to WordPress.org sites. You can expect to pay between $2 and $6 monthly with one of these companies.
So, overall, a standard WordPress.org website will cost in the ballpark of $70 yearly. That’s not counting any premium features like:
- Custom themes
- Plugins, or
This cost also goes down the more WordPress.org sites you operate. That’s because web hosts will give you a discount for hosting multiple WordPress.org webpages. So, if you need several websites, consider WordPress.org. This economy of scale is definitely kind to your bank balance.
Remember that these figures only apply to the most superficial level of WordPress.org sites. The more intense your traffic and complex your site, the more you’ll need to pay for hosting.
Granted, your advertising revenue and overall profit margins can compensate for this uptick in hosting price. Nevertheless, the costs of WordPress.org will scale, and you’ll have to balance your monetization accordingly. That’s especially true if you aim to purchase custom themes or content for your website.
On the other hand, WordPress.com prices are precise as Automattic advertises them.
We recommend the Business plan, which is currently on sale for $21.67 monthly. The standard price is $25 per month, totaling $300 yearly.
Yes, that’s plenty more than the equivalent WordPress.org site. However, remember that you’re also paying for convenience. WordPress.org expects you to do a lot of labor regarding designing your website and upkeeping it. In contrast, a WordPress.com Business account offers a near-equivalent level of creativity but for far less effort.
WordPress.com has other options, too, which might be ideal for other uses. For example, the personal account offers a custom domain name for $4 monthly. The premium version includes 4K video support and additional themes for $8 monthly and $96 annually.
The Commerce variant costs $41.67 monthly for dedicated merchants but includes the entire Business account plan. Not only that, but this package ties in a dedicated storefront with an excellent checkout experience, payments in over 60 countries, and shipping integration.
This cost-scaling option is a significant strength of WordPress.com, letting you subscribe to the ideal product for your needs. On the other hand, WordPress.org is typically cheaper and gives you greater financial control.
WordPress.com Vs WordPress.org: Pros And cons
As we’ve seen already, WordPress.com and WordPress.org aren’t identical; the first offers excellent security and simplicity, while the second is freeware and much more customizable.
|WordPress.com Pros||WordPress.com Cons|
|Simple to operate||Customizability locked behind a paywall|
|Pricing is transparent, scaling and consistent||A limited selection of themes|
|Preinstalled SSL certificate||A unique domain name costs extra|
|Hands-off maintenance and security||Limited control over advertising|
|Automatic backups||The free version is elementary|
|Regular, automatic updates||Content guidelines|
|Live chat and email support for premium buyers||Limited collection of plugins|
|Social media integration|
|WordPress.org Pros||WordPress.org Cons|
|Total control over the website||Total responsibility for the website|
|Free software||Hosting costs extra|
|Full control over monetization||Hands-on and complex|
|Extremely versatile and customizable||Needs manual updates|
|Ideal for store owners due to the plugins||No inherent security|
|Extensive collection of third-party content||No automatic backups|
|Allows for tracking metrics||No live support|
|No WordPress registration is required|
Should I Use WordPress.com?
WordPress.com is a shining example of a simple, effective product. The free version is an outstanding website design introduction, removing risks such as maintenance and hosting.
If you want a personal website but don’t know where to begin, start at WordPress.com. A free account might not give you much customizability or revenue, but it will get your page out there.
The simplicity cannot be overstated. WordPress.com makes blogging intuitive.
That holds true even for the premium versions. WordPress.com Business is a perfect solution for a commercial website, giving you a respectable level of versatility while staying just as straightforward as its free counterpart.
WordPress. Business is a practical investment that often compares to the cost of a more significant WordPress.org site, only with less upkeep. In fact, you receive dedicated live support from Automattic, plus tools for SEO, real-time backups, and excellent security.
In exchange, you must comply with the Terms of Service and content guidelines, and you’ll need to pay for your domain name after the first month. Likewise, you will never have perfect control over your advertising. However, these issues will never arise for many professionals and businesses.
Instead, subscribe to WordPress.com business for a fast, customizable, secure website in minutes.
Should I Use WordPress.org?
If you know how to code and value customizability, WordPress.org is your option. You’ll need to know your way around website configurations, coding, and plugins to get the best out of this software. However, you have a blank slate and limitless options in exchange for that effort.
As long as you can code it, you can put it online with WordPress.org. This option is unbeatable if your website needs complex plugins, tracking metrics, or a particularly unique theme.
The .org version also gives you greater control over your finances. If you’re on a budget but need flexibility, use WordPress.org. The open-access software allows you to choose the correct host for your needs and market.
Likewise, learning to use WordPress.org is a worthwhile investment if you value advertising revenue. Understanding the software can be tricky, but it rewards you with complete control over your ads.
WordPress.org also lets you operate a storefront online without paying extra. For small businesses, this is an excellent option.
WordPress.org and WordPress.com might seem similar but they differ severely in cost, functionality, and what you can host on their platforms. If you value customizability and flexibility, the free WordPress.org is ideal. However, if you can afford to pay for WordPress.com’s business plan, its hands-off maintenance and security are excellent features.