Wordpress.com vs WordPress.org – What Are the Differences?

07 Nov, 2023

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org have confused the dawn of time.

The confusion is understandable because the names are almost the same.

How do these two differ, and which one should you use for your website?

We’ll get to the details later on. But first, the big reveal:

  • WordPress.org is actual open-source WordPress software that can be downloaded and used however, you want. This is also known as self-hosted WordPress. You should register a domain name and an account for hosting your website. You will then have complete control over everything.
  • WordPress.com uses the WordPress.org software to build a “website as a service.” WordPress.com hosts your site and takes care of everything, but without much flexibility.

WordPress’s recent changes are blurring the lines more. But that’s where the core difference lies between the two.

In the following post, we’ll dive deeper into the two options and show you how they differ in creating a website.

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org: Introducing the Champs

Let’s quickly introduce the players before covering the features.

Let me reiterate:

WordPress.org is an open-source software managed by the WordPress Foundation, a non-profit organization.

WordPress.com takes advantage of WordPress.org’s open-source software and is a for-profit business owned by Automattic.

Officially, the two entities are separate.

The lines between the WordPress Foundation and Automattic can get blurred unofficially because Matt Mullenweg founded both entities.

As a result, both entities remain closely connected.

Creating a Website Is Easy With Both Platforms

With WordPress.com and WordPress.org, creating a website is simple.

Even so, it’s hard to deny that WordPress.com makes the process easier.

Here’s a quick overview of the steps to get started.

How to Design a Website Using WordPress.com

The process of creating a new website on WordPress.com is as simple as creating an account. No need to worry about hosting or domains:

The entire process takes just a few minutes; then you’re ready to go.

What Is the Cost of a WordPress.com Site?

WordPress.com offers plans ranging from 100% free to ₹1440 per month.

When you choose the free plan, your website will:

  • Be a WordPress.com subdomain, such as yoursite.wordpress.com.
  • Display ads from WordPress.com.
  • Be limited in terms of storage space.

If you choose the paid plans, you can use your domain name and remove the advertisements. But limitations still apply (I will have more to say later).

How to Design a Website Using WordPress.org

WordPress.org takes a little more than just creating an account to get started.

Due to self-hosted WordPress’ popularity, the process is still pretty beginner-friendly these days.

You will have to purchase your domain name and hosting.

Afterward, you can install the self-hosted WordPress.org software on your hosting account.

These days, most hosts make this as easy as clicking a few buttons.

At Rovity, you can install WordPress in one click.

What Is the Cost of a WordPress.org Site?

WordPress.org sites only have the following fixed expenses:

  • Web hosting – can cost as little as ₹50 per month but can go up to $100 and more for performance-oriented managed WordPress hosts.
  • Domain name – ~₹750 per year for a .com domain name registration.

You can typically get a website up and running for as little as ₹2,300 per year if you’re starting.

WordPress.org Offers More Flexibility for Most Users

WordPress’s vibrant community has a lot to offer in terms of themes and plugins. Themes and plugins let you make drastic changes both to the look and functionality of your WordPress site.

WordPress.org lets you install any theme or plugin you want.

However, WordPress.com does not allow you to install plugins and themes in most plans.

Are Third-Party Extensions Available on WordPress.com?

For a very long time, the answer to this question was NO.

Recent changes have made the situation stormier, but the answer is still NO for most of the WordPress.com users.

Since August 2017, customers that pay the ₹9,600 (per year) Business plan can install premium WordPress themes and plugins from third-parties.

This allows them to install extensions the same way self-hosted WordPress users can.

All users, even those on free and paid plans, are not so lucky. That is, WordPress.com users with Free, Personal, or Premium plans cannot install third-party plugins and themes.

This is one of the most significant downsides of WordPress.com.

WordPress.com essentially compromises flexibility for simplicity.

The trade-off may be worth it to you if you want a casual hobby blog. WordPress.org makes it much easier to build a site you can customize and make your own.

Are Third-Party Extensions Available on WordPress.org?

We already discussed this here, but we’ll talk about it pretty quickly.

With WordPress.org, you can easily install any theme, plugin, or WooCommerce extension you want. You control everything that happens on your site.

WordPress Simplifies Security but Isn’t Essentially Safer.

WordPress.com sites tend to be more secure by default since most plans are closed ecosystems. WordPress.org is just as safe if you follow the right basic WordPress security practices.

How WordPress.com Manages Security

With WordPress.com, security is taken care of for you.

Because your site is locked-down, you can’t make it vulnerable, even if you wanted to for some strange purpose.

How WordPress.org Manages Security

Let me repeat, WordPress.org is just as secure as WordPress.com.

But, it’s your responsibility now to implement that security.

It’s not incredibly complicated – your host can help with some parts, and WordPress security plugins will do most of the hard work for you.

However, you should pay more consideration to security on WordPress.org than WordPress.com. Remember, getting more flexibility comes at a cost.

With WordPress.org, You Can Monetize Your Website However You’d Desire

Beyond its limited flexibility, WordPress.com’s major downside is that it restricts your ability to make money from your website.

We’ll discuss the limitations below.

WordPress.org, however, has zero restrictions.

You can monetize your site in countless ways. You’ll find ad plugins that will help you to do it!

Monetization Limitations for WordPress.com

Monetization MethodLimitation
Google AdSenseOnly available on Business plans
BuySellAdsOnly available on Business plans
Affiliate marketingAffiliate links are allowed, but not for sites that live
primarily to direct traffic to affiliate links.
Sponsored PostsAllows sponsored posts to be published on sites
but does not allow sites with an overwhelming amount of sponsored content.
e-commerce storeOnly available on Business plans

You can’t earn money from your site unless you pay for the ₹9,600 business plan. WordPress.com limits how many affiliate links and sponsored posts you can have even with the Business plan.

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org: Which One Would You Pick?

In the end, most serious websites will benefit from self-hosted WordPress.org.

It’s better than WordPress.com if you want to add extensions, change functionality, and choose monetization methods.

Yes, updates and security will require your attention, but neither one is difficult.

WordPress.com still has its place. For a simple hobby website or a site that doesn’t need a lot of control, WordPress.com is the right choice.

WordPress.com’s Business plan blends the line between WordPress.com and WordPress.org.

Time will tell what kind of change this is, but it is too early to say for now.

Are you looking for a robust WordPress hosting service? Rovity offers premium shared hosting plans powered by LiteSpeed.

Jafar Muhammed

Jafar Muhammed has 10+ years of experience in WordPress, web hosting, domain names, DNS, CDN, server administration, etc. He is an open web advocate. He is the CEO of Rovity, the fastest-growing premium shared hosting startup in India.

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