WordPress.com vs wordpress.org? Hosted vs self hosted? WordPress have two of the most popular blogging platforms on the planet! But which is the right one for you, and why would you choose one over the other? A lot of information on this topic online is garbled and complicated — but it doesn’t have to be. This simple guide will help you make the best choice for your future blog.
WordPress.com vs WordPress.org: The Simple Chart
The below graphical comparison will give you a quick overview to the pros and cons of both WordPress.com and WordPress.org. Each line of the chart has been covered in more detail underneath.
WordPress.com vs WordPress.org: The In-depth Breakdown
How is it hosted?
This is one of the most important factors when we talk about this comparison. In short, it simply means who is in control of your site. For a wordpress.org website, you’ll need to buy a domain and pay for web hosting. Even though this is a bit of an inconvenience, in the longterm it is a better solution. It means you are in control of your site and you alone. Managed hosting options like Dreampress or WPengine exist to simplify this process but still allow the advantages of a self-hosted WordPress install. However if you purely want to ‘click and go’, WordPress.com’s hosted option may be better for you.
One of the strengths of WordPress is it’s expandability and flexibility. Plugins that can be installed on a .org installation allow WordPress to do almost anything. With a .com blog or website, you are restricted to a limited selection of plugins that come preinstalled. No option to install your own or decide on extra functionality you’d like to install on your site.
Who owns your data?
A fairly self explanatory headline here — with a self hosted WordPress.org installation, you are entirely in control of your website/blog and data. You cannot be ‘turned off’ if your site doesn’t comply with terms and conditions, and any info you publish to your site strictly exists within the entirety of your website; no other third parties are involved. This does, however, mean you are going to have to deal with things like backing up your data yourself — but I know which option I would choose.
Unlimited theme options. Unlimited customisation, custom CSS, custom page structures; are you sensing a theme here? Whilst you may well be able to create a very attractive website that is driven by WordPress.com, you will be restricted to set designs and customisations, along with a limited number of themes.
Once you’ve paid for hosting for your .org website or blog, you are purely capped by their allowance. Often for a very cheap amount this is set to a very high storage limit, one you’ll likely never even get close to reaching. However for a .com installation, you only get 3GB included in the free plan — which you quickly will have to upgrade and pay for their premium to get 13GB’s of allowance. Above this, you’ll have to go to a wordpress.com business account for unlimited storage which can run you up to $3,000!
Maintaining a WordPress site isn’t difficult by any stretch of the imagination, but you still need to do it. Plugins, themes and WP itself need to be updated, you need to stay on top of your security and spam has to be managed. With a WordPress.com website or blog, almost everything you can think of is already done for you, granted, at the cost of flexibility and customisation.
Whilst WordPress.org is free to a certain point — you’ll still need to pay for a domain and web hosting to ensure a flawless setup. These can be acquired for free, but I’d thoroughly recommend you pay; they are not expensive and it will be a good move going forward. A we host like Digital Ocean, Webfaction, or something like GoDaddy will work excellently.
On the flip side, WordPress.com is completely free for an unlimited time with its basic plan. Sure, you’ll need to pay more if you want to expand its capabilities — but if you need to get a website or blog off the ground speedily and for free, .com will allow this.
#Coding not neccessary with either platform :) ;
Take this one with a pinch of salt, because you do NOT have to be proficient, or even comfortable with HTML, CSS or PHP to work with WordPress.org — most customisations can be done without ever having to touch any code. However the option is there to allow you that much more flexibility with your website. With WordPress.com, you’ll never come into contact with any backend website code.
Note, you can edit add custom CSS to your website with wordpress.com premium upgrade. This does mean you’ll be paying extra, and you still have limited control.
Your own ads?
This is a huge one. Ads on websites make the internet go round. They enable you to earn money from your content without charging your users anything and with WordPress.org, the world is your advertising oyster. You could trial out Google Adsense, use an Ad network or even sell advertising yourself.
WordPress.com is another matter. You are only allowed to place ads on your website if you run a premium or business account — on a free licence WordPress even places adverts on your website that you won’t reap the rewards from! You are also restricted to using WordAds, WordPress’ own adversing system, with no option to change.
No custom code means no external analytics. Want to use Google Analytics? Forget it unless you’re prepared to fork our $3000(!) for a business WordPress.com account. WordPress.com has good analytics by default, but there’s no expandability on top of these features. The sky’s the limit with WordPress.org, as you might have expected.
As mentioned above in the self hosted section — WordPress.com is likely to take the higher position here. Being a managed service means this is all done for you and automatically. With a WordPress.org site, you’ll have to manage your backups yourself. This is easily done using a WordPress plugin or even through your web host — but it is something to consider.
WordPress.com vs WordPress.org: The Conclusion
For me there is no comparison. If you’re prepared to spend a little bit more time and effort to set up a WordPress.org website or blog, I would thoroughly recommend it. WordPress.org is superior in almost every respect therefore is certainly the best choice if you are looking to do any type of business, be it eCommerce or advertising on your website.
The only area that WordPress.com comes out punching is it’s speed of setup and ease of maintenance. WordPress.org can sometimes be a headache, so if you need a website that just works every time, WordPress.com could be a good option.
Originally published at pixelwhizz.com on August 5, 2016.