Question: What’s the Difference Between WordPress.org and WordPress.com?
Answer: Quite a bit actually. Let’s break this down
This is a common question asked by people looking to start a website. Hopefully this post can shed some light on which WordPress blogging platform would suite you best. Among the many free blog sites on the Web today, WordPress.com is one that clearly stands out. It has been around for a long time and has established a strong online presence for both bloggers and blog readers. If you are interested in expressing your thoughts and sharing your musings with the rest of the world, then this blogging platform would suit you well. However, for those who are after monetizing their blogs through advertisements and with the use of affiliate marketing, this venue may not be the one for you.
Perhaps the most important distinction between the two is the issue of ownership. You don’t truly own a WordPress.com website, but a site built on WordPress.org is completely under your control. WordPress.com sites actually live on WordPress servers and you must abide by their publishing policies. A WordPress.org platform is free software that you would upload onto servers you would use with a third party hosting provider such as Hostgator or WP Engine.
Wanna Make Money or Not?!
One of the most common ways to earn money from a blog or a website is through Google Adsense or affiliate marketing. If you run your blog on WordPress.com, this is something you won’t be allowed to do. You can, however, apply for their own version called WordAds provided that your blog meets their requirements. Furthermore, WordPress.com will also not allow you to put links to sales pages and affiliate programs. If you have your own products such as a book written by yourself , then this is the only time when you can advertise on your site. With a WordPress.org site, you can make all the money you want using any monetization strategy you want – Adsense, paid placement, affiliate marketing, ecommerce, membership sites… you get the idea. Again, since a WordPress.org- powered website is owned by you, you have complete control over it.
Plugins! Plugins! Plugins!
You can only use a few approved plugins for WordPress.com sites. That’s right. With tens of thousands of plugins you could use on your WordPress.org site, this restriction for the .com sites is big. Plugins are a great way to extend the functionality of your website. If you do a search for WordPress Plugins, you’ll come across tons of plugins that can boost the appearance and functionality of your site. How can you customize your site to the fullest if you can’t even upload the plugins that can provide you with added valuable features?
It’s equally sad to know that WordPress.com does not allow theme uploads. Nope, you can’t upload any custom themes. The theme choices are quite limited and you even have to pay for some. The farthest you can go in terms of modifying and personalizing your theme is to add a custom design package fee of $30. With WordPress.org you can upload any theme you want. You have access to thousands of premium WordPress themes, built by expert WordPress theme design companies, that create themes that are vastly superior to anything you can find with WordPress.com. As someone who has been working with WordPress for years and knows how important the right theme is for your website, this alone is enough to move towards a WordPress.org site.
Sudden Suspension of Account?
If you think you’ve had enough, listen to this additional limitation. Your blog can instantly be suspended without any prior notice if it is found to violate the terms of service. It’s certainly shocking and disappointing for a blog owner to not even be given the chance to remove a particular content that was reported by visitors or observed by WordPress.com to be a violation. Suspended blogs, however, are permitted to export their posts within a certain period of time only.
Development Limitations vs. Total Freedom!
Despite the growing popularity of WordPress for its powerful and innovative CMS features, WordPress.com remains merely a free blogging platform that lacks a lot of essential things necessary in the blogging world today; it has plenty of limitations that keep the author from moving forward. For example, if you decide to go with WordPress.com, and then later on, you wish to expand it by selling products or services, creating a membership site or setting up a forum, you are in for a big disappointment. This is not doable with a WordPress.com-powered website. With WordPress.org, since you have total freedom and complete control over your site, you are only limited by your imagination. You can design your site however you see fit and turn it into an ecommerce store, forum, directory, membership site, lead-generation site, professional business website…. you get the point.
Something to Ponder
If you want to start with a “free” WordPress.com site and just test out the whole blogging thing, then sign up and give it a go. But, if you get to a point where you want to:
- Buy a custom domain through WordPress.com (go from yourblogname.wordpress.com to yourblogname.com , thus removing wordpress from the domain name)
- Remove the ads from your “free” version
- Increase your file storage (if you upload videos and images you will eventually need more space)
- Get the option for custom design (gives you ability to customize fonts, color schemes and access to CSS)
Then…it’s going to cost you $99 per year (price as of November 2013). Plus, you still don’t have full control over your blog! For WordPress.org, you can host your site with Hostgator which costs as little as $4 per month ($48 annually). There are several hosting companies who provide similar hosting at similar pricing. You can get your domain name from Godaddy for about $10 (paid annually) and a highly customizable premium WordPress theme anywhere from $30 – $100 (one time charge). This would cost you $88 to $158 a year.
When you decide to set up a blog or to start your own site, you have to plan it well and envision what you want it to become in the future. You must anticipate all sorts of things you would be interested in developing later on. [quote]I just want to have a lil’ fun blogging!
– Go with WordPress.com
I want to be a serious blogger! I need a website for my business! I want to have complete creative control over my blog!
– Go with WordPress.org
If you are interested in going further and eventually building a more robust and professional website, you should – without hesitation – go with WordPress.org. We have several options for you to look into if you are interested in getting started with WordPress.org.