I have been running my Website Creation Workshop program since 2008, and every single time I run an introductory webinar or teleseminar, this question comes up:
Which should I pick: wordpress.com or wordpress.org?
I see how people get confused. Both services were created by the same company called Automattic and offer tools to create websites using the “WordPress” platform. Although their basic functions look the same, we strongly recommend WordPress.org.
Video: Difference between WordPress.or and WordPress.com
However, there are some critical differences that you should know so that you can make the right choice for you when building a website.
- Software is free, you just need to get your own hosting service. (This is why WordPress.org is also called, “self-hosted WordPress.”)
- You can get your own domain name from any domain registrar and use it for your website.
- You have great control over what appears on your site, including ads and affiliate links.
- There are countless themes available, both free and premium. You can also customize these themes to a much greater degree than WordPress.com themes.
- And free and paid plugins are available, which helps you to make your site function the way you really want.
- It makes a great eCommerce platform among many other purposes.
- It integrates with most of the Internet tools/services out there.
- You get the software from WordPress.org, or install it in your webhosting account with one click. You have a lot of freedom with how you use the website.
- Software is free, and it also comes with hosting. (ie. You don’t need to get your own hosting. They will host your website for you.) Note: it does NOT include emails, so you need to get a separate email service or pay extra for their Professional Email plan.
- You will get your website URL with “wordpress.com” at the end when you sign up for a free account. (ex. yoursitename/wordpress.com) (To use your own domain name while being hosted on WordPress.com server, you need to sign up for one of their paid plans.)
- From time to time, your site might display ads unless you purchase the WordPress Pro Plan.
- It has a limited number of themes, and advanced customization is available only with their WordPress Pro Plan. Uploading third party themes is also allowed only with the WordPress Pro Plan.
- They do not allow adding plugins (wordpress.com sites come with a set of built-in plugin features) unless you sign up for the WordPress Pro Plan, which means the functionalities are limited compared to WordPress.org.
- To modify website files via SFTP or to access database, you need to be on the paid WordPress Pro Plan. Also the type of the code you can add is extremely restricted with the WordPress Free plan.
- You can sell products/services and collect payments only with their WordPress Pro Plan.
- In general, only WordAds is allowed as an advertisement program and that’s available only with the WordPress Pro Plan. (And even with WordAds, they have some eligibility requirements).
- Affiliate linking allowed with some conditions.
- They allow you to embed only certain forms, not all. For example, you can’t embed the opt-in form for many of the popular email services.
- Google Analytics is available only with their WordPress Pro Plan.
If you are building a website for your business, I strongly recommend that you go through the WordPress.org route. You can do so much more with WordPress.org, and more importantly, the site can keep growing with you and your business with a self-hosted site.
Here are some web hosting companies that I have had experience with and can recommend:
Blue Host Web Hosting Company
Hosting with Site Ground
Hosting with WP Engine (more advanced)