WordPress.com vs WordPress.org

For the longest time, most people didn't know there were two versions of WordPress. If you aren't in the "know," then it can be very confusing. Most bloggers will suggest starting out on WordPress, but don't make the distinction between which one you should go with.

Today, I'm going to clear the confusion for you. While the two versions of WordPress are similar at their core, one is limited and free, and the other is not so much.

Fact is, WordPress is the world’s most popular content management system. It was released in 2003 as installable blog software.  Initially, the platform was very simple and was used by people to post their thoughts online in a blog format. Over the years, WordPress grew in terms of functionality and is now capable of running very powerful and complex websites.

One of the main reasons for WordPress’s popularity is its adaptability.  When first installed, it will function as a website or blog. You will be able to create posts or pages, and upload images or videos.  However, once you install themes or plugins, the way the site operates and looks will dramatically change.

You can use plugins to transform your WordPress site into a community hub, eCommerce site, news website, event planner, social media website, forum, and much more.  The theme system can also be used to change how your site looks and to add useful features.

There are two versions of WordPress available - free and self-hosted - and I've dedicated this lecture for clear things for once and all below.

Did you know there are two types of WordPress?

WordPress.com (FREE)

The free version of WordPress is obtained via WordPress.com. You simply create an account to receive your free WordPress website, which will be installed on the WordPress servers. However, there are some limitations to having a free WordPress website, namely:

  • It will have a WordPress.com sub-domain (//yoursite.wordpress.com)
  • You will only have access to certain themes and design customization is limited
  • Only certain plugins  will be available

You can overcome these limitations by paying a monthly fee to WordPress.com. As of July 2018, there are three accounts to choose from — Personal, Premium, and Business. The more expensive accounts add additional support, more server resources, and more functionality. The price of WordPress websites includes server hosting. You can learn more at the WordPress.com pricing page should you prefer this option.

WordPress.org (SELF-HOSTED)

Self-hosted WordPress websites are installed on your own server. To install a self hosted WordPress website, you must download the source code for WordPress and upload it to your server, and install the application. You will also need your own domain name when running a self-hosted WordPress website.

Installing a self-hosted WordPress website does require a few technical steps, including pointing your domain at the server and installing a database for WordPress. To avoid these steps, you can use a dedicated WordPress hosting companies like WP Engine, BlueHost WordPress Hosting, or my personal favorite GoDaddy as they currently run a $1/month WordPress hosting special!

Once installed, you will have complete control over your WordPress site. You can decide which plugins to use and which theme to run. There will be no restrictions over what you do with your website.

Obtaining the WordPress source code necessary for a self-hosted WordPress website is completely free. However, there will be some costs associated with purchasing a domain name and web hosting.