One of the most common questions I hear from people new to WordPress is “What’s the difference between wordpress.org and wordpress.com?” Today, I’m going to answer that question for you.
WordPress.com is where you can get a free blog that runs on the WordPress platform. With this free blog, there are limitations on what themes and plugins you can use, and how much storage space you have. What’s included are automatic backups and upgrades, and hosting architechted across multiple servers so that it can handle large volumes of traffic. You can get a custom URL or increased storage for extra cost, or your website will come with a yoursite.wordpress.com address by default.
WordPress.org is where you download the same software that’s the basis for wordpress.com sites, but requires you to have your own web host to install and run it on. WordPress.org is often referred to as the “self-hosted” WordPress. With self-hosted WordPress, you have complete flexibility to modify the code, themes or plugins however you want to. You can create your own custom themes and plugins (or have someone create them for you), modify existing plugins, or just choose to use any of the many many “off the shelf” themes and plugins available for WordPress. (See the Resources section below for a listing of where to find some of these.) Also, with the self-hosted version of WordPress, you are responsible for your own backups and upgrades, unless you have a host like Page.ly that will take care of that for you.
Which one should I use?
The next question that’s usually heard is “Which version should I use for my ______ site?” The answer kind of depends on what you’re doing with your site. If you’re just wanting to create a personal blog, then I think WordPress.com is a perfectly fine option. However, if you want to embrace WordPress as the powerful content management system that it has grown up to be, and use if for your business or organization’s website, then a self-hosted WordPress.org site is the way to go. Yes, it will cost you some for hosting and a domain name, and maybe for a custom or modified theme but if you’re running a business, these are all reasonable (even expected) expenses and give you much better control over your website. Starting a business is hard enough – why start it with limitations on what your website can look like or what functions it can have? You can usually find an inexpensive hosting solution (which many times includes a free domain name) for less than $100/year. There are may free themes for WordPress available, and lots of premium themes available for a moderate cost. You can get a customized theme for as little as $350, and a full custom theme for as little as $750.
Checkout my favorite resources for your self-hosted WordPress website.