WordPress is now one of the most widely used Content Management Systems for blogging. However there is often confusion between the two types of WordPress platforms and which one is best for a bloggers goals. This is why it is important for you, the small business owner to understand the difference BEFORE you start blogging.
What is the Difference Between WordPress.org and WordPress.com?
WordPress.com is free for the basic setup which includes your own special url (ex. www.mysitename.wordpress.com) and you also get 3 GB of space for storing your content and images. But remember, THEY store your content, so in other words – they OWN your content.
WordPress.com is great if you want to start a simple blog or practice blogging online. It does offer several nice looking themes and will definitely get you online and indexed with search engines – just not in the same capacity as WordPress.org.
With WordPress.org, your blog or web site is hosted on your own server through a hosting company like HostGator (affiliate link). WordPress itself is blogging software that you can tweek and play with and place blogs onto your own domain names. Therefore it will cost you money to buy a domain and host it but you can then do whatever you like with it, such as upgrade it, theme it any way you like, add/subtract whatever plugins you like and add whatever content, links, or ads you decide are appropriate.
Using WordPress.com is like you are swimming in the community swimming pool – you have to follow their rules – no jumping, no diving, etc. In contrast, a self-hosted site, like WordPress.org where you have total control, you pretty much make up your own rules of how to swim in the pool. If you want to do a cannon ball, it’s entirely up to you! LOL
Factors to Consider When Choosing Between WordPress.org and WordPress.com:
The following are some factors you may want to consider before you decide to start your blog on a paid host with WordPress.org or the “free” option with WordPress.com.
- Monetization and Advertisements: WordPress.com does not allow you to include advertisements of any kind. This will keep you from earning an income by offering advertising on your site. Also your ability to share affiliate links is greatly diminished.
- Customization: WordPress.com provides a limited amount of theme options. WordPress.org has an endless amount of themes to choose from or you can hire a web designer to create a custom theme to fit your needs.
- Knowledge: WordPress.org requires a little more technical knowledge than WordPress.com, however it is still simple to use once you master the admin panel.
- Lack of Ownership: With a WordPress.com site, you do not own your content. Your content is hosted on THEIR server. You are also required to have “.wordpress.com” at the end of the domain. So, instead of your site being “thisismysite.com”, it would be “thisismysite.wordpress.com”. Having a domain like this is often viewed as unprofessional. There is an option to pay a monthly $15 fee to use your own domain, but if you are going to do that, then you might as well go with the self hosted option so you have mo0re flexibility.
While WordPress.com is a good option to get started, if you are serious about blogging, desire a professional looking website or both, WordPress.org is definitely a better option for you. WordPress.Org is very flexible when compared to WordPress.com; and the option to build a site that conveys your message effectively makes the customizations well worth the effort.
Quick Comparison Between WordPress.org and WordPress.com
Pros of WordPress.com
- It’s Free!
- Large selection of free layouts
- Automatic site upgrades, backups etc
- Possible traffic from the .com network
- Limited features make it easy for technically challenged
- No ownership of content
- Can not customize the free layouts
- No ability to load paid/highly customized layouts
- Have to have over 25,000 pageviews/month to have advertising
- Must use Ad Control once qualified for selling advertising
- Use of plugins is not allowed
- Access to free layouts
- Ability to customize free layouts and use premium layouts
- Full ownership of content
- Ability to monetize the site/content from day one
- Ownership of domain which allows for better brand building
- Regular expense with hosting/domain registration
- Technical knowledge or ability to outsource design, maintenance, etc
- Regular maintenance with upgrades and backups
- Not part of a network giving possible traffic
- Risk of being hacked
Here is a GREAT infographic with a side by side comparison: http://web.spotcoolstuff.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/wordpress-free-hosting-infographic-sm.jpg
As a graphic and web designer who specializes in WordPress site builds, I highly recommend that you go with the “self-hosted” WordPress option (WordPress.org). If you have any additional questions about the differences or capabilities and need further advice on which platform to choose, feel free to Email Me directly.