WordPress is the world’s most popular site creation platform, allowing everyone to get their own sites up-and-running with minimal effort. WordPress is also famous for its extensive library of themes and plugins, allowing you to make your site look and function exactly as you want it to.
The whole process is very easy, but there are a few big questions to ask yourself along the way. One example is whether you should be using WordPress.com or WordPress.org. Some people don’t even know that these two separate entities exist, but they do and it’s important that you choose the right one. Here, we’ll take a look through the merits of each option to help you make the best decision.
Both the .com and .org variants of WordPress make use of the same software and services, so there isn’t any real difference between them on a base level, but when you dig a little deeper, you start to see that these two formats are not the same thing.
Let’s start off by looking at hosting. WordPress.org is entirely self-hosted, meaning that when you make a site, you’ll need to make an account with a hosting provider and pick yourself a hosting plan in order to keep your site active. Hosting comes in many different forms, with different speeds, features and plans to suit different-sized sites and businesses.
You can get basic shared hosting that will provide everything you need from as cheap $4 per month from a host like A Small Orange. A shared hosting account with A Small Orange, Media Temple, HostNine, or a similar company can start small and scale all the way up to developer grade dedicated hosting that costs hundreds of dollars.
Meanwhile, WordPress.com is actually fully-hosted and entirely free. You don’t need to spend any time or money sorting out hosting plans or providers for your WordPress.com site. Instead, the whole thing is fully supported by Automattic.
This hosting service is fully functional and very fast, so you don’t need to worry about your site running slowly or going offline. In terms of hosting then, it’s clear to see that WordPress.com is the better option.
Now let’s look at how much control you have with each option. WordPress.com may bring the luxury of free hosting, but it does come with a lot of limitations. The hosting plan only features 3GB of space and can actually show annoying ads to your visitors without your permission.
Meanwhile, over on WordPress.org, you have total control. You can choose a hosting plan to suit your needs, as well as finding the features and options that work for you. With a WordPress.org site, you get to control and validate absolutely every aspect of your site. So, if you’re the sort of user who likes to be in charge and have a good amount of freedom, .org might be the way to go.
More restrictions and limitations arrive when we look at the design and usage of WordPress.com sites. WordPress is renowned for its vast library of themes and plugins, letting you craft the site of your dreams using thousands of different options and add-ons. Well, you will only get access to all of those things if you use WordPress.org. WordPress.com site owners have to choose between a much smaller set of themes and aren’t allowed to install any custom plugins. The .com sites still come with a good amount of in-built functionality, but they just don’t have the same potential as their .org counterparts.
Moving on to monetization, site owners nowadays are realizing that the internet is a veritable goldmine. Even basic blogs can be used to earn a bit of cash on the side, and if you want to make money with your online endeavors, WordPress.org is once again the right option. Since you have total control over the site, you can monetize it however you like.
Whether you want to show ads or sell products and services, the sky really is the limit with a .org site. In fact, countless plugins exist to help you make that cash. Since .com users don’t have access to these plugins, their money-making opportunities are severely restricted. You can still put ads on a .com site, but it’s way harder to do.
Our final factor for consideration is security and general maintenance of your site. Every site is at risk of hacking or other cyber-attacks, so it’s always important to take proper security precautions to keep your data safe.
Over on WordPress.com, Automattic does a nice job of keeping everything as safe as possible, without you needing to make any effort whatsoever. On the .org sites, the responsibility of keeping your site safe is down to you.
You’ll need to choose a secure hosting provider and install the right plugins and software to keep everything running smoothly. This isn’t necessarily hard to do, but it can be tricky for new users, and it’s definitely easier to just let the experts handle everything, so we think WordPress.com wins this round.
Overall then, it seems like WordPress.org is generally the better option for most applications outside of a hobby, starter-blog. The high levels of control, the possibilities of monetization and the fantastic options provided by the theme and plugin libraries make .org sites so much fun to use.
At the same time, it’s important to note that WordPress.com does have its benefits. The automatic security and free hosting is a great bonus, so if you’re just looking to start a simple blog or stress-free site, then .com might be the way to go. It all depends on your own project and needs.