What’s the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org? Or, what’s the difference between ‘real’ self hosted WordPress and the commercial WordPress at WordPress.com?
The fundamental difference is who is hosting your WordPress website and controlling what you can and can not do with it. WordPress.com is a commercial organisation who will host and install your WordPress site on their servers. WordPress.org is a site where you can download the free WordPress software for you to use anywhere that you like but does not offer hosting or other commercial services.
You can only download the WordPress program from one place: WordPress.org
If you download and install WordPress yourself then you can only download it from WordPress.org. This is the website of the WordPress foundation that supplies the free WordPress program to anyone who wants to use it.
You can download the software and then you will need to install it on a web server supplied by your hosting provider. (Or, more simply your hosting provider almost certainly will offer to install it for you).
If you are downloading WordPress from WordPress.org then you need to also have your own hosting provider.
Once installed, you are completely free to customise it in any way that you see fit. You are only limited by your imagination, and your technical skills (or the skills you hire).
You can create a limited WordPress website at WordPress.com
WordPress.com is a site which is managed by Automattic who are the founders of WordPress. They will allow you to create a website on the platform they run but you will never have the level of flexibility that you have with a website that you install on your own hosting.
WordPress.com ARE your hosting provider in this case.
One of the great things about having WordPress.com as your hosting provider is that they look after all the upgrades and other technical aspects of your website. The downside is that they place substantial limitations on what you can do with your site. You can pay to have some of these limitations removed by subscribing to a paid plan and there are 3 to choose from.
Should I use WordPress.com or install my own WordPress?
The right answer really depends on what you want to do with your website.
- Want to have a simple blog and don’t mind advertising appearing on it, then the free WordPress.com version may be all you need. For some people the simplicity of a WordPress.com website will be a big attraction.
- Are just starting and don’t know if you have the discipline, then a WordPress.com blog may be a good way to test your resolve with no upfront cost
- Need to monetize your site, then you will almost certainly be better off with your own hosting and a download from WordPress.org
- Run other services, or do anything out of the ordinary, then a WordPress.org installation will be what you need.
Whichever decision you make, it is better to get started than to do nothing. While it is possible to move later it is worth thinking about your longer term goals as you get started.
In case you are wondering, I use BlueHost and a download from WordPress.org myself and I do recommend them. Have a look at my post on how to easily start your own website today.
So – get out there and get started!