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WordPress.com vs WordPress.org- The Difference and Which is better [Detailed comparison]

Raise your hands if you are trying to figure out the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. With almost the same names, this can be really confusing for anyone who is just starting out.

Wordpress.com vs wordpress.org the comparison

Well, let me tell you I was on the same boat once. Although both these platforms have similar names but these are actually very different from each other.

Very frequently on social media platforms, I see people ask these questions frequently

  1. What is the difference- WordPress.com vs WordPress.org
  2. Which one is better.
  3. Out of the two which is good for starting a blog or website.

When you are looking to start your blog or website, it is important to understand the differences and the pros and cons of both platforms or you may end up choosing the wrong platform.

To help you make the correct choice and clear the confusion, in this article we will be comparing both the platforms based on

  1. Pricing
  2. Setup and maintenance
  3. Customization, control, and flexibility
  4. Branding
  5. Security
  6. Marketing and SEO
  7. Monetization
  8. Ownership and Copyrights

So without further ado let’s dive into the article.

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org- The Comparison

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org the comparison

What is WordPress

As we all know there is a visible common factor between both WordPress.org and WordPress.com and that is the word “WordPress”. So let’s first discuss the common denominator.

Released in the year 2003, WordPress is the most popular open source content management system that you can use to create your website or blog. WordPress started as a tool for creating blogs and not regular websites. But today it is the first choice for many people across the world as a tool to create websites.

As WordPress is an open source software, it is licensed under GPLV2 which means anyone can use it for free and it is maintained by volunteers around the globe.

Using this software you can manage and create any type of website be it.

  1. Portfolio
  2. Business
  3. Blog
  4. Forum
  5. E-commerce store

And pretty much anything you can think of including apps. This versatile nature is what makes it the most widely used CMS.

#WordPress powers 33% of the internet Click To Tweet

A lot of notable entities like Microsoft, Rolling stones, Usain Bolt, Sylvester Stallone, The Walt Disney company, Bloomberg to name a few use WordPress.

With that said, WordPress is based on PHP and MYSQL and is packed with powerful features such as

  1. Multi-device compatibility
  2. SEO friendly
  3. Highly scalable
  4. Top-notch performance
  5. Beginner friendly

WordPress is the easiest and most power-packed website creation tool out there today.

What is WordPress.com?

what is wordpress.com

WordPress.com is a platform that you can use to create your website or blog. In other words, WordPress.com is a hosting service which uses the WordPress software to power all the blogs or website running on the platform.

The parent company behind WordPress.com is Automattic which is spearheaded by Matt Mullenweg. Now the interesting thing is he is also the co-founder of the open source WordPress software.

This is one of the major reasons why WordPress.com is confused with WordPress.org.

WordPress.com domain name consists of 2 parts one is the brand name “WordPress” and the other is the domain extension “.com” which stands for commercial.

WordPress.com operates on the Website as a Service model where you need an email address to start your website and the rest of the details are taken care of by the website.

Once you have registered you don’t have to worry about the technical aspects of running a site such as hosting, domain name, security, updates, maintenance, spam, and backup.

And this makes it quite similar to other free platforms such as Medium, Blogspot and Tumblr. Although WordPress.com has a free plan which is great however there are some drawbacks as well.

What is WordPress.org?

what is wordpress org

WordPress.org is also known as self-hosted WordPress. It is actually a software that anyone can download for free and use as they want. As we mentioned before the software is distributed under the GPLV2 license.

WordPress.org has the extension “.org” which stands for organization. It is an open source software that is managed by the WordPress foundation which is a non-profit. The founder of WordPress foundation is Matt Mullenweg.

Often you may have heard people saying they have used or are using WordPress for their website. In most cases it the software or WordPress.org they are talking about.

To create a website using this version of WordPress, you need a domain name and a reliable hosting provider. Unlike the WordPress.com, you are responsible for every technical aspect of running a website ranging from domain name to hosting, performance to backup, maintenance, and updates.

And that is why it is known as the self-hosted WordPress.

Which is cheaper- WordPress hosted vs WordPress self-hosted

Every time you search the internet about creating a website with WordPress, you will come across the magical word “Free” quite frequently.

Well, you can, of course, create a free website using the hosted version of WordPress. But often the self-hosted side is also associated with the word “Free”.

To be honest, be it hosted or self-hosted if anything is available for free either it will have an undisclosed or silent catch attached or else it will have its own set of limitations.

And let me tell you running a website does require a small investment. Now, you may be thinking why not opt for the free WordPress.com plan and create a site.

The answer is pretty simple, yes you can go for the free plan and you don’t have to spend a dime. But when you go for such plans you only get basic features and as you grow, you will require the more advanced functionality for which you will have to upgrade.

Wordpress com plans

There are 4 plans available in WordPress.com and you can select which one fits your requirement best.

  1. Free- No cost
  2. Personal-4$/month or 48$/year
  3. Premium- 8.25$/month or 99$/ year
  4. Business- 24.92$/ month or 299$/ year

Other than these plans WordPress.com has 2 more plans E-commerce and VIP. As the name suggests with the e-commerce plan you can create an online store on WordPress.com and WordPress VIP is a managed hosting service for high-end websites with a lot of traffic.

Now, in the above image, you can see the free plan has very basic features and the other plans require an investment. The features in the free plan may seem good enough today. But in reality, you will soon hit the point where you will feel restricted.

Once you start the setup process and then you will notice that you do not have access to every tool you need and that is the biggest limitation.

We will be discussing all the features one by one later in the blog.

Moving forward, when we talk about starting a self-hosted website, there are 3 basic requirements

  1. WordPress free software
  2. Domain name
  3. Web hosting

The first thing on the list is WordPress software. This is the core software or the content management system that we were discussing earlier and you can download it for no cost from WordPress.org website.

A domain name is the name of your website and this is your brand name. People will recognize you and your brand online through this name. You can buy the domain name from any domain name registrars such as

  1. Godaddy
  2. Namecheap

Many web hosting companies also provide the facility of buying a domain name for your website. Hosting companies like Bluehost offer a free domain name for a year with the hosting plans which is a plus point for beginners.

Speaking of the costs, the price of a domain name can range from 2$ to 15$/ year depending on the specials and the discounts.

The next essential thing on the list is web hosting. It is the service that allows you to publish your website on the world wide web.

There are quite a lot of hosting providers in the market and the pricing starts from 40$/ year. To be fair the WordPress.com free plan still looks lucrative.

But let me tell you there are endless possibilities of things you can do when your website is self-hosted. This means when your site is up and running and is monetized, slowly and steadily the website will pay for the cost of running itself.

And time will come when you don’t have to think about these expenses.

If you are thinking which companies are reliable when it comes to web hosting. We highly recommend going for

  1. Bluehost
  2. Siteground

Both these hosting providers offer plans that are affordable and are backed up by amazing technical support in case you face difficulties. Also, these companies are on the WordPress.org recommended list of hosting providers.

The next thing on the menu is

What is included in the package- WordPress.com and WordPress.org

Till now we have only compared the WordPress hosted with self-hosted on just the price. Let’s dive a little deeper and find out what the plans actually offer.

When we buy a product the first thing we generally see is the pricing and the next thing we want to know is what exactly are we paying for.

Let’s say for instance if you are buying any food-related products, you generally check for the ingredients to see if it is good for your health and the next thing is quantity against the price.

Similarly, when you are comparing 2 platforms, it is important to know what is included in the plans regardless of it being free or paid. Also, this will give you an idea of what you are getting into.

When to opt for the free plan in WordPress.com, you get

  1. WordPress.com subdomain as URL
  2. Storage space of 3GB
  3. Some free themes
  4. Forum support
  5. Jetpack essential features
  6. Free hosting

For the purpose of demonstration, I have created an account using the free plan. In the image below you can see the address or URL of the website is “geekyplug.wordpress.com” and it is a WordPress.com subdomain.

subdomain wordpress

One of the first things we recommend anyone starting a new website is getting a custom domain name. Even if you are using a free platform go for a personalized domain name and not a free subdomain.

There are major drawbacks to using a subdomain. It negatively impacts your branding and that is the reason some of the users may not take your website seriously and buy services or products you are offering.

And we want you to avoid this misstep and start your online journey in the right way. Keeping this in mind we have compiled an article on Benefits of a custom domain name

You may be wondering when the platform gives you the option to add a custom address then why not go for it.

Yes, the platform does give you the option to add the custom domain name but for that, you have to pay an annual subscription fee of 48$/ year.

The next thing that comes to mind after the name of the website is the design. There are quite a few themes available with the free plan.

In case you want to go for any other theme instead of the free ones, then again you will have to upgrade your account to the premium plan which is roughly 100$ a year and it is pretty expensive if you are just starting out.

Although creating a website on WordPress.com is pretty straightforward. But in case you face technical difficulties and are using the free plan, the only option you have is the WordPress.com forum.

The email and chat support are only available for paid plans.

basic feature comparison

Moving forward, by now we have established the fact that you need to invest a small amount of money in order to start a self-hosted website and there are no free plans

What do you get when you buy hosting and domain name

Let’s begin this part with an example

If Bluehost is your choice of hosting provider, the basic plan starts at 3.95$/ month which is 47$ a year. This plan includes

  1. 50 GB SSD storage
  2. A free domain name for one year
  3. Unmetered bandwidth
  4. Free SSL certificate
  5. 1 click WordPress install
  6. Access to customer support chat

If you notice, I have not mentioned anything related to themes in this list. And the reason behind this is, WordPress.org is not only an open-source software but also a community of developers, content creators, and site owners that manage and contribute generously towards this platform.

And because of this, there are plenty of free themes available that you can use. As far as technical support is concerned, you can find relevant information on

  1. WordPress.org support forum
  2. WordPress Codex
  3. Handbook

Also, there are blogs that provide useful information when it comes to WordPress.

However, if you are facing problems related to web hosting, then you have to contact the technical support of your hosting provider. In the above scenario, it will be the Bluehost live chat and in no time your queries will be resolved.

With that said, web hosting and domain name charges are recurring. This means you have to take care of these charges every year. And once your site starts growing and it is monetized. The website will take care of the charges itself.

The next factor on the comparison list is the ease of set up and maintenance.

Setup and Maintenance- WordPress.com vs WordPress.org

“Is creating and maintaining a website on this platform easy?”, this is one of the very first questions that come to mind before setting up the website on any platform.

When you create a website, one thing is for sure you have to face difficulties and over challenges to make it a success. In this process, you acquire quite a lot of skills by constantly working on your website.

For some of us, these challenges can be related to technology. And for this reason, people prefer a platform that is easy to use and maintain.

Although both the hosted and self-hosted WordPress have the same core software. But the setup process is completely different.

Setting up a website on WordPress.com is very simple. All you need is a

  1. Valid email address
  2. Username
  3. Password

wordpress.com signup

Once you have signed up, you need to select a URL for your website, a theme and create important pages such as “About” and “Contact”.

And that’s it. You are ready to publish your blog. It doesn’t get easier than this. You don’t have to worry about the technical details at all. WordPress.com takes care of it for you.

After setting up the next important thing is maintenance which includes factors such as speed, backup, and other optimizations.

If you have a website on WordPress.com, all of these things are taken care of by the technical team behind the platform. The only thing you need to do is focus on creating amazing content.

Now, let’s talk about creating sites with WordPress.org. This process is very different from what we have discussed above. It may require a little technical knowledge. But the process is fairly simple.

Most of the web hosting companies these days let you install the WordPress software using the 1 click install which makes the task quick and easy.

However, just for the purpose of knowledge, there is another way of installing WordPress on your webs hosting. This is the manual installation of WordPress also known as the 5-minute install.

In this process, you have to

  1. Download the WordPress software
  2. Access the Cpanel
  3. Create a database
  4. Upload the WordPress to Cpanel using an FTP client
  5. Run the installation script

This one is a bit more technical as compared to the 1 click install.

Once your website is up and running the next thing you have to do is take care of the maintenance part. Unlike WordPress.com, in this case, you are responsible for everything that includes.

  1. Improving the speed
  2. Taking backups
  3. Cleaning database
  4. Preventing spam
  5. Regular updates

And pretty much everything technical that is required to run a website. Although this may sound scary if you are not technical. However, most of these tasks can be executed easily.

It only takes a short time to get accustomed to the environment.

Flexibility, Customization, and Control- Hosted vs Self-hosted

Let me begin this by saying ” Everyone has a creative side to them”.

Before you start any website, there is always a design that you like and a concept that you want. I m sure most of you will agree with this.

Often while browsing the internet and going through various websites, you find certain elements that you like and want to include them in your design.

Now, what if you found a theme that you like, but there are certain parts of it that you want to change or modify or maybe want to extend the functionality of your site.

When you think of making changes to the design, the first thing that comes to mind is editing the theme or changing the theme. As we have discussed before, you get access to only free themes in the Free and Premium WordPress.com plan and if you want to use the premium themes that you will have to upgrade to the premium plan.

In WordPress.com there are approximately 100 free themes and nearly 184 premium themes But, if you want to use a custom WordPress theme or a third party premium theme, you cannot do that even if you are using the Premium plan.

This feature is only available in the Business plan.

wordpress.com upload theme

Now, the next question is

Does WordPress.com give you the option to customize your website

If you are using the free plan, no. When it comes to customization, control and adding new features, you only get the basic functionality. You do not get the advanced customization features in the lower tier plans. You have to opt for the premium plan and that costs nearly 100$ per year.

In advanced customization, you can customize the theme with extended color schemes, background designs and you have full control over the CSS.

site customization wordpress.com

The next thing is what happens if some of the features you want are missing on the theme.

Can you add additional functions to WordPress.com website

Whenever we think about adding new features or functions to any WordPress website, the first thing you think of is plugins. If you are not familiar with plugins, let me tell you the basic definition.

Plugins are small independent programs that you can install in your WordPress site to further extend the functionality of the site.

These plugins do make your life easy. You don’t have to worry about the coding part. All you need to do is download, install and activate.

If you are thinking about installing plugins in your WordPress.com website, you have to go for the Business plan or the E-commerce plan if you are looking to create an e-commerce website.

wordpress.com business plan

Earlier WordPress.com did not offer built-in support for third-party plugins and themes. This feature was introduced in August 2017

On the other hand, when you are using WordPress.org you are responsible for everything. This also means you can customize the website the way you want.

Trust me there are no limitations.

When it comes to picking themes for your blog, there quite a lot of free and premium themes available. You can find the free themes in the built-in free themes directory in the WordPress dashboard. To use any of these free themes, you need to find a theme that matches your requirements and then install and activate it.

free theme directory wordpress.org

If you are looking for a Premium theme for your website, there are quite a few marketplaces you can check. Here are a few places we recommend

  1. Elegant Themes
  2. ThemeForest
  3. GeneratePress
  4. Template Monster

The general pricing of themes on these websites ranges from roughly 30$ to 200$. If you are thinking what is the difference between a paid theme and a free.

The main difference between the two is you get technical support with the premium one whereas you have to rely on theme documentation, forums, and other blogs if you are using a theme. Also, on quite a few occasions I have seen free themes not receiving updates on a regular basis and then get abandoned by the developer and that can be a threat to the security of your website.

Now, this does not mean I m against the use of free themes. Use themes that receive updates regularly and has positive feedback from the users.

As far as customization is concerned, you can do anything with your theme regardless of it being free or premium. You can change the style, colors, make changes to the CSS or do anything you want including changing WordPress themes as much as you want.

There are no restrictions.

The next big question is

What happens if you want to extend the features of your WordPress.org website

To add new features to your website, you can use plugins.

There are thousands of free plugins available that can help you add any functionality to your site you can think of. There are 3 types of plugins

  1. Free- Free to use plugins
  2. Freemium- Free to use but certain features are available only in paid plans.
  3. Premium- You have to pay in order to use

With that said, just like the free themes directory you also have free plugins directory in the WordPress.org dashboard.

To use these free plugins all you have to do is go to the directory, search for the plugin, install and activate.

wordpress.org free plugin directory

As you are in charge of everything on your website, it is important to keep in mind that every plugin may not work the same way as you expected. In case this happens you have to search for alternatives. We always recommend first trying out things on the test environment and then gradually updating the main website.

You may like to read- How to install WordPress plugins

The last thing I would like to add here is WordPress.org is open-source software that you can use to create custom theme designs. If you have something in mind, it can be created. You can hire an experienced developer to help you with this.

Note- When it comes to downloading free themes and plugins use only the trusted sources and check the last update and compatibility before using.

Which is more secure- WordPress.com or WordPress.org

Security is important for you as well as for the visitors. It plays a huge role in creating a positive user experience.

When it comes to security, there are a few main  elements that we will be discussing

  1. Spam protection
  2. Updates
  3. SSL certificates
  4. Backups
  5. Website scans

Above are some basic factors that contribute to the security of the blog. As previously mentioned, in WordPress.com you don’t have to worry about the technical aspects much and that is the same in this case as well.

WordPress.com has built-in plugins for

  1. Security scanning
  2. Anti-spam
  3. 24 x 7 backups
  4. Regular updates
  5. Free SSL with every plan

All these features are included in the free plan as well. So it is safe to say WordPress.com is a very secure platform for both publishers and visitors.

Now, speaking of WordPress.org with you being responsible for everything. You have to take care of the site security.

How can you protect your WordPress.org site from spam

akismet anti spam

We all know spam is a growing problem on the internet and to take care of this problem you have to use an anti-spam plugin called Akismet.

Akismet is a product of Automattic, the company behind WordPress. This is the same plugin that is used for filtering spam in WordPress.com. This plugin is very easy to use and configure and comes pre-installed in WordPress.org.

In case you want to check, we have written a detailed article on How to set up Akismet

From where can you get the SSL certificate

While browsing the internet you may have seen websites that have a green padlock on the address bar. That is because the site is using the SSL certificate.

The green padlock is a trust signal for your visitors as it shows the website is secure and it is also a ranking factor.

These certificates are provided by the certificate authorities such as Let’s encrypt. But you don’t have to think about getting one as most web hosting companies these days provide free SSL certificates with the hosting plans and these are very easy to configure.

In case you face any difficulty regarding this you can always contact the customer support of the hosting provider for help.

How to scan your website for vulnerabilities

You can perform the task of scanning and protecting your website from any potential threats using security plugins such as Wordfence.

All you have to do is install, activate and configure the plugin.

You can set a scanning schedule as per your requirements and whenever there is a security-related problem the plugin will scan and protect your site and will also notify you immediately. With Wordfence, you get features such as

  1. Web application firewall that identifies and blocks malicious traffic.
  2. It has a scanner that blocks requests that include malicious code or content
  3. Limiting login attempts to protect from brute force attacks
  4. Malware scanner to scan all the core files, plugins, and themes for malware.
  5. Repairing files that have been changed and overwriting them with the original.
  6. Two-factor authentication
  7. Login Captcha
  8. Block logins for compromised passwords
  9. Blocking attackers by IP or IP ranges
  10. It can also check if your IP has been blocked or blacklisted for malicious activity, generating spam or other security-related issues.

Also, this plugin has both the free and premium versions available. To download the free Wordfence plugin click here

What about regular updates

When we talk about regular updates, it includes

  1. Core update
  2. Theme updates
  3. Plugin updates

And you have to manage these updates on a regular basis. To check if an update is available, you can navigate to the update tab in your WordPress dashboard and update accordingly.

Now here are a few things to keep in mind

  1. Backup your data before performing an update.
  2. Always keep your core, themes, and plugins up to date.
  3. Never use a plugin or a theme that is not compatible with your version of WordPress or hasn’t been updated in a long time.

How can you backup data in WordPress.org

Whenever you start a WordPress site, the first thing on the list of recommendations is a backup plugin.

Some hosting providers also provide the feature of regular backups. In case this facility is not provided by your hosting provider you can use a plugin.

It is very necessary to use one because while you are making changes or updating your site if things do not go as per plan, you always have a working back to go back to.

To back up your data in WordPress you can use the UpdraftPlus plugin. This plugin has both the free and premium versions. The plugin is very easy to use and is recommended by us.

Here are some features of the plugin.

  1. It has an easy to use interface. You can use and configure the plugin easily even if you are starting out and have little to no technical experience.
  2.  With a single click of a button, you can perform the backup and restore functions.
  3. UpdraftPlus is proven to back up any site regardless of its size.
  4. It gives you the option to schedule complete backups manually or on an hourly, daily, weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis.
  5. You can store your backups on remote locations as well.
  6. It also allows you to encrypt the database backups for security.
  7. It is compatible with multisite installs. This means you can back up several sites from a single dashboard.

To download the UpdraftPlus Plugin from the link below

 

Having said that, it may seem these steps involve too much work. But actually executing these steps is very straightforward. Once configured you don’t have to think about this much.

Which is better for branding- WordPress.org or WordPress.com

Branding is a process that a business has to undergo to create a unique place for itself and it’s products in the market. This is how the users will distinguish your business from your competitors.

Similarly, when it comes to online branding you want your website/ brand to stand out.

When you create a website on WordPress.com using the free plan, you get a free subdomain as the URL of your site which looks something similar to

https://www.brandname.wordpress.com

The problem here is your name is associated with WordPress and it can give the impression to your visitors that your business is somewhat related to WordPress.

And when in reality it is not. This can negatively impact your brand.

Also, in the free plan, you will find WordPress.com ads being placed on your site and you are not paid for these ads. Think about a scenario where you land on a site and ads have no relation to the content. Again puts you under the negative light.

To remove these ads you have to opt for the Personal plan.

Here is another thing, in WordPress.com sites, the footer credit is by default set to blog at WordPress.com and this can only be changed or removed if you upgrade to a business plan.

footer branding wordpress.com

On the contrary, there is no such ad placement in WordPress.org websites. You can also easily change or remove the footer credit.

footer branding wordpress.org

As far as the URL of your site is concerned, it is personalized to your brand as you are using a custom domain name from the start.

WordPress.org is better for you if you want to establish your name in the market. It gives you the liberty to brand yourself the way you want.

Marketing and SEO- WordPress.org vs WordPress.com

One of the most important and go-to technique for generating traffic is SEO.

SEO is also known as search engine optimization and it helps in generating traffic from the search engines. It is a fact that everyone wants traffic from the search engines and it is one of the best sources of traffic.

Both the platforms WordPress.com and WordPress.org are very SEO friendly. However, when it comes to the process, they are very different.

When we talk about WordPress.com, most of the SEO related elements are taken care of by the platform. Also, all the themes are optimized for search engines which makes it easier for search engine bots to crawl and find the content on the website.

WordPress.com has built-in Jetpack functionality due to which the sitemap is automatically generated in every website. This also helps search engines know whenever the site is updated.

WordPress.com also allows you to add features such as

  1. Adding an email signup form
  2. Incorporating WordPress.com follow button
  3. Embedding feeds from various social media platforms
  4. Adding like and social share buttons so that users can like and share the content.
  5. Show related content after posts

All these features are available on the free plan which is great.

WordPress.com also gives you the features where you can verify your website on

  1. Googles Search engine console
  2. Bing Webmaster
  3. Pinterest
  4. Yandex Webmaster

site verification service wordpress.com

Performing this step is very essential as this will give you access to in-depth information related to traffic using the built-in stats.

If you want to dive deeper into the analytics then you need tools such as Google analytics. To install Google analytics in WordPress.com you need the Business plan.

google analytics wordpress.com

Now, here is one of my biggest concerns with WordPress.com when it comes to SEO. If you are using the free plan, you already know you get a free subdomain. The problem with the subdomain is that it doesn’t rank that well on the search engines.

Also, if in future you want to use a custom domain name, you will lose all the progress that you have made on the subdomain. It is like doing everything from scratch again.

wordpress.com marketing

It is important to keep in mind the core software is the same in both WordPress hosted and WordPress self-hosted and it is SEO friendly. However, there are certain SEO elements that you have no control over in WordPress.com.

Moving forward, with WordPress.org you get more control and options when it comes to SEO. You can install plugins such as Yoast or Rankmath to help you improve the SEO of your site. Also, you can use tools such as Google Analytics to keep an eye on the detailed insights related to traffic.

Recommended read – Quick SEO tips to rank higher on search engines

In case you want to see the analytics in the dashboard, you can easily do it with the help of a plugin called Analytify.

Another benefit of WordPress.org is that you are using a custom domain name from the beginning. It gives you an edge over the website using subdomains.

Like in WordPress.com, regular visitors can follow or subscribe to your blog. Similarly, in WordPress.org you can set up

  1. Email Opt-ins
  2. Push notifications
  3. Messenger campaigns

and using these visitors can follow your blog and stay updated.

As far as social media sharing is concerned, there are quite a lot of plugins available that you can install so that users can share your content.

Nowadays, there are ample of premium themes available that come integrated with social media sharing buttons. With WordPress.org, you get access to very detailed insights that will help you increase the visibility and reach of your site.

Can you monetize a WordPress.com website

When it comes to monetizing a website, there are a few different ways to do it. Some of them are

  1. E-commerce
  2. Sponsored posts
  3. Affiliate marketing
  4. Using networks such as Adsense, Media.net

As you already know if you are using WordPress.com free plan, there are ads displayed on your website which you can’t remove until you upgrade.

Think about creating a basic site for selling your services and seeing ads from other brands being displayed on it. This puts your brand under negative light and on top of that, you are not being paid for those ads.

With that said, if you are looking to monetize your website using sponsored posts and affiliate links. You can do that on WordPress.com. But keep in mind it is stated clearly stated in the terms and conditions “the primary purpose of the website is to create original content and not just to drive traffic to affiliate links.”

The same goes for the sponsored posts as WordPress.com does not allow websites where the majority of the content is sponsored.

If you want to monetize your website using WordPress WordAds, you have to at least opt for the Premium plan or have moderate to high traffic and appropriate content if you are using the Free or Personal plan.

monetization wordpress.com

In case you want to go for third-party ad networks such as Google Adsense, Open X, Buy Sell ads or any other network, then you have to upgrade to the Business plan.

Note- Site with the Premium plan or below can run Wordads but cannot self manage the network

As mentioned above you can also create an e-commerce store on WordPress.com by selecting the E-commerce plan. In this plan, you get access to features such as

  1. Built-in payment processing
  2. Access to shipping carriers like UPS
  3. Selling unlimited products
  4. Access to marketing tools
  5. Premium store themes

All of these features come with a hefty price tag which is nearly double the price of the Business plan.

advanced ecommerce features wordpress.com

The gist of the story is WordPress.com is pretty expensive. If you are just starting out it doesn’t make sense investing that amount of money.

Also, there is an unknown limit on how many sponsored posts or affiliate links that can be included. And when you don’t know how many can be too many, it can adversely impact the income.

It takes an effort to generate traffic to your website and sell products and services. It is always recommended to look for solutions that are affordable and worth the investment.

Having said that, if you want to monetize your WordPress.org website, you have the full freedom. There are no restrictions on the number of affiliate links and sponsored posts.

You can also create an online store if you want to sell products. Also, you can join any third-party ad networks such as Adsense, Media.net or any other network.

However, before placing the ads on your website, keep in mind the user experience and never overwhelm the users with too many ads.

Who owns the website and the content- WordPress.com vs WordPress.org

As silly as it may sound, but this is a very realistic query and you much know what happens to your website and content if your site is closed someday under unforeseen circumstances.

Creating content and building an online presence takes time and hard work.

As mentioned before, WordPress.com is a for-profit company. When you create a website on this platform you agree to the terms and conditions which clearly state ” By submitting Content to Automattic for inclusion on your website, you grant Automattic a world-wide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, modify, adapt, and publish the Content solely for the purpose of displaying, distributing, and promoting your website.”

It also states “We may terminate your access to all or any part of our Services at any time, with or without cause, with or without notice, effective immediately.”

Now, this sounds scary.

Think about a situation where you have put in countless hours of work and one day you wake up in the morning and all your hard work is gone. And the worst part is you don’t know the exact reason.

With a WordPress.org site, things are completely different, you own everything including the site and the content. It gives you all the control you want. You can post what you want, make changes, place ads, write sponsored content or essentially do anything you want.

With WordPress.org, you control and own everything.

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org- Which is better

Both WordPress.com and WordPress.org have their own set of pros and cons. It completely depends on your requirements which platform is good for you.

If you want to have a blog or a website for personal use and there is no commercial interest then you should go for WordPress.com. It gives you all the basic features you need for a personal website at no cost.

On the other hand, if the purpose of the website is making money, then the better option for you is WordPress.org. In this scenario, we will not recommend picking WordPress.com because if you go for the free plan you end up with a subdomain that looks completely unprofessional and if you opt for the paid plans, you do not get enough features and functions when compared to WordPress.org.

However, if you are not comfortable with the technical aspects of running a website, then opt for a plan that fits your requirement and later make the change to WordPress.org when comfortable.

If you ask us which one is better- WordPress.com or WordPress.org, WordPress.com is definitely good for personal blogging and websites where there is no commercial intent. But if you want to turn your website into business definitely go for WordPress.org. It is the go-to platform for professionals.

Can you move your website from WordPress.com to WordPress.org

Often many users, in the beginning, think WordPress.com and WordPress.org are the same platforms as the names are same and WordPress.com has a free plan and WordPress.org is free software.

They do not know the difference between the two platforms and the limitations.

Due to these reasons, they end up creating a website on WordPress.com and later on want to switch. Now making the move from WordPress.com to WordPress.org is possible and it involves a few steps.

  1. To make the move first thing you need to do is buy a domain name and hosting. We recommend buying hosting from Bluehost/ Siteground.
  2. The next step in the process is installing WordPress on your web hosting. Installing WordPress is a simple process as most hosting providers have the 1 click install feature.
  3. Now, you have to export your content from WordPress.com. All you have to do is go to your WordPress.com dashboard head over to settings >> Export. You will get an XML file, keep it safe.
  4. Once you have the file, go to WordPress.org dashboard and import the file via the importer plugin. In this step, you have to install the plugin and upload the XML file that you have downloaded and click upload and import.
  5. The last step is to change the visibility setting of the WordPress.com blog to private and redirect the visitors to the new WordPress.org site.

How can you start a WordPress blog

Now that you have figured out the difference between the two and have made the decision to start a website or a blog using WordPress.org.

The first requirement is a domain name and web hosting. We recommend using Bluehost or Siteground. Both these hosting companies provide top-notch service when it comes to hosting and are also on the WordPress.org’s list of recommended hosting providers.

For further step by step process, you can check this detailed tutorial- How to start a WordPress blog with Bluehost

Using this guide you will be able to set up your blog in 15-20 mins.

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org- The Difference (Infographic)

wordpress.com vs wordpress.org detailed comaprison

I hope you find this article helps you select the right platform for your website. If you have any queries feel free to contact us via the comment section. Also, don’t forget to share this article with your friends on social media and subscribe to our newsletter to receive updates delivered straight to your inbox.

GeekyPlug
Tags : Beginner's GuideComparison
Jasmeet Singh

The author Jasmeet Singh

Jasmeet Singh is the Blogging El Jefe at GeekyPlug. Started his career as a BPO employee and now is a full-time blogger and writes how-to guides and his personal experiences related to blogging. In his spare time, he likes to read books, listen to podcasts and play video games.

11 Comments

      1. Thanks for explaining these differences so that folks looking to start a blog or website can compare the two. It’s confusing for those just starting out and I think they’ll find this article very useful!

  1. This was incredibly thorough! I wish I had stumbled upon this when deciding which I was going to use for my site. I love that you provided so many details that we need to consider when making this important choice! Great job.

  2. Finally a post that explains it clearly! Thanks so much for sharing as I’ve been struggling to understand this for a long time.

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