WordPress.com vs WordPress.org

When starting out as a beginner, this question comes in everyone’s mind. Which one is better? Is it better to pick the Self Hosted WordPress.org, or is it better to go with Free WordPress.com? In this article, we provide you with an infographic that compares WordPress.com vs WordPress.org side by side with list of pros and cons. We also tell you in the end which one is our pick. Click on the image to see the full version of the Infographic.

Note: We have updated this infographic because there was a huge debate about the comparison. The goal of this infographic is to compare Self Hosted WordPress.org vs. FREE WordPress.com*. We were called out by many folks saying, WordPress.com offers CSS upgrades etc. etc. But apparently, we were not clear enough in the title when we said we were comparing to only FREE WordPress.com. This new infographic indicates with a * all the upgrades that are possible. Another reason for the update was that the numbers used in the infographic were outdated.

Self Hosted WordPress.org vs Free WordPress.com

Convinced that you should use WordPress.org now? Want to switch away from WordPress.com? Here is a tutorial on how to properly move your blog from WordPress.com to WordPress.org

If you don’t want to read the infographic, then here it is in the text:

WordPress.org Benefits

  • It’s free and super easy to use.
  • You own your data. You are in full control. Your site will NOT be turned off because someone decides that it is against their terms of service (as long as you are not doing something illegal). You are in control.
  • You can upload and use plugins.
  • You can upload custom themes. Modify theme files (not just styles) if needed.
  • You can make money from it by using your own ads, and doing things your way.
  • Custom Analytics and Tracking

WordPress.org Cons

  • Like any other website, you need a good web hosting. This bits cost you money somewhere from around $3 – $7 per month (as your site grows, your hosting costs will too). But then you would be making enough money to cover the costs :)
  • You are responsible for updates. WordPress upgrades require 1 click (Not too hard eh).
  • You are responsible for backups, but thankfully tons of amazing plugins are out there like BackupBuddy.
  • You are responsible to prevent SPAM, but if you enable Akismet (which comes built-in with WordPress.org), then you won’t have to worry about it.

WordPress.com Benefits

  • It’s free for upto 3GB of space. After that you will have to pay for space ($19.95 per year for 5GB) or ($289.97 per year for 100GB).
  • They make regular backups of your site.

WordPress.com Cons

  • They place ads on all free websites. Did you really think it was free without a catch? If you don’t want your users to see ads, then you can pay them $29.97 per year to keep your site ad-free.
  • You are NOT allowed to sell ads on your site unless you receive 25,000 pageviews per month. In which case, you have to apply to try their feature called Ad control. The approval process doesn’t cost you any money, but you have to split your revenues 50/50 with them *Ouch*
  • You cannot use plugins. Yup WordPress is well known for it’s flexibility due to the plugins. WordPress.com does not allow you to use plugins! If you want to use plugins, then you have to move to their VIP program which starts at $3750 per month. No joke.
  • You cannot use custom themes. Yup, you have to be stuck with their choice of themes which is being used on hundreds of millions of sites. They do offer a “design upgrade” which should really be called CSS upgrade for $30 per year. Meaning, you can change the color of your site. But if you want to add something really custom, you cannot.
  • You are restricted to their analytics. You cannot use custom analytics software because you cannot add custom codes.
  • They can delete your site at anytime if they think it violates their Terms of Service.
  • They will change your theme without your permission if the founder doesn’t like the theme developer (yup it happened).
  • Even if you pay for their upgrades, you still have to tell others that your site is powered on WordPress.com

Which one is for you?

If you are a personal blogger who do not care about making money from their sites, then go with WordPress.com. If you are a blogger trying to make blogging into a career, then you want to use self hosted WordPress.org. Often people will say, self-hosted WordPress will cost you money. For a small enough site, it is actually cheaper.

Let’s say you use WordPress.com, buy their custom domain ($17 per year), pay for ad-free option ($29.97 per year), and get custom design upgrade ($30 per year). That total is $76.97, and you are still not in full control.

For WordPress.org, you can use Bluehost (officially recommended by WordPress) which costs $3.95 per month so $47.4 per year, and it includes a free domain name. If you go with other web hosting companies, then you will pay a similar price, but you won’t get a domain. However, you can get a domain name for $10 from Godaddy or NameCheap. Your total would come to $57.4 per year. You will have full control over everything.

Is one easier to use than the other? Nope. The interface of both are very similar. We have free WordPress video tutorials that will guide you through the whole dashboard.

We always recommend everyone to use WordPress.org, so you are in full control of your site. The final choice is always yours :)

P.S. Here is a tutorial on how to properly move your blog from WordPress.com to WordPress.org

We hoped you like the infograph. If you liked it, make sure you share it on Twitter, Facebook, or any other site that you like (ofcourse with a credits link back to WPBeginner – preferably this article).

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Editorial Staff at WPBeginner is a team of WordPress experts led by Syed Balkhi. Page maintained by Syed Balkhi.

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