The Difference Between WordPress .com and WordPress .org – Which One Is Right For Your Blog?

If you’re looking for the right blogging platform to set up your blog, then you’ve come to the right place. Today, I’m going to walk you through the various options that you have for your website platform, the pros and cons of each option, and my own personal experience with WordPress .com and WordPress .org.

You already know that choosing the right tools for your blog is crucial for your success, so I’m going to do my best to share some insight that will help you to make the best decision possible.

THE FOUNDATION

When I started my hobby blog back in 2015, I started on the free WordPress .com platform. At the time, I was just looking for a free and easy way to start a blog. I had no idea which option would be best for making money and growing my business.

I just wanted to write.

There is nothing wrong with using a free platform when you’re just starting out with a hobby blog. But most of us want more than a hobby blog: we want to turn our blogs into real businesses that make a lot of money. And if that’s your goal, you need to use the right tools to make it happen.

I learned quickly.

If you want to make money from your blog and run a successful business online, you need to set yourself up for success from the very start. This includes choosing the right foundation for your blogging website.

How to set up your blog the right way | should you use wordpress.com or wordpress.org?? Pros and cons for bloggers that use WordPress, Wix, Blogger, and Squarespace

This post probably contains affiliate links. These links don’t cost you anything but they allow me to update this site regularly and provide free content for my readers to enjoy. You can see my full disclosure here. 

WHAT IS A WEBSITE HOST?

Every website needs a house, the actual place where it sits on the internet. The foundation of your blogging business will be your website and your website host.

What is a website host?

A host is a company that provides everything you need to store your website on the internet. They host your website on their computer servers, and they make sure that it’s accessible to people online. Many people refer to a website host as the house where your website lives. Your domain name is the address where your website lives. Every website needs a house and an address.

So, in my personal case, the house where my website lives is Siteground (my host), and the address where my website lives is SweetandSimpleLife.com (my domain name).

There are many different website hosts to choose from, but they all fall into two main categories: hosted and self-hosted platforms.

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HOSTED AND SELF-HOSTED PLATFORMS

Let’s talk about the difference between a “hosted” and a “self-hosted” website.

This gets a little techie, but I’m going to do my best to keep it simple. I’m not a web developer, so we’ll be talking in layman’s terms here today.

HOSTED WEBSITES

These are just sites where the host company provides the software to build your site and also hosts it for you. This can be considered an “all in one” option for bloggers who want to use a certain host and the software that they provide. As such, it’s a pretty straight forward and simple way of setting up a blog.

Examples of hosted website platforms are Wix, Blogger, Squarespace, and WordPress .com. The host company provides the software for you to set up your site, and they also host your site for you on their servers. It’s all done in the same place.

With that said, there are limitations and restrictions when you take this route.

The host has full control of the software you’re using, the website builder, your monetization options, and indexing in search engines. In a sense, you are at the mercy of their company and their Terms of Use when it comes to running your website.

If you read the Terms closely, you will find that most of these companies reserve the right to modify, delete, or share your content at their discretion.

They also have full control of the software that you’re using to build your site on their platform.

That’s right… When your blog sits on a hosted platform like Wix, Blogger, or WordPress .com, you don’t own your website, they do. And if you’re unhappy with your host and want to move elsewhere, you have to rebuild your site from scratch.

Your written content is still yours, of course, but you don’t own the website you’ve built on that hosted platform and you can’t take it with you when you go. In other words, when you switch to a different platform, your site won’t look like it does on your hosted platform. You’ll have to rebuild EVERYTHING.

SELF-HOSTED WEBSITES

A self-hosted website is one that a person can build by their own “self”, using the software they choose (software like WordPress.org). Then they just pay a host company to store their site on their servers. The host is what allows your website to be visible online, but the website itself belongs to YOU!

Yes, a self-hosted website is all yours. You build it how you want and you can move it around from any host company that you want.

If you build your website on a self-hosted website using WordPress .org, you will never outgrow your hosting company, your blogging platform, or the software you’re using. It’s 100% customizable and you can do pretty much anything you want with your website. The sky is the limit.

Examples of self-hosted website platforms are Siteground and Lyrical Host. These are the host companies that give your website a house, their own place to live on the internet.

WORDPRESS .COM AND WORDPRESS .ORG

Based on everything we just talked about, you probably already know that WordPress .com and WordPress .org are two different things.

WordPress .com is a hosting platform.

And it’s an okay platform if you’re just interested in setting up a hobby blog and you don’t really NEED to customize or monetize your site. Prime example: if you want to use plugins, you’ll have to upgrade to their business plan, and that’s way more expensive than a self-hosted website. It’s more expensive, more restrictive, and it doesn’t belong to you.

On the other hand, WordPress.org is the free software that allows you to build and OWN your website. Here are a few of the benefits of using WordPress .org.

  • It’s 100% FREE 
  • It’s fully customizable 
  • It allows you to monetize your blog to the fullest extent 
  • It gives you access to thousands of plugins to improve your website and help you make more money 
  • The vast majority of online businesses use WordPress.org (for good reason)!

Hosted website platforms (like WordPress .com and Wix) have limitations that WordPress .org just doesn’t have. This includes the inability to enable rich pins for Pinterest, and the inability to download super useful plugins like Yoast SEO.

BACK TO HOSTING

Using a self-hosted WordPress .org website is the best foundation for monetizing your blog.

It will save you a ton of time and hassle in the future…because you have full ownership and full control! Every business owner wants to own their business and have the ability to do whatever they want with that business. WordPress.org makes that possible. 

Anyone can download and use this free software to build their website and manage their content. But if we take a step back to the intro of this article, you’ll remember that your website needs a house, a host.

This is where Siteground comes in. Siteground is the best web hosting provider on the market today, and they have taken excellent care of me and my blog for many years now.

Web Hosting

Here are some of perks of getting your hosting through Siteground:

  • Their servers are up and running 99.99% of the time! This means your site will probably never experience even a minute of downtime. 
  • They have a 3-step setup process that is insanely easy to use. You can seriously set up your hosting within minutes. And the WordPress .org auto-installer allows you to set up your actual website in a few easy clicks as well. 
  • On the Grow Big plan, they offer free website transfer if your blog is currently on a different platform. Siteground does everything for you, so you don’t even have to stress. I used their free migration when I moved from my free WordPress .com website over to my self-hosted website. 
  • The cost is just $3.95/per month. Such a small investment for your own self-hosted website. Save even more with this little trick! 
  • And most importantly, they have the best customer service in the business. You get 24/7 support, a quick and easy Live Chat option, and absolutely no wait time when you call their customer support line.

WRAPPING IT ALL UP

I highly recommend choosing a self-hosted website with Siteground and WordPress .org for your blog. If you need a step-by-step tutorial, here’s my guide with pictures included!

It’s the best way to customize, monetize, and grow your blogging business. You can start on another platform, but you will eventually outgrow them and have to deal with the hassle of switching and losing your website design.

Don’t even waste your time.

It’s a small annual investment to choose a self-hosted website, and you will never outgrow it.

I hope this article has been helpful! If you enjoyed these tips, please share this post on Pinterest!

wordpress.com vs. wordpress.org, which one is better for your blog?

Which is better? WordPress.com or wordpress.org

11 Comments

  1. Jess

    May 16, 2018 at 2:57 pm

    Great post! I made the switch a couple months ago from wordpress.com to .org and I love it!

    1. Cate

      May 16, 2018 at 11:16 pm

      Awesome, you’ll be so glad you did!

  2. Jessica

    June 9, 2018 at 7:28 pm

    Im so happy you shared this! Looks like I need to switch!

    1. Cate

      June 11, 2018 at 9:14 pm

      WordPress .org has a little learning curve but it’s worth it!

  3. Thatsmeonline

    June 12, 2018 at 10:25 am

    Hello Cate!
    I joined your Facebook group which is how I came across your blog. I’ve built up a rather big audience on Instagram (10k+ followers) but I’m fairly new in the blogging business. I just wanted to let you know that I find your articles really helpful and I want to thank you for that!
    Keep up the great work!

    Best,
    Claudia
    http://thatsmeonline.net

    1. Cate

      June 12, 2018 at 4:54 pm

      Thank you so much, that means a lot to me! 🙂

  4. Rhonda Fore

    December 16, 2018 at 11:53 am

    Long story short, I’ve had a self hosted site at godaddy.com in which I’ve spent a lot of time on all for it get lost because godaddy did not secure my website. I would have had to rebuild it all over again and I just don’t have the time. Lots of time and money wasted. Godaddy have been having some bad reviews. I’m not the only one this has happened to. Fortunately, I was able to keep my domain name and email, so I transferred my .com domain to my free WordPress.com site just to at least have a website. I want to do affiliate marketing (I’m signed up to 3)but with these articles about free vs selfhosted I need to re sign up for self hosted. The prices seem to start off low but increase that’s another issue for I am financially challenged right now. I absolutely don’t know what to do. I want to start over and start the new year right.

    1. Cate

      December 17, 2018 at 9:57 pm

      Being self-hosted is ideal for the long-term, it’s the only way to own your website, and some companies require you to be self-hosted if you work with them (because they want you to have full ownership). With that said, you can still earn money on WordPress .com and you can still do affiliate marketing through most programs. Although I will always recommend self hosting as the ultimate goal, it’s okay to use WordPress .com if that’s all you can do! If you do decide to go with self-hosting, NameCheap, Siteground, and Lyrical Host are all reasonably priced.

      1. Rhonda Fore

        December 20, 2018 at 2:23 am

        I definitely do plan on going for self hosted. Just working and praying asking God to help me get over these financial challenges. I went to reviewed WordPress.com policy about using affiliate links and it said that they can be used as long as you use them with good purpose (ex. useful content) I heard great things about siteground, but the only thing with them is that I couldn’t use my same email address (I spoke with them the other day) and I will definitely check the other ones out and look at all options. Thanks 🙏🏾

        1. Cate

          December 20, 2018 at 3:03 am

          Yes, this is correct. Affiliate links are absolutely allowed on WordPress.com, however, they also have the right to modify or delete your content at anytime, which is the main reason that I don’t really recommend using them for the long term. With that said, you have to start where you are and use what you have, there is nothing wrong with using WordPress.com until you have the means to go self hosted! Best of luck to you 🙂

          1. Rhonda

            December 21, 2018 at 10:16 pm

            Thank you 🙏🏾 I certainly will be coming back. Love your content 😊

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