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

If you’re looking for the right place to set up your blog, then this article has got you covered!

We’re going to walk you through your options, cover the pros and cons of hosting, and explain the difference between WordPress .com and WordPress .org. So that you can make the best decision possible for your blog.

 

Let’s get to it!

 

THE FOUNDATION

 

First, you have to think about your blogging goals and what you truly want to accomplish after setting up your blog.

 

If your blog is just a hobby that is not all that important to you, then you can throw all the rules and suggestions out the window. But if your blogging goals include growing an audience or making money, then you’ll need to do a few foundational things that will set you up for success.

 

Some of these foundational things include choosing the right platform for your blog and choosing a good website host.

 

WHAT IS A WEBSITE HOST?

 

Every website needs a place to live online. For the sake of this article, we’re going to think of your website like a house. Every house must be built on a plot of land, right?

 

Well, your website HOST is essentially the virtual plot of land where your blog is going to live.

 

A website host 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 visible to people online.

 

In other words, you need a website host in order to have a blog.

 

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 website developer either, so we’ll be talking in layman’s terms here today.

 

HOSTED WEBSITES

 

These are websites 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 use 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.

 

Remember, your host is like the plot of LAND and your website is like the HOUSE that we build on that land.

 

With hosted websites, the host owns the land and owns the house – you just get to live in it.

 

Since they own the land and the house, there are some limitations and restrictions for you.

 

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 of Use 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 for any reason 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.

 

Let’s go back to that illustration of the house for a second: think of your blog content like the furniture in your house. If you want to leave your hosted platform, you can take your furniture with you, but you can’t take the house.

 

You’ll have to rebuild EVERYTHING when you move to your new plot of land.

 

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).

 

They just pay a hosting 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 allllll yours. The house belongs to YOU. You build it how you want it and you can move it around from any host company that you want. As you grow, you might need to switch to a more robust hosting company, so this is important for most bloggers.

 

If you build your website on a self-hosted platform using software like WordPress .org, you will be able to do anything you want with your website and maintain 100% ownership of it.

 

WHAT HOST SHOULD YOU CHOOSE?

 

Ohhhh, the controversy of hosting options.

 

If you spend any time in Facebook groups, you’ll hear so many conflicting opinions about hosting.

 

“This company is the best, this other company sucks.”

 

“Don’t EVER use company X for your website hosting, they are the worst!”

 

“I have used company X for many years and have never had a problem with them.”

 

The bottom line: there is no one perfect website host for everyone. They all have their good points and their bad points. They all have happy customers and those customers that had a terrible experience.

 

Hosting is one area that we have to rely on the specialists to tell us which one is best (because the non-techie person that has limited experience with hosting will not know which option to choose).

 

Here are the top two hosts that my tech guy recommends:

 

Siteground – great for beginners, great customer service, and one of the best hosts out there (this is also the host that I have used for my blog for 5 years, so I’m a bit biased to them). I do have had 100% uptime on my site for the entire 5 years, so I’m very pleased with that!

 

NameHero – also great for beginners, great customer service, and supposedly one of the fastest shared hosting options (I personally have no idea if this is true, I’m just the messenger passing along what my tech guy said).

 

A third option, for those that prefer to pay monthly:

 

Lyrical Host – monthly payment options, great customer service, and monthly bonus tools + resources to help you grow your blog.

 

Note: Lyrical Host servers are located in the UK, and as such, some people (including my tech guy) will say that the load times will be slower if you use them. With that said, I do know the company owner and have discussed this at length with her.

They have many happy customers and their servers are faster than some other US-based companies like Bluehost, so they are worth consideration, in my opinion.

 

If you’re a newer blogger with traffic under 25,000 monthly page views, I would not choose any host outside of these three options.

 

To check your website traffic, you’ll need to install Google Analytics on your site after getting set up.

 

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WORDPRESS .COM AND WORDPRESS .ORG

 

Based on everything we just talked about, you might already know that WordPress .com and WordPress .org are two different things. But just in case it isn’t clear, let’s clarify that. We’re going to focus on these two because they are the most popular options for most bloggers.

 

WordPress .com is a hosting platform. It’s one of those all-in-one platforms we talked about earlier – they own the land and the house, your blog just gets to “live there”.

 

It’s an okay platform if you’re just interested in setting up a hobby blog and you don’t really NEED to customize your site, monetize, or grow an audience.

 

Prime example: if you want to use plugins, you’ll have to upgrade to their business plan, and that option is more expensive than a self-hosted website. It’s more expensive, more restrictive, and it doesn’t belong to you.

 

If you take nothing else away from this article, take this away: DO NOT upgrade to a WordPress business plan (or premium plan, or whatever they’re calling it these days). It isn’t worth it.

 

On the other hand, WordPress .org is the free open source software that allows you to build and OWN your website. You own the “house” and WordPress .org provides the tools you need to make that house beautiful and functional.

 

Here are a few of the benefits of using WordPress .org.

 

It’s 100% FREE with your hosting service

It’s fully customizable, anything you can imagine is possible on your website

It allows you to monetize your blog to the fullest extent, no restrictions

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.

 

Bottom line: if you want a successful blog that makes a lot of money, save yourself from hassle and headaches, and set up on a self-hosted platform using WordPress .org.

 

BACK TO HOSTING

 

Alrighty. Now we know that using a self-hosted WordPress .org website is the best foundation for monetizing your blog.

 

You’ll have full ownership and full control, which is super important! 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 somewhere to live online, a host.

 

This is where our hosting company comes in. Remember the best options, in my opinion, are: Siteground, NameHero, or Lyrical Host.

 

I personally use Siteground.

 

Here are few perks of hosting with them:

 

Their servers are up and running 99.99% of the time! This means your site will probably never experience downtime (mine has had a 100% uptime rate for 5 years).

 

They have a 3-step setup process that is insanely easy to use. You can 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. It’s a small and worthy investment for your own self-hosted website. Save even more with this little trick!

 

And most importantly, they have great customer service, which will become important as you venture into various blogging efforts. You get 24/7 support, a quick and easy Live Chat option, and absolutely no wait time when you call their customer support line. Highly recommend!

 

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

 

Ready to build that house for your blog?

 

I know you are!

 

Remember, the host is the plot of land for your house (and we all need it). WordPress .org is the software we use to build our website (our house). And after that part is setup, we can get to work on adding the furniture and décor. The fun stuff like themes, plugins, and blog posts.

 

If you want to make money from your blog, you need to know the difference between WordPress .com and WordPress .org, and you need to make the right decision between them.

 

Hint: the right decision is WordPress .org.

 

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

 

Don’t waste your time.

 

Once you’re setup on your own self-hosted platform, you’ll be ready to start writing some kick-booty content for your blog readers. Here’s how to write fun and engaging blog posts that your readers will love.

 

If you enjoyed this article, be sure to pin it to Pinterest for later!

white desk with laptop and pink flowers, text overlay that says wordpress.com vs wordpress.org

13 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 😊

  5. Lucy Wanjeri Kariuki

    January 24, 2019 at 1:30 pm

    That was very enlightening. I am currently on WordPress.com and feel that I should now migrate to WordPress.org.

  6. Ashley

    February 17, 2020 at 7:57 pm

    Great post, Cate! I think this is super in-depth and will be so helpful to new bloggers. I can remember when I first started out, this was a huge question for me. I am SO thankful I went with self-hosted from the beginning!

    Make Life Marvelous

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