WordPress.com vs WordPress.org: 3 Big Differences and Which to Choose

May 24, 2022

Did you know there are two versions of WordPress? Not only that, WordPress.com and WordPress.org are more different than you might think. Many new users don’t know the difference, which leads them to make the wrong choice. If you’re a prospective or current WordPress user, it’s crucial you know if you’re using the right platform for you.

Magnifying glass depicting a closer look at WordPress

Before we dive into key differences, let’s get our definitions straight.

WordPress.com is a service where you can build your website by using WordPress software. It’s owned by a company called Automattic.

WordPress.org is actually the software itself. It’s owned by WordPress. This means you can use it to develop and design a website all on your own.

Now, let’s talk about what sets these two platforms apart.
 

Website Hosting

 

WordPress.com

 
With WordPress.com, WordPress experts manage your website. The benefit of this is that you won’t have to worry about maintaining updates or plugins for your site. However, you’ll be severely limited in your site’s development and design.

You won’t have to pay for a domain name, but you’ll have a domain that’s a WordPress.com sub-domain. So, “WordPress” will appear in your website address, which detracts from branding. You can pay to exclude “WordPress” from your name, but it’ll cost an extra fee.

Consider renting a house as an analogy to using WordPress.com. You can’t paint your walls or redo your kitchen the way you want, but someone else takes care of house updates or issues.
 

WordPress.org

 
WordPress.org differs because it’s self-hosted, so you’re responsible for site maintenance. You’ll have to buy a domain name (which only costs about $15 a year), but it will be YOUR name. It won’t say “WordPress” in it, because it completely belongs to you. As the website owner, you’ll have to take care of backups and updates. Fortunately, there are plugins and services that can assist you.

Let’s go back to our house analogy. As a WordPress.org user, you own the house. You’re responsible for the upkeep, but at the same time, you have total control over everything. You can customize every room in your house if you want to! You also benefit from the increasing value of the house.

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Monetizing

 

WordPress.com

 
WordPress.com has very few options for monetizing content on your website. You’re not allowed to run your own ads on your site which limits ways you can make money. At best, you can put some affiliate links up. Also, if you’re using a free WordPress.com site, ads will appear on your website that you don’t get to select and won’t make any money from.
 

WordPress.org

 
With WordPress.org, you control your content management system. As a result, you have unlimited options for monetizing content. This means that you can make money from your website when you run your own ads, and you won’t have to share the revenue.
 

Website Tracking

 
What’s the point of creating a website if you can’t measure its success?
 

WordPress.com

 
You can’t install any helpful tracking platforms that let you determine how your site’s doing. You’re restricted to the stats only provided by WordPress. This makes it difficult to come up with a marketing plan for your content or reach SEO goals.
 

WordPress.org

 
You can use custom tracking for your site by choosing from a wide range of powerful analytic tools. One of which is Google Analytics, which helps you understand user behavior and provides regular data reports.

 
In sum, there’s a reason why WordPress.org has earned the nickname “the real WordPress”. It gives you the freedom to create and manage a website on your own. Remember, with WordPress.org you own your house!

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Ash Webb

Marketing Assistant

Brand Development, Copywriting & Targeted Messaging

Ash is our marketing assistant from Minneapolis, Minnesota. She has always been passionate about helping others in creative ways. Ash focuses on assisting our clients with developing the voice and messaging of their brand.

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