What is the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org

A new user has two options for starting a WordPress site: WordPress.com and WordPress.org. While both of these offer the popular WordPress site building and content management system, there is a difference—and knowing those differences can help you make the right choice for your new website and WordPress hosting needs.

The differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org arise from the differences between hosted and self-hosted websites, so choosing between them largely depends on the level of control a user wants over the design and management of their site.

Self-Hosted and Hosted Sites

Self-hosting means that a user has full access to all the site files and code and can deploy them in any way they like. A self-hosted site has its own domain name and is hosted by one of a number of web hosting providers who make server space available for self-hosted sites of all kinds. Owners of self-hosted sites are free to make changes to the site files in order to customize the website and add any needed functions.

A hosted site uses web space provided by a hosting company, and it can be a full-service solution for those who want to publish a site easily and quickly, without dealing with design, ongoing site maintenance, or other technical issues. WordPress.com is a hosted platform that runs on the very popular WordPress software, but WordPress.org simply makes the WordPress site package available for download and use in self-hosting as the user chooses.

WordPress.com: A Hosted Alternative for Easy Use

WordPress.com provides all the tools for a hosted WordPress site. It offers users a WordPress platform for getting a site up and running with no coding expertise needed, and WordPress.com takes care of all the ongoing management of the site. At its simplest level, all users need to do is to sign up for a free account, pick a theme, and start publishing. This makes WordPress.com a popular choice for students, bloggers, and creatives who don’t have a need—or have an interest in—the full range of customization options offered by WordPress.org.

WordPress.com offers multiple plans starting with the basic free account. For more services and options such as adding a custom theme, users can move up to paid plans that include Personal, Premium, and Business. Each of these paid plans allows for greater customization and control over the site’s operations so that it more closely resembles a self-hosted WordPress site.

But the convenience and ease of use that makes a WordPress.com site so appealing also have their drawbacks. Unless a user upgrades to a paid plan that includes a custom domain name, a WordPress.com site will always have the extension “WordPress.com,” in the site name—a sure sign that you’re using a hosted site. A domain name that includes the host provider in that way can signal a personal site or blog, not a professional site dedicated to doing business or offering a service.

WordPress.org Benefits

With WordPress.org, you have full control of your website. You are free to do anything you want and customize it as much as you need. 

Here are some of the benefits of choosing WordPress.org to build your website, and the reason why it is our #1 pick for the best website builder.

§  The WordPress software is free, open-source, and super easy to use. (See why is WordPress free?)

§  You own your website and all its data. 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 full control.

§  You can add free, paid, and custom WordPress plugins / apps to your website.

§  You can use customize your website design as needed. You can add any free or premium WordPress theme that you want. You can also create completely custom designs or modify anything that you want.

§  You can actually make money from your WordPress site by running your own ads without sharing revenue with anyone.

§  You can use powerful tools like Google Analytics for custom analytics and tracking.

§  You can use self-hosted WordPress to create an online store to sell digital or physical products, accept credit card payments, and deliver / ship the goods directly from your website.

§  You can also create membership sites and sell memberships for premium content, courses, etc and build an online community around your website.

WordPress.org Cons

There are a very few cons of using the self-hosted WordPress.org site.

§  Like all websites, you will need web hosting. This is where your website files are stored on the internet. Initially, the cost is around $3-$10 per month. However as your website grows and gets more traffic, the web hosting costs will increase as expected, but then you would be making enough money to cover the costs.

§  You are responsible for updates. You can easily update your WordPress site by simply clicking on the update button (1-click), so it’s not too much work.

§  You are responsible for backups. Thankfully, there are tons of WordPress backup plugins that let you setup automatic backups.

The real cost of WordPress.org website varies based on what you are trying to build (simple blog, portfolio website, eCommerce store, membership site, etc). There are also other factors like free templates vs premium templates, free plugins vs premium plugins, etc.

On a low budget, you can build your website for as little as $46 per year. See our guide on how much does it really cost to build a WordPress website for full details.

For 99% of users, our recommendation is always to use WordPress.org. See our guide on how to start a website.


WordPress.com is a hosting service created by the co-founder of WordPress, Matt Mullenweg. Because of the same founder, often users confuse WordPress.com with the popular WordPress.org software.

The WordPress.com hosting service has 5 plans:

§  Free – Very limited.

§  Personal – $48 per year

§  Premium – $96 per year

§  Business – $300 per year

§  Ecommerce – $540 per year

§  VIP – starting at $5000 per month

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of WordPress.com.

WordPress.com Benefits

The free WordPress.com platform is a good choice for hobby bloggers and those starting a blog for their family. Here are some of the benefits of using WordPress.com:

§  It’s free for up to 3GB of space. After that you will have to switch to a paid plan for more space. (Personal plan $48 /year gives you 6GB, Premium plan $96/year gives you 13GB storage, or Business plan for $300/year for 200 GB storage).

§  You will not have to worry about updates or backups. WordPress.com will take care of that.

WordPress.com Cons

There are several limitations of free WordPress.com which differentiate it from WordPress.org. Here are some of the disadvantages of using WordPress.com:

§  They place ads on all free websites. Your users see those ads, and you don’t make money from it. If you don’t want your users to see their ads, then you can upgrade to a paid plan (starting from $48 per year).

§  You are NOT allowed to sell ads on your website, which severely limits ways to monetize your site. If you run a high traffic site, then you can apply for their advertising program called WordAds where you share revenue with them. Premium and Business plan users can use WordAds right away.

§  You cannot upload plugins. Free plan users get built-in Jetpack features pre-activated. Business plan users can install from a selection of compatible plugins ($300 / year). WordPress.com VIP program lets you install plugins, and it starts from $5000 per month.

§  You cannot upload custom themes. Free plan users can only install from the limited free themes collection. Premium and business plan users can also select premium themes. There are limited customization options for the free version. Premium and Business plan users can use custom CSS.

§  You are restricted to their stats. You cannot add Google Analytics or install any other powerful tracking platform. Business plan users can install Google Analytics.

§  Free WordPress.com websites come with a WordPress.com branded domain (e.g. https://yourwebsite.wordpress.com). You’ll need a paid plan to get a custom domain name (e.g https://www.yourwebsite.com).

§  They can delete your site at any time if they think that it violates their terms of service.

§  Your site will display a powered by WordPress.com link. It can be removed by upgrading to the Business plan.

§  WordPress.com does not offer any eCommerce features or integrated payment gateways unless you switch to the eCommerce plan.

§  You cannot build membership websites with WordPress.com.

As you can see, the WordPress.com hosting platform is quite limited when you’re on the free, personal, or even premium plan. To unlock some of the more advanced features, you have to be on the Business plan ($300 per year) or on the VIP plan ($5000 per month).

Our hope is that you found this article helpful in understanding the differences between WordPress.org and WordPress.com.

We wish you all the best with your website and hope that you chose the right platform: WordPress.org.
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