WordPress is an open source software and a free blogging platform. WordPress.org is the home of the software while WordPress.com is the hosted service of the software. The difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org causes some confusion for newbie bloggers so one of the frequently asked questions is about the differences between them. What is WordPress.com? What is WordPress.org? What is the difference between the two? Which one should I pick when starting my own blog?
It’s great that many people are interested in blogging as this is perfect timing to start a blog of your own, share your experience and your creativity with the world, connect to like minded people and build friendships and an audience. I encourage you to pick up blogging as it is such a nice way of spending your free time, very productive and very rewarding.
Here is the comparison between WordPress.com and WordPress.org plus all the facts you need to make your decision. It should help you and guide you to the correct decision for your own blogging adventure as it is best to make the correct decision at the start and not need to make some drastic changes later on when your blog is more established as that could negatively impact the work you have done until then in terms of search engine rankings and traffic.
WordPress.com: Basic features for free
WordPress.com utilizes the software which you can download at WordPress.org. On WordPress.com all the basic services of a blog are free: You get URL like myblog.wordpress.com and 3 GBs of space for storing your files and images. WordPress.com has a selection of free designs but it is limited and does not permit uploading of additional design themes and plugins. You cannot edit HTML, PHP code, or content of a theme which makes it difficult to create something unique in the look and feel. FTP access to your site is not included either.
You cannot monetize your WordPress.com blog unfortunately. Adsense, Chitika, TextLinkAds, affiliate links, banners and other ads are not allowed. If you do plan to try making money from your blog WordPress.com is not the place to go. Another negative thing is that WordPress.com displays advertisements on your blog unless you purchase an Ad-free Upgrade which costs $29.97 for a year.
For more advanced users, WordPress.com offers paid upgrades for extra features such as having your own domain name ($17 for a year), having access to customise your CSS design ($30 for a year), additional space for images and other files ($289.97 for a year for 100GB) and possibility to upload your audio and video files.
All in all WordPress.com is a nice place for a beginner blogger but as you can see you won’t have too much flexibility there and you won’t be able to monetize your blog. Your prospects in terms of growing your blog and achieving something more with it are not too good at a hosted service like this. WordPress.org is an alternative solution in that case. Continue reading for more on that alternative.
WordPress.org: Complete control and flexibility
On WordPress.org you download the software, install it on your own domain name and hosting server, and have the complete control and flexibility over your blog. You can install themes and plugins, you can run any ads that you want, you can edit the database and modify different CSS and PHP files and codes. I run all my projects on WordPress.org and so do many of the biggest bloggers.
The brilliant thing about WordPress is the large community of people modifying it and adding on to the software. Open source software thrives on ideas from the community and so does WordPress. You as a WordPress.org blogger gain from the open source community by having access to a large database of free blog design themes and thousands of plugins that can add advanced features and new functionality to your site without you needing to spend a lot of money or having technical and design knowledge. I love WordPress and definitely recommend it for new and more advanced bloggers alike.
Starting on your WordPress.org adventure
WordPress.org must be installed on a web hosting server to work. For the simplest possible install, I recommend using Bluehost as you simply click on 1-button to install WordPress plus get a domain name and hosting for cheap. It literally takes 5 minutes to have your WordPress.org blog up and running, no tech knowledge needed. Watch this video for step-by-step guide on how to install WordPress.org.