wordpress logos

You may hear about “WordPress” a lot these days. Currently, over 30% of all websites are built using the WordPress CMS and the number continues to grow every minute! To make things even more interesting, there are actually 2 versions of WordPress thrown around– WordPress.ORG and WordPress.COM. If you’re confused, don’t worry! It can be a head-scratcher.

The main differences between WordPress.org and WordPress.com essentially boils down to pricing and customization options. Both have their merits and limitations.

We’ll break down the main differences between the two WordPress versions below so that you can determine which option is the best fit for you.

WORDPRESS.ORG

WordPress.org homepage

WordPress.org is the free, open-source self-hosted version of the platform. Anyone can use it and it’s free of charge. You will first need to sign up for a webhosting plan from any number of the multitude of webhosts available online, such as Bluehost*.

We believe that Bluehost is one of the more affordable and reliable hosting options. And, in special partnership with Bluehost, we’re now able to offer folks a wildly low rate of just $2.95/month if you enroll via one of our Bluehost* links! You’ll receive a great hosting package, a free domain, and other helpful tools.

Once you’ve secured webhosting, most webhosts will have a “1 click install” option to install the free WordPress.org platform onto your server. From there, you’re ready to get started building your site!

*Please note that we may include referral links to service providers in our tutorials or guides. Any sign ups we potentially send their way may result in us receiving an affiliate commission. We only ever refer services, companies, or products which we stand behind 100%.

WORDPRESS.COM

WordPress.com homepage

WordPress.com is a service run by the company Automattic which uses the open-source WordPress software. It will host your site for you and offers several plans to sign-up with: Free, Personal, Premium, Business, and eCommerce. Each tier offers various benefits and price points.

View the different WP.com plans here

BREAKDOWN OF MAIN DIFFERENCES BETWEEN WORDPRESS.ORG AND WORDPRESS.COM

WP.COM WP.ORG
COST Offers a “Free” plan. All other plans are paid. Includes webhosting in price, even the “Free” plan Free to use. Only requires you secure webhosting. Webhosts offer hosting plans at many price points.
HOSTING WP.com is your webhost. Hosting service is included in your plan’s cost You must first secure webhosting from a 3rd party of your choosing
DOMAIN “Free” plan includes “wordpress.com” in domain. Paid plans allow custom domain Your choice of custom domain
THEMES Limited to WP.com’s themes. Only “Business” plan allows outside themes Loads of free themes, or, purchase a 3rd party theme for better features & designs
PLUGINS Limited to WP.com plugins. Only “Business” plan allows outside plugins Ability to use 3rd party plugins to add extra features to your site
SETUP Very simple to get started & setup Platform is generally simple to grasp. Themes offer more options and may differ in complexity
UPDATES Core files and WP.com themes will update automatically You will be prompted to update core files and free themes
BRANDING All plans except “Business” & “eCommerce” will include WP.com branding. “Free” plan includes “wordpress.com” in your domain No outside branding forcibly placed on site or domain
ADS Only “Premium”,”Business” & “eCommerce” plans let you have ads. “Free” theme will include WP.com ads on your site Monetize your site with ads if you wish. No ads will forcibly be placed on your site.
CUSTOMIZE “Premium”, “Business” & “eCommerce” plans unlock more design customization options. You may not edit theme files Standard WP customization options. Themes often add even more customization options
SUPPORT All plans except “Free” one offer email & live chat support General documentation & community forums. Paid themes often offer more comprehensive support

BREAKDOWN OF MAIN POINTS

COST

  • WP.COMOffers a “Free” plan. All other plans are paid. Includes webhosting in price, even the “Free” plan
  • WP.ORGFree to use. Only requires you secure webhosting. Webhosts offer hosting plans at many price points

HOSTING

  • WP.COMWP.com is your webhost. Hosting service is included in your plan’s cost
  • WP.ORGYou must first secure webhosting from a 3rd party of your choosing

DOMAIN

  • WP.COM“Free” plan includes “wordpress.com” in domain. Paid plans allow custom domain
  • WP.ORGYour choice of custom domain

THEMES

  • WP.COMLimited to WP.com’s themes. Only “Business” plan allows outside themes
  • WP.ORGLoads of free themes, or, purchase a 3rd party theme for better features & designs

PLUGINS

  • WP.COMLimited to WP.com plugins. Only “Business” plan allows outside plugins
  • WP.ORGAbility to use 3rd party plugins to add extra features to your site

SETUP

  • WP.COMVery simple to get started & setup
  • WP.ORGPlatform is generally simple to grasp. Themes offer more options and may differ in complexity

UPDATES

  • WP.COMCore files and WP.com themes will update automatically
  • WP.ORGYou will be prompted to update core files and free themes

BRANDING

  • WP.COMAll plans except “Business” will include WP.com branding. “Free” plan includes “wordpress.com” in your domain
  • WP.ORGNo branding forcibly placed on site or domain

ADS

  • WP.COMOnly “Premium” and “Business” plans let you have ads. “Free” theme will include WP.com ads on your site
  • WP.ORGMonetize your site with ads if you wish. No ads will forcibly be placed on your site

CUSTOMIZE

  • WP.COM“Premium” and “Business” plans unlock more design customization options. You may not edit theme files
  • WP.ORGStandard WP customization options. Themes often add even more customization options

SUPPORT

  • WP.COMAll plans except “Free” one offer email & live chat support
  • WP.ORGGeneral documentation & community forums. Paid themes often offer more comprehensive support

Interested in our two cents?
We love the WordPress.org platform!

We’ve helped thousands of WordPress beginners launch their first blogs using WordPress.org over the years and find it to be intuitive and versatile. It can be as simple or as advanced as you want it to be and doesn’t have lots of red tape or restrictions attached to it.

With dozens of established webhosting services out there to choose from and the ability to use third-party themes and plugins, anyone can create a beautiful, engaging website with any budget and skill level.

Whether your website is a personal hobby or a tool for your business, WordPress.org’s flexible platform places a world of possibilities at your fingertips.

Ready to slice out a piece of the web for yourself?
Are you a total beginner? No problem!
Check out our guide via the link below. 

button linking to beginner's blog guide