Beginner's Guide for WordPress - Start your WordPress Blog in minutes.
Choosing the Best
WordPress Hosting
How to Easily
Install WordPress
Recommended
WordPress Plugins
View all Guides

Self Hosted WordPress.org vs. Free WordPress.com [Infograph]

Last updated on by
Special WordPress Hosting offer for WPBeginner Readers
Self Hosted WordPress.org vs. Free WordPress.com [Infograph]

When starting out as a beginner, this question comes in everyone’s mind. Which one is better? Is it better to pick the Self Hosted WordPress.org, or is it better to go with Free WordPress.com? In this article, we provide you with an infographic that compares WordPress.com vs WordPress.org side by side with list of pros and cons. We also tell you in the end which one is our pick. Click on the image to see the full version of the Infographic.

Note: We have updated this infographic because there was a huge debate about the comparison. The goal of this infographic is to compare Self Hosted WordPress.org vs. FREE WordPress.com*. We were called out by many folks saying, WordPress.com offers CSS upgrades etc. etc. But apparently, we were not clear enough in the title when we said we were comparing to only FREE WordPress.com. This new infographic indicates with a * all the upgrades that are possible. Another reason for the update was that the numbers used in the infographic were outdated.

Self Hosted WordPress.org vs Free WordPress.com

Convinced that you should use WordPress.org now? Want to switch away from WordPress.com? Here is a tutorial on how to properly move your blog from WordPress.com to WordPress.org

If you don’t want to read the infographic, then here it is in the text:

WordPress.org Benefits

  • It’s free and super easy to use.
  • You own your data. You are in full control. 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 control.
  • You can upload and use plugins.
  • You can upload custom themes. Modify theme files (not just styles) if needed.
  • You can make money from it by using your own ads, and doing things your way.
  • Custom Analytics and Tracking

WordPress.org Cons

  • Like any other website, you need a good web hosting. This bits cost you money somewhere from around $3 – $7 per month (as your site grows, your hosting costs will too). But then you would be making enough money to cover the costs :)
  • You are responsible for updates. WordPress upgrades require 1 click (Not too hard eh).
  • You are responsible for backups, but thankfully tons of amazing plugins are out there like BackupBuddy.
  • You are responsible to prevent SPAM, but if you enable Akismet (which comes built-in with WordPress.org), then you won’t have to worry about it.

WordPress.com Benefits

  • It’s free for upto 3GB of space. After that you will have to pay for space ($19.95 per year for 5GB) or ($289.97 per year for 100GB).
  • They make regular backups of your site.

WordPress.com Cons

  • They place ads on all free websites. Did you really think it was free without a catch? If you don’t want your users to see ads, then you can pay them $29.97 per year to keep your site ad-free.
  • You are NOT allowed to sell ads on your site unless you receive 25,000 pageviews per month. In which case, you have to apply to try their feature called Ad control. The approval process doesn’t cost you any money, but you have to split your revenues 50/50 with them *Ouch*
  • You cannot use plugins. Yup WordPress is well known for it’s flexibility due to the plugins. WordPress.com does not allow you to use plugins! If you want to use plugins, then you have to move to their VIP program which starts at $3750 per month. No joke.
  • You cannot use custom themes. Yup, you have to be stuck with their choice of themes which is being used on hundreds of millions of sites. They do offer a “design upgrade” which should really be called CSS upgrade for $30 per year. Meaning, you can change the color of your site. But if you want to add something really custom, you cannot.
  • You are restricted to their analytics. You cannot use custom analytics software because you cannot add custom codes.
  • They can delete your site at anytime if they think it violates their Terms of Service.
  • They will change your theme without your permission if the founder doesn’t like the theme developer (yup it happened).
  • Even if you pay for their upgrades, you still have to tell others that your site is powered on WordPress.com

Which one is for you?

If you are a personal blogger who do not care about making money from their sites, then go with WordPress.com. If you are a blogger trying to make blogging into a career, then you want to use self hosted WordPress.org. Often people will say, self-hosted WordPress will cost you money. For a small enough site, it is actually cheaper.

Let’s say you use WordPress.com, buy their custom domain ($17 per year), pay for ad-free option ($29.97 per year), and get custom design upgrade ($30 per year). That total is $76.97, and you are still not in full control.

For WordPress.org, you can use Bluehost (officially recommended by WordPress) which costs $3.95 per month so $47.4 per year, and it includes a free domain name. If you go with other web hosting companies, then you will pay a similar price, but you won’t get a domain. However, you can get a domain name for $10 from Godaddy or NameCheap. Your total would come to $57.4 per year. You will have full control over everything.

Here’s a step by step guide on how to start a WordPress blog.

Is one easier to use than the other? Nope. The interface of both are very similar. We have free WordPress video tutorials that will guide you through the whole dashboard.

We always recommend everyone to use WordPress.org, so you are in full control of your site. The final choice is always yours :)

P.S. Here is a tutorial on how to properly move your blog from WordPress.com to WordPress.org

We hoped you like the infograph. If you liked it, make sure you share it on Twitter, Facebook, or any other site that you like (ofcourse with a credits link back to WPBeginner – preferably this article).

Also don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube Channel for tons of free WordPress video tutorials.


Editorial Staff at WPBeginner is a team of WordPress experts led by Syed Balkhi. Page maintained by Syed Balkhi.

WPBeginner's Video Icon
Our HD-Quality tutorial videos for WordPress Beginners will teach you how to use WordPress to create and manage your own website in about an hour. Get started now »

Comments

  1. Amarjit Singh says:

    With premium plan of 99$ per year. Is it includes hosting, domain name, Google email free for one year?

  2. Lucy Barret says:

    With free wordpress.com blog, you can’t do much as they have limited features but with wordpress.org, you can add as many features as you want through WordPress plugins. There are so many plugins available online in both free as well as paid options. So my choice would be wordpress.org.

  3. rebecca says:

    How do I know which version of wordpress I am currently using? (.com or .org?) I am unable to add my own plugins….but I do have my own site name.com (theminiapartment.com). Is there a way to tell which version of wordpress I’m using? And how would I upgrade to wordpress.org? Thanks!

  4. Kassi Chapman says:

    So confused right now! I’ll break my questions down into list form to make it easier:
    1) Can I use my .com site for affiliate marketing and sponsored posts? Or do I need a .org?
    2) Do I need a .org site to use my own plug-ins?
    3) Is having a self-hosted WP difficult? Does it require extensive training on codes and such. I have none.
    Thanks so much for your awesome site!

    • WPBeginner Support says:

      1. No, you can’t.
      2. Yes you need a self hosted .org site to use your own plugins.
      3. No it is not. There is a learning curve, but you will find plenty of help every step of the way.

  5. Ram Sai Nag says:

    1)Offer freebies like free pdfs of 3 to 4 pages

    2) Share links on fb groups

    3) Always remember content is king

  6. Akanksha Bhardwaj says:

    Hi,

    I have recently started blogging and even though I am just doing it out of interest, at some point I would want to pursue it full time. I am on the free – basic wordpress plan. (abc.wordpress.com)

    I have two questions:

    1. What can I do to drive more traffic to my blog?

    2. If, at a later stage, I want to move to an org/ Premium wordpress plan, what happens to my existing subscribers.

  7. Daksh Pokar says:

    Well Self-Hosted is the best!

  8. Abdus Samad Azad says:

    Great article for every newbie. I think you should add topics like SEO, website traffic etc.

  9. Petia says:

    Hi there, I am just starting with blogging and I feel kind a overwhelmed. .
    I paid for my domain and then to be able to use my domain.com not domain.wordpress.com I upgraded to premium on wordpress.com

    Now I feel like I wasted my money since I wanted to do my blog and use it also for affiliate marketing.

    Would you recommend just to start with wordpress.com since I just paid $99 for a year to have it premium?

    Please let me know your thoughts.

    Thank you!

    Petia

    • WPBeginner Support says:

      WordPress.com premium plans can be canceled and refunded with in 30 days of purchase. Please contact WordPress.com support for more details on that. Your domain registration price will probably be deducted from total cost of premium plan. But you will be able to keep the domain and use it with self hosted WordPress.org website.

  10. Dani Kemeny says:

    Hi, thanks for all this helpful information.
    I’ve been researching and Just to clarify… so what I need to use wordpress.org is to download wordpress.org, download MAMP and download bluehost?

    • WPBeginner Support says:

      MAMP is a package that you can install on your Mac computer and test drive WordPress on your own computer. Only you will be able to see and work on your WordPress site with MAMP on your computer.

      Self hosted WordPress.org sites need hosting. BlueHost is a WordPress hosting provider. You signup for their service and then install WordPress on their servers. This way your website will be available on the web for everyone.

  11. nayan says:

    plz help me I’m using Mail Chimp for mailing lists and I want to add a subscribe form to a couple of my pages. The code mail chimp gives for embedding subscribe form onto my site doesn’t work on WordPress.com.

  12. Palash says:

    What is meaning of “space” exactly.If i get 3gb space does that means my blog/website can retain 3gb of content and then I will not be able to publish more?

  13. Jesse says:

    I agree with WANDERINGJULIA. Another take on it is this. I am fully able to handle a self-hosted site. Heck, I even wrote my own theme (PHP), associated CSS, coincident HTML, and added web art (SVG and various and sundry other images). I have four sites on that provider, all registered elsewhere. One is my wife’s. It occurred to me, what if I get run over by a semi? I don’t necessarily care that my blog will whither and waste away, but it might indeed be nice were my wife to have one easy place to logon and get to her stuff (without going to at least two places to pay bills and at least two others to fiddle with somewhat complex control panels). For such a niche case, WordPress.com might be the answer.

    [Off topic: a cost you didn’t mention for self-hosted blogs, versus WordPress.com: HTTPS encryption. WordPress.com provides it free and automatically; on a self-hosted blog one must buy a certificate, and garner the skill to install it.]

  14. Anuradha Chawla says:

    A thorough elucidation of the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org platforms. In my opinion, WordPress.com is suitable for blogs with which are not meant for any commercial gain. But, if you are a pro-blogger, you should definitely look for WordPress.org as it offers a lot of customization.

  15. Madan says:

    Having self hosting service gives more services, full control on server and have our fresh domain with proper keyword. While free hosting services have some restrictions and we do not get access to all other plugins, features which we want in our site. If any one planning blog, website for their business then self web hosting is the best option for them.

  16. Ian M says:

    Using BlueHost, while selecting their entry level domain they offer .org .com etc. Between their domain options .com and .org is there a difference or limiting factor to .com? After reading this post I feel like the startup at wordpress.com is the limiting factor because it isn’t self hosted unlike a domain through BlueHost. A dot com with my domain through BH isn’t a deciding factor on what kind of options and plugins I would want to use compared to what I started with through wordpress.com, right?

  17. Max Basnet says:

    Awesome report. Totally informative. I already have a registered domain of my own. I transferred from blogspot to WordPress. While blogger asks zero dollar to setup a custom domain which is already registered, WordPress costs certain amount of money. Which means, I have already registered a domain from another company/registrar and I have to pay double ( domain tax + WordPress tax ) . That’s a loss in my mind. The domain which I registered was a national domain from a country and that domain is not available to register anywhere else. In the same way, I don’t want to pay extra money to WordPress. So please I need your help and suggestion on this. I might be switching back to blogspot if needed.

    • Editorial Staff says:

      You need to use self-hosted WordPress where you pay for hosting, but don’t have to pay the additional “Domain Tax”.

  18. Lauren says:

    Thank you so much for this brilliant post. I bought both my website domain names through WordPress.com and was therefore never given the option to choose a host. I was mentally running around in circles confused as to why I never chose a host. Thank you for explaining. WordPress.com works perfectly for my personal goals as of now. As I become more of a professional in my field that may change and I will adapt my websites accordingly.

  19. Tracey Sharp says:

    This is a brilliant post and just what I’ve been looking for. I’ve had a blog for several weeks now and realise that wordpress is a bit limiting and also very expensive if you want to upgrade. Reading this and your other posts on transferring to wordpress.org has been invaluable in showing me step by step how to do it. I’ve had a test run and now just need to take the plunge to transfer everything over.

  20. K.J. Larson says:

    Under “WordPress.org Benefits” text, your first point is that “It’s free and super-easy to use.” Super-easy, yes. Free, no. Please edit ASAP, as it’s *very* confusing for folks just beginning to navigate the vast online publishing realm.

  21. FraNK UMEADI says:

    Thank you so much for this good piece.

  22. JAMES ONUWAJE says:

    Good day admin, have been reading a whole lot about the wordpress thingy and i plan on opening a wordpress.org website for personal use, i do not have a proper foundation in web area, though i am currently undergoing a training in graphic design, kindly help me out with step by step on creating a wordpress.org website and how to host them.

    Thanks

  23. blankyd brotu says:

    from my experience with FREE sites, all providers will delete your site at a certain time, regardless of any thing. they give you free space to see if you can get bigger or not, if not then there is no reason for them bother but if you get bigger they would want money for that or they will wipe you off

  24. MELewis says:

    For me one of the main issues with self-hosting is the lack of a platform to share the content. Sure, you can tweet your posts but that can be a lot of work for little return. Can anyone help me understand how some self-hosted blogs manage to get their content to mirror in the WordPress.com Reader? I have read that this is not allowed yet see it all the time – most recently with some major news outlets such as the New York Post (presumably they pay for a VIP service?)

  25. Maria says:

    What about the SEO? Is it any difference between wordpress.com and wordpress.org in terms of ranking by google or bing?

    Thanks

  26. Kim Smyth says:

    Hey, just read the article and my question is-if I have a www. Name. com, free on WordPress, that’s not the same as a domain name right? And if I want my blog to be a business, I should switch to .org-I get that- but instead, maybe I should start all over because really all I have is a blog PAGE. I don’t have a real website with several pages. That’s the problem for one. Advice?

  27. Francheteau says:

    Hi
    I just opened an account on wordpress.com and bought the theme PROMENADE. I just realized I can t add any plugins on my website . I would like to switch from WordPress.com to WordPress.org, but will I have to pay for my theme again ? or can I switch and keep my Promenade theme ?
    thank you for your help.

    • WPBeginner Support says:

      Premium themes purchased on WordPress.com are only valid on WordPress.com. You can contact WordPress.com support for more help.

  28. Ayietim says:

    Hello, thanks for this post. The content and the commens are a great beginner’s guide. I have a blog running on wordpress.com, I started the blog about seven months ago and I am absolutely enjoying myself, do you know why? Yes, I want to make money with it, but not FROM it, I want to make money THROUGH it. This is how, I am a businessman who believes in a building first, a brand with a good and a growing GOODWILL, a goodwill which is trusted by many. Then, one could leverage on the goodwill to make money. You can use your blog to make a name for yourself and use that name to sell yourself to individual and corporate clients. So, whether wordpress.com or wordpress.org, one should on a process which begins with the building a BRAND.

  29. Mubashir Ali says:

    WordPress.org is not only a blogging software. It is a great CMS to create every type of websites by using new themes and pluging. With Wordpess.com you cann’t do it. So, wordpress.org is too higher than wordpress.com.

  30. Jerrod Anielle Lopez says:

    For me, I do not care about that. I blog because I want to share something. Money isn’t always the thing! And what you are saying about WordPress.com is wrong.

    It is very useful and social.

    We blog because want to share. We blog because we want to help. We blog because we have a reason and we do not need to care about what to choose between WordPress.com or WordPress.org.

    • Lana Kane says:

      You sound so childish, what the author has written is accurate and unbias information. Don’t get emotional about something that isn’t targeted at you. A lot of people blog to make money and share their art. Just because you don’t,doesn’t mean they are wrong.

      On a side note, great article. I enjoyed it and found it informative.

  31. JeffDeWitt says:

    I’ve built a couple of websites and am maintaining one for my church. I don’t know what tool that site was built with but one of the great things about it is I was given a full, functioning copy of the website on a CD when I took over.

    I wanted a tool that would let me build and tune a site before putting in on some server somewhere and would have complete control over it.

    There is a version of WordPress we can get from Microsoft for free (along with Microsoft “WebMatrix”. It seems to be exactly what I was looking for.

    I’d really be interested in any comments or suggestions about going this route.

  32. wanderingjulia says:

    I’m about to transfer my wordpress.com to a self-hosted site and truth is I’m starting to feel torn about it.

    From my perspective, there’s no comparing wordpress.com and wordpress.org. Here is why. I see that most of the people who choose wordpress.org do it for the revenue. By the sound of it, they do it for the money they save, the versatility in appearance, and most especially the ads they profit from. Truthfully, this is what drew me to wordpress.org as well.

    However, I’m realizing more and more that I blog not make money. I blog to share content. I blog to have my voice be heard. I don’t blog for bottomless plugins or endless themes. I blog first and foremost because I have something I want to share, and not to make money.

    WordPress.com gives me a great space for that. I get to be part of an active community that sees me easily and responds to me immediately. WordPress.com lets people find me right off the bat and my content becomes relevant.

    WordPress.org on the other hand, despite all the freedom it can give you in terms of managing your blog, doesn’t give you that community. You’re a lone wolf, so to speak, in the super dense world of the interwebs, and you’ll have to work that much harder to get your voice across and be heard.

    So if you’re a business or a company with a certain look, or if you sell stuff, or you want to make money, yes, wordpress.org is great. But if you want to share your voice and be part of a community that acknowledges, hears, and discusses your thoughts with you, wordpress.com is the place. Plugins and customization and all else are just fluff you may not even need.

  33. Manos Johan Hanssen Seferidis says:

    I have a blog at wordpress.com and there are some issues that are not been talked here. One huge annoyance is that whatever I might type in the text editor, it get’s re-parsed. Sometimes I want to keep my table’s rows as rows but wordpress.com has to split each little td in a separate line. Also I hate the fact that the editor is so small. I make coding tutorials that tend to be huge and with the current setup it makes it a nightmare to find the correct paragraph of my post.

  34. bernice jooste says:

    Thank you for the reply. Will I be able to keep my wordpress.com blog name when I change over to using wordpress.org? Also what would the cost be for using wordpress.org per month

  35. WPBeginner Staff says:

    Using a self hosted WordPress.org site means that you get full control on your website.

    This will allow you to install any plugin you want including the plugins for recipes.

    You will have to maintain your website. This means you will have to make sure your site is up to date using the latest version of WordPress and all plugins and themes. This might sound like a lot of work, but actually WordPress has a built in update system so all you will have to do is to click on the update button.

    As for backups, there are several WordPress plugins which automatically create backup of your website and store it to your dropbox, google drive, or anyother desired location.

    Hope this answered your question.

  36. bernice jooste says:

    I have a wordpress.com account and realize now I cant have any plugins for recipes ect, what do I do?

    If i change to wordpress.org what does the following entail :
    You are responsible for updates. You are responsible for backups,
    You are responsible to prevent SPAM,
    you are responsible for maintenance?
    please advise

    • Saroj says:

      Hello, their are 2 plugin in wordpress for recipes WP
      1. Ultimate Recipe
      2. EasyRecipe Just try this, they will defiantly work.

  37. bernice jooste says:

    I started a wordpress.com blog last week im totally a beginner I want to add recipes on my blog and have the print option, now I see that plugins are not available on wordpress.com. I read through the above can you please advise what the following entails :
    responsible for updates, how is this done ?

    responsible for backups how do I do this?

    keeping your site updated and optimised?

  38. Cameron Ward says:

    I think it’s kind of dumb that wordpress.com can’t have stuff like google adsense or infolinks…I just find that utterly silly

Add a Comment

We're glad you have chosen to leave a comment. Please keep in mind that all comments are moderated according to our comment policy, and all links are nofollow. Do NOT use keywords in the name field. Let's have a personal and meaningful conversation.