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What are the Limitations of WordPress.com

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Elegant Themes
What are the Limitations of WordPress.com

If you want to start a blog, then WordPress.com offers a hassle free solution to get started. We are often asked by our users how they can get started with blogging. We usually respond with the question, “What do you want to do with your blog?”. A lot of people just want to share their personal thoughts, ramblings, photos and such. For that purpose, WordPress.com offers a free, easy to use, secure and stable platform for you to blog on. However, if you want to do more with your blog such as make money, build a membership community, among other things, then there are some inherent limitations. In this article, we will help you understand what are the limitations of WordPress.com, so you can determine if WordPress.com is the solution for you.

Earning Limitations

You can not run Google Adsense or other advertising programs to serve ads on your WordPress.com blog. You can not write paid posts, sell links, review products, etc. WordPress.com terms of service restrict you from using your free blog for any commercial activity on your own. However, you can apply for WordPress.com’s advertising program which is called WordAds. This program is currently available to WordPress.com blogs that match certain traffic and quality requirements. Once you are approved for WordAds program, you will be sharing your advertising revenue with WordPress.com.

Note: If you have a book, then you can have an ad for that on your WordPress.com blog. They just don’t allow ads for products or services that you do not own.

You Can not Upload Plugins

The real power of WordPress comes from the freedom to customize and extend the core functionality. You can not extend the functionality of WordPress.com by uploading plugins. You are given a comprehensive but still a limited set of features. A lot of people who migrate from WordPress.com to self hosted WordPress.org do so just to take advantage of certain features that come with these amazing plugins.

You Can not Upload Themes

You can only use themes currently available to WordPress.com users. Some of these themes are free and others come with a one time fee. In any case the theme choice is very limited. Secondly, you can not modify those themes. For an additional $30, you can add custom CSS and fonts to your theme but that is it. You cannot modify theme features or theme functionality. If you want to use one of the powerful eCommerce themes, or one of the many commercial themes that is not available to WordPress.com users, then you are out of luck. If you want to have a completely custom built theme for you, then you are also out of luck.

Account Suspension

WordPress.com is very strict in protecting their services from abuse. They suspend blogs suspected of activities prohibited in their terms of service. Visitors can also report a blog. WordPress.com allows suspended blogs to export their posts for a limited time. Also WordPress.com may not even notify or ask a blog owner to remove content. This means that usually there is no warning for the blog owner. Once a blog is suspended the WordPress.com subdomain will be held and will not be released for anyone else to use.

Not a Development Platform

WordPress has become a powerful content management system in itself. It is no more just a blog publishing platform. With WordPress.com, you are only getting a free blog service and not the actual powerful CMS features that are becoming the main reason of WordPress’ popularity. To make it easier for you to understand is that lets suppose that you start with a basic blog and then want to offer online courses, sell digital downloads, or add a forum, or even an online store. It is not possible to do all this on your free WordPress.com blog.

Conclusion

Our recommendation is that first you need to realize what you want to do with your blog, make a plan and then choose. If you just need to express yourself then WordPress.com is an easy and wonderful option for you. But if you want to build on to your website and do more with your blog then consider WordPress.org. We offer a free WordPress blog setup service where we can help you get started.

If you are one of the users who want to switch from WordPress.com to WordPress.org, then we highly recommend that you follow our guide.


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

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  • Darrell Wolfe

    And THAT is the reason I went from WordPress.Com (even though I liked all of those features they do have and it’s technically easier to use) to Blogger.Com because I want to make money on my blog before paying to use a blog.

    Will Word-press ever lighten up on this monetization policy? It seems like they’d be loosing money by blocking monetization and Affiliate links? How am I supposed to learn to use their service and upgrade if I can’t use their service first? It seemed very elitist. Like they didn’t want me on their services?

    So why do they put all these blocks on?

    Darrell Wolfe

  • KathyE

    I’m interested in creating a website that includes a blog, but is not ‘blog-driven’ . We are an art gallery. Is WordPress.com or is WordPress.org more appropriate. Thanks.

    • http://www.wpbeginner.com Editorial Staff

      Definitely WordPress.org

  • Dawn Oviedo

    So if I register my domain to own it… Can I bring it with me to WordPress.org? What is the minimum traffic needed to be considered for Wordads?
    Thx

    • http://www.wpbeginner.com Editorial Staff

      Yes you can bring your domain over to WordPress.org. Requirement for WordAds have changed, and they no longer reveal the minimum traffic.

  • Geoff

    Everything you say about not being able to upload themes is correct, but it makes the situation sound a little more dire than it is. There are still over 200 themes (50 being premium) and they seem to add a couple more every week.

    Many of these themes have very nice visual customisation options, even if you don’t pay for the ‘custom design’ features. If you do pay, you’ll see that they’ve done an excellent job there: Users can create unique colour schemes with a brilliant designer tool, get access to lots of web fonts, and even more through Adobe. The CSS editor is snazzy too, even allowing LESS and Sass to be used.

    Of course, if you want to make functional changes you’ll be out of luck.

    • http://www.wpbeginner.com Editorial Staff

      You are correct, there are 200+ themes on WordPress.com. But there are almost 1700 themes for WordPress.org (in the free WP repository). This is not counting tons of commercial themes that are not listed in the repository.

      • Geoff

        I wasn’t challenging your correctness, just the tone:

        > “In any case the theme choice is very limited. Secondly, you can not modify those themes.”

        200 themes isn’t really ‘limited’, and you can modify them. Your thesis for this article is totally correct: WP.com has big limitations. Users should know up-front what they want to accomplish. I was just picking at the fact that you made it sound like there were hardly and themes available and that you couldn’t touch them. (without paying for CSS anyway).

  • Gautam Doddamani

    i believe wordpress.com is a great step for whoever wants to take the plunge into the blogging ocean…beginners can analyze and assess themselves if they have what it takes to make their business a professional one…there are many limitations i agree but its great for free blogging! :)

  • Adam

    But all this info should have been appearing the step before registration not only from this link.
    Then the customer will know what he wants. For instance I did register but as I am very new to creating a blog or websites I didn’t know all this and I didn’t understand that my domain which I registered by WordPress is now stuck 60 days due to a law that doesn’t allow the user to move the domain to a another webhost. This should some go be appearing before payment .
    Now I can’t install plugins and have to wait 60 days until I remove my domain
    Regards
    Adam

    • http://www.wpbeginner.com Editorial Staff

      You can’t transfer your domain, but you should be able to change the nameservers and point it to another location.

  • Widdershins

    So … I can have an ad for my book – which I have, with links to my publisher … but if I self publish a book, I can’t SELL it FROM my wordpress.com blog … for instance have a paypal ‘buy me’ button for it on my blog … yes? … no? … otherwise?

    • http://www.wpbeginner.com Editorial Staff

      You can add a paypal button on your WordPress.com site.

  • Umer Rock

    Yes WordPress is very limited… but for beginners it is very best to start their demo WordPress :-)

  • Rohit

    At the price, it does not get cheaper for the reliability they offer. It can be a good starting point for many blogger, who want to experiment with a blog, but on a budget. You can always migrate if your blog grows big.