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WordPress.com vs WordPress.org – Which is Better? (Comparison Chart)

Did you know that WordPress.com and WordPress.org are actually two very different platforms?

Often beginners confuse WordPress.com and WordPress.org, which leads them to choose the wrong blogging platform for their needs. Even those who know that they are two different platforms are not aware of the differences between them.

We’re often asked by our users which is the better platform: WordPress.com vs WordPress.org. To help answer that, we have created the most comprehensive comparison of free WordPress.com vs WordPress.org (self-hosted version).

Our goal is to highlight the key differences between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org, so you can choose the right platform for your needs.

Self hosted WordPress.org vs free WordPress.com

Since choosing the right platform is crucial for your online success, we have created the most detailed comparison of WordPress.com vs WordPress.org (text comparison, table-based comparison, and a full infographic).

If you just want to start a blog or make a website the RIGHT way, then you can skip this article and head over to our guides here:

Having said that, let’s take a look at the differences between self-hosted WordPress.org vs WordPress.com.

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org (Infographic)

Self-hosted WordPress.org vs Free WordPress.com

Note: This infographic and article compare the powerful self-hosted WordPress.org with the free WordPress.com hosting service. You can unlock additional functionality in WordPress.com by upgrading to their paid service. We have highlighted those features as well.

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org Comparison

The best way to understand the difference between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org is to take a look at each platform individually.

WordPress.org

WordPress.org aka “the real WordPress”, is the popular website platform that you have heard all the great things about.

It is an open-source software, and it’s 100% free for anyone to use. All you need is a domain name and web hosting. This is why it is also referred to as self-hosted WordPress.

Below are the pros and cons of using the self-hosted WordPress.org to build your website or blog.

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 plan costs will increase as expected, but then you would be making enough money to cover the costs.
  • You will need to install WordPress. Luckily most popular WordPress hosting companies offer 1-click WordPress installation options. You can also follow our comprehensive tutorial on how to properly install WordPress.
  • You are responsible for updates. You can easily update your WordPress site by simply clicking on the update button (one-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.

Bonus: The team at Bluehost is offering our readers a 69% discount on web hosting + a free domain name. They’re an officially recommended WordPress hosting provider. Get Started Today »

WordPress.com

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

The WordPress.com hosting service has 6 pricing 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 storage 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 WordPress.com 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 sites come with a WordPress.com branded subdomain (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).

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org (FAQs)

Since this is a popular topic, and WPBeginner is the largest free WordPress resource site for beginners, we get tons of questions regarding WordPress.com vs WordPress.org.

We have done our best to answer the most frequently asked questions below:

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org – Which is Better?

If you are a personal blogger, and you don’t care about making money from your website, then go with the free WordPress.com.

If you are a business or a blogger that wants to make money from your site, then we recommend using the self-hosted WordPress.org. It gives you the freedom and flexibility to grow your website the way you want.

While you can get several advanced features with the WordPress.com Business plan ($300 / year for each website), you can make that money go much further on a self-hosted WordPress site which costs $46 per year.

In our expert opinion, WordPress.org is hands down the better platform. That’s the platform that every professional blogger, small business owner, and even big name brands like Disney uses.

Can I Monetize Free WordPress.com Website?

WordPress.com does not allow you to run ads on free WordPress.com websites. If you run a high traffic website, then you can join their own WordAds program and share your ad revenue with WordPress.com.

You can put some affiliate links on your website, but that’s about it.

Basically, you have very limited options to monetize content on your WordPress.com website.

Whereas with WordPress.org, you have full control over content management system, so you have unlimited monetization options for your new website.

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org – Which one is better for Ecommerce?

WordPress.org offers the easiest way to build an eCommerce website. You can use WooCommerce to build your store or choose from many other WordPress eCommerce, membership, and LMS plugins.

WordPress.com also offers an eCommerce plan starting at $540 per year which is a hefty amount if you are just getting started. It is still limited in terms of features, and you’ll have to follow WordPress.com’s terms of services for your eCommerce store.

See our guide on how to start an online store without a high budget. It includes how to get your own domain for free along with all the powerful features that you need to grow online.

How do I start a WordPress.org Website?

To start a self-hosted WordPress website, you need a domain name and WordPress hosting.

A domain name is your website’s address on the internet such as google.com, wpbeginner.com, etc. Web hosting is where your website files are stored on the internet.

We recommend using Bluehost for hosting your website because they are one of the largest web hosting companies in the world. They’re also an official WordPress.org recommended web host. Last but not least, they’re offering our users a free domain + free SSL + 60% off on hosting.

For step by step instructions, you can checkout our free guide on how to make a website.

If you need help, WPBeginner team can even install WordPress and build your website for free. Learn more about how our free WordPress blog setup works.

Can I move from WordPress.com to WordPress.org?

Often new users who don’t know the difference between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org end up starting with the free WordPress.com service. Once they see the limitations of the platform, they want to switch to “the Real WordPress” aka WordPress.org.

Yes, you can definitely switch from WordPress.com to WordPress.org and fairly easily move all of your content.

We have created a step by step guide on how to move your blog from WordPress.com to WordPress.org, or you can take advantage of our free blog setup service, and we will transfer your blog for free.

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org – Summary

The best way to think about the differences between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org is the analogy of renting a house vs. owning a house.

WordPress.com is similar to renting a house. You have limited power and control over what you can and cannot do.

WordPress.org is like owning a house. Where you have full control, no one can kick you out, and you can do anything that you want.

Below is the summary of everything we discussed above in our self-hosted WordPress.org vs WordPress.com comparison:

 WP.org (Platform)WP.com (Free)WP.com (Premium)WP.com (Business)
Cost$46 - $100 / yearFree$96 / year$300/ year
Custom DomainYesNoYesYes
Hosting StorageUnlimited3 GB13 GB200 GB
Monetization FreedomYesNoYes (with rev/share)Yes (with rev / share)
Branding FreedomYesNoNoYes
All SEO FeaturesYesNoNoYes
Powerful AnalyticsYesNoNoYes
Full Theme SupportYesNoLimitedYes
Full Plugin SupportYesNoNoYes
Ecommerce StoreYesNoNoNo
Membership SiteYesNoNoNo
MaintenanceYesNoNoNo
Full ControlYesNoNoNo

Final Thoughts

The confusion created by similar domains: WordPress.com vs WordPress.org is quite unfortunate for beginners. There is a lot of history behind the decisions, and you can read more about that in our article how WordPress.com and WordPress.org are related.

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.

If so, you may want to follow these useful guides:

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Reader Interactions

478 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. Helpful article, but what about page rank, is there any difference between wordpress.com and wordpress.org regarding potential site traffic?

  2. Wow. This article was really helpful. I’m just getting to know the difference between the two domains. And it appears I’ve been stuck on the WordPress.com for a long time. I’m making the switch ASAP. Thank you for this.

  3. I’m about starting out on blogging, please do I have to input .org extension manually when searching for my domain availability. Secondly, does that mean buying a hosting from bluehost automatically makes my site a .org site?
    Thanks.

  4. So glad I made the right choice to go with .org. Love Word Press. There is a lot of good content which will help me grow my platform without spending days on end trying to learn basic tips and tricks.

  5. I prefer to choose WordPress.org, because it has tones of features and free to use and do what ever we want.

  6. Informative and detailed blog post about the difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com I really like it and I am noted important point on my book for my information. Thanks

  7. Finally the conclusion is,
    WordPress.org is my own home with own responsibility.
    WordPress.com is rented home.

    • That would be handled through WordPress.com and their plans. You would want to check with WordPress.com for their current method for setting a domain.

      Admin

  8. What will happen to my wordpress.com site and its followers after migrating o wordpress.org?

    • Your site will remain unless you decide to remove it or you can use WordPress.com’s redirect to force it to redirect to your new site and you have the option to transfer your followers using the Jetpack plugin.

      Admin

  9. Thanks a lot for this informative article. Can I build a social network site using wordpress.org?

  10. Nice post am looking forward to creating a website on WordPress, one question can i creat a website for posting files, also having a store on either WordPress.com or WordPress.org

  11. Thank you for your detailed description about wordpress.org and wordpress.com.
    I am very curious, is it possible that I buy a domain and web-hosting with another provider and then use it on wordpress.org?

  12. Thanks a lot for this! It’s very enlightening.
    I made my first blog recently under wordpress.com…will probably change it to .org after some time.
    Will definitely be keeping this article for future reference.

    • Glad to hear and we hope our transfer guide is something you find helpful when you are ready to transfer :)

      Admin

  13. First of all I wish to tell you that I have been reading your blog and advice for quite a while and I wish to thank you for all of it.
    I finally took the plunge last week and bought my domain name and 3 year hosting on bluehost via your link. Thay were very kind to install wordpress directly but now i find out that they installed wordpress.com and not wordpress.org.
    Strange given that you recommend them for the .org
    How can I switch and get the .org?

    • If you purchased hosting and the site was installed on your BlueHost hosting you have a WordPress.org site even if your domain ends in .com. You would only have a WordPress.com site if you are hosted on WordPress.com. :)

      Admin

  14. That was a really comprehensive information on WordPress. Everything that a beginner would need!

    Thank you!

  15. I have 2 WordPress blogs – one is a .com and the other .blog. Can I keep my domains if I move both to .org?

    • You can keep your domains ending in .com and .blog, the end of your URL does not determine if you are on WordPress.com or WordPress.org, who is hosting your site determines that. :)

      Admin

  16. Overall A great primer! So, thanks! For someone who does not want to keep up with the technical side of WordPress what options does one in my position have; switch to Weebly/Wix..stay with a system I’m kinda’ unqualified to use, or…..I’ve poked around inside my website and it realistically seems as if it’d months to master the technical learning curve, time I don’t have…any insights greatly appreciated

  17. I am still not sure as to where to start a blog. I don’t intend on making a lot of money, however, if it can help others, offer a light at the end of the tunnel and even make a small profit that would be nice.

    What would you recommend as a platform to begin with?

    • It would depend on how you plan to monetize your site for which would be better for you. If you plan on placing multiple ads on your site then WordPress.org would be best for your goals.

      Admin

  18. I bought my domain name and emails at Google G Suite 3 days ago. I want to get my website (for a not for profit company) started asap. Can I start my website at wordpress.org today? And all this works together?

  19. I have a wordpress site which I am locked out of because someone tried several times to log in with the wrong password.

  20. I have both a Bluehost & WordPress site. How can I find out whether or not I have WordPress.org & Bluehost.org ?

    • As you have created a site using BlueHost’s hosting, you are using a WordPress.org site.

      Admin

  21. I have a question here.
    What will happen to my followers and likes on WordPress.com when I’ll transfer my blog to WordPress.org?
    Please help me.

    • You can transfer your followers but your likes you would need to check with WordPress.com for what is currently allowed

      Admin

  22. Thank you so much for this post. To be honest, it’s really got me informed on the above mentioned topic. Thanks alot.

  23. I am new to blogging on WordPress and I made the mistake of not doing enough research before starting and I signed up to wordpress.com. I haven’t even started posting content and i’m desperately trying to set up on .org.

    I have my domain and hosting, but the WP admin is directing me to wordpress.com and don’t know how to change it. Has anyone else experienced this and knows how to fix it?

  24. Nice write up,
    So its clear .org is good for a beginner at zero cost.
    But few query:

    Can i build a site before i buy a domain name.

    Thank you in advance

  25. Is it wise to build your site on free hosts like blogger or wp.com (free) and gain large followers before migrating to paid?

  26. Hi…
    The article was really helpful…
    I have a question.
    I want to start a blog to write short stories. Or say some articles. Can I still get paid for it if I open a blog on wordpress.org. I am completely new to the digital world and want to make some money from it. Can writing a blog help me???
    Thank you for the wonderful article.

  27. Thank you very much. This clears my all the doubt about it.
    I made a big mistake by choosing wordpress.com because I am not aware of that.I am a beginner. Thank You very much.

  28. If I change from WordPress.com premium plan to WordPress.org, can I keep the current theme and can I change my domain from my domain to a new one and if I can do that can I do something that allows the old domain to goto the new domain name for a year or so?
    Thank you in advance.m

    • You can keep non-paid themes and WordPress.com has a redirection service you can use to point your site to its new location

      Admin

  29. Thank you so much for this article. I just want to create my website and this has really enlightened me. Thank you!

    • No, our site is a WordPress.org site and our content is for WordPress.org sites

      Admin

  30. Hi, I’ve downloaded your ToolKit but I don’t think it can help me.
    Over a year ago I bought a Domain from WP and got an email wp address ending in .org. All went well until two or three weeks ago when I accidentally clicked on a theme and changed mine. This seemed to result in my paid Plan changing itself back to a Free Plan. The result is I can no longer load my images to the website, and of course, I’ve lost all the other benefits of having a domain.
    I have put queries up on two forums, the general one and the .org one but so far no one has replied to me.
    I am at my wits’ end. I cannot move on and am stuck without a site. Anything you can suggest?

    • The ending of your domain name does not determine what type of WordPress site you have. If you create the site through the WordPress.com website you have a WordPress.com site. If you create a site on a different hosting provider it would be a WordPress.org/self hosted site. From the sound of it, you would want to reach out to WordPress.com’s support and they should be able to assist.

      Admin

  31. WOW!

    What an awesome guide!

    Thank you so much Sir..i have a question:

    With wordpress.org everything is possible, correct?

    I can also create emails pop up, landing pages,etc.. right?

    Thank you for your time!

    Vasile

    • Yes, WordPress.org sites do not have a limitation on what you can add to your site.

      Admin

  32. Am I missing something? I used to thing that blog were moved to wordpress.org if they switched to the wrodpress.com ‘premium’ plan.

    • No, you would need to purchase hosting on a hosting provider and transfer the site to make it a WordPress.org site. The closest to a self hosted/WordPress.org site on WordPress.com would be their business plan.

      Admin

    • You’re welcome, glad you like our content and hope you have a great day too :)

      Admin

  33. Great blog – just what I needed – a little enlightenment on the differences which I now understand so much better. Thank you.

  34. Great website, I am looking forward to using WordPress and building a successful blog like yours. Thanks again.

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