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Did you know that and are actually two very different platforms?

Often beginners confuse and, 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: vs To help answer that, we have created the most comprehensive comparison of free vs (self-hosted version).

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

Self hosted vs free

Since choosing the right platform is crucial for your online success, we have created the most detailed comparison of vs (text comparison, table-based comparison, and a full infographic). You can use the links below to jump to a specific section:

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 vs vs (Infographic)

Self-hosted vs Free

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

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If you’d prefer written comparisons, please keep reading. vs Comparison

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

Here’s a comparison of both versions of WordPress: 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 to build your website or blog. Benefits

With, 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 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. WordPress is used by over 43% of all websites on the internet (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 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, forums, etc., and build an online community around your website. Cons

There are very few cons of using the self-hosted 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 will 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 set up automatic backups.

The real cost of the 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 See our guide on how to start a website.

Bonus: The team at Bluehost is offering our readers a 61% discount on web hosting + a free domain name. They’re an officially recommended WordPress hosting provider. is a hosting service created by Automattic, the company led by WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg. Because of the same founder, users often confuse with the popular software.

The hosting service has six pricing plans:

  • Free – Very limited and restrictive in terms of features.
  • Starter – $48 per year
  • Explorer – $96 per year
  • Creator – $300 per year
  • Entreprenuer – $540 per year (Suitable for eCommerce sites using WooCommerce)
  • VIP – starting at $25000 per year

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of Benefits

The free platform is a good choice for hobby bloggers and those starting a blog for their family. Here are some of the benefits of using

  • It’s free for up to 3GB of space. After that, you will have to switch to a paid plan for more storage space. (Starter plan $48 /year, gives you 6GB, Explorer plan $96/year, gives you 13GB storage, Creator plan for $300/year comes with 50GB storage).
  • You will not have to worry about updates or backups. will take care of that. Cons

There are several limitations of free, which differentiate it from Here are some of the disadvantages of using

  • They place ads on all free websites. Your users see those ads, and you don’t make money from them. If you don’t want your users to see their ads, then you can upgrade to a paid 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. Explorer and above plan users can use WordAds right away.
  • You cannot upload plugins. Free plan users get built-in Jetpack features pre-activated. Creator plan users can install from a selection of compatible plugins ($300 / year). 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. Explorer and Creator plan users can also select premium themes and use custom CSS with those themes. There are limited customization options for the free version.
  • You are restricted to their stats. You cannot add Google Analytics or install any other powerful tracking platform. Creator plan users can install Google Analytics.
  • Free sites come with a subdomain (e.g. You’ll need a paid plan to get a custom domain name (e.g.
  • 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 link. It can be removed by upgrading to the Creator plan.
  • does not offer any eCommerce features or integrated payment gateways unless you switch to the Entrepreneur plan.
  • You cannot build membership websites with

As you can see, the 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). vs (FAQs)

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

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

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

While you can get several advanced features with the Creator 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, 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 Website? does not allow you to run ads on free websites. If you run a high traffic website, then you can join their own WordAds program and share your ad revenue with

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 website.

Whereas with, you have full control over content management system, so you have unlimited monetization options for your new website. vs – Which one is better for Ecommerce? 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. 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’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 Website?

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

A domain name is the address of your website on the internet, such as,, etc. Web hosting is where your website files are stored on the internet.

We recommend using Bluehost to host your website because they are one of the largest web hosting companies in the world. They’re also an official recommended web host. Last but not least, they’re offering our users a free domain + free SSL + 61% off on hosting.

For step-by-step instructions, you can check out 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 to

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

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

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

The best way to think about the differences between vs. is the analogy of renting a house vs. owning a house. is similar to renting a house. You have limited power and control over what you can and cannot do. 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 vs comparison: (Platform) (Free) (Premium) (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
Full ControlYesNoNoNo

Final Thoughts

The confusion created by similar domains: vs 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 and are related.

Our hope is that you found this article helpful in understanding the main differences between and

We wish you all the best with your website and hope that you chose the right platform:

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

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

Disclosure: Our content is reader-supported. This means if you click on some of our links, then we may earn a commission. See how WPBeginner is funded, why it matters, and how you can support us. Here's our editorial process.

Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff at WPBeginner is a team of WordPress experts led by Syed Balkhi with over 16 years of experience in WordPress, Web Hosting, eCommerce, SEO, and Marketing. Started in 2009, WPBeginner is now the largest free WordPress resource site in the industry and is often referred to as the Wikipedia for WordPress.

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Reader Interactions

506 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. Syed Balkhi says

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  2. Dayo Olobayo says

    I own a wordpress blog but I didn’t even know the variant of WordPress I use until now. This is a great infographic that summarizes the key differences both platforms. Thanks a bunch!

  3. Briana says

    It should be noted that now auto opts users in to have their content sold to AI companies to train their models. You can opt out, but only if you know that you need to do so. Something for anyone to consider who is thinking about signing up.


    I didn’t know all this fhings before. Thanks to WPBeginner.
    I thought it’s all the same thing but now I have the better understanding.
    Thank you for this article. It really helps.

  5. Moinuddin Waheed says

    This is one of the most found confusion in the beginner’s mind. they confuse with very often.
    this article has clearly demonstrated the difference between the two in a clear and concise manner.
    thank you wpbeginner for making the effort to clear the doubts regarding the two very confusing yet related topic.

  6. Lara Carter says

    This article is amazing and I love reading the comments on people experience and views on these articles, it helps give me a so much better idea the topic.

  7. Alina says

    Great website! I look forward to exploring your articles.
    Question, please. If I use does it mean that my website will be .org or the two are unrelated?
    Which one is better to have anyway? com, org, or ca (since I am in Canada)?
    I want to create a website to sell microgreens locally.

  8. Kindeng Simamora says

    Thanks for the useful information.
    I already have a domain and hosting and use a free WP template.
    I am planning to move to and take Bluehost webhosting.
    Can I keep my domain? Or do I have to make another one that I will get for free from Bluehost?

    • WPBeginner Support says

      If you have your own domain and not a address you can take that to a new hosting provider like BlueHost :)


  9. Christopher Pereira says

    Your article is straightforward, honest, unbiased, and most important, absolutely informational. In fact, thank goodness for my positive procrastination, because sometimes, I stall a lot, if only to uncover a little more info that may save time and grief in the future, just like your article did, by clarifying the difference between and WP. com

    I HAVE bookmarked you. You ARE an invaluable resource.

    Thanks, guys…

  10. Princewill Ejikeme says

    Very nice clarification. When starting my blog, i actually registered with the free but when i saw the limitations, i decided to upgrade to personal plan. Am now a proud owner of my own domain.

  11. Pedro Araújo says

    Helpful article, but what about page rank, is there any difference between and regarding potential site traffic?

  12. Joachim says

    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 for a long time. I’m making the switch ASAP. Thank you for this.


    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?

  14. Sheryl Buckner says

    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.

  15. Roman says

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

  16. Sufian Mehmood Soomro says

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

  17. Purnendu Mukherjee says

    Finally the conclusion is, is my own home with own responsibility. is rented home.

    • WPBeginner Support says

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


  18. Shriya says

    What will happen to my site and its followers after migrating o

    • WPBeginner Support says

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


  19. Rosco says

    Thanks a lot for this informative article. Can I build a social network site using

  20. Adeniye Kehinde says

    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 or

  21. Claudia says

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

  22. Smrithi P says

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

    • WPBeginner Support says

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


  23. Nathalie says

    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 and not
    Strange given that you recommend them for the .org
    How can I switch and get the .org?

    • WPBeginner Support says

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


  24. Anjali Dabral says

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

    Thank you!

  25. Franci Hoffman says

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

    • WPBeginner Support says

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


  26. David says

    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

  27. john says

    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?

    • WPBeginner Support says

      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 would be best for your goals.


  28. Carol Mestemacher says

    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 today? And all this works together?

  29. Keith Keenan says

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

  30. John Rahrer says

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

    • WPBeginner Support says

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


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