WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org: What’s the Difference?

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So you want to build a website with WordPress? Great, do you mean WordPress.com or WordPress.org?

Understanding the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org is confusing for people just starting to build websites. This post explains the difference between the two and why we recommend WordPress.org for most businesses. 

What’s the Difference Between WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org? 

WordPress is a free, open-source content management system that runs nearly half of the websites on the internet. Web developers and beginning bloggers alike love the platform because it’s simple to use and offers nearly endless customizations. 

WordPress.org is where you can download a copy of the WordPress system to use with your web host. WordPress.com is a service that includes hosting and the latest version of the WordPress system. 

With both WordPress.com and WordPress.org, your site runs on WordPress. The main differences are how you pay for hosting and what customization you can make to your website. Let’s review the advantages and disadvantages of each WordPress deployment method. 

How WordPress.com Works

Automattic, the developer and owner of WordPress, runs WordPress.com. WordPress.com is a freemium service, meaning a free version is available, but you need to purchase a paid plan to unlock more features. 

WordPress.com plans and prices as of August 2021:

  • Free. $0
  • Personal. $7 per month or $48 when paid annually 
  • Premium. $14 per month or $96 when paid annually
  • Business. $33 per month or $300 when paid annually
  • Ecommerce. $59 per month or $540 when paid annually

All plans include hosting. Premium and above annual plans include free domain registration for one year. 

Advantages of Using WordPress.com:

  • Simplicity. WordPress.com is easy to use. You don’t have to worry about installing or setting up your WordPress environment. 
  • Automatic Updates. WordPress.com automatically updates your core WordPress software. 

Disadvantages of Using WordPress.com:

  • Cost. WordPress.com is more expensive than other web hosting services. Running an ecommerce store through WordPress.com can cost from $500 to $3,000, depending on the store’s specific tech needs. 
  • Lack of Control and Customization. You have to upgrade to one of the more expensive plans to customize your site’s themes and plugins. The free plan doesn’t include a custom domain as the site’s primary URL. The free version also inserts ads into your website. If you want to remove WordPress.com branding or upload your own themes and plugins, you’ll have to pay for either the business or ecommerce plans. 
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About WordPress.org Open-Source Version of WordPress

WordPress.org is the open-source version of the WordPress content management system. With this version, you’ll need to install a copy of WordPress on your server. The WordPress system is free, but you need to pay for hosting. 

Advantages of Using WordPress.org:

  • Flexibility. WordPress.com imposes several limitations on what site administrators can do. With WordPress.org, you set up your own copy of WordPress, giving you total control of your site. You can upload and use whatever themes and plugins you want. If you’re going to sell ads on your site or add ecommerce, you can do so without changing your hosting plan.
  • Pricing. You can find reputable WordPress hosting for less than what you’d pay with one of WordPress.com’s top-tier plans. 

Disadvantages of Using WordPress.org:

  • Setup. Setting up WordPress on your server can be more complicated than using a preconfigured version on WordPress.com. But, most web hosting companies now offer Managed WordPress hosting, which means you can use a guided wizard to set up your WordPress site automatically. Managed WordPress hosting also includes automatic updates to plugins and your WordPress core software. 

WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org: Which is Right For You? 

WordPress.com is a good choice for a personal blog, but installing WordPress on your server is the best option for ecommerce sites or bloggers who want to monetize their blog. 

The limitations of WordPress.com make it challenging to scale your website as your business grows. If you needed to change themes or use different plugins, you could end up needing to upgrade to one of WordPress.com’s most expensive plans. 

If you host your site using the WordPress.org version of the system, you’ll have total control of your site to add and change things as your business grows. The main advantage of WordPress.com is simplicity. But, with a managed WordPress hosting plan on a third-party hosting service, you can receive the same level of automation and ease of use at a lower price with more control. 

WordPress VIP

For companies operating on an enterprise scale, we recommend WordPress VIP. The premium offering from Automattic starts at $2,000 per month, but Mindsize customers receive special pricing. The service is for businesses with high traffic and sales volumes that require more robust technical capabilities. 

Features of WordPress VIP plans:

  • CDN
  • Managed infrastructure
  • Hourly backups
  • Security and vulnerability patches
  • DDoS protection
  • Automated code scanning
  • Multisite availability
  • Domain management
  • GitHub repository and workflow
  • Technical support

Mindsize is proud to be a WordPress VIP Silver agency partner. WordPress VIP Agency Partners are hand-selected by WordPress as the premier WordPress development experts. Mindsize earned this distinguished recognition in June 2021. 

Getting Help with a WordPress Site

At Mindsize, we are the original WordPress ecommerce scaling and performance experts. While we work with a variety of ecommerce platforms, a large portion of our business is WordPress and WooCommerce. We help store owners grow their business without having to re-build their website or re-platform to another solution. We also help companies build business, membership, and community websites on the WordPress platform. Contact us today to learn more about our WordPress development services