There is a big difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org and not many people understand the difference. Often beginners to website development or store ownership will confuse the two, which means they will then use the wrong platform for their website.

Even those who know that the two platforms are different will sometimes get them confused. So, here we’re comparing the two platforms and asking which one is best in a WordPress.com vs WordPress.org contest.

When comparing the two platforms, it’s important to note that there is a very big difference in how they are hosted and work.

Basic WordPress.org Overview

WordPress.org is known as the ‘the real WordPress’ and is the popular website platform that lots of business owners go to when they want to start a website. It is an open-sourced program that is free for anyone to use. You will need a domain name and web hosting in order to have a working website.

There are many benefits of WordPress.org. The first is the fact that you’re in complete control of your website. You can add plugins and use custom CSS to extend the functionality of the website. For instance, it’s fairly easy for you to build an eCommerce website without the need to buy anything other than the domain and hosting package.

And because it’s self-hosted, it is protected. Your site cannot be turned off because someone thinks your site is against their terms and conditions, which can happen at WordPress.com.

You’ll also be able to use powerful tools like Google Analytics to find out how your brand is performing.

However, there are some disadvantages to WordPress.org. This includes that you need to find a host at a good price and functionality. Hosting can cost as little as $3 per month. However, this is usually shared hosting that can result in a slow website.

As your website’s popularity increases, you will also need to improve your site’s hosting package that provides you with better bandwidth.

With WordPress.org you will also be responsible for all the updates, backups and other administration related to your website.

Who is WordPress.org Most Suitable For?

WordPress.org is an excellent system. It is suitable for anyone who has desires to turn their site into a commercial success. Even without the help of a professional developer, you can get a good website that you can monetize.

Very large, complex sites can be created using WordPress.org. This includes building news, eCommerce, video sharing and even membership sites. These can all be created with ease.

In addition, this is the best option if you’re looking for a website where you have control. If you want to add a certain look to your site, you can do that with ease by looking through the available themes online and simply adding it to your website. If you’ve seen a WordPress.org website that you like the theme of, you can also see which theme is being used with this free WordPress.org Theme Detector.

Basic WordPress.com Overview

WordPress.com is the hosted version of WordPress.org. They were founded by the same people, which is why they have similar names and are easily confused. You can get WordPress.com for free and this is good if you’re looking for just a simple blog that doesn’t have any high aspirations.

However, if you’re looking for something that is more complex, then you need to buy a more premium option. This can cost from $48 and can go as high as $5000 per month.

The software and dashboard are very similar. Which means if you’re used to WordPress.org, you should be able to use WordPress.com easily.

There are some great benefits as well with WordPress.com which include the free nature of the site. You can get up to 3GB of web space. However, as soon as you go past that, you will need to pay for more space.

And because it’s a managed hosting packaging, you don’t need to worry about updates or backups. These will be taken care of for you automatically by WordPress.com.

WordPress does have several disadvantages. For one, any free website has adverts placed on it. The site owner doesn’t make any money from these adverts and all the profits go directly to WordPress.com. If you want to remove those ads, you will need to pay for a premium package.

In addition, you can’t sell ads on your website either, on any package. That is unless you want to apply for WordAds, which is an advertising program run by WordPress.com but you have to share revenue with the company. If you have Premium and Business plans, you can use WordAds without a problem.

Functionality is also severely limited. Free plans get Jetpack automatically. Those who use a premium package like Business and VIP allows you to install a selection of plugins for free, however the number and type will depend on what package you have.

In terms of look of the site, you are also restricted with WordPress.com. Free users can only install themes from a limited group. You will need to upgrade to get more options and use custom CSS to make changes. If there is a theme on a WordPress.com site that you like the look of, you can use the WordPress.com Theme detector to tell you which one is being used.

Finally, and the worst disadvantage, is that with the free plan you don’t get your own domain. Instead you are given a subdomain of the wordpress.com site. So, your domain would look like this https://yourwebsite.wordpress.com. If you want a custom domain name you would need a paid plan. At the same time, your site will display the ‘Powered by WordPress.com’ link on your website. This can be removed, but it takes a Business account to do that.

Who is WordPress.com Most Suitable For?

WordPress.com is not a bad website platform and it can be a useful tool for those who don’t expect much from their website. It would be perfect for personal blogs, family blogs and similar ventures. And it’s best for those who don’t want to spend any money on their projects.

However, if you want to have a professional appearance to your website, then you will need to upgrade your plan and be using one of the professional options that are open to you. These can be rather expensive and you might be financially better off using WordPress.org.

Final Word: WordPress.com vs WordPress.org

Looking at the two WordPress CMS side-by-side, the casual observer would not see much difference. However, when you look carefully at the two, you can see there is a significant difference between them. WordPress.org is for the brands that want to have a serious online presence with complete control of their website.

The costs for a WordPress.org can be very high at the beginning, especially if you buy numerous plugins to extend the functionality of your site. However, in the long-term, the costs might be less.

In contrast, while there is a free version of WordPress.com, this is rather limited and only those not looking to have a monetized website should consider this. After this, there are some expensive upgrades, but these can often be very expensive when compared to the cost of building a similar site on WordPress.org.