WordPress.com or WordPress.org: Which One to Choose?

WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org

When you’ve made the decision to start a WordPress blog, you have a choice to make: WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org. What’s the difference, and which one is right for you?

The most basic difference is that WordPress.org is a self-hosted blog, meaning you pay for your own hosting, domain name, and the like. And, WordPress.com is a service offered by Automattic (the company that created WordPress) that hosts very basic blogs for free. But, there’s a little more to it than that, and I’ve created a quick guide to help you decide which is right for you.

WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org

Cost Comparison

WordPress.com

Most people are drawn to WordPress.com because it’s free. However, free presents some limitations. For free, you get:

  • 3 GB of space
  • A subdomain for your blog name (e.g., myblog.wordpress.com)
  • WordPress.com as your hosting service
  • No advertising of your own (WordPress.com will host ads on your blog)
  • Limited themes to choose from
  • No plugins

As with almost any free plan, there are upgrades you can make for a cost that will give you more customization options:

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  • Domain registration – $5
  • Domain mapping – $13
  • Domain Privacy – $8, per domain
  • VideoPress – $60
  • Custom design – $30
  • Space upgrade – $20 – $290
  • No ads – $30
  • Site redirect – $13
  • Unlimited premium themes – $120
  • Premium theme – from $20 (annual subscription)
  • Guided transfer – $129 (annual subscription)
[/row]

There are also package deals as well:

2015-08-04 09_33_53-WordPress.com Plans _ WordPress.com Store

 

As you can see, it can become quite expensive to host a blog on WordPress.com, unless you’re only going to go with the bare bones free plan.

WordPress.org

When you choose to host your own blog, you are in the driver’s seat as far as hosting plans, domain names, design/themes, plugins, security, and the like. If you ask me, if you’re serious about blogging, then you should probably choose to “self host” your own blog using a host like SiteGround, GoDaddy, Hostgator, Bluehost, etc. and purchase your own domain name. I think you’ll find the costs much more reasonable, because you can shop around for services.

Here are the basic costs associated with setting up your self-hosted blog:

  • Hosting: Basic plans start at $5 per month, depending on your hosting service.
  • Domains: Without sales, top-level domains (.com, .org, .net) start at $10.
  • Themes: Free, or you can find themes as cheap as $15 on ThemeForest.
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For a rundown on the services I use to run this blog, check out my Blogging Toolkit here.

Some web hosts will throw in the domain for free when you sign up with them, and most of them are always running sales. It’s rare to pay full price for anything to run your blog!

What You Get (or Give Up)

WordPress.com

As I mentioned earlier, a free blog from WordPress.com is very limiting in some respects. Here’s what you give up if you choose a free plan:

  • Themes: You’re limited to free WordPress.com themes.
  • Storage space: 3GB is all you get. That can run out very quickly.
  • Ads/Monetization: You must pay to remove WordPress.com ads, and you are not allowed to run ads of your own or use services like Google’s AdSense.
  • Plugins: No plugins other than the ones that come with the free plan are allowed. This severely limits the amount of customization options you have.

WordPress.org

You get the freedom to do pretty much whatever you want. The only limitations you’ll face are from your hosting plan, which can sometimes limit your storage space or bandwidth. And unless you go with managed hosting, you are also responsible for the maintenance and backups of your blog. With WordPress.com, the folks at Automattic (the company that created WordPress) will take care of that for you.

So, Which One Is Better?

That all depends on what you’re looking for. If all you want is a simple blog, don’t want to worry about any of the technical aspects of running a blog, and don’t really think you’ll want to customize things that much, then WordPress.com is probably going to be your best bet. Just remember that if you do want to customize your design, have your own domain name, etc., it’s probably going to cost the same (or possibly more) if you were to do a self-hosted WordPress blog.

If you’re like me, and really want to have control over all aspects of your blog, then by all means, go for a self-hosted WordPress blog. You can always go for a managed WordPress plan if you’re not a technical person, or don’t feel like you have the time to do updates, make backups, and worry about security.

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For an affordable managed hosting plan, try SiteGround, my new favorite hosting service! Check out this detailed post here if you’re interested.

My Recommendation

I know this is a shocker, but I highly recommend going with your own self-hosted blog to start off with. You can start out as simply as you like, and if you want to expand your blog, it’ll be much easier (and cheaper!) to do than if you start off with WordPress.com. I actually started off with a WordPress.com blog and found out quickly that it was a mistake for me to do that, because I am a control freak, and I also love to tinker with things like design and plugins. I won’t ever make that mistake again!

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If you’re ready to start your first blog, but aren’t sure what the next steps are, then check out my Beginner’s Guide to Blogging here. You’ll find some recommendations for hosting services, how to install and set up WordPress (it’s easy!), plugins you need, as well as some tips on monetization.
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