What’s The Difference Between WordPress.com and WordPress.org

What’s The Difference Between WordPress.com and WordPress.org

As you’re building your WordPress site, you might not be aware that there are two different “versions” of WordPress. WordPress.com and WordPress.org. They both offer their users different benefits and drawbacks. In this article, you’ll find out which one will best suit the needs of your business.

Post created by Rebecca Drew
Applied IMC (Winter 2023)


What’s The Difference Between WordPress.com and WordPress.org

WordPress is a content management system that launched in 2003. It allows its users to create websites, shops, blogs, etc., 20 years later WordPress boosts more users than any other CMS platform. As you’re building your WordPress site, you might not be aware that there are two different “versions” of WordPress. WordPress.com and WordPress.org. They both offer their users different benefits and drawbacks. In this article, you’ll find out which one will best suit the needs of your business.

What is WordPress.com

            By using WordPress.com you will be able to have a free subdomain and free hosting. Domain and hosting are two terms you will need to understand when building a website. In layman’s terms, a domain is an address that allows a visitor to easily find your website online. While hosting is where the website files are stored, which could also be thought of as the plot of land your address lives on.

With the free version of WordPress.com you will not need to pay for hosting or a domain but your website address, the domain, won’t appear as “.com”. For example, if I built my website “ReDrew Innovations” with WordPress.com which is free, my domain would look like “ReDrewInnovations.wordpress.com”. If you would like for your website to look like “ReDrewInnovations.com”, then you will need to pay for your domain. Also called the “WordPress.com Premium plan”. My domain cost me $4 a month or $48 for a year.

The biggest downside of using either of these plans is that you won’t get access to WordPress plugins. Plugins can be extremely useful when building your website, but they aren’t necessary. It should also be noted that you should not trust every plugin that is on WordPress. Do your research before downloading plugins to your website. To receive plugins on the WordPress.com site you will need to play for a Business plan which is $25 a month or $300 a year. The reason why WordPress does not allow all users to use plugins is that it would be very challenging to manage millions of websites, all using plugins. It would result in a horrible experience for all WordPress users.

What is WordPress.org

WordPress.org provides its users with more flexibility but also more responsibility. With WordPress.org users have to find their hosting server and have a domain name. To be clear, the service to run WorPress.com and WordPress.org is the same but with WordPress.org there is more flexibility to create. In the next section, you will discover the benefits of using WordPress.org, for now, you will learn how and where to buy hosting and a domain.

First, you will need to choose a host. Remember hosting is your plot of land. It is where your files are stored. You should choose a site that comes with WordPress pre-installed so that you can automatically get to WordPress with as little hassle as possible. Recommendations include Bluehost, SiteGround, and Hostgator.

Next, you will need to buy a domain name and the best part of that is that you can buy a domain name on any one of these hosting sites! Now comes the question, why would you pay separately for hosting and a domain name outside of WordPress?

Benefits of WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org

With the free version of WordPress “.wordpress.com”

  • There will be ads displayed on your website, controlled by WordPress
  • 1 GB storage space
  • You won’t be able to monetize your site through advertising
  • You will get access to free themes
  • Unlimited pages & users
  • Visitor’s stats

WordPress.com (paid premium plan) ($4 a month or $48 annually)

  • Choose your domain name “.com”
  • No displayed ads
  • 1 GB to 50 GB
  • Style Customization
  • Support via email
  • Paid subscribers

Business Plan WordPress.com

  • Everything in the premium plan and:
  • Plugins
  • themes
  • 200 GB


  • Plugins
  • Customization
  • Monetization
  • You own your website and all its data
  • Google Analytics
  • Online store
  • Memberships

To get more information on the pricing differences of each WordPress.com site, you can use this site WordPress.com pricing site. On this site they even allow you to compare different plans against each other.

WordPress pricing plans

How to Choose between WordPress.com and WordPress.org

Now how do you decide between WordPress.com the free or paid version or WordPress.org? If you aren’t totally confident about hosting and domain and you don’t have extra time to do research, choosing WordPress.com might be the best option for you. You might opt for the paid version of WordPress.com if you are a beginner, but you want a cleaner domain name. Or you know you will be using this website for years to come. WordPress.org is best for those users who want complete control of their website and plan on having it for years to come. You will have to pay for your hosting and domain outside of WordPress which could cost anywhere from $30 to $80 a year. However, using WordPress.org itself is free.

From personal experience of building my website ReDrew Innovations, there is a learning curve to building a WordPress site without plugins. It is a difficult process, but it is possible. I created my WordPress website with the intention that I was going have this site for years. Knowing that but having limited knowledge at the time of what hosting, and domain were, I thought it was best to create a website using WordPress.com. Also paying for the premium plan to have a clean domain (ReDrewInnovations.com). However, with the knowledge I have now on WordPress.com and WordPress.org, my advice would be to create a website using WordPress.org. They are numerous benefits including being able to use plugins to create a website easily and complete control of your site.

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