WordPress is an immensely popular content management system (CMS) that powers a significant portion of the web. However, the distinction between WordPress.org and WordPress.com is not always clear, leading to common misconceptions and confusion among new users. In this introduction, we’ll provide a clear overview of both platforms and address some of the prevalent myths that surround them.

Things to remember:

Choosing between WordPress.org and WordPress.com involves weighing various factors that can impact your website’s functionality, cost, and future scalability. Here are some key considerations to keep in mind before making your decision:

What is WordPress?

WordPress is a highly popular content management system (CMS) used to create and manage websites. It’s known for its flexibility and ease of use, making it a top choice for bloggers, businesses, and developers alike. Here’s a brief overview of what makes WordPress so significant:

Key Features:

  • Ease of Use: WordPress has a user-friendly interface that makes it simple for users of all skill levels to create and manage content.
  • Flexibility: It can be used for everything from simple blogs to complex enterprise websites and everything in between.
  • Open Source: WordPress is free to use and modify. A large community of developers contributes to its development, ensuring it remains up-to-date and secure.
  • Themes and Plugins: Users can customize their sites extensively through themes that change the look of a site and plugins that add functionality. There are thousands of free and premium themes and plugins available.
  • SEO Friendly: WordPress sites tend to rank high on search engines. It offers various SEO tools to help optimize content and performance.


  • WordPress.org: The self-hosted version, which you install on your own web hosting account. It allows full customization and control over the website.
  • WordPress.com: A hosted service that offers a simplified version of WordPress. It’s easier to use but comes with limitations on customization unless one opts for higher-tier plans.

Common Uses:

  • Blogging: Originally started as a blogging platform, it remains a premier choice for bloggers.
  • Business Websites: Many businesses use WordPress for their corporate websites due to its scalability and robust features.
  • E-commerce: With plugins like WooCommerce, WordPress can also power full-fledged e-commerce websites.
  • Portfolios: Professionals in creative industries often use WordPress to build their portfolios.
  • Forums and Social Networks: Extended with plugins, it can even manage social networks or forums.

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org Pricing

WordPress.org Pricing

Expense Cost Notes
Domain Registration $10 – $15 per year Necessary to own a custom domain.
Hosting $3 – $25 per month Varies based on hosting provider and plan.
Themes Free – $200+ Many free themes available; premium themes vary in price.
Plugins Free – $1000+ (one-time or annual) Essential plugins might be free; others require purchase.
Maintenance Variable Includes updates, security, backups; can DIY or hire help.
Total Initial Cost $13 – $240 Excludes ongoing hosting, domain renewal, and maintenance.

WordPress.com Pricing

Plan Cost Features
Free $0 Basic features, WordPress.com ads, 3 GB storage.
Personal $48 per year Remove WordPress.com ads, free domain for 1 year, 6 GB storage.
Premium $96 per year Advanced design tools, unlimited premium themes, 13 GB storage.
Business $300 per year Install plugins, upload themes, 200 GB storage, SEO tools.
eCommerce $540 per year Everything in Business, plus powerful e-commerce solutions.
Total Initial Cost $0 – $540 Based on plan selection.


Feature WordPress.org WordPress.com
Initial Setup Cost Varies based on hosting provider (usually $3-10/month for basic hosting) Free for basic, paid plans start at $4/month billed yearly
Domain Name Cost varies, generally around $10-15/year Free subdomain; custom domain included with plans starting at $4/month
Themes Unlimited free and premium themes available Limited free themes; more available with paid plans starting at $8/month
Plugins Access to thousands of free and premium plugins No plugins on free plan; limited plugins with Business plan ($25/month) and higher
Customization Full customization allowed Limited on free plan; more customization options on higher plans
Maintenance User is responsible for updates, backups, and security Handled by WordPress.com, including automatic updates and backups
Monetization Full freedom to monetize site without restrictions Restrictions apply; full monetization features available on Premium plan ($8/month) and higher
Branding No forced branding; complete control over site appearance WordPress.com branding on free sites; removable on Personal plan ($4/month) and higher
Support Community support through forums and documentation Email and live chat support starting with Personal plan ($4/month)
Storage Space Depends on hosting provider (typically starting from 10 GB) 3 GB on free plan, up to 200 GB on higher plans
Traffic Handling Depends on hosting provider and plan chosen Managed by WordPress.com; suitable for high-traffic websites on higher plans
SEO Tools Full SEO control with plugins like Yoast SEO Basic SEO for free; advanced features with Business plan ($25/month) and higher

1. Understand Your Technical Comfort Level

  • WordPress.org requires a certain level of technical know-how, including setting up hosting, installing WordPress, and managing site security. If you’re comfortable with these tasks or willing to learn, WordPress.org can be a great fit.
  • WordPress.com handles most technical aspects for you, making it a better choice if you prefer a more straightforward, less hands-on approach.

WordPress.org is often referred to as the self-hosted WordPress. It is a free, open-source software that you can install on your own web server to create a website or blog. With WordPress.org, you have full control over your site, from its design to its functionality. You can add custom themes and plugins, modify the code, and even create your own applications.

WordPress.com, on the other hand, is a hosted platform that runs on the WordPress software. It simplifies the process of creating a website by managing many aspects of hosting for you. This includes security, maintenance, and backups. WordPress.com offers a range of plans, including a free option with limited customization capabilities. As you move to higher-tier plans, you can access additional features such as custom themes, plugins, and the ability to remove WordPress.com branding.

Common Misconceptions

  1. Same Product, Different Packaging: A common misconception is that WordPress.org and WordPress.com are merely different versions of the same product. While they both utilize the WordPress software, they serve fundamentally different user needs and offer varying degrees of flexibility and control.
  2. Cost: It’s often believed that WordPress.com is always the cheaper option because of its free plan. However, depending on the customizations and functionalities you need, WordPress.org could be more cost-effective in the long run despite the initial costs of hosting and domain registration.
  3. Ease of Use: Many users assume that WordPress.org is too complex for beginners. Although it requires a bit more technical involvement, numerous resources, tutorials, and an active community are available to help users navigate this learning curve.

Understanding these core differences and common misconceptions is crucial for anyone considering WordPress for their website. By clarifying these points, potential users can better align their website needs with the appropriate platform, ensuring a smoother and more effective website creation and management process.

What is WordPress.org?

Definition and Key Features

WordPress.org is the self-hosted version of WordPress, which means that you download the software for free and install it on your own web hosting account. This platform is highly customizable, allowing users to extend functionality and alter the appearance of their website through themes and plugins. Key features of WordPress.org include:

  • Full Theme Support: Users can install custom themes to change the look of their site or build their own themes from scratch.
  • Complete Plugin Access: There is access to thousands of plugins that add functionality to your site—everything from SEO tools to social media integration.
  • Full Control Over Files and Data: Users have complete control over all files, documents, and data, which allows for a highly personalized and potentially more secure web environment.
  • Customization with Code: The ability to edit HTML, CSS, and PHP directly, providing the utmost flexibility in site design and functionality.

Pros and Cons


  • Full Control: You have total control over every aspect of your website, from the server settings to the site appearance.
  • Extensibility: The ability to use custom themes and plugins means that virtually any kind of site can be built, from online shops to subscription services.
  • Community Support: A large global community of developers and enthusiasts means plenty of help, advice, and free resources are available.
  • Cost-Effective in the Long Run: While there are upfront costs, over time, managing your own hosting can be more cost-effective than higher-tier plans on hosted services.


  • Responsibility for Maintenance: You are responsible for maintaining the software and making backups, which can be a challenge for some users.
  • Learning Curve: There is a steeper learning curve if you wish to fully utilize its capabilities, including handling the technical aspects of site management.
  • Initial Setup Costs: Costs for hosting, domain registration, and potentially premium themes and plugins can add up.

Best Use Cases

WordPress.org is ideal for users who need complete control over their website and the flexibility to install any plugins or themes. It is particularly well-suited for:

  • Business Websites: Companies that need professional, fully branded websites that they can customize extensively to meet their business needs.
  • E-commerce Stores: Using plugins like WooCommerce, businesses can create robust online stores with complete control over the shopping experience.
  • Membership Sites: The ability to integrate various membership plugins and manage every aspect of user access and content restriction.
  • Blogs with Custom Features: Bloggers looking for specific functionalities or integrations that aren’t available on WordPress.com.

Who is WordPress.org For?

WordPress.org is ideal for a wide range of users who seek flexibility, control, and the ability to fully customize their website. Here are some of the key groups and scenarios for which WordPress.org is particularly well-suited:


Bloggers who want full control over the customization and functionality of their blogs often prefer WordPress.org. It allows for extensive SEO optimizations, plugins for social media integration, and themes that can be tailored to their brand.

Small to Large Businesses

Businesses that need a professional online presence can benefit from WordPress.org’s ability to scale and integrate various functionalities like e-commerce, customer portals, and advanced contact forms. It’s perfect for businesses that anticipate growing their online operations and need a website that can grow with them.

E-commerce Sites

WordPress.org, combined with WooCommerce or other e-commerce plugins, provides a powerful platform for online stores. It offers full control over the shopping experience, customer data, and integration with other systems, essential for businesses that need a robust e-commerce solution.

Developers and Designers

For those who build websites professionally, WordPress.org offers the freedom to develop custom themes and plugins. The open-source nature allows developers to modify core codes and extend functionality as needed, making it ideal for bespoke website solutions.

Educational Institutions and Non-Profits

Schools, universities, and non-profits often require websites with specific functionalities—like event calendars, membership areas, and donation systems—that can be easily integrated into WordPress.org. Its cost-effectiveness also makes it attractive, as only hosting and domain are the main expenses if one opts for free themes and plugins.

Creative Professionals

Artists, musicians, photographers, and writers use WordPress.org to create rich, interactive portfolios that showcase their work. They benefit from plugins that add functionalities like galleries, video backgrounds, and audio players.

Tech Enthusiasts and Hobbyists

Individuals who enjoy having the ability to tinker with the technical aspects of their websites find WordPress.org appealing. It offers a playground for learning web development, experimenting with code, and implementing advanced web technologies.

WordPress.com: Simplified Website Management

Definition and Key Features

WordPress.com is a web hosting service that uses the same WordPress software but differs significantly in its service approach. It’s a hosted platform, meaning that WordPress.com takes care of all the hosting responsibilities. Here are the key features of WordPress.com:

  • Ease of Setup: Users can create a website quickly without dealing with hosting or server setup.
  • Maintenance and Security: Automatic updates, security, and backups are handled by WordPress.com, ensuring your site is safe and up-to-date.
  • Free Plan Available: Users can start with a basic blog or website for free, though it comes with WordPress.com branding.
  • Paid Upgrades: Offers various paid plans that provide additional features like a custom domain name, additional storage, and the ability to install themes and plugins.

Pros and Cons


  • Ease of Use: Perfect for beginners who might find the setup and maintenance of WordPress.org overwhelming.
  • No Maintenance Worries: Automatic updates, backups, and security streamline the process of running a website.
  • Scalability: Easy to upgrade plans as your site grows or as you need more features.
  • Built-in Traffic and Community: WordPress.com has a community aspect, including features like reblogging and following, which can help increase exposure for new sites.


  • Limited Customization: On free and lower-tier paid plans, users cannot install custom themes or plugins. This limits how much you can modify your site.
  • Ads and Branding: The free version includes WordPress.com ads and branding. Removing these requires a paid plan.
  • Costs Can Add Up: While it starts as free, costs can grow significantly as you add essential features like a custom domain, additional storage, or e-commerce capabilities.
  • Restrictions on Monetization: There are restrictions on how you can monetize your site, especially under the free and personal plans.

Best Use Cases

WordPress.com is well-suited for users who prefer convenience and simplicity over full control. It is especially good for:

  • Personal Blogs and Hobby Sites: Individuals who want to share their thoughts, hobbies, or projects without the hassle of maintaining a website.
  • Small Business Websites: Businesses that need an online presence but don’t require extensive customization options.
  • Writers and Authors: Those who need a platform primarily for writing and prefer to focus on content rather than technical website management.
  • Portfolio Sites: Creatives who want to showcase their work through a variety of themes without delving into website customization.

Who is WordPress.com For?

WordPress.com is designed to cater to a variety of users who prefer convenience and ease of use in managing their websites, without needing to handle technical details such as hosting, security, and updates. Here’s a breakdown of who might find WordPress.com particularly beneficial:


Beginner bloggers or those who simply want to focus on writing without worrying about the technical aspects of website management will find WordPress.com appealing. It provides a quick setup and easy-to-use tools for publishing content.

Small Business Owners

Small business owners who need an online presence quickly and with minimal fuss can benefit from WordPress.com. The platform offers various plans that include essential features like custom domains, social media integration, and customer support, without the need for deep technical knowledge.

Freelancers and Creative Professionals

Freelancers such as writers, photographers, and other creatives who want to showcase their work through a simple portfolio can use WordPress.com’s user-friendly themes and layouts. It allows them to present their work professionally with minimal setup.

Non-Profits and Community Groups

Non-profit organizations and community groups that need an online platform to share their mission, organize events, and connect with supporters can do so easily with WordPress.com. It offers cost-effective solutions that are easy to manage.


Individuals pursuing personal projects or hobbies who want to share their passions online will find WordPress.com straightforward and convenient. The platform makes it easy to start a blog or a small website with manageable costs.

Educators and Personal Coaches

Teachers, tutors, and personal coaches who want to create informational websites or blogs can utilize WordPress.com to deliver content to their students or clients. The platform supports various media types and interactive tools, making it suitable for educational purposes.

Startups and Technology Companies

While startups and tech companies with complex needs might lean towards WordPress.org for greater customization, those in the early stages or with simpler needs can benefit from the quick deployment and ease of use of WordPress.com.

Comparison: WordPress.org vs. WordPress.com

When deciding between WordPress.org and WordPress.com, understanding their differences in hosting, customization, cost, maintenance, and security is crucial. This comparison will help you identify which platform best fits your specific needs.

Hosting Requirements

  • WordPress.org: Requires you to obtain your own web hosting. This involves selecting a hosting provider, purchasing a plan, and setting up the WordPress software on the host. This choice is great for those who want control over their hosting environment and the flexibility to scale resources as needed.
  • WordPress.com: Hosting is provided and managed by WordPress.com. This means you don’t have to worry about finding a host or managing server-related tasks. The trade-off is less control over your hosting environment and potential limitations on website traffic and storage, depending on your plan.

Customization Capabilities

  • WordPress.org: Offers complete freedom to customize your website. You can install any theme or plugin available or even create your own. This is ideal for users who need specific functionalities or want a unique design for their website.
  • WordPress.com: Customization is limited by the plan you choose. Free plans offer limited themes and no plugin installation. Paid plans offer more flexibility, but even then, there are limitations compared to WordPress.org.

Cost Implications

  • WordPress.org: While the WordPress software is free, associated costs include hosting, domain registration, and potentially premium themes or plugins. However, this can be cost-effective over time as you own all aspects of your site.
  • WordPress.com: Offers a free tier, but it includes WordPress.com ads and branding. Paid plans vary in price and provide additional features like a custom domain, increased storage, and removal of ads. High-tier plans needed for full customization can become costly.

Maintenance and Security

  • WordPress.org: Maintenance and security are your responsibilities. This includes regular updates, backups, and security measures to protect your site. While this provides great control, it also requires time or the ability to hire expertise.
  • WordPress.com: Takes care of maintenance, security, and backups for you. This is particularly appealing for users who prefer a hands-off approach or lack technical skills.

Choosing the Right Platform

Deciding between WordPress.org and WordPress.com involves considering your technical skills, budget, and specific website needs. Here are some questions to guide your decision:

  1. How much control do you need over your website?
  2. What is your budget for the website, both upfront and ongoing?
  3. How important is it for you to have access to specific plugins and themes?
  4. Do you have the skills or resources to manage website maintenance and security?

1. What is the main difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com?

  • WordPress.org is a self-hosted platform, meaning you download and install it on your own web hosting. It offers full customization with access to plugins and themes. WordPress.com is a hosted service that provides easier setup and maintenance but with less flexibility and more restrictions.

2. Can I switch from WordPress.com to WordPress.org later?

  • Yes, it is possible to migrate from WordPress.com to WordPress.org if your needs outgrow the capabilities of the former. The process involves buying a hosting plan, exporting content from WordPress.com, and importing it into a new WordPress.org installation.

3. Is WordPress.org really free?

  • The WordPress.org software is free to use, but you will incur costs for web hosting and domain registration. Additional costs can include premium themes, plugins, and possibly additional development.

4. Does WordPress.com put ads on my site?

  • On the free plan, WordPress.com places ads on your site, which you cannot remove unless you upgrade to a paid plan. Higher-tier plans do not have this restriction.

5. What kind of support can I expect with WordPress.org and WordPress.com?

  • WordPress.org relies on community support through forums, documentation, and resources created by users. WordPress.com offers direct customer support, especially with paid plans, which include live chat and email support.

Resource Guide for WordPress.org vs. WordPress.com

1. WordPress.org

  • The official home of the WordPress.org software. Here you can download the WordPress CMS, find themes and plugins, and access community support forums and extensive documentation.

2. WordPress.com

  • The official WordPress.com site where you can start a new blog or website, explore different pricing plans, and get support for your WordPress.com hosted site.

3. WPBeginner

  • A comprehensive resource for all WordPress users, but especially useful for beginners. It includes simple, easy-to-follow tutorials, WordPress tips, and more, helping you get the most out of your WordPress site whether it’s hosted on WordPress.org or WordPress.com.

4. WordPress Codex

  • The online manual for WordPress and a living repository for WordPress information and documentation. It provides detailed information about WordPress’s functionality and how to use it.

Source: https://wpcity.com/wordpress-org-vs-wordpress-com/