WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org


There is always confusion for beginner bloggers over the differences betweeen Worpress.com and WordPress.org.  I was also confused when I turned to WordPress as my blog platform of choice.

There is a lot of information online about the differences between Worpress.com and WordPress.org with various opinions about which one you should use.  In almost all cases, the author of an article will suggest that your usage of either platform depends entirely on the kind of blog you will have (personal journal or business blog), your monetary restrictions and monetary goals (advertising on your blog) and your technical expertise.

Below, I’ve listed some of the basic and most relevant differences between both platforms from About.com.  But first, here is the description of the differences between Worpress.com and WordPress.org posted on the Support section of WordPress.com website:

WordPress.com is a hosted blog service. You do not have to download software, pay for hosting or manage a web server. WordPress.com does not permit uploading themes or plugins. WordPress.org is free software. You can install themes and plugins, run ads, and edit the database.

One of the things that is omitted here (and in their more detailed explanation of the differences between both platforms listed here) is something that I believe should be seriously considered when making a decision to use either platform:

WordPress.com is free BUT any content you create on their site legally belongs to them.  In other words, your blog (the name, the content, photos you upload, etc.) is the property of WordPress.com to do with what they wish.  That means if you are in violation of their rules for any reason (i.e., monetizing through Google Adsense which they do not allow), they can delete your account immediately and there is nothing you can do about it.  They can also delete your account for no apparent reason at all and you would have no recourse.  You are on their servers and have agreed to allow them to aggregate and manage your content at a cost to them.  When you create your account, you sign away any right to the content.

WordPress.org is free software but you will need to host it on your own server through a third-party hosting platform (i.e., GoDaddy, Hostgator, LunarPages, etc.) for a fee (starting, on average, at $7 per month) and purchase a domain name (approximately $7 per year) that will be associated with your blog.  While you pay a fee for these services (and a nominal one at that) and you will need to upload the WordPress.org software to your server (which requires a bit of effort – but very little), the important thing to know is that with WordPress.org, because you are hosting your own blog on a contracted/paid for third-party service, you own your blog and all of its content.

So, to me, the question is not: which service is easier to use?  Rather:  Am I creating a blog for business reasons or merely as a journal of my thoughts for myself, friends and family?  Do I mind not owning my content?  I believe that if this is the first of the many questions you have to ask yourself about blogging, then (once you answer it) the other questions will practically answer themselves.

If you are blogging to (1) create a brand for yourself or your business as an expert or voice of recognition in your field; (2) monetize your content (which you can’t do on WordPress.com); or to (3) buil a huge following and grow your blog content-wise and visually with your audience, then consider hosting your own blog with Worpress.org.  The last thing you would want as a business person (or professional blogger) is for anyone other than yourself to own your blog content.

Here are more differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org to consider that I am posting from an article on the topic at About.com:

Factors to Consider When Choosing Between WordPress.org and WordPress.com:

Following are some factors you may want to consider before you decide to start your blog on a paid host with WordPress.org or WordPress.com (free):

  • Monetization and Advertisements: WordPress.com does not allow you to include advertisements of any kind.
  • Customization: WordPress.com provides a limited amount of space and customization options (although enough for most beginner bloggers).
  • Knowledge: WordPress.org requires more technical knowledge than WordPress.com.
  • Future Requirements: If your blog becomes popular, switching to WordPress.org requires moving your blog and obtaining a new domain name and URL address.

What Features Does WordPress Offer Bloggers?:

WordPress provides a simple interface to allow even the most technically-challenged people to start blogs. The software includes a variety of features including:

  • Custom themes
  • Integrated stats tracker
  • Spam protection
  • Auto-save
  • Spell check
  • Tagging
  • Automatic ping
  • Various sidebar widgets
  • Multiple authors
  • Plug-ins
  • Support
  • WordPress.org also allows for advertising, a custom domain, custom email addresses and more

As I mentioned at our meetup on Saturday, if your blog is on another blog platform (i.e., Blogger, Vox, etc.) or if you’ve never blogged before and need to familiarize yourself with the technical aspects of WordPress, opening a free WordPress.com account to “test the waters” is an ideal thing to do before committing to the self-hosting option.  You can create a “test” blog about any subject and then fiddle around with it to familiarize yourself with WordPress in general.

It’s a personal decision based on your needs but, ultimately, the blog you create should reflect who you are, what you have to say and be as enriching an experience as possible for your Users.  Whatever you do, don’t sit on the fence!  Choose one and go for it!

In the next post, I’ll have video tutorials on how to open a WordPress.com account and how to install a WordPress.org account on a third party server such as GoDaddy.com.

Happy blogging! : )


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14 Responses to “WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org”

  1. March 22, 2009 at 12:15 am

    Great post, but its a bit long and most people like short and sweet posts!

  2. 2 charlie
    March 22, 2009 at 2:36 am

    Simonn, thanks for checking in and for your feedback! The purpose of this blog is to help our members through their blogging dilemmas by giving them information that will (hopefully) be helpful. You’re right — long post. But keep in mind that many of our members have never had a blog before. Outlining the differences between WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org (while explaining the pros and cons of each) to people who aren’t familiar with either platform warrants a more detailed post (the goal being that they settle on one or the other and start blogging!). To be sure, we will mix up the content and have shorter posts too! : )

  3. March 29, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    Everybody is talking about free WordPress and paid WordPress. Is $15 worth the difference? Id really like to know. Thanks.

  4. 4 chefdarin
    April 6, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    Being new to blogging I have to agree with you that yes, the subject did warrant a detailed post. I would rather have more meat and bones and skip things that I might already know than to have the surface barely skimmed and leave me with questions.

    I do have one question for you…Obviously you’re using the self-hosted wordpress.org but I’m wondering what your thoughts are on doing that vs. going with Typepad?

  5. 5 charlie
    April 6, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    Hi chefdarin, thanks for your feedback. I use wordpress.org and wordpress.com (for this blog). I don’t have any personal experience with Typepad. However, it all depends on what you’re using the blog for (if it’s to start a business or to brand your content, then I would honestly say go with WordPress because it offers far more in terms of plugins and flexibility than anything Typepad will be able to match in this lifetime).

    However, if you’re just journaling for personal reasons, then either Typepad or even WordPress.com (which is free instead of self-hosted).

    If you’re just journaling and want to know which one of the free accounts will suit you better then just open an account on both (doesn’t have to be your actual blog – just a “dummy” blog) and test drive each one for a day for functionality, features, etc. But for business, WordPress.org all the way. If anyone else has any suggestions, please chime in! : )

  6. 6 Deb
    April 13, 2009 at 6:22 pm

    THANK YOU for your in-depth (at least compared to most others I’ve seen) explanation of the differences between these two options. I WELCOME your detail, and I never saw anywhere else the mention of not owning your own content on wordpress.com.

    I want to advertise on my blog but like the way wordpress.com accomplishes top-notch SEO with their tags. 4 seconds after I hit the “publish” button my posts are on Google. Will I loose that going to wordpress.org?

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  9. January 11, 2010 at 3:01 am

    There’s good info here. I did a search on the topic and found most people will agree with your blog. Keep up the good work mate!

    I’m Out! 🙂

  10. June 24, 2010 at 11:28 pm

    Finding relevant sites on this topic is sometimes hard to find. You did an excellent job covering the subject and I look forward to more posts from your site. Do you offer RSS Feeds or feedburner to get more content for our blogs?

  11. June 25, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    Thank you very much for a very clear explanation of WP.com and WP.org
    I have purchased wpzoom themes for upload to wp.com but as I found out, and with a tech at wp.com support I could not do this and “if I would have taken the time to go to their FAQ I would have known this” That pissed me a little but I got over it. I was going to let the $69. I paid go by the wayside but then I read your posting on “who owns my stuff” and that made me change my mind. I have domains with Lunarpages so another 4.95 a month will be the way to go.
    Thanks again for your CLEAR explanation of the two sites.


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  13. April 2, 2013 at 7:38 am

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