WordPress.com vs WordPress.org – What is the Difference?

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By Lokesh Joshi

In current times, WordPress has emerged as the most successful platform to develop a wide range of interactive websites. However, despite its unwavering popularity, users keep grappling to find an answer to a confusing question: what are WordPress.com and WordPress.org and how do they differ?

When you type “WordPress” on Google’s search bar, you will find that the websites WordPress.com and WordPress.org are ranked at number 1 and number 2 spots respectively in the search results. If you are a newcomer to the WordPress space, you may find it difficult to figure out which one to use.

This article intends to distinguish between WordPress.com and WordPress.org by taking 8 key differentiating factors into account. Eventually, you will be able to get a fair idea of which one is more suitable for your unique needs. So, let’s get started with this.

What is WordPress.com?

WordPress.com is a comprehensive platform that enables you to design and develop your websites. You do not need to spend a single penny to set it in motion. Plus, there is no requirement for any external hosting provider or domain name.

Simply, you need to visit WordPress.com, create an account for yourself, and you are all geared up to start developing your website or blog straight away.

What is WordPress.org?

WordPress.org, on the other hand, is website software built on open-system architecture. As far as a website or blog is concerned, it works as an OS. Even though the WordPress.org software is free to use, the need to have a hosting web server and domain name is compulsory. Both hosting and domain names come with a price tag.

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org – A Detailed Comparison

1. Which one is more affordable?


Both free and paid premium plans are offered by WordPress.com. The free plan is absolutely free with no hidden charges.

The paid premium plans range from $4 to $45 per month. Depending on the pricing, the perks and features differ too. The cheapest plan goes by the name of “Personal” and it offers a complimentary domain name with a subscription period of 1 year.


The software for WordPress.org comes free of cost. But, in case you want to present your website to the general public to amplify its visibility, you will need to acquire a domain name and web hosting, both of which are payable services.

Hosting services at an entry-level cost $2.75 per month. But, it needs to be purchased upfront for 3 years to get it at such a low price. Your outlay will be more when you buy it for a shorter period. The hosting service is available with a customized domain name.

Even though the domain name is provided free of charge for the initial one year, it needs to be renewed from the 2nd year onwards. The domain name rental is approximately $15 per year.


WordPress.com is more cost-effective if you want to get going with a basic website. In other scenarios, WordPress.org will offer more value for money if you want to build a complex website with a lot of customizations.

2. Which one has an easier setup process?


Making the first move with WordPress.com is simple. It involves visiting the WordPress.com site and clicking on the button “Start your website”.

Step by step, WordPress.com will sail you through the process of customizing and configuring your website in a user-friendly manner. However, there are only a few requirements to get started with the website creation process:

  • Your email address to sign up with WordPress
  • A name for your website
  • A design for your website that you can choose from a collection of pre-built themes

The whole process of creating a website takes just a couple of minutes. All you get in the end is a fully operational website for you to start using instantly.


Setting up the WordPress.org software, on the contrary, is not very simple and straightforward.

Firstly, the configuration of a website through WordPress.org does not really need you to visit the WordPress.org site in the very beginning. Here, you start using the platform by first choosing your preferred hosting provider and signing up with it.

In the course of the setup process on the platform of the hosting provider, you will gain access to many methods of the installation of WordPress on your hosting space.

In case you resort to Bluehost, which is a leading hosting service provider, the installation requires just one click. Here, just like WordPress.com, you need to provide your website’s name and fill out some forms.

Nonetheless, the experience you gather working with different hosts may vary. Some of them use script installer tools that perform a similar WordPress installation process like Bluehost yet in a complex manner.


WordPress.com platform is designed to quickly and easily pull off the setup process.

3. Which one can be more customized?

The design packages for creating a WordPress site come in the form of all-encompassing themes that can be installed with a few clicks.


The particular plan you select determines how many themes you can get access to. You can avail of more than 150 themes in the Free and Personal plan. The paid plans offer not just free themes but also more than 200 premium themes.


In WordPress.org, there are thousands of free as well as premium themes. The WordPress.org official directory is home to more than 8000 free themes. You can pick any of them for your website. At the same time, you are allowed to incorporate other free themes that you may find external to the directory.

The paid premium plans also offer more themes in the order of thousands. For instance, ThemeForest, recognized as the most popular marketplace to buy WordPress themes, houses over 11,000 themes.


Go for WordPress.org as it offers a huge number of themes to design your website as per your requirements.

4. Which one has more flexibility in terms of plug-ins?

Plug-ins are basically packages that can be installed on a WordPress site to add more features and functionality.


The installation of plug-ins is possible if only you have subscribed to the Business or e-Commerce plan. They have a monthly fee of $25 and $45 respectively. With any of these plans in place, you can have access to over 50,000 plug-ins.


The installation of new plug-ins is possible regardless of the hosting plan that you have bought.

In WordPress.org also, more than 50,000 plug-ins are accessible if you opt for the Business or e-Commerce plan. In addition, you can include plenty of several other free and paid plug-ins from all across the web.


Here WordPress.org wins hands down. With zero extra payment, countless free and premium plug-ins can be accessed and integrated with your website.

5. Which one gives better customization options?

If truth be told, both WordPress.com and WordPress.org operate with the same underlying native software.


However, the most vital point with regard to WordPress.com is that its customization involves many interfaces, a variety of mechanisms, and more importantly a number of constraints.

Eventually, you will find that the customizations rendered by WordPress.com configured websites are only a subset of an overarching set of customizations available with the WordPress.org software.


Since WordPress.org has an open-source architecture, it is possible for you to delve into the intricacies of your website, replace existing themes with fresh ones, do installation and configuration of plug-ins, take professionals to write custom codes for your website, or do the work all by yourself.

To put it simply, WordPress.com is always in charge when you use it whereas you hold complete sway while using WordPress.org.


WordPress.org wins over WordPress.com as the former has practically no limitations when it comes to customizations.

6. Which one offers better support and help?


If you subscribe to the free plan you can expect no help. As far as the Personal plan is concerned, you can get support via email and live chat at a fee of upwards of $4 per month.


The platform itself does not extend any support. However, it is the hosting provider that can extend all kinds of support you are in need of.

The majority of web hosting service providers offer round-the-clock support. In case you settle on a host that is already aware of how WordPress functions, you have the opportunity to fully utilize the WordPress support teams for your individual customization needs.

The following hosts provide full WordPress support.

  • Bluehost
  • LiquidWeb
  • SiteGround
  • DreamHost

In addition to the support provided by the official channels, you will gain entry to a vast reserve of tutorials and suggestions related to WordPress all across the web. Having said that, nearly every single detail you find is in connection with the WordPress.org software and not with the WordPress.com platform.


Here WordPress.com takes the prize in. This is in line with the fact that WordPress.org does not provide any official support and what you get is support from third-party hosting service providers.

7. Which is more secure and backup-friendly?


All the basic security and backup options are incorporated within WordPress.com at the very outset. Actually, you have to fully rely on the internal security mechanism that the platform is endowed with.

Although, very little is known about the security mechanism provided by WordPress.com. But, to date, there have been no reports of any serious break-ins into the platform. And, when it comes to backup and regular updates WordPress.com does them automatically.


Because of the inherent transparency of the software, anyone can have a look at the source code. Also, the software is meticulously developed to abide by ultra-modern security standards and requirements.

The installation of the WordPress software is always a neat, secure procedure that does not leave any room for cybercriminals or hackers to force their way into the system. This is an adequate safeguard for any personal website project.

For business websites, WordPress security can be further reinforced through the implementation of extra security plug-ins such as Sucuri or Wordfence.

WordPress.org allows backups to be taken with the help of plug-ins and you have sundry choices such as UpdraftPlus or Backup Guard to select from.

As far as patches and updates are concerned, semi-manual work is all that you need. As and when a new software update is released, you will be intimated with a notification on the WordPress dashboard. Consequently, the installation of the update can be done in just one click.


It is evident that WordPress.com can be maintained more easily. In fact, there is absolutely nothing you need to do in the matter of maintenance. Even keeping up security and carrying out backups are all automated tasks that require no manual intervention.

8. Which one can be monetized better?


You cannot earn revenue from websites that are free or Personal. Generating revenue from a website built on the WordPress.com platform entails a subscription to any of the premium plans.

Moreover, if you use the free plan, the ads of WordPress.com will be continuously displayed and there is no way you can get them disabled. This can have a jarring visual experience for your website visitors.


When it comes to monetization, a website made with WordPress.org does not have any limitations at all. The WordPress software allows you to enable any monetization method as per your requirements.


WordPress.org is the winner here as it allows you to monetize your website in a way that suits you the best.

Advantages and Disadvantages of WordPress.com and WordPress.org

Each of the two versions has its own share of advantages and disadvantages. To cut a long story short here are the instances where you should be using WordPress.com and WordPress.org

When is WordPress.com preferred?

When you use WordPress.com, there is absolutely no need to get in a fluster about how to purchase hosting or maintain your website. However, WordPress.com also comes up with expensive paid plans.

With the Free plan, you are entitled to receive 3GB of hosting space together with a sub-domain such as mywebsite.wordpress.com, which of course brings in unwanted WordPress.com ads.

Moreover, WordPress.com free version does not allow you to carry out the installation of plug-ins and themes of your choice unless you opt for the more expensive paid business plans.

Without a doubt, it can be said that plug-ins and themes are the most powerful elements of the WordPress.com software as they help to customize and make your website more powerful. And, not having any access to them is a terrible loss.

Through WordPress.com you can create a basic website or blog. At times, you may need to change the domain name server or do a complete backup of your website data. These two exercises can be extremely challenging. With WordPress.com put into effect the need to do these exercises is eliminated.

But, in case you want to add more flexibility and scalability to your website or plan to earn revenue from it in the long term, WordPress.com can throw up too many limitations.

Advantages of WordPress.com

  • The Free plan is ideal for people who have taken up blogging as a hobby.
  • WordPress.com takes care of backups, updates, and maintenance all by itself.

Disadvantages of WordPress.com

  • Websites developed on the free plan cannot escape the bother of WordPress ads. Visitors to your website will catch sight of those unwanted ads. In order to remove WordPress ads, you need to upgrade to a paid Premium plan.
  • A website developed on the free version does not allow you to sell ads either. This severely hampers the prospects to earn money from your website.
  • The free plan also does not allow you to integrate plug-ins with your website. Only users who subscribed to the Business plan are able to install plug-ins.
  • If you have subscribed to the free plan there is no way to upload custom-built themes. You can avail of a limited collection of themes. Premium quality themes are available only for the paid plans. Even the free plan does not support many customizing options. In contrast, the Business and Premium plan users are allowed to create, modify, and link different Cascading Style Sheets (CSS).
  • Even website performance cannot be tracked in the free plan. There is a restriction to extract stats. Furthermore, the addition of Google Analytics or any other robust reporting platform is not allowed. However, the users subscribed to the business plan can carry out the installation of Google Analytics.
  • Any website created on a free plan can be deleted by WordPress.com in case the website does not comply with its service terms.
  • Preliminary WordPress.com plans are devoid of all e-Commerce related features. They are not even capable of integrating any payment gateways. These two features are available in the e-Commerce plan only.
  • WordPress.com is incapable of building membership websites.

2. When is WordPress.org preferred?

The setup for WordPress.org has to be accomplished with a hosting provider. In almost all cases, the process involves a quick, easy, one-click installation. As a matter of fact, the domain name can be provided by the hosting provider also. If that is the case, any change in DNSs will be carried out by the hosting provider itself. You need not be anxious about doing it on your own.

In addition, more suitable customization choices are provided by WordPress.org. You will be able to install plug-ins and use custom-tailored themes for your website. Also, you can start generating revenue from your website if that is all you are planning to do.

Thus, if you completely want to be in charge of your website that is loaded with best-in-class features, WordPress.org is your quintessential go-to option notwithstanding the fact that it requires more learning prowess than WordPress.com.

Advantages of WordPress.org

  • It gives you total control to maneuver your website as per your needs. You can customize your website by including all your needs and preferences.
  • WordPress.org software is open-source, user-friendly, and above all, free of cost.
  • Once you build a website with WordPress.org, all its data remains under your authority and scrutiny. No one can discontinue the operation of your site without intimating you and your approval. You hold total sway.
  • The addition of free and paid plug-ins and/or apps to your website is possible.
  • The design of your website can be customized as per your choice. It allows you to choose a free or premium theme for your website.
  • You can monetize your WordPress.org site. You do not need to get into revenue sharing with WordPress.
  • You can put powerful tools such as Google analytics to use for monitoring the performance of your website.
  • It helps in the creation of an online shop meant for selling both digital and physical products, accepting payments via gateways, and delivering or shipping goods to customer locations.
  • Even the creation of membership sites is feasible with WordPress.org. Through these sites, you can seek memberships and offer high-quality content, courses, etc. You can likewise build and foster an online community involving your website.

Disadvantages of WordPress.org

  • Even though the software is free, you need to shell out money for web hosting and acquiring a domain name. But with the gradual growth of your website and it attracting more traffic, you can earn sufficient money to pay for the hosting services and domain name rental.
  • The onus solely lies in you installing the WordPress software. Thankfully, most of the hosting service providers offer one-click WordPress installation.
  • The responsibility to create backups and install updates rests on you and WordPress.org does not offer any help or support. However, these tasks are simple and can be accomplished with ease.
  • The actual cost of a website developed with WordPress.org differs according to the nature of the website you are intending to build – whether it is a portfolio website, simple blog, membership site, e-Commerce store, etc. Other factors that contribute to the total outlay include the type of themes and plug-ins you prefer to use; free or premium.

Wrapping Up

For beginners, trying to grasp the key differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org can be challenging. There are lots of research projects that were done before to segregate the two platforms.

Hopefully, the article gives you enough insights to gain an elementary understanding of what these two platforms are and how they are at odds with one another.

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