WordPress.org

WordPress.org is the open source, self hosted content management system designed for everyone, emphasizing accessibility, performance, security, and ease of use. The simple WordPress software is easy and predictable so you can effortlessly get started.

The powerful elements that WordPress is made up of easily allows room for future growth and scalability. With the WordPress.org option, you have full control of your website. You are free to do anything you want and customize it as much as you need, but you'll have to host it yourself, or choose a third party host yourself.

WordPress.com

WordPress.com is a commercial enterprise owned by Automattic, the company started by the founding developer of WordPress and staffed by full-time designers, developers, and support engineers.

Automatticians (employees of Automattic) often contribute back to the WordPress software so that the whole community can benefit but as you can imagine, WordPress.com and the suite of offerings can come at a premium.

WordPress.com is not immediately associated to WordPress.org which is home to the most popular open source CMS software, WordPress. Even though WordPress.com weblog hosting provider makes use of WordPress at its core, there are quite a few different offerings and boundaries.

Self-hosted vs. Hosted

Hosted

Hosted systems are a type of an all-in-one buy. They commonly use a combination of open source software and basic proprietary software to help construct and host your website.

WordPress isn't the only game in town. In addition to this popular blogging platform, you'll also find the likes of popular website builders such as Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace.

When you use a hosted platform, the hosting agency handles all the software updates for you, and this eliminates the burden of updating and securing your setup and allows you to focus on your business exclusively.One of the biggest drawbacks to hosted platforms is the inherent restrictions on functionality and customization. In order to make their structures simple and inexpensive to use, they have to limit the possibilities.It is also essential to notice that with a hosted website on a website builder,  you run the risk having to rebuild your website from scratch if at any point you are no longer satisfied with the company's offering.

In addition, if the hosting agency goes out of business or makes a poor business decision, your website essentially goes down with the ship.

Self-hosted

A self-hosted website is one that is made up of usually an appropriate CMS and a third party host to help house the website. The cost of this type of hosting varies depending on what your needs are and which host you choose. I recently went over the differences in the 3 main types of hosting and the pros and cons of each. Expect the average monthly price to be somewhere in the $15 a month range.Self-hosted websites grant extreme flexibility and customization. There are fewer restrictions to the modifications you can make to layout and design, and you can add as many bells and whistles that make sense and optimize your performance to your heart's content.

If you’re unhappy with your web hosting company, it's relatively simple to move it elsewhere, or you can at least hire someone to migrate your website for you.

Why Would Someone Use WordPress.org

WordPress.com sounds pretty good and there are certainly no problems in using their hosted service if that meets your needs and you just want to get started quickly. Just know that they will limit the themes, plugins, and other code and customization you can do.

WordPress.org on the other hand, offers the whole WordPress system download and a repository of themes and plugins.

Should you choose to go with this self-hosted option, the only limit you'll have is what the third party hosts don't allow, your time or skill, or your budget. This means you can add, download, or install nearly any number of plugins and themes (both free and paid versions). You don't want to go to crazy here as each piece of third party code you add to your website can degrade performance and even security.

You're also free to hire web developers to tweak or add to your website to a more professional degree.

Pros and Cons of WordPress.org

Pros

  • Extendability: You're able to add free, paid, or custom WordPress plugins, themes, and other code to your website.
  • Open advertising: You can virtually make money from your WordPress website in nearly any way imaginable. This includes running your own ads without worrying about an income share. 
  • Any analytics package: You're free to use any powerful analytics packages such as Google Analytics without the need to purchase a more expensive hosting plan.
  • More flexibility in product sales. Want to sell digital or physical products? No problem. You can use WordPress to build an e-commerce store and even integrate shipping and other automation options.
  • More flexibility in community building. You can create membership websites and sell memberships for top rate content, courses, and so on.
  • It's portable and easy to use. You are in control. You own your website and all its data. The likelihood of having your website shut down because someone decides it it in opposition to their beliefs is lower.

Cons

  • Potentially hidden costs. Although WordPress is free and hosting that supports WordPress is cheap to start out with, scaling your website can potentially be costly. Besides your hosting getting more expensive to accommodate your growth, any premium themes, plugins, or services can come at a high cost.
  • Maintenance and updates. You are responsible for updates to WordPress, themes, plugins, and depending on your host, potentially the server infrastructure.
  • You are accountable for backups. Most good hosts got you covered but you are responsible for keeping copies of your hard work.

Why Would Someone Use WordPress.com?

One of the most appealing aspects of WordPress.com is that for the majority of users it’s one hundred percent free. Free accounts are the entry level plan they offer and it comes with free hosting, a free subdomain name, a few free themes, easy customizer selections (like a customized logo, background coloration, or photo options), and 3GB of free storage space for your content material and media.In addition to affordability, WordPress.com is additionally extremely convenient to use. It’s geared up to go from the time you sign up, so after creating your account you get to leap right into blogging and building your business.

  • WordPress mobile apps now support numerous languages. The WordPress app detects the language of your device and makes the necessary changes to the interface language automatically. If you want the language of the app to be different from the device language, you can simply change it by going to Me → App Settings → Interface Language.
  • New iOS sharing extensions. Now when you share content, you’ll note that the share extension permits you to structure text, add headings, make lists, and more with a toolbar comparable to the one in your app’s existing editor. As a bonus, if you share posts from Safari, the extension will supply an attribution link and automatically structure any chosen text in a blockquote.
  • With the new Conversations page, new feedback on your observed posts on any WordPress.com or Jetpack connected sites will all show up in a single stream, including web sites you don’t follow. You’ll now be in a position to read and add your replies without having to depart from the Reader!

Pros and Cons of WordPress.com

Pros

  • It’s free. The entry level account doesn’t require a PayPal account nor a credit card to get started. You can start building your business by simply registering and choosing your new website title. After a few clicks, your free website will be online and primed for your first post.
  • Professionals take care of the website infrastructure. With over 200 employees strong, the group of specialists that run Automattic, got your back so you don't have to worry about the tech that powers your website.
  • Get immediate blog promotion. By creating an account, you additionally become a part of the huge network of the WordPress.com universe. Without too much effort, the provider will routinely put your weblog on the map, and other customers will be free to get to your website with ease. Also, those same viewers will be able to leave feedback and assist growing activity on your website. Not only that you have the chance of being featured on the WordPress.com blog for even more traffic pull.
  • Account for multiple services. Speaking of the huge WordPress.com network, your account is also good for other Automattic provided services such as Akismet, Jetpack, and Gravatar.

Cons

  • They place ads on all free websites. So your viewers will see ads, and you don’t make money from it. If you don’t prefer your users to see their ads, then you can elevate to a paid plan starting at $36 per year.
  • You are NOT allowed to sell your own ads on your website. If your website gets a high amount of traffic, then you can apply for their marketing program known as WordAds where you share income with them. Premium and Business plan customers can use WordAds right away.
  • You can't add plugins. Free plan customers get built-in JetPack features. Business plan customers can install from a collection of well matched plugins ($299 / year). WordPress.com VIP application lets you set up plugins, and it starts at $5000 per month.
  • You can't upload customized themes. Free plan users can just install from the restricted free themes collection. Premium and Business plan users can additionally pick out top class themes. Premium and Business plan customers can use custom CSS.
  • You are confined to their stats. You can't add Google Analytics or install any other powerful tracking solutions on the Free plan. Business plan customers are able to set up Google Analytics.
  • minusWeb usage Terms. They can delete your website at any time if they think it violates their Terms of Service. Most online companies have a clause like this but an all-in-one solution like this posses a bigger risk. Your website will show a powered by WordPress.com link. You're free to remove this after upgrading to the Business plan.
  • No e-commerce options: WordPress.com no longer offers any e-commerce features or integrated payment gateways.
  • No membership options: You can't construct membership websites with WordPress.com.

Conclusion

We went over the differences between the two WordPress offerings by looking at the following:

  1. WordPress.org
  2. WordPress.com
  3. Hosted vs. Self-hosted
  4. Why someone would use WordPress.org
  5. Pros and Cons of WordPress.org
  6. Why someone would use WordPress.com
  7. Pros and Cons of WordPress.com

In short, the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org is hosted versus self-hosted.

WordPress.org is generally the best option and will allow you to maximize the capability of your website. However, if you want to get started quickly, just want to work on your content, and not want to worry about much else, then WordPress.com might be the best choice for you. Automattic is a great organization that runs both versions, so don't spend too much time deciding. There are more important things to worry about like writing great content.

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