WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org

It can be tricky to know which domain to set up your business account with, especially if you’re unfamiliar with technology in general. This post will give you the resources to decide between which CMS is best for your business needs.

What is a content management system (CMS)? “software that makes it easy for non-techies to organize and manage web content.” (via this website‘s downloadable PDF)

WordPress (whether .com or .org) makes creating and maintaining a business or personal website extremely simple for the common man to use– that way, you get to spend more time focussing on what you love, your content.

Once you’ve decided to go with WordPress, you get the choice between .com and .org. Here’s the breakdown of both via simplexstudios and a WordPress beginner site:

WordPress.com: (via expand2web )


  • Easiest way to get started
  • Pick from list of available themes
  • Hosting is free (there is a $15/year charge to use your own domain name)


The downside is that you cannot upload your own themes and plug-ins, and according to their FAQ you cannot use it to post Adsense ads or affiliate links. They also say that they may occasionally show Google text ads on your site.

  • Must choose only from their list of themes available, and you cannot customize them directly
  • Cannot install plug-ins to extend the functionality of your site
  • Sometimes they show ads on your site

“In the past, I’ve bumped into some of those limitations when trying to customize the look and feel of a blog, and when trying to install some of the neat plug-ins available. I think WordPress.com is a great way to start a hobby or special interest blog, but for small businesses it is very important to have control over the look of their website, so it doesn’t look like a generic blog.”

WordPress.com Benefits (via the wordpress support site)

  • It’s free and much easier to set up
  • Everything is taken care of: setup, upgrades, spam, backups, security, etc.
  • Your blog is on hundreds of servers, so it’s highly unlikely it will go down due to traffic
  • Your content is backed up automatically
  • You get extra traffic from the WordPress.com community — including blogs of the day and tags
  • You can find like-minded bloggers using search and the reader
  • Your dashboard is secure (SSL) making it even safer to log in on shared networks

WordPress.com Cons (via the wordpress support site)

  • We provide 160+ themes (and adding more every day) which you can modify and edit the CSS, but you cannot upload a custom theme*
  • You can’t modify the PHP code behind your blog*
  • You can’t upload plugins

* The VIP program on WordPress.com for high-traffic and high-profile sites allows you to run custom themes, custom PHP code, ad code, and WordPress plugins.


WordPress.org Benefits (via the wordpress support site)

WordPress.org is the website where the free WordPress software can be downloaded. For no charge, WordPress.org provides downloadable blog softwarecommunity mailing listscommunity support forums,documentation, and free themes and plugins.

WordPress.org Pros: (via expand2web )

The advantage of this approach is that you can install any of the WordPress templates or plug-ins available, and customize your site so that it doesn’t look like just another me-too blog.

  • You have complete control over the look and feel of your site
  • You can install any WordPress plug-in to extend the functionality of your site (believe me, this is a very powerful and inexpensive way to add functionality to your website)

WordPress.org Cons:

In order to do use WordPress this way, you’ll need a few things:

  • A hosting provider that allows you to have MySQL databases and FTP access. You can find good hosting for about $6.95/month at Bluehost and other hosting providers.
  • Knowledge of how to use FTP to transfer files, create a MySQL database, and edit configuration files. Note: many hosting providers now have a one-click WordPress installation that handles this for you.
  • You need to manage your own backups. (However, there are free plugins to automate this easily.)

Still Confused? Here’s what WP for Beginners had to say:

Self Hosted WordPress.org vs. Free WordPress.com [Infograph]
Infographic by WPBeginner

In the end, it’s up to you to decide what exactly your business needs are: non-profits might benefit from the easy set up of .com, but larger companies might have the resources to fund the .org upfront. Essentially, both allow you to easily manage content, .com would be the first step and then you might progress to .org once your company grows.

One thought on “WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org”

  1. Great article and, after experimenting for hours and editing my WordPress.com “blog as website”, I am pretty happy with the functionality. However, one change I would like to make is adding the Razoo customized donation plug in – much better look and functionality and great price. I get that WP.com doesn’t accept plug-ins. However, I’m wondering…could I just put a hyperlink on my donation page that would lead to a page hosted someplace else where the actual donation would take place? Kind of like how when you click on Pay Pal on my site you’re actually leaving WP.com. Thanks – I’m stumped!

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