Back when I wrote this comparison my blog was really new so I couldn't assess WordPress.com in terms of one very important aspect. Uptime. I will have to give that to WordPress.com as my blog's uptime is 100%.
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The verdict to the question of WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org was already buried in my memory. Unfortunately, it was a bit too buried. I started my first WordPress blog at WordPress.com back in 2013. I wasn't that interested in blogging back then, but I had searched the differences between wordpress.com and wordpress.org. After all, they sound the same, don't they? Well, they are not, and I could have avoided an extra cost of $254 for the first year.
Case in hand, I started this blog in September 2020 on wordpress.com, and I paid for the personal plan as I wanted my own domain name. Back then, it was anantoni.com. Eventually, I switched to borderpolar.com, which seems very inappropriate at the moment.
Anyway, I thought the personal wordpress.com would be enough initially. Soon, I realized it was very restricting, and I moved to the $300/year Business plan of WordPress.com to monetize my blog and use free/paid/custom plugins. Now I know better, and I want to share this valuable information.
WordPress.com vs WordPress.org comparison
A comparison between WordPress.com and WordPress.org will help you understand the difference too. This comparison is heavily inspired by wpbeginner.com.
WordPress.org is the actual WordPress we all have in mind. It is the most popular website platform and there reason you ended up in WordPress.com. Funny thing, isn't it?
WordPress.org is open-source and 100% free for everyone. On the other hand, you need to buy a domain name and web hosting first. That's why it's called self-hosted WordPress. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of WordPress.org.
Here is the list of benefits that makes WordPress.org pretty much the best choice for website building.
- The WordPress software is free, open-source, and easy to use. You know that already if you use WordPress.com. It's the same platform, used by a different company.
- You can add free, paid, or custom WordPress plugins to your website or blog.
- Also, you are free to customize your website as you want with free or premium WordPress themes. You can also create your designs.
- On WordPress.org, you can monetize your site and run your ads without sharing revenue with anyone.
- You can use analytics and tracking tools like Google analytics without any hassle.
- Finally, you can use your website for eCommerce and sell digital or physical products, accept payments and provide shipping from your website. You can also create membership sites and online communities or online learning.
To be entirely honest with you there are very few cons here for WordPress.org. If that was not true I wouldn't have written this post. Let's see them.
- The primary downside is having to pay for web hosting. That's pretty much the only disadvantage there is when you decide to start blogging. You want to start with something free and WordPress.org does not give that option. And yet, web hosting can cost as little as $46 per year and the hosting service will be faster than WordPress.com.
- The second and easily solvable downside is taking take care of backups. Thankfully there are many plugins to automate this process.
The hosting costs will eventually increase if your blog becomes more successful. But you should be able to easily cover that cost and have some sort of passive income based on ads and monetization alone. I'm pretty sure you have figured things out already but let's keep going.
WordPress.com is a hosting service created by the co-founder of WordPress, Matt Mullenweg. Because of the same founder, often users confuse WordPress.com with the popular WordPress.org software. Yes, confuse. A lot of us end up at WordPress.com out of confusion while we were aiming for WordPress.org.
WordPress.com as a hosting service offers the following plans:
- Free – A very limited plan.
- Personal – $48 per year.
- Premium – $96 per year.
- Business – $300 per year.
- eCommerce – $540 per year.
- VIP – at least $5000 per month.
The free version of WordPress.com is only good for hobby bloggers, nobody else.
WordPress.com is an excellent hosting provider and you can expect your uptime to be 100%, especially on the more premium plans. That's indeed a big one since you don't have to worry about finding a trustworthy hosting provider.
- WordPress.com is free for up to 3GB of space. Anything more than that and you will need to switch to a paid plan for space.
- The Personal plan provides 6GB of space
- The Premium plan provides 13GB of space
- The Business plan provides 200GB of space.
- WordPress.com takes care of your website's backups.
Here are the limitations of WordPress.com when you are on a free plan:
- WordPress.com places ads on your website and makes money from them. You don't. To remove their ads you need to switch to a paid plan.
- You can't sell ads on your website so there goes one way to monetize it. If you eventually acquire high traffic you can apply for WordPress.com's WordAds and share revenue with them. Meh. Premium and Business plan users can use WordAds straight away, just like borderpolar.com does on the business plan, running AdSense.
- You cannot use plugins. You need to switch to the Business plan that costs $300 per year to install plugins. That's what I had to do too.
- On WordPress.com, you cannot use custom themes on the free or Personal plan. You will have to switch to the Premium or Business plan to use premium themes and custom CSS.
- WordPress.com restricts you to their own traffic stats. You cannot use Google Analytics or any other tracking software unless you switch to the Business plan.
- Free WordPress.com websites come with a WordPress.com branded domain of the form https://borderpolar.wordpress.com. You will need to switch to a paid plan to get a custom domain name such as https://borderpolar.com.</li><li>WordPress.com can delete your website at any time if they consider it to violate their ToS.
- Your site will display a “Powered by WordPress.com” link. You need to upgrade to the Business plan to remove it.
- You will have to switch to the eCommerce plan to get access to eCommerce features. That's $540 per year. Add to this the fact that you cannot build membership sites either.
- What does all this mean? It pretty much means that to get all the perks that WordPress.org offers you, you will need to reach at least the Business or eCommerce tier of WordPress.com paid plans. That's $254 or $494 more than paying for the lowest tier of web hosting. Pretty cool, huh?
WordPress.com vs WordPress.org: The Verdict
- Obviously, it goes without saying that everyone recommends WordPress.org instead of WordPress.com. Every professional blogger or business uses WordPress.org. So if you plan to pay for blogging and monetize your blog, WordPress.com is the wrong place to be, it's as simple as that. To sum up, WordPress.com is only good for hobbyists who don't want to invest in blogging.
What to Do After Reading This Article
Firstly, I would recommend waiting for your current subscription with WordPress.com to expire and then move to WordPress.org. Next, the only thing you will have to figure out is what kind of web hosting you need depending on your traffic.
Now, if you are totally fine with the WordPress.com despite its hefty price tag, that's also fine as you are stuck with a great hosting provider.
Personally, I won't even wait for my subscription to end. I want to be able to express myself without worrying about what WordPress.com thinks about it. I would have very differently written this article if it wasn't hosted on WordPress.com.
Finally, all this is not a personal opinion. You can do your research and reach the same conclusion. Contrary to Borderpolar Central, WPBeginner is a very well-known website, so take their word for it, not mine. Generally speaking FOSS is always the way to go.
More blogging and monetization tips are coming soon so subscribe and stay tuned!