A lot of new bloggers make the mistake of thinking that WordPress.com is the same thing as WordPress.org. In their defense, it is a little confusing. They want to be great bloggers, so they read article after article talking about why WordPress is the best blogging platform. They search for “WordPress” and see WordPress.com, set up their account and start blogging! It’s an easy mistake.
I really wish WordPress.com would change their name and make things less complicated for all bloggers. Even though they have the same name, there is a big difference in the 2 platforms. I thought it would be helpful for us to discuss differences (and similarities) of the two WordPress’ today.
Both are free
Both WordPress.org and WordPress.com are “free” to use. WordPress.com requires you set up an account to use their blogging software. WordPress.org allows you to download their software and upload it on to your own web server.
WordPress.org and self-hosting
Although both a free, there are some more costs that come with using WordPress.org (you’re probably going to end up having more costs for WordPress.com as well). As mentioned above, you will need your own web server to upload WordPress on. We recommend *Just Host or Blue Host. You can get your own blog set up for relatively cheap and the both offer great service! The benefits of having a self-hosted WordPress blog far out way the couple of dollars a month you spend on your web server. Here are just a few:
You can monetize a WordPress.org blog, but you are limited with a WordPress.com site
When you self-host your WordPress blog, you have full control over what type of ads you want to use one your blog. But, many 3rd party advertising networks are prohibited on a WordPress.com site. Here’s what they have to say about it:
“…we do not allow banner image ads or third-party advertising networks like Google AdSense, OpenX, Lijit, BuySellAds, and Vibrant Media” –Advertising on WordPress.com
A lot of bloggers use advertising networks, like Blogher, as their main source of blogging income. If you blog at WordPress.com you can not use advertising networks.
You are not in control of a WordPress.com site
One of the “perks’ of using WordPress.com is that you don’t have to manage your blog. It is all taken care of for you. In my opinion though, that is the disadvantage. I would like to have full control over my blog. Here are a few examples of things you can’t control with a WordPress.com site
Did you know that WordPress.com can display ads on your blog without your consent?
“Automattic reserves the right to display advertisements on your blog unless you have purchased an Ad-free Upgrade or a VIP Services account.” –WordPress.com TOS
Here’s a big one from WordPress.com term of service:
“Automattic may terminate your access to all or any part of the Website at any time, with or without cause, with or without notice, effective immediately.” –WordPress.com TOS
It happens. The same thing happens to Blogger blogs. You usually can’t get your blog back, either. Even if you can prove that you did nothing to violate WordPress’ TOS.
No HTML access
Unless you pay for an upgraded account, you do not have access to the HTML of your blog. Even if HTML scares you, there will be times you will want access to it.
WordPress.com has limitations.
Not having HTML access is one of the limitations and lack of control of WordPress.com There are other limitations that WordPress.com has, but a self hosted WordPress blog does not.
WordPress.com limits the layout and themes available for your blog. Unless you pay extra money, you are even limited on the colors of your blog design. When you self-host your WordPress blog, your blog can have any design. You can even have a premium Genesis theme.
I love using Google Analyitics to track the progress and traffic of my blog. You can use the Jetpack statistics with WordPress.com, but it isn’t as powerful as Google Analytics. Because you do not have access to your HTML with WordPress.com you are unable to use Google Analytics
One of the best things about WordPress is the plugins. Except, they aren’t available on WordPress.com. One time, my brother had a WordPress.com site and he wanted to add social icons to his blog. Because he couldn’t use the awesome Simple Social Icons plugin, he had to create and upload graphics for each icon and then upload them to each page he wanted them to appear. Plugins make a blogger’s life easier.
You don’t own your content with WordPress.com
When you upload your content to your self-hosted WordPress site, you own it. No one has any right to do anything with your content. That is not the case with WordPress.com:
“By submitting Content to Automattic for inclusion on your Website, you grant Automattic a world-wide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, modify, adapt and publish the Content solely for the purpose of displaying, distributing and promoting your blog. This license allows Automattic to make publicly-posted content available to third parties selected by Automattic (through the Automattic Firehose, for example) so that these third parties can analyze and distribute (but not publicly display) your content through their services.
You also give other WordPress.com users permission to share your Content on other WordPress.com sites and add their own Content to it (aka to reblog your Content), so long as they use only a portion of your post and they give you credit as the original author by linking back to your site (the Reblogging function on WordPress.com does this automatically!).”-WordPress.com TOS
They say it is solely for the purpose of displaying, distributing, and promoting your blog. Which doesn’t necessarily sound like a bad thing. but, it comes back down to control. You can’t control how, when, or where they display your blog content. Your content can also be re-blogged. You deserve credit for your content!
WordPress.org is a tool, WordPress.com is a manager.
To sum it up, WordPress.org is a tool (software) that allows you to publish content on your blog. WordPress.com is a managed platform that allows you to publish content, but limits the use of the site.
Okay, one last thought and then I’m done:
WordPress.com isn’t really free.
I know that “free” might be tempting you to blog on WordPress.com. In the long run though, WordPress.com could end up costing you more money than a self-hosted blog. If you want any control on your WordPress.com site, you have to pay for it. Want custom colors? Add $30 per year. Want to add videos to your blog? $60 per year. Want a custom domain name? $18 per year. It’s ridiculous people!
Blogging on WordPress .com the price can quickly add up. Going with self-hosted WordPress can be cheaper in the long run! I use SiteGround and have been very pleased with their service and price points.
Set up your self-hosted blog today!
Does that help clear up WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org? Are there any other questions you have about the differences/similarities of the two?
*This post has affiliate links. If you decide to buy a product we recommend, we’d appreciate you purchasing through our links. It helps us keep this blog going. 🙂
WOW! My head is spinning. I have wanted to start a blog for a long time but am held back because of all the tech stuff. I see so many blogs out there and think “this can’b be rocket science”; it is do-able. Then I start reading advice on starting a blog and it does seem like walking through a mine field, lol! One wrong step and BOOM your blog is a mess.
Thanks for the WordPress info….i didn’t notice so much difference between .org & .com!
During my research I have come across a few different host sites that keep popping up:
HostGator, BlueHost & JustHost. Any advice on these?
Kristie Hill says
The tech stuff can be intimidating, which is exactly why I started kristiehill.com – to help people like you through the techy side of blogging. All three are good hosting companies – BlueHost and JustHost are sister companies and function together. I recommend bluehost on my How to Start a Blog tutorial because it is easy to set up your site and they have great pricing (you get a special discount with my link!)
What do you want to blog about?
Louisa Garcia says
I am completely new to all of this and when it comes to comouters and the internet I am all thumbs.
I read tons of posts and blogs and all of them said to get a .com to have full control.
I signed on with BlueHost and got a .com and now after reading this I am so confused.
Kristie Hill says
Hi Louisa, sorry you are confused! This post is referring to two different blogging platforms, one you can find at WordPress.com and one that you can find at WordPress.org. The .com only refers to which WordPress platform you are using, NOT you own domain name.
If you signed up with BlueHost, you probably uploaded WordPress (from WordPress.org) on to your host – which can be found at your .com domain. You will have full control this way. If you haven’t set WordPRess up yet on your blog (and want to) check out this tutorial: https://kristiehill.com/how-to-start-a-blog/ You can skip steps 1-3.
I’d be happy to visit your site and make sure everything is set up properly, what is the correct url?
Thank you SO MUCH for writing this! You put all the anger and frustration I’m having with WordPress.com in words. I want to be in full control of my blog and it’s just not possible unless you pay for it. The fun thing is, you can do everything on Tumblr. You can change your HTML, implement Google Analytics and they don’t have ads. I wish there was a mixture of both, because of course I’d love to keep WordPress.com for all its benefits.
Thanks again! Feels good to know a pro feels the same way about that topic 🙂
Kristie Hill says
Yes, there are a lot of limitations with wordpress.com, but it’s “free”. Let me know if you ever need help migrating to self-hosted!
We are considering switching from blogger to WP.org and incorporating the genesis theme! I use it at work and it’s SO much easier than blogger and you’re right you have much more control!
P.S. It’s funny that you mention Brittany’s Blog. I just met her on a blog hop the other day!
Thanks for the great article!
Kristie Hill says
Switching to WordPress is exciting! You’ll have to let me know if/when you do. I’ll check it out. Actually, I’ll email you about it and we’ll talk more!
[email protected] Peaceful Haven says
This is really helpful information when starting your blog! To choose the right platform is everything! Thanks for all you do!
Kristie Hill says