If you’re new to WordPress you might be dismayed to find that there are two WordPress websites, WordPress.org and WordPress.com. Both sites provide resources for people that want WordPress blogs or websites. The key differences are hosting and restrictions.
WordPress.org – Downloads and Self Hosting
WordPress.org is download central for WordPress software, plugins and themes. It’s for people who plan to get a website hosting account at a company like Bluehost. This is called self-hosting because the website owner provides the website host. Then WordPress software is installed on their hosting account.
After that, the sky’s the limit. Website owners can use any of the themes or plugins available at WordPress.org. There are plugins and themes available for purchase as well as software systems, like aMember Membership software, that can be utilized along with WordPress.
Website owners can hire designers to make custom themes or developers to make custom plugins. There is no limit to what can be done with self-hosted WordPress software from WordPress.org.
WordPress.com – Free Websites with Limited Features
WordPress.com is a great place to take WordPress for a test drive. People just sign up for an account and get a free website. It’s fast, easy and a great way to started with WordPress.
There are limitations to the free accounts though. There are no custom/private domain names. WordPress sometimes puts advertisements on the free sites. Plugins cannot be added. Finally, site owners have to choose from a list of provided WordPress themes.
While there are serious limitations to the free WordPress.com accounts, a huge point in their favor is the lack of technical issues. WordPress.com hosts the site and does all the updates. Sites can be hacked at WordPress.com, but it’s not nearly the issue that it is for self-hosted websites. For people who are concerned about the technical issues of having a website, WordPress.com may be the answer.
WordPress.com – Paid Features
However WordPress.com does have some nice paid features. For $18 a year people can register a domain name at WordPress.com and use that domain name for their WordPress site. For $13 a year people can use an existing domain and map it to their WordPress.com site.
The WordPress.com Premium plan costs $99 per year. It comes with a custom site address, more storage space, no ads, a custom design and other features.
The WordPress.com Business plan costs $299 per year. It includes the same features as the Premium plan plus even more storage space and eCommerce functionality.
None of the plans include email services beyond forwarding for sites with custom domain names.
Which is Right for You?
There are pros and cons on each side of this issue. Having a self-hosted website offers the most freedom and opportunity. Having a site at WordPress.com is a way to have a website without dealing with a lot of technical issues.
One thing to keep in mind that it’s possible to start a website on WordPress.com and move to a self-hosting option later.