WordPress.com or WordPress.org, the ultimate guide
What is the best choice if you want to create a website: WordPress.com or WordPress.org?
It seems like only a small difference, but both options are in fact worlds apart.
A choice which can have huge consequences for what you are trying to achieve with your website…
In this article you will read about when you should choose WordPress.com, and in which instance WordPress.org is a better alternative.
WordPress.com is the easiest way to create a website. It’s partly free and partly a paid service by Automattic, the company which developed WordPress.
You can compare this service somewhat with other website creators like Wix or Wix of Jimbo,, a simple way to create your own website. You don’t need any technical knowledge, it’s like a building kit to shape your website.
The same applies to WordPress.com. You don’t need to have much of a technical background to work with this.
Of course you need to look into how everything works, but it’s not difficult to deal with.
Arrange domain name
If you choose the subscriptions free version, you will be assigned a domain name. You are not able to determine this yourself, and you can’t use an existing domain name which already belongs to you. It will look like this: www.XXXXXXXXX.wordpress.com
The crosses will be replaced by your own address which you entered when creating the website.
With the paid version you do have the option to use your own domain name. Than you will get: www.XXXXX.nl. Other extensions (.com, .blog) are also possible.
You don’t need to arrange separate web hosting with a provider, this is included (free) in the subscription.
The free version does have less web hosting options. For example, you get less disk space than with a paid subscription.
WordPress.com is free up to 6 GB of disk space. If you need more space, because for example you keep getting more pages and messages, than you will need to switch to a paid version.
You don’t need to download software. When you create an account you will be lead through the menu automatically, you click the next step and you can be online within 5 minutes. It is very user friendly.
You can’t create a webshop with the free version, you can with a paid version. Than you will be able to link your website to a payment platform, so customers are also able to order through your website.
Managing the website
Is very simple. You don’t have to carry out anything technical. You don’t need to make use of a FTP control panel like with the .org version, and you also don’t have to update plugins. It’s all done automatically for you.
This way you can focus on the contents of your website.
Is available in both the free and paid version.
This is also well organised. A security plugin will ensure your website is protected against malicious people. Also take a look at Seriously, you really need to secure your WordPress website now.
WordPress.com has limited options when it comes to plugins. You can’t just download any plugin. No, you only have a few available to you.
For example Google Analytics is not standard included (with the free version) and WordPress has its own statistics. But most people would like to use this plugin.
There is however the possibility to integrate social media, but you can’t choose your own buttons. And personally I don’t really like those buttons or find them very noticeable. You can also place comments, start a poll or share an article.
All plugins used by WordPress.com can be found in JetPack.
Besides WordPress you also use a theme to give the website a specific design/appearance. There are a couple hundred themes which are free to use. A paid subscription gives even more choice in themes.
And often the paid themes are more extensive and have more options to change the appearance.
But for this also applies, you can’t make unlimited changes, there are restrictions, while the .org version has (almost) unlimited available options.
WordPress is built with programming language, but in WordPress.com you don’t have access to these codes. If you want to make extensive changes to your website, than that’s not possible.
Both with the free and paid version you have access to the WordPress email service and live chat. The more expensive the subscription, the more support you will receive. For example with the most expensive subscription you will receive personal support.
You are part of a large WordPress network and that means that WordPress stimulates you being found by other WordPress users.
Now! Those were the WordPress particulars. Sounds good right?
But read a little further, because if you want your website to grow, than the .org version is a better option.
We will continue to compare WordPress.com with WordPress.org.
WordPress.org uses the same technique, but the big difference is that you are more free in use and you have endless options to expand your website.
Maybe I can best explain it like this. With WordPress.com you are in a playpen, a safe and comfortable environment. It offers protection against dangers and intruders.
With WordPress.org you have access to the whole house and you can walk or climb everywhere. Obviously you can stumble or hit your nose, but you have complete freedom of movement.
You do need technical knowledge when you work with WordPress.org.
You need to be up to date about domain names, install WordPress, install a theme and you need to manage and maintain the website yourself.
And you need to, for example, update plugins.
Arrange domain name
You need to arrange a domain name yourself. You can often arrange a domain name through your hosting provider in combination with the hosting.
Nowadays it is not so difficult anymore and you can do it in steps.
You can entirely choose the domain name you wish to use yourself. Obviously it still has to be available. Your hosting party will notify you of this when you sign up for a subscription.
When you create a website, you need a subscription with a hosting party.
We recommend two, which are affordable:
Yourhosting.nl is a good starting point when you create a blog or website, a good and not all that expensive party, which I myself have good experiences with.
Neostrada is also a reliable and large party, and also has the option for automatic WordPress installations, which makes it easier to start out.
For the domain you pay around 10 euros per year and the hosting starts at 2 to 3 euros per month.
You can also download the software yourself through WordPress.org and install it, but this requires some technical knowledge.
Why make it difficult when it can be easy!
If you want to do it anyway:
There are several manuals available on the internet about how to do it. Just google ‘Install WordPress.org’.
Types of websites
From webshop to a community website, from business website to an association website. You can build everything with the .org version. And that is the large benefit: you don’t have restrictions like with the .com version.
That you have to take care of yourself, by for example installing a plugin. You have a lot of options.
Besides that, your hosting provider will also often have an option for backup. Check this first! This way, with a few clicks, you can restore an older version if for example your website has crashed.
You also need to take care of yourself. It is important though, to also install a plugin here. The most known are Wordfence and iThemesSecurity. But that you can easily do yourself. Often you can follow the standard settings.
You need to manage your website yourself entirely. The benefit is that you can do what you want, but it does take extra time and something can always go wrong when you do or update something on your website.
Basically you can make the best looking websites without coding, also customized. But imagine that you REALLY want to change something in for example the appearance of your website, than a WordPress developer can adjust this by changing things within the coding.
Basically you can use any theme to build your website. In the Theme Directory alone you can choose from thousands of (free) themes. If you want a super professional website, you can also buy a theme at a website marketplace, like ThemeForest.
Often you can change these themes to your own wishes.
The large .org version benefit is that you can install all the plugins you want. WordPress has thousands of plugins in her directory, where you can download the plugins of your choice.
Always be careful with plugins, test them first and look at reviews about the functioning of the plugin.
In the WordPress plugin top 60 you can see which plugins are the best and most well known.
Although you may not have a steady point of contact for support, on the internet there are enough forums or websites that can help you along. The general WordPress forum is a good starting point. You can also hire a webmaster to fix some difficult tasks for you.
If you really have a problem with your website, you can turn on a service like WP Fixit, a service that can fix your website for less than 100 euros.
Although you may not have support from the WordPress network that can refer to your website, with the .org version you do have enough options to show your website to the world.
You could for example install the SEO Yoast plugin.
You might like to know which one I prefer? WordPress.org, by far.
For beginners or people who truly hate all things technical, it might be a consideration to choose WordPress.com.
No fuss, online fast and very user friendly.
I had advised Mario, a customer of mine, to create a WordPress.com website anyway. But after one year he realised that he needed more freedom and he decided to relocate his website to WordPress.org.
I myself started out with WordPress.org straight away, because I already knew that I wanted to extend my website further.
In the beginning you can get desperate sometimes (really…) when something technical doesn’t work out once again. But along the way I have gotten to know WordPress.org pretty well, and now I can do whatever I want.
This gives so much freedom!
So… really think about it first and than decide to go with either WordPress.com or WordPress.org.