What Is the Difference Between WordPress.org vs WordPress.com?

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updated Dec 27, 2019

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If you want to start a blog from scratch, the entire process can quickly feel overwhelming. When you have found the perfect blog niche, it the next thing you need to choose is the best blogging platform to use.

You may have heard of WordPress already. It is the most popular platform worldwide for not only blogging, but for building websites altogether. But what is the difference between WordPress.org vs WordPress.com?

Both are based on the same WordPress software, but they are not the same. 

So, which one is better for you to start blogging?

To help you pick the right WordPress platform quickly, I will walk you through their differences in this post. We will look at how WordPress.org vs WordPress.com compare if you want to start blogging to make money online.

Here are a couple of related articles you may want to read, too:

Please note: This post contains affiliate links to products I use, trust, and recommend. If you choose to purchase a helpful product using these links, I may receive a small commission for referring you – at no extra cost to you. These funds help me keep this blog up and running.

WordPress.org (Self-hosted)

If you start a self-hosted blog, you will use WordPress.org to create and manage your content.

Self-hosted WordPress.org vs WordPress.com - How to start a blog and make money online

Self-hosted simply means that you will pay for your blog hosting with a provider like Bluehost. You will also own your blog’s domain name (like I own bloggingexplorer.com).

Speaking of Bluehost, I use and love them for many reasons. But one great perk is that they give you a FREE domain name when you purchase a hosting plan with them.

WordPress.org is free to use when you sign up for blog hosting and register a domain name.

If you are new to all this and you don’t feel too savvy, don’t worry. Most blog hosting providers install WordPress.org for you automatically. Bluehost does everything for you during the signup process and your blog is ready to use right away.

Here are some good reasons why you should use WordPress.org:

  • Themes and design: Choose from thousands of free or paid WordPress themes to customize your blog easily.
  • Newsletter and e-mail marketing: Gather email addresses and use your mailing list to monetize your blog later.
  • Plugins: Add new functions and features to your blog easily with thousands of free WordPress plugins.
  • Control: You own your blog and content with WordPress.org. More on this in a minute.
  • Credibility as a blogger: Your readers take you seriously when you have your own domain name.
  • Monetize your blog with ads: Generate passive income with your blog using display ads.

In short: you control and own your self-hosted blog 100%.

The only disadvantage of WordPress.org is that you have to pay for your blog hosting. It is often the biggest expense when you start a blog from scratch.

Therefore, to help you save money, I have negotiated a deal with Bluehost to give my readers a discount on their hosting plan, starting at just $2.95/month.

CLAIM DISCOUNT NOW

I know it’s a lot of money to pay upfront. I also know that some providers offer plans with monthly payments, but they are always more expensive, around $10–$12/month.

You will only pay much more at the end if you don’t make the 12-month investment upfront. Moreover, keep in mind that a longer plan locks in the low price for your entire contract period.

In short: if you want to start a blog and make money by turning it into a business, self-hosting is the only way to go.

WordPress.com (Free version)

WordPress.com is the free version you can use to start blogging. However, this does not mean that you should pick it over the self-hosted alternative.

Wordpress.com - How to start a blog and make money - What WordPress version should you choose

Sure, you don’t have to pay a cent to use this version, but it comes with a few crucial limitations.

WordPress.com is hosted directly on WordPress’ own servers. This means that you don’t have to sign up for blog hosting and pay for a hosting plan.

In general, WordPress.com is a better option for hobby bloggers who aren’t serious about monetizing their blog. If you love to write and you simply want a creative outlet to share your creativity, this option may be good enough for you.

But if you want to monetize your blog and turn it into a successful online business, use WordPress.org instead.

Here are the top reasons why I think that you should NOT use WordPress.com:

  • No monetization with ads: Display ads are the fastest way to make money blogging. WordPress.com puts ads all over your blog – but you don’t earn any money from them.
  • Customization and design: You can’t use a customizable WordPress theme to design your blog freely.
  • No plugins: You can’t upload any plugins to add new features to your blog, such as a contact form, social media sharing buttons, email subscription forms, etc.
  • You don’t own your blog: Sounds absurd, but your blog can be deleted anytime if WordPress thinks you have violated their terms.

You don’t own your domain name, either. Your blog will have .wordpress.com at the end of your blog URL. If I used the free version, my blog URL would be bloggingexplorer.wordpress.com.

If I didn’t own my blog domain name, I would not be in control of what happens to my blog and all my content.

Also, if someone else thought bloggingexplorer.com could be a great website URL, they could purchase the domain and I could no longer use it.

All in all, WordPress.com may sound good because it is “free”. But trust me, this does not mean you won’t pay the price some other way.

Wordpress.org vs WordPress.com - What is the difference

Can you start with the free version and move to WordPress.org later?

A question I hear a lot is if it’s OK to start off with a free blog on WordPress.com and move to the paid self-hosted version later.

The truth is:

If that is what you want, it is up to you.

But bear in mind that transferring your free blog to a self-hosted environment is not always easy. Would you feel comfortable with the technical side of it?

Also, remember that you should at least buy the domain name you plan to use for your blog right away. Otherwise someone else could buy it.

I have seen several bloggers start with the free version. Most of them felt frustrated in a matter of weeks, seeing that WordPress.com was too restrictive for them. So, they ended up starting another blog with the self-hosted version. (As if starting one blog wasn’t enough already.)

I know that the only way to start a blog and make money online is to take the chance and invest in yourself and in your new business.

Because at the end of the day, blogging is just like any other business. It requires time, dedication, determination, and some initial investment to get things going.

WordPress.org vs WordPress.com: Quick recap

Right now, the most important question you must answer is this:

What do you want to achieve with blogging?

Do you plan to eventually make money with your blog? Do you want to have full control over the content you create? Do you want to own your blog domain and build your own brand around it?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, WordPress.org is the way to go.

The self-hosted version gives you 100% control over everything you create. You will put your heart and soul into writing and producing valuable content for your readers. Trust me, you don’t want to risk losing anything you worked so hard for.

Thus, the price you would pay for a free blogging platform is the total loss of control over your content.

That said, the best thing you can do right now is to invest in a good blog hosting plan.

How to start a blog the RIGHT way to make money

If you feel like you are serious about blogging, starting with Bluehost and WordPress.org is the best alternative for you!

Honestly, it is the only way you can take full advantage of everything WordPress has to offer. And starting a blog with Bluehost is super easy – which is why I host my blogs with them, too.

I have always used the self-hosted version for my blogs and I am glad I have! With all the time and effort I put into blogging, I would be absolutely devastated is my blogs were shut down for some reason by WordPress.com.

Now it is your turn! I will see you in my tutorial to get your WordPress blog started today: How to Start a WordPress Blog to Make Money: Free Step-by-Step Guide

Here are a couple of related posts you may want to read, too:

If you found this post on the difference between WordPress.org vs WordPress.com, please share your thoughts in the comments below! Which one are you using? What’s your favorite?

P.S. I’d appreciate if you shared this post so others can find it too. Thanks so much, you’re awesome!

Happy blogging!
– Mikke

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About The Author

I'm Mikke, a passionate blogger and online entrepreneur addicted to delicious coffee and sharing my growth hacks for small businesses. I'm also a professional web designer and web developer. I help beginner bloggers make money blogging so they can stay home and spend more time with their friends and family, too! Come join me on Pinterest or Twitter!

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Hi, I’m Mikke

About me: Mikke, the founder of Blogging Explorer

I'm an online entrepreneur and blogger, here to help you start a blog, increase blog traffic, and make money online.

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