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Major takeaways:

  1. WordPress.com and WordPress.org both offer platforms for building websites.
  2. WordPress.com and WordPress.org differ in control and customization options.
  3. WordPress.com is a hosted solution that simplifies site management but limits customization.
  4. WordPress.org + Bluehost hosting plans are self-hosted, offering full control over the site and will require users to handle maintenance, updates and security.

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A new user has two options for starting a WordPress site: WordPress.com and WordPress.org. While both of these offer the popular WordPress site building and content management system, there is a difference—and knowing those differences can help you make the right choice for your new website and WordPress hosting needs.

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What are WordPress.com and WordPress.org?

You may be wondering, “What is WordPress?” WordPress is one of the world’s most widely used site building software. It’s free and open source so that it can be modified and shared by any user in the WordPress community. The core WordPress software package can be downloaded by anyone from WordPress.org, or it can be installed as part of a hosting package from a web hosting provider.

WordPress.com also supports WordPress. It’s run by a commercial company called Automattic that was created by one of the founders of WordPress for hosting WordPress driven sites. Users don’t have to download or install WordPress—it’s part of the hosting services that WordPress.com provides. 

The differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org arise from the differences between hosted and self-hosted websites, so choosing between them largely depends on the level of control a user wants over the design and management of their own WordPress site.

Overview of difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org

WordPress.comWordPress.org
Managed hosting for speed, security and performance optimization. Self-hosting: Download WordPress for free, use with chosen hosting provider. 
Takes care of technical aspects.Requires separate hosting and more technical involvement.
Offers various plans with increasingly powerful features for different site types and budgets.No plans included. You choose hosting separately and manage your site’s technical aspects.

WordPress.com: A hosted alternative for easy use

WordPress.com provides all the tools for a hosted WordPress site. It offers users a WordPress platform for getting a site up and running with no coding expertise needed. WordPress.com takes care of all the ongoing management of the site. At its simplest level, all users need to do is sign up for a free account, pick a theme and start publishing. 

WordPress.com offers multiple plans starting with the basic free account. For more services and options such as adding a custom theme, users can move up to paid plans that include Personal, Premium and Business.

However, there are trade-offs to this ease of use. Unless a user upgrades to a paid plan that includes a custom domain name, a WordPress.com site will always have the extension “WordPress.com,” in the site name—indicating it’s a hosted site. A domain name that includes the hosting provider in that way can signal a personal site or blog, not a professional site dedicated to doing business or offering a service.

WordPress.org + Bluehost: Hands-on and versatile

WordPress.org is the home of the WordPress software files, a collection of templates in the PHP programming language that can be modified by any user. With its vast collection of customizable templates, plugins for added functionality and a visual text editor, WordPress can be used by beginners and experienced site designers, who can work directly with its files and stylesheet for precise customization. 

But, with this self-hosted version of WordPress, it’s up to the user to maintain the site aside from features offered by the hosting provider and to install the plugins and other elements for customizing the site.

However, opting for the self-hosted version of WordPress.org entails a certain level of responsibility. Beyond the features provided by your chosen hosting provider, you are responsible for the day-to-day maintenance of your website. It includes tasks such as software updates, security configurations and regular backups.

In essence, WordPress.org, when combined with a reliable hosting provider like Bluehost, empowers users with unparalleled flexibility and control over their websites. This versatility makes it an excellent choice for individuals and businesses seeking to create highly customized and unique online presences, provided they are willing to take on the responsibility of managing their site’s maintenance and performance.

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Comparing features on WordPress.com and WordPress.org

FeaturesWordPress.comWordPress.org
PriceWordPress.com offers various plans tailored to your needs and budget, including Free, Personal, Premium, Business, Commerce and Enterprise options.WordPress.org allows you to download the software for free but entails annual fees for third-party web hosting and domain registration.
Ease of useWordPress.com is user-friendly and suitable for beginners and professionals alike. It’s an all-in-one platform optimized for performance.WordPress.org demands more hands-on customization, maintenance and configuration, necessitating intermediate technical knowledge.
HostingWordPress.com provides built-in managed hosting; you don’t need an external hosting provider.WordPress.org requires you to find and pay for a hosting provider independently.
Speed & performanceWordPress.com offers unlimited bandwidth, performant CPUs and a Content Delivery Network (CDN) for high-speed performance.WordPress.org’s speed and performance depend on your chosen host and hosting package.
SecurityWordPress.com boasts robust security, guarding against hackers, malware and vulnerabilities. It handles updates, backups and free domain SSL automatically.WordPress.org’s security varies depending on your chosen host and package.
FeaturesWordPress.com offers powerful features for website design, management, promotion and monetization.WordPress.org’s features significantly depend on your host and hosting package.
PluginsWordPress.com permits plugin installation on Business, Commerce, or Enterprise plans, with automatic updates. It includes several default built-in features, reducing the need for numerous plugins.WordPress.org allows custom plugin installations, but it’s essential to be cautious, as some plugins may compromise your site’s stability.
ThemesWordPress.com provides a range of well-supported themes with extensive customization options. With an eligible plan, you can access advanced customization options, install custom themes, or create your own.WordPress.org allows you to install custom themes or build your own.
SupportWordPress.com offers free support resources such as forums, webinars and videos on all plans. Premium email support is available from the personal plan and above, while live chat support starts at the Premium plan.WordPress.org lacks dedicated support but assists in the WordPress.org support forums or your specific hosting provider.
Site ownershipYou retain ownership of your site’s content and have the freedom to move it as you wish.You retain ownership of your site’s content and have the freedom to move it as you wish.

WordPress.com & WordPress.org – SEO Compatibility

WordPress.com and WordPress.org differ significantly in terms of their SEO (Search Engine Optimization) compatibility due to their distinct hosting and customization options.

WordPress.com:

SEO Features: WordPress.com provides basic SEO features such as customizable permalinks, meta tags and XML sitemaps. These features are useful for optimizing content to a certain extent.

Limitations: However, there are limitations to SEO customization. With the free plan, you have limited control over SEO settings. To access more advanced SEO features, you must subscribe to premium plans, which can be costly.

Hosting: WordPress.com hosts your website, which means it’s on the same server as many other websites. This shared hosting can affect site speed, which is a crucial SEO factor.

WordPress.org:

Full Control: WordPress.org offers full control over your website’s SEO. You can choose your hosting provider and optimize it for speed and performance. This control extends to all aspects of SEO, including content, plugins and site structure.

Unlimited Plugins: You can install an array of SEO plugins like Yoast SEO or All in One SEO Pack to fine-tune your SEO efforts. These plugins provide detailed insights, help with meta tags, optimize images and more.

Customization: With WordPress.org, you can fully customize your site’s code and structure, allowing you to implement advanced SEO strategies and address technical SEO issues effectively.

How to create your site on both platforms of WordPress?

Creating a website on both WordPress.com and WordPress.org involves distinct processes.

The procedure on WordPress.com & WordPress.org are:

WordPress.com:

  1. Sign Up: Visit WordPress.com and sign up for an account.
  2. Choose a Plan: Select a free or premium plan depending on your needs. Premium plans offer more customization options.
  3. Select a Domain: You can use a free WordPress.com subdomain or connect a custom domain.
  4. Design: Browse and choose a theme for your site. Customize it with the built-in tools.
  5. Content: Add pages, posts, images and multimedia content. Use the user-friendly block editor.
  6. Settings: Configure your site settings, including privacy and SEO.
  7. Publish: Hit the publish button to make your site live.

WordPress.org:

  1. Get Hosting: Purchase web hosting and a domain name from a hosting provider.
  2. Install WordPress: Most hosting providers offer one-click WordPress installations.
  3. Customize: Download themes and plugins to personalize your site.
  4. Content: Create and organize content using the powerful WordPress editor.
  5. Settings: Configure site settings, security and SEO.
  6. Backups and Updates: Regularly back up your site and keep themes, plugins and WordPress core up to date.
  7. Publish: Your site is live on your chosen domain.

WordPress.org vs. WordPress.com: Which one should you choose?

When deciding between WordPress.org and WordPress.com, it’s essential to understand their differences and consider your specific needs. Each platform has its strengths and is better suited to different types of users.

Let’s look at them in detail.

WordPress.com is best suited for:

  1. For Bloggers and Beginners:
  • Ease of Use: WordPress.com is incredibly user-friendly and ideal for those new to website creation.
  • Low Maintenance: They handle hosting, security and updates, reducing your technical responsibilities.
  • Built-in Community: It’s easy to connect with other bloggers and WordPress.com users.
  • Free Option: Perfect for hobby bloggers or those with limited budgets.
  1. For Small Businesses and Portfolio Sites:
  • Quick Start: Get your business or portfolio online fast with minimal technical knowledge.
  • Affordable Plans: Paid plans offer more customization and domain options without breaking the bank.
  • SEO Tools: Basic SEO features are available to help improve search engine visibility.

WordPress.org is best suited for:

  1. For developers and advanced users:
  • Full Control: WordPress.org gives you complete control over your website, including themes and plugins.
  • Customization: Develop complex, unique websites tailored to your specific requirements.
  • E-commerce: Ideal for running online stores with WooCommerce integration.
  • Unlimited Possibilities: You can modify code and use third-party services without restrictions.
  1. For growing businesses and established sites:
  • Scalability: As your website grows, WordPress.org accommodates your needs more effectively.
  • Branding: Maintain a unique brand identity and domain name without platform-related limitations.
  • Monetization: Diversify income sources with various advertising and e-commerce options.

Final thoughts on WordPress.org vs WordPress.com

In summary, the distinction between WordPress.com and WordPress.org lies in control and convenience. The decision ultimately hinges on your technical expertise, goals and budget, as each platform caters to a different set of needs and priorities.

Whether you prioritize simplicity or flexibility, WordPress has a solution to help you bring your web presence to life.

Common questions about WordPress.org and WordPress.com

Are WordPress.org and WordPress.com the same thing?

No, they’re distinct. WordPress.org offers the self-hosted version where you have full control over your site, requiring your own hosting. It’s customizable and ideal for those wanting flexibility. WordPress.com, on the other hand, is a hosting service by Automattic, offering ready-to-use platforms. It’s great for beginners but comes with some limitations unless you choose their Business or eCommerce plans.

Can I move from WordPress.com to WordPress.org?

Absolutely! Many users migrate toWordPress.org for greater control and flexibility. The process involves exporting your content from WordPress.com and importing it into a self-hosted WordPress.org site. Assistance from hosting providers or plugins can simplify this transition.

Can I install plugins and custom themes on WordPress.com?

By default, WordPress.com Free and Personal plans don’t allow plugins or custom themes. However, if you upgrade to a paid plan, you gain the ability to install plugins and upload custom themes, offering a more tailored experience.

  • Tiffani Anderson

    Tiffani is a Content and SEO Manager for the Bluehost brand. With over 10 years experience across all facets of content and brand marketing, she strives to combine concepts from brand marketing with engaging content through the lens of SEO.

    Education
    University of North Texas
    Previous Experience
    Content Marketing, SEO, Social Media
Learn more about Bluehost Editorial Guidelines

10 Comments

  1. Al Chapman, Jr. Reply

    I would sure like to see you use black print on what background. The light grey print is not readable to us older folks. I cannot take that much time to read it. I have a website with Bluehost and need more help which I will be able to afford soon.

    • Machielle Thomas, Content Manager Reply

      Hi Al, thank you so much for your comment and for bringing this to our attention. I have updated this blog to black and will remember this going forward. I hope that we are able to continue help you on your journey!

  2. TechGlamour Reply

    Hello Machielle, thank you very much for sharing this informative blog with us about the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. Your post is helpful for those who are still confused between both of them. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Thank you for all of the post, very helpful. I am completely new to this WordPress.com and so far getting my feet wet has been very inspiring.

    • Kyle Bombardier Reply

      Hi Nikhil! Yes, Bluehost does offer a free CDN with our web hosting plans. Learn more about our hosting plans here: https://www.bluehost.com/hosting/shared

      Contact one of our support agents if you have any other questions.

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