When launching a WordPress site, one of the first choices you’ll need to make is: WordPress.Com vs WordPress.Org? It all depends on what you want to do.
In fact, a lot of you are asking, “Why should I pay for a Self-Hosted WordPress site at SiteGround when I can get one for free at WordPress.Com?”
That’s a very good question and here’s my short answer. If you’re just starting out and aren’t sure if blogging’s something you want to do, the free account’s a great option. But if you want to make money blogging or your blog’s part of your business? You’ll definitely want a paid self-hosted WordPress site.
First, I’ll explain the key differences between WordPress.Com and WordPress.Org.
WordPress.com vs WordPress.org (Infographic)
WordPress.com vs WordPress.org Comparison
Did you know that WordPress.com and WordPress.org are actually two very different platforms? Beginners often confuse the two, and that can lead you to choose the wrong one. I’m often asked by people who are just getting started which is better: WordPress.com vs WordPress.org?
WordPress.Com is a company that provides WordPress hosting services. You can’t beat the price for their free plan, but you get what you pay for. You’ll soon find that the options for your blog’s design and features are severely limited.
WordPress.Org is the nonprofit that created and maintains WordPress, the most popular content management system (CMS) in the world. WebsiteSetup.Org reports 60 percent of sites with CMS use this platform. And there’s a good reason for that.
With WordPress, you can build highly functional and polished-looking websites without having to hire a programmer. Best of all, it’s free and it’s open source, so techies have full access to the source code. And that means you get a high-quality platform that’s constantly tested and improved on by geeks from all over the world. They also program lots of goodies, like themes and plugins, many of which are free!
This phenomenal platform also makes it easy for SiteGround to offer WordPress hosting at a low cost. Their plans start at just $11.95 per month, But if you act fast, they’ve got a StartUp package for just $3.95 a month.
Please note that my high praise has nothing to do with the fact that SiteGround is officially recommended by WordPress.Org.
WordPress.com vs WordPress.org (FAQs)
Whether you want to get a free WordPress.Com site or a paid self-hosted WordPress.Org site depends on the features you want and need. To help you decide on WordPress.Com vs WordPress.Org, I’ll give you a quick list of things to think about.
WordPress.Com is free, of course. But it’s barebones and you can’t do much. With Self-Hosting WordPress sites, the sky’s the limit and they cost a lot less than you’d think.
Monetizing Your Site
Do you want to make some money with your website? With a paid WordPress plan, you’ve got several ways to do this. But with a free account, I’m afraid you’ll only have one option (more on this later).
Having a domain like YourCompanyName.Com helps your branding and makes your site easier to remember. With a free site, you only get a subdomain with a URL (website address) like: https://YourName.WordPress.Com.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
If you want new visitors to find your blog on Google, a free website on WordPress.Com won’t cut it. You need the kinds of tools and analytics you can only get with a self-hosted plan. Also, a site with a custom domain ranks higher in search than one with a subdomain.
WordPress.Com‘s free hosting offers lots of great-looking themes you can apply to your new website. But if you’re at all particular about visuals and layouts, you’ll need a paid plan that supports custom themes.
Want an image gallery, email list, fancy slider, or to display your latest tweet or Facebook post? If there’s a feature you need, there’s likely a plugin for it. WordPress.Com’s free web hosting plan doesn’t allow plugins. Self-hosted sites let you install as many as you want.
Are you okay with someone else’s ads appearing on your website? Or with having a “powered by WordPress.Com” link at the bottom of your site? If you want more control of the branding of your site, you’ll want a self-hosted plan.
The free version of WordPress comes with some great stats. You can see how many people are visiting each post per day, week, month, or year. But what if you need to know where they’re coming from? Or what they’re doing on your site? You’ll need a plugin for that, and you need a self-hosted plan that allows plugins.
WordPress is easy to use, but you still need to do some backups and other basic stuff.
Managed WordPress hosting plans can do most of that for you. But if you really just want to write it and forget it, WordPress.Com’s free account may work best for you.
So that’s my TLDR (too long didn’t read) lowdown. If you want to know more, I’ve included more details in the sections below.
WordPress.com vs WordPress.org – Which is Better?
When you’re launching a new blog, it’s important to pick the right WordPress hosting plan. Why? Because once you build your website, it’s hard to move it elsewhere. I love the tools at SiteGround. They make moving websites easy. But I’ve also heard plenty of stories about WordPress Migration nightmares.
While mulling over WordPress.Com vs WordPress.Org hosting plans, you should ask yourself the following questions.
Do You Want to Monetize Your Website?
Are you hoping you’ll make money from your blog one day? If so, you have several options with paid hosting and only one with the free hosting.
Affiliate Links: This is the one way you can make money with a free WordPress.Com website. With affiliates, you link to products mentioned on your blog. When a reader clicks and buys something, you make a commission. Amazon’s the easiest and offers the most products, but there are other options as well. For more on how this works, see SiteGround’s posts with affiliate success tips.
Advertising: If you want ads on your site, you don’t need to sell them yourself. Once you get a few posts up, you can start a Google AdSense account. Google AdSense lets you choose what kinds of ads you want and don’t want on your site. And there are plenty of plugins that make it easy to get your ads up and running.
Selling Products: If you’ve got stuff to sell or want to try drop shipping, you can quickly set up an online storefront. All you need is WooCommerce, a WordPress plugin that makes e-commerce easy. Check out the incredible deals at SiteGround.
Paid Membership: Do you plan on building a following? You may want to think about setting up a members-only section. Patreon is a popular program for doing this, and they have a WordPress plugin.
So if you plan to monetize your website, the WordPress.Com vs WordPress.Org question’s a no-brainer.
Do You Want Your Own Domain?
As I wrote earlier, the free plan doesn’t let you have a custom domain. And why do you need a custom domain? Firstly, it makes you look more professional. Secondly, if you have the domain, someone else can’t snatch up your name. Thirdly, Google and other search engines prefer websites with domain names. If you want people to find you via search down the road, you’ll need that domain name.
And there’s also this: WordPress.Com has a lot of free accounts. This means you may have a hard time getting a name you feel good about. So would you rather tell people to visit YourBlogName.Com? Or https://WordPress.Com/YourBlogName22346?
Do You Want People to Find You On Search?
If this is just a new hobby, the freebie account gives you the basics. But what if you want to appear in the top search results?
Do you have 100,000 fans on Facebook or Twitter? If not, you’ll need to optimize your blog posts for search. Part of this is about picking a good keyword and making sure it appears in the right places…But not too many places.
Search engines also want posts that are of high quality. That’s why factors also include the length, originality, and reading level of your posts. They also like lots of subheads and some images to help people read better on screens.
Over six million of us rely on Yoast SEO plugin to help with all this. But of course, you can’t use Yoast SEO or any other plugins with the free hosting package.
Do You Want Full Theme Support?
Are you one of those people who cares a lot about good design? Do you want your blog to have a unique look and feel? If so, you may not be happy with a free WordPress.Com account. While they do offer some great-looking layouts, your options are limited. With paid self-hosting, you can try out and use as many themes as you want.
Themes are pre-designed templates that save you from having to code from scratch. The top-quality ones give you a wide range of options. This includes color schemes, layouts, fonts, visuals, and more. You can find lots of free themes with gorgeous layouts. Want to buy something with specific features and tech support? Or one that’s tailored to your type of business? Head on over to Theme Forest to find the perfect one.
Will You Need Plugins to Do More with Your Site?
If you’re absolutely sure that all you’ll want to do is write, then fine. Go with the freebie site. But chances are, as your blog grows, you’ll want to do more with it.
For starters, you might want a contact form so your readers can get in touch with you. Or maybe you’d like to set up an email list and get people to sign up. Many bloggers also have Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feeds displayed on their websites. And, of course, you may wind up wanting to your blog to earn some income.
The above functions make your site more professional. What’s more, they’re easy to add, thanks to a dizzying array of plugins. With a paid self-hosting WordPress account, it’s easy to install the ones you need. With the free account, you’re pretty much stuck.
Do You Want to Learn More About Your Visitors with Analytics?
When I first started blogging, I got excited every time someone visited my site. WordPress has a built-in tool that tells you how many people visit and which posts they’re reading. And that was enough for me.
But as I started getting more traffic, I started wanting to know more about my readers. Like what sites are they coming from? What devices are they using? How long are they staying? Which regions are they from and when are they visiting? What ads are they clicking on?
These details help me make adjustments to my site and my posts. This way I can earn more income and give my readers more of what they want.
You can’t do this with just the basic WordPress stats. You need something like the Google Analytics plugin. And this, of course, means you need a web host and a plan that supports plugins.
Am I Okay with Hosting Someone Else’s Ads?
Why would someone provide you with free hosting? Because they get to run ads on your blog and make money. Plus, they get free ads for themselves with those “Powered by WordPress.Com” logos and links.
First of all, this creates a branding issue. Instead of promoting your blog or the products you love, you’re shilling for someone else. Second of all, you should be making money from the ads and affiliate links on your website. At SiteGround, they pay you when you send people to their site and they sign up with them.
How About A Little Site Maintenance?
Here’s one instance where WordPress.Com comes out ahead on the WordPress.Com vs WordPress.Org question. WordPress is easy to learn and use. But you still have to do a little maintenance to keep your site in peak form. This includes backups, updates, changing passwords, and fixing broken links. With a couple of plugins (or WPEngine’s Managed WordPress plan), it’s easier than you think. But if you’d rather not, then fine. Stick with the freebie.