WordPress is a free open-source content publishing platform. WordPress.org is the home of the platform while WordPress.com is the commercial hosted version. This difference causes some confusion for newbie bloggers when choosing which one to use to host their blog.
This comparison between .com and .org has all the facts you need to make an informed choice. It should help guide you to the correct decision for your own blogging adventure.
It is best to get off on the right foot and not need to make drastic changes later on when your site is more established as that could negatively impact the work you have done with regards to search engine rankings and audience.
In any case I have also included full step-by-step process you need to move your blog from WordPress.com to the .org version without losing any traffic and search rankings.
Let’s take a look at the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org.
Starting your WordPress.org adventure
I love WordPress.org and definitely recommend it for new and more advanced bloggers alike. I run all my projects on it and so do many of the biggest bloggers. WordPress.org must be installed on a web hosting server to work.
For the simplest possible install, I recommend using Bluehost as you install WordPress with no tech knowledge needed plus get a free domain name and affordable hosting account. It only takes few minutes to have your WordPress.org up and running. Click here to choose your domain name.
You can find full instructions on how to install WordPress.org here.
Disclosure: I do earn a commission if you sign up to Bluehost using my link at no additional cost to you. Please know that I only recommend products and services that I find helpful and useful. If you do choose to buy through my affiliate link, thank you for your support!
How to move from WordPress.com to WordPress.org
If you started your site on WordPress.com and are now thinking about making a move over to the self-hosted version you are in luck. The process of moving a site and all the content from .com to .org version is pretty simple and can be done in few minutes thanks to the WordPress Importer plugin.
The plugin has been used by more than 8 million bloggers already. Thanks to the blog redirection feature you will still keep your visitors, your subscribers and your search engine rankings. Here is my step-by-step guide:
Sign in to your WordPress.com account. In the navigation go into “Tools” and click on “Export”. Choose the free option.
Here you will be able to download an XML file of all your existing content. Choose “All Content” as that will save all your posts, your pages, comments, navigational menus and such. Click on “Download Export File” to save the XML file on your computer.
Log into the admin area of your new WordPress.org hosted site. In the navigation menu go into “Tools” and select “Import”. In the list of different import opportunities select WordPress.
Click “Install Now” on the WordPress Importer pop-up window.
After the plugin has been installed click on “Activate Plugin & Run Importer”.
This is where you need the XML file that you have downloaded from your WordPress.com. Click “Browse”, select the file from your computer and click on “Upload file and import”.
After the file has been uploaded you will have the opportunity to assign authors to the content. You can either assign the content to a new user you can create on that page, you can assign content to an existing user or you can even import the existing author from your WordPress.com.
Last but not least click on “Download and import file attachments” under the “Import Attachments” heading and click on Submit.
Import of your WordPress.com content into WordPress.org has now been done. All your old content now lives and is accessible on your new blog.
Redirecting your old site to the new domain
In order to retain your traffic, subscribers and search engine visitors you should redirect your old site to your new site. In the spirit of WordPress.com not even that is free. You need to go into the “Store” in your WordPress.com admin. You need to buy the “Site Redirect” add-on for $13 per year to forward all the traffic to your new blog. Click on “Buy-Now”.
Click on “Buy-Now” in the Site Redirect pop-up window.
Here you will get the site redirect option. Type in your new domain name and click on “Redirect To This URL”.
Do confirm that the new domain name is correct and click on “Yes, redirect it”.
Type in your credit card or PayPal details and click on “Purchase Site Redirect For $13.00 USD” to finalize the purchase. Note that your order will be renewed automatically one year from your purchase but that you can disable automatic renewals at anytime in your settings.
That’s it! Your old WordPress.com blog now redirects to your new WordPress.org home. Your old blog visitors will automatically be forwarded to your new blog, you will keep your subscribers and your search engine rankings. Take some time exploring the new opportunities and possibilities.
- WordPress.com uses the software which you can download at WordPress.org
- All the basic services are free
- You get URL like myblog.wordpress.com (there is a paid upgrade to have your own domain name is $18 for a year)
- You get 3 GBs of space for storing your files and images (additional space for images and other files costs $160 for a year for 100GB)
- It has a selection of free design themes but it is limited
- It does not permit uploading of additional design themes and plugins
- You cannot edit HTML, PHP code, or content of a theme which makes it difficult to create something unique in the look and feel
- FTP access to your site is not included either
- Having access to customize your CSS design costs $30 for a year
- You don’t have full control over monetization of your site. Adsense, Chitika, TextLinkAds, affiliate links and other external banners are not allowed
- It displays advertisements on your site unless you buy an Ad-free Upgrade which costs $30 for a year
All in all .com version of WordPress is a nice place for a beginner blogger. It’s a good job done by the people behind the company but you won’t have too much flexibility there and you won’t be able to monetize your site unless you choose the WordAds platform. Your prospects in terms of growing your site and achieving something more with it are not too good at a hosted service like this.
- On WordPress.org you download the software
- You need to install it on your own domain name and hosting server
- You have the complete control, ownership and flexibility over your site
- You can install any design theme or any of the many plugins
- You can run any ads that you want
- You can edit the database and change different CSS and PHP files and codes
The brilliant thing about it is the large community of people modifying it and adding on to the software. Open source software thrives on ideas from the community and so does WordPress. You gain from the community by having access to a large number of free design themes and thousands of plugins that can add advanced features and new functionality to your site without you needing to spend a lot of money or having technical and design knowledge.