WordPress.com Vs WordPress.org Comparison: Which Should I Use?

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WordPress is 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 for their site.

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.

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org comparision

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. These are the step-by-step instructions:

Choose your domain name

  • Then it’s time to choose your hosting package and payment preference. The hosting price ranges from $4.95 to $6.95 per month depending on the length of your commitment. Note that you will be required to pay the annual rate in advance so if you pick 36 months at $4.95/month you will need to pay $178.20 for the full 3 years of service. It is not necessary to signup for any of the other services they offer (Sitelock Domain Security, Site Backup Pro, Search Engine Jumpstart, Domain Whois Privacy) so feel free to tick them all off.

Choosing your hosting package

  • That’s it. You have now purchased your domain name and a hosting account. Now it’s the time to setup your site. In your new account main page find “Install WordPress”

Select install WordPress

  • This will take you to the Bluehost Mojo Marketplace that helps you install WordPress with one click. Click on “Start” a brand new install.

Start a brand new install

  • And the last step is to fill in your site details: Site Name, Admin Username, Admin Password and Admin Email. Click “Install Now”.

Fill in blog details

  • That’s it. Your site will be ready within couple of moments. You can then go to yourdomainname.com/wp-admin/ to login to your WordPress admin. Take some time exploring the new opportunities and possibilities. Here’s a checklist of things I do as soon as I start a new WordPress site.

Login to your new WordPress

Disclosure: I do earn a commission if you signup 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 purchase 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. Here is my step-by-step guide:

  • Sign in to your WordPress.com account
  • In the navigation go into “Tools” and click on “Export”. 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 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 popup 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. 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.
  • Optional: You can choose to redirect your old site to your new site in order to keep any traffic. In the spirit of WordPress.com not even that is free. You need to buy the “Site Redirect” add-on for $13 per year to redirect all the traffic to your new blog.

WordPress.com summary

  • WordPress.com utilizes 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 cannot monetize your .com site unfortunately. Adsense, Chitika, TextLinkAds, affiliate links, banners and other ads are not allowed
  • It displays advertisements on your site unless you purchase an Ad-free Upgrade which costs $30 for a year

All in all .com version is a nice place for a beginner blogger but you won’t have too much flexibility there and you won’t be able to monetize your site. Your prospects in terms of growing your site and achieving something more with it are not too good at a hosted service like this.

WordPress.org summary

  • 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 theme or plugins
  • You can run any ads that you want
  • You can edit the database and modify 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.

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