I’ve met folks who are confused by WordPress.com and WordPress.org. The two are related, but present different versions of the WordPress web publishing software. Today, I’ll take a shot at clarifying things with a bit of help from WP101’s tutorial video!
This is sometimes referred to as the self-hosted version of WordPress and is used by about 30% of all websites. It is free, open-source software; you can build your website through a web browser and manage all the site’s content from the comfort of your home.
For the software to work, it must be installed on a web server, which means you need to sign up for hosting services. As you do this, you will also register your preferred domain name.
For as little as $3 per month, you can get decent hosting. Some providers have crazy offers for your first year of hosting, such as Namecheap’s EasyWP service that costs $9 for a whole 12 months. Careful, though. Do your homework to find a service that’s easy to use and has a solid reputation for uptime and speed.
If you have signed up with the right kind of hosting service, your account will have a link to download the software from WordPress.org into your account.
With your self-hosted WordPress installed, you can control every aspect of your website. The installation will include a set of free themes for your design, but you can install any theme you want and customise it to look exactly how you want it to. You’re not restricted to the themes available on the platform; you can purchase one from any third-party.
To add more features to the site or to alter the theme’s design, you can install plugins either from the WordPress library or any third-party vendor. WordPress.org is the perfect choice if you need flexibility and complete control over your site.
This version of the web publishing software is available on WordPress.com. With it, you can create a simple blog or website without paying a cent.
You’ll need to sign up for a WordPress account and choose a domain name. By default, your site’s name will end in “. wordpress.com”, though you can pay to use a custom domain and get rid of “. wordpress.com.”
Once you’re through with the signup, choose from a variety of themes to design the aesthetics of your website. There’s a good range of free themes but you can pay for premium ones and get more customised designs, and all themes are optimised for display on mobile screens.
With WordPress.com, you don’t have the option to install third-party plugins or themes, which means you can only use what is available in the dashboard. If you need to host videos or increase space for your content, you can purchase an upgrade.
By default, ads will appear on your site, but paying for an upgrade lets you remove them. If you’re looking to monetise your site through affiliate programmes, this is not possible on WordPress.com.
WordPress.com is excellent for beginners because it’s simple to use and doesn’t have to cost you anything. In future, your site can easily be transferred to a self-hosted WordPress.org installation if you need more flexibility and control.
If you need a free blog or a simple website, you will probably be content with WordPress.com which gives you free hosting and automatic updates. On the other hand, if what you need is a versatile site and control over its look and feel, you should go for the self-hosted version of WordPress which you get from WordPress.org.
I hope this article and the video below will make clear to you the differences between the two versions of WordPress. If you don’t already have a website, why not create one today and start blogging about your work, hobbies, or experiences? I’d be happy to visit your site.