Back when I was creating TheSolopreneurLife.com, I was new to WordPress and didn’t understand the distinction between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. It was very confusing.
I came to learn that WordPress.com is like renting a building for your business, while WordPress.org is like owning the building.
WordPress.com is a hosting platform that utilizes the same WordPress software that you can download from WordPress.org. With WordPress.com, the hosting and managing of the software is taken care of for you.
WordPress.org is open-source blog software that now is used for all kinds of Web sites. WordPress.org offers free downloads of WordPress files and includes step-by-step instructions for installing and configuring WordPress on your own hosting provider.
I started by trying WordPress.com and quickly discovered that I wasn’t happy with the limited design choices: I wanted my site to represent me and my brand in a precise way; I didn’t want my site to look like anyone else’s. I ended up hiring a professional Web designer to create a custom site. It’s hosted by Bluehost.com.
I don’t regret my choice. I love working with self-hosted WordPress and have used it to create four other Web sites.
Below are pros and cons for the two WordPress options, followed by additional reading.
• It’s free and easy to set up.
• Everything is taken care of for you: setup, upgrades, backups, security.
• WordPress.com is built to withstand big spikes in traffic.
• Your content is backed up automatically.
• You could receive extra traffic from the WordPress.com community — via blogs of the day and tags.
• You can’t upload a custom theme (design).
• You can’t upload plugins, which add functionality to your site.
• You can’t sell ads on your site.
WordPress.org (self-hosted) Pros
• The ability to customize your site is virtually unlimited.
• You can upload plugins, which add functionality to your site.
• You can monetize your site with advertising.
• You have complete control of the site’s code.
WordPress.org (self-hosted) Cons
• You need a web host.
• If you don’t have experience working “under the hood” with Web sites, it’s a steep learning curve; a self-hosted site requires technical knowledge to set up and run.
• You’re responsible for stopping spam.
• You have to manage backups of your site.
• You must upgrade the WordPress software when a new version comes out. (This can be a pain.)
• If you get a huge spike in traffic, your site might go down unless you have a hosting plan that will handle it.
WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org Bottom Line
If your Web site is a hobby that won’t evolve into a business, then I recommend WordPress.com. If your Web site is — or could be — for business purposes, then I recommend WordPress.org.