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In the blogging and web design industries, you always hear people talking about WordPress. It’s personally my favorite, because it’s not only easy to work with, but it’s also great for SEO and has lots of customization options.
But it can be awfully confusing, especially because WordPress.com and WordPress.org are two completely different services. So, what the heck is the difference between the two, and which one should you pick?
WordPress.com is the free version. You sign up at WordPress.com, and you get a subdomain. That means your website will be yourdomain.wordpress.com rather than yourdomain.com
There are a lot of pros to the .com version. Namely, it’s free. It’s also a great place to get your feet wet if you’re interested in starting a website or blog, but you aren’t really sure how.
You’ve also got (some) options. You can turn your WordPress subdomain into your own domain, but I don’t recommend it. (More on that later.) Also, you can change the theme around, but you’re limited to the free (read: boring) ones or the expensive (and also boring) paid themes. Not a ton of room for customization.
The other big bummer is the fact that you can’t add your own plugins. So you may have heard of awesome plugins like CoSchedule. Well, guess what? You can’t use them on the .com version.
When Should I Use WordPress.com?
I recommend using the free version if you don’t care about using your own domain name. Say, for example, you’re studying abroad for a few weeks in the summer and want your family and friends to know what you’re up to. You don’t necessarily care if you have caitlininghana.com.
I’d also recommend using it if you’re interested in blogging, but want to get your feet wet first. You don’t really want to pay for it, but you want to know if it’s something you’d like doing full-time. I will caution you, though, the transition from the .com version to the .org version can be pretty lengthy and expensive if you do decide you want to switch over.
WordPress.org is the paid version. You don’t actually log into WordPress.org to sign up for an account, which is where it gets a little confusing. You pay for your domain name and hosting first.
When I started with the .org version, I did a good ol’ Google search and came up with domain.com. I bought my domain and hosting through them, and it was awful. My site was constantly crashing and customer service was really slow. I knew I needed to switch hosts.
I was lucky enough to have a coworker transfer everything over to Bluehost for me for the cost of a six-pack of Founders beer. But I can promise you that not everyone is that lucky. Migration services are typically $150, so make sure you start off on the right foot and choose the right host from the get-go.
I personally love Bluehost. It’s not the best for big websites (for example, I don’t host my company’s website on there; it just gets too much traffic), but it’s great for small- to medium- sized blogs. There are plenty of other great options, too.
Once you get your hosting account set up, you’ll install WordPress. And voila! WordPress.org.
So, what’s so special about it? Well, you can install your own themes (which you can buy from lots of great websites like creativemarket.com and themeforest.net). Also, there are a ton of plugins available to you.
Here’s the big thing, though: remember when I said I don’t recommend buying your domain through the .com version? That’s because you can’t put third-party ads (like Google Adsense) on your blog if you’re using WordPress.com, whether or not you have your own domain. Mind you, I don’t use Google Adsense any more, but it’s still a great benefit to have if you want it.
When Should I Use WordPress.org?
If you’re willing to spend money on your website or blog, I wouldn’t recommend anything other than WordPress.org. It’s got a ton of great customization options that can really set your blog or website apart. Oh, and it’s just as easy to use as WordPress.com.
A ton of different websites use WordPress.org, from big companies to small blogs. The big decision you’d want to make is your host. There are plenty of great options out there, so just do your research before you make your final decision.
Do you use .com or .org for your blog? Or maybe something else entirely? Did you even know there was a difference between the two?
If you’re still confused about the difference, don’t hesitate to ask me questions in the comments! I’d be happy to help you out!
PS Did you know I offer web design services? I can help you transfer your website from WordPress.com to WordPress.org or start your own blog from scratch! Shoot me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started!