What Are The Differences Between WordPress.com & WordPress.org?

What’s the difference?!

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org WordPress
A lot of people wonder what the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org are. It can be misleading with the same name, but they are two different animals. WordPress was launched in May 2003 and was originally built to create blogs. WordPress software is built on PHP and MySQL, and it is licensed under the GPLv2, meaning it is free to use and can get modified by anyone. Being open-source and free, its popularity exploded! Reported in January 2021 WordPress now empowers 40% of all websites on the internet. Companies such as Yelp, Skype, Target Pulse, Microsoft News, TED Blog, MTV News, Evernote, and many more are using WordPress to power their online businesses.

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Pros of WordPress.org

WordPress.org is a software you download for free, and organize or .org, everything yourself. This means you will have to do things such as purchase a domain name, find a hosting provider like GoDaddy or SiteGround, and upload your files there. Additionally, you will have to manually configure MySQL, DNS records, SSL Certification, and email configuration. With WordPress.org you get free access to all plugins, templates, and themes. This is an additional cost with WordPress.com. When configuring and hosting a website with .org you have access to all your files! This is NOT the case with WordPress.com. For example, if you need to add an HTTP Redirect inside your .htaccess files to make sure your DNS record is redirecting to HTTPS for your SSL, then you can do that with WordPress.org. Not with WordPress.com. Lastly, WordPress.org cost has a higher initial investment but in the long-term, your website(s) will be less expensive and you will have control over each aspect of its lifecycle.

Pros of WordPress.com

The main pro for WordPress.com is that it takes care of the whole installation and hosting process for you. This is the major difference between the two. WordPress.com provides email configuration, SSL certifications, and live support with the higher packages. Their prices range from free (With Ads) to $45/month for the eCommerce package. Keep in mind this does not include the pricing for annual domain name costs, SSL certifications, an email provider, themes, templates, and paid plugins. But if you are okay with paying additional fees for just about everything WordPress.com must do for you, then it is a fast way to get started with a website. The monthly costs associated with your website(s) will begin to grow as more data needs to be stored and you will inevitably need more customizations which will be charged at a premium cost.

Problems Encountered

When migrating WordPress.com websites over to WordPress.org you start to run into a few problems. First, the themes on WordPress.com are different from WordPress.org. They differ in fonts, colors, and additional CSS features. When transferring websites over this does not automatically happen and those fonts and colors will change to default. There are plugins available to help with this, but the site will never be 100% the same. Therefore, I recommend keeping the WordPress.com site live as a reference when swapping over.  When it comes to plugins, you will have to manually add each one and add the API keys, respectively. One last point I want to reiterate is that you cannot manually modify the files in WordPress.com. This makes it exceedingly difficult to make simple changes to the code. In conclusion, I highly recommend WordPress.org over WordPress.com because of lower costs, the ease of code manipulation, and overall control your website(s).

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