For new users the difference between wordpress.com and wordpress.org might not be immediately clear. Basically wordpress.org allows you to download the complete source code and run your own version of WordPress. WordPress.com is a commercial service that quickly provides you with a “free” WordPress based blog, but introduces a lot of limitations. Most of which can be lifted by spending money.
With a free wordpress.com account you will be able to run a WordPress blog on the .wordpress.com sub domain in a few clicks. For example yourblogname.wordpress.com. If you want to use a .com domain you will be charged €21,99 (note: a regular price for a .com domain is €8-10/year).
The following limitations are introduced
- Only use select wordpress.com free themes
- No Ecommerce allowed
- No customization (no custom css) allowed
- No plugins allowed
- No video storage allowed
- limited to 3GB of space
- ‘Powered by WordPress.com’ footer obligated
- Your site can be deleted at any time if it violates policy
- You are unable to use external analytics (such as Google Analytics)
There is another catch; wordpress.com is allowed to place ads on your website. At the same time you are not allowed to make money with your WordPress blog. Once you hit 25.000 page views/month you can apply for a feature called ‘ad control’. If you are approved you will have to split ad revenue 50/50 with them.
So although it is fast and free the wordpress.com free account might not be the best available path in the long run.
Lifting the WordPress.com limitations
As I noted before WordPress.com is a commercial enterprise. Therefore they allow you to spend money to lift some of these limitations.
The first step would be the Premium plan that costs €80 yearly. For €80 you can upgrade to the following ‘perks’
- Your own domain
- 13 GB of space
- No ads
- Custom design (including CSS customization)
Other limitations still apply. So you cannot use plugins, ecommerce, ads and tracking code (Google analytics). Your website will still have to show “powered by wordpress.com” and it can be deleted for policy violations.
One step further is the Business account which goes for €240 yearly. This account unlocks the usage of e-commerce and includes a free premium theme. Although the official page does not list it, it is being said that for $3550/month you unlock the ability to use plugins.
If you are considering upgrading to a Premium wordpress.com account then I would personally recommend changing too wordpress.org. Keep reading to find out why…
So what about wordpress.org
The WordPress package from wordpress.org is completely free and does not have any limitations at all!
So now you can use plugins, which is the best feature of WordPress because it allows for incredible flexibility. There are thousands of plugins. If you need caching, a review function, a recipe manager, affiliate manager, contact form… pretty much anything is possible with a plugin.
Furthermore you are in complete control. So you can use custom themes, custom css, google analytics, your own domain name, etc. This also means you can monetize your website and use it for e-commerce. There is also no fear of your website being deleted for a policy violation (as long as you do nothing illegal obviously).
Let’s summarize the advantages
- No ads
- No referral to wordpress.com or themes
- E-commerce allowed
- Monetization allowed
- thousands of themes
- custom css
- custom tracking code
- full code control (if you want)
- your domain name
- no strict policy
So what is the catch here?
Well you need a few things to use it!
- Hosting plan to store your blog and make it accessible via the internet
- A domain name where you can be visited
- WordPress install
So you need to spend a little money to get going. This does not have to be expensive though. Our parent company Sedeko offers hosting plans starting from €4 monthly and your own .com domain will cost €8 yearly. Meaning that you can be up and running for €56/yearly. This is a lot cheaper than the WordPress.com premium package. The only downside is that you will have to install and update WordPress yourself.
Now if this is something you are not looking forward too than do not worry. Just use a managed WordPress hosting plan. This way the hosting company will install and update your WordPress without the limitations imposed by wordpress.com. Our parent company Sedeko offers managed WordPress hosting from €10 monthly which already includes a free domain! If you use our referral code you will receive a ?50%? discount.
So which is better? WordPress.com or WordPress.org. If you ask me then WordPress.com is great to get to know WordPress because it is so easy to setup. However if you take this route then you are missing out on one of the best parts of WordPress; Plugin flexibility. So if you are going to spend serious time on your blog then at some point you will need to choose between wordpress.com premium and paid hosting. I really recommend the latter because it offers complete freedom and control.