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Mar 27

WordPress.org vs WordPress.com – which option is best for your business?

Thinking about setting up a WordPress website or blog?

The online space is full of people raving about the wonders of WordPress. Unfortunately, beginners often get confused between WordPress.org and WordPress.com, and this can cause a few hiccups when you are starting out (we should know, we had to transfer our entire website across from one to the other when we were starting out!)

This month, our guest expert Meg Appleby works some more of her WordPress magic, helping you get clear on the difference between the two … and to choose which option is best for your business.

WordPress is an open source blogging platform.

In simple terms, this means that there are hundreds of people all around the world developing and improving it, and that it is available for free for you to use from WordPress.org.  

If you are considering using WordPress software, you will need to install it onto your hosting providers server. From there, you can use the WordPress Codex – the definitive guide to how it all works – and the fabulous WordPress forums, to get all the help you need to put your site together.

WordPress.com is a hosting platform that uses the same software that you can download at WordPress.org.  It is brought to you by the company Automattic, the same good folk that are behind WordPress.  All the hosting and management of the WordPress software is taken care of by Automattic for you.

Here's a quick summary of the differences between the .org and .com options….


WORDPRESS.ORGFREE WORDPRESS.COM*

Find your own hosting

You need to pay for your own hosting and install the WordPress files on the server. You will need to register and pay for a domain name.

Hosted on Automattic’s servers

You do not need to install WordPress, register a domain name or pay for hosting. WordPress.com users get 3GB of space for free.

Use any theme

You can use any theme you choose from a huge range of free and premium themes available for WordPress. You can modify your theme however you like – or even build one yourself!

Limited theme options available

WordPress.com have 160+ free themes for you to choose from. You cannot modify the CSS or any other code within the theme.

Boost functionality with plugins

Add any plugins you like to boost your site’s functionality to better suit your needs.

Cannot use plugins

You can’t upload plugins. WordPress.com offers some great features, but if you want your site to do more, you’re out of luck!

Make Money

Want to run ads on your site? Go for it. You can use any ad service you like. There are even plugins that will help you manage your site’s ad space.

Limited monetisation

WordPress.com does not let you run ads on your site. This includes affiliate links & sponsored posts as well as the likes of Chikita, Google Adsense and more!

Maintenance

All the freedom of WordPress.org does come with some responsibility. You are responsible for filtering spam, upgrading plugins and themes, as well as WordPress itself. You are also in charge of making sure your site is backed up. Fortunately none of this is overly difficult.

* WordPress.com does have some paid upgrades available that extend its functionality.

If you think that using WordPress.org, the free & self-hosted version, sounds a bit daunting, don’t be put off. 

You'll find that many hosting providers offer an easy WordPress installer like Fantastico Deluxe that will have you up and running in no time.  And there is a great community of WordPress enthusiasts that are happy to help when you have a question.  You can find some really useful free tutorial videos to help you make the most of what WordPress can offer at iThemes. And remember, you can also outsource the parts you don't know how to do (or don't enjoy) to a wordpress expert! 

If you want to have complete control over your website – from how it looks to how it works – then WordPress.org is definitely the better choice.


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  • This is exactly what I wanted to know. I have one of each and could’t quite work out the difference. (Someone else set up the .org one for me). How difficult is it to transfer a blog from wordpress.com to wordpress.org?

    • Janine Ogg

      Hi Nicola,

      Jo and I were in exactly the same position a year or so ago! We had set up our site in .com and then realised we really wanted to be with .org. We got someone else to transfer our blog across, but I understand it is relatively easy to do. I’ll draw Meg’s attention to your reply, and see what she has to say rather than give you dodgy amateur advice!

      Good luck.
      Janine
      Ps come back and post the link to your site when you’re done!

    • Hi Nicola

      Moving your WordPress.com blog to WordPress.org is fabulously simple! WordPress.com has all the instructions in their support pages here. If you also want to bring your blog traffic with you to your new self-hosted online home, there are some handy instructions on this site.

      And if you need any assistance what-so-ever feel free to get in touch, I am happy to help!

  • I just had mine switched over to wordpress.org too. My only frustration has been the difficulty in finding a way to transfer my blog followers over. Only the ones that subscribed via email were easily transferred. The other wordpress.com followers didn’t transfer and my web guy couldn’t figure out how to do it either.

    • Janine Ogg

      Hi Jan,

      That’s a shame, I hope you are managing to get the stragglers moved across to the new site. We had a similar issue we we changed to our new list management tool. We had to ask people to re-subscribe and lost a few on the way. I think this is actually a positive thing though – it means that they people that are on your list are truly engaged with you.

      What list management tool are you currently using to manage all your emails? We use Aweber and find it great. Another great one is mailchimp. We highly recommend getting started with one of these as soon as you can. They are easily integrated with wordpress for sign-up boxes and it’s crucial you set yourself up well for your future growth!

      Let us know how you get on.
      Janine

  • Jene Hullett

    I really needed this information, thanks for the post, I chose wordpress.com and now need to switch to wordpress.org…thanks for such an informative website!!!

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