Anyone who wants to set up a blog or is generally concerned with the topic of blogging will usually hear something about the WordPress content management system very quickly. A CMS made for blogs, but still powerful enough to later turn the blog into a website or shop. Anything is possible when using WordPress, it often seems.
But with further research you find out that there is WordPress.org, where the CMS can be downloaded, just as there is WordPress.com, where the CMS apparently costs something.
WordPress is free on one platform and paid for on the other. But why is that so?
WordPress.com or WordPress.org: what’s the difference?
Today I’ll look at the differences with you and explain what WordPress.com is and how WordPress.org differs from it.
So we clarify which WordPress is right for you and your website and what the advantages and disadvantages of both platforms are.
What is WordPress.com?
WordPress.com is the service from Automattic (developer of WordPress), not the software itself. Instead of downloading a package with the content management system and then installing it, WordPress.com provides you with a set up instance on which WordPress is already fully running .
You don’t need to worry about registering a domain, you don’t have to know what the topic of FTP or MySQL databases is all about, so you don’t have to worry about anything. You pay to receive a WordPress blog that is already installed, so you only have to set up and personalize it.
A bit like buying a computer that has everything preinstalled that is of interest to you. You no longer need to search for drivers, organize any further software and if you have problems, there is always a technical contact person who knows more. WordPress.com makes it especially easy for you.
What is WordPress.org?
WordPress.org is also often referred to as self-hosted WordPress, which is actually a bit more catchy and a more logical term than using the domain. Basically, it’s pretty simple. Whoever downloads WordPress from WordPress.org gets the open source software WordPress. A powerful CMS that is constantly being developed.
If you download it, you of course have to take care of the right hosting, your own domain, possibly important extensions, a theme for your own website or blog and much more. You also install the content management system yourself, so you should know what FTP means or how a MySQL database is created.
WordPress.org therefore always means WordPress as software, not as a service. You get the files with the source code, which you can load onto your own server, where you can then install WordPress. Everything is in your hands, can be adjusted or changed, is completely free. That’s the big difference to WordPress.com.
Advantages and disadvantages of both platforms
The advantages and disadvantages are now literally obvious. While WordPress.org, as a self-hosted WordPress version, allows almost anything, WordPress.com is of course a little different. There are strict limits and corresponding tariffs that are more expensive but then expand the possibilities.
Basically it’s very simple. There is next to nothing for free at WordPress.com. From 4 euros per month, at least one domain is included. Extended functions such as WordAds or VideoPress are only available from Premium for 8 euros a month. SEO tools are only added from 25 euros a month and those who want to operate e-commerce even pay 45 euros a month, but also get integrated payment processing and all kinds of additional functions. Oh and your own plugins and themes (apart from the plugin and themes directory) are only allowed to upload and install in the expensive tariffs.
The advantages of all of this are that WordPress.com makes it extra easy for you. You pay and get ready-made solutions, a large selection of themes, functions for e-commerce or PayPal buttons for selling eBooks. All of this is easy, so it requires little more than a little basic knowledge from you. You are not allowed to install your own plugins and themes for this. This is only possible from the expensive business version.
WordPress.org offers you all of this as well, but does not take you by the hand. Here you get the CMS – no more and no less. You either download themes and plugins yourself or buy them on the various platforms. WordPress is free in the basic version, but most high-quality themes and plugins then cost money again. Not to mention the hosting, because you pay as much as you have to take care of the installation and maintenance yourself. So if you have no idea about PHP and MySQL, you are taking a risk.
The advantages and disadvantages lie in maintenance and flexibility. WordPress.com does everything for you, but also sets limits that you cannot easily get over. WordPress.org, on the other hand, allows you to use the CMS as you like, you could even rewrite or adapt the code and if necessary you can convert WordPress to a headless CMS. Everything is conceivable because the CMS is completely managed by you personally.
WordPress.com or WordPress.org?
Basically it’s very simple. WordPress.org means the CMS itself, while WordPress.com is the service. So if you can book a domain yourself and have a hoster, who already knows what a MySQL database is and who likes to install plugins and themes freely and yourself, as well as snippets and other adjustments, only the self-hosted version of WordPress is suitable .
WordPress.com, on the other hand, focuses on simplicity. Everything should be foolproof and directly usable. Of course, this has its price when it comes to how flexible and expandable the whole thing is. The more money you pay, the more extensive the functions become, but in the end you won’t get full control like with WordPress.org. A lot of work is done for you.
From my point of view, WordPress.com only makes sense for absolute laypeople. Even then, however, you have to ask yourself whether another WordPress hoster is not the better choice. With many WordPress hosters, the fully installed WordPress is delivered to you, whereby you are flexible from the start and can also install your own plugins, etc. WordPress.com sets limits that are too strong for my taste, which almost never pay off in the long term.
So my recommendation is a German WordPress hoster if you are afraid of the administration but still want to be free. If you know your way around a bit, a self-hosted version of WordPress is certainly also recommended, as you have sovereignty over your data. You can then easily move the blog, install extensions and make very special adjustments.
What often seems unimportant at the beginning, also becomes important over the years, even for complete beginners. Don’t underestimate this point and keep in mind that you may want more. Whoever opts for the self-hosted version remains free at all times.