WordPress.com vs WordPress.org: Which is best for your business website?

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org? Some business owners don’t realize they’re not the same thing. Use this article to learn more about the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org.

Did you know that WordPress.org and WordPress.com aren’t the same thing? That’s right! While WordPress is known for website building across the board, there are two versions of WordPress that businesses can take advantage of to build their website.

web design projects

So what is the difference between these two web versions through WordPress? And which one will be best for your business in the long run?

Whether you are creating a website for the first time, or you’ve already created a website, but are disappointed with the results, then knowing the difference between wordpress.org and wordpress.com can be pivotal for your next moves as a business owner or website creator.

This is especially true if you aren’t sure who to trust when it comes to web development expertise.

Given our experience in web design and development, we wanted to take some time to explore what is wordpress, and do a direct comparison between wordpress.com vs wordpress.org.

Armed with this information, you’ll be lightyears ahead of where you were, and can rest assured that you’re making the right first move for your business, your team, and for your future growth online!

 

What is WordPress used for?

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Before we look at wordpress.com vs wordpress.org, you should know that both are at their core free and open-source content management software options that allow you to run your business and coordinate sales online.

The difference between wordpress.com and wordpress.org begins to arise when we look at how each functions to meet your needs as a business owner.

We will break this down further in the next sections, but know for now that while wordpress.com is a service, wordpress.org is WordPress’ core code offering that allows businesses to host a managed platform. You might even say that wordpress.com is built upon wordpress.org!

 

What is WordPress.com?

WordPress.com is a platform for self-publishing that is popular for blogging and other works, such as advertisements and running your online business.

While wordpress.org is the non-profit which manages the whole of WordPress, wordpress.com is a hosted service offering both free and paid plans that allows you to have (but not own) a WordPress installation through their hosting service.

In short, wordpress.com installs and hosts WordPress via open source software, almost as if you are ‘borrowing’ WordPress functionalities from the organization. 

Wordpress.com lets non-technical audiences avoid any confusion that comes with choosing the right web hosting platform, and instead provide a hosting or management service for you. Another benefit is that you also don’t have to download any software, or choose an external host to manage your web server.

Wordpress.com options are either free, or at a cost. If you’re curious, here is the price list for wordpress.com hosting.

The drawback however is that performance is minimal on the free platform, which means that this option might be great for a hobbyist blogger, but not a full-scale business.

“For a true business service on wordpress.com, you are looking at $2K a month (or more), since even their basic paid plans don’t have optimal hosting and service options like wordpress.org”

As well, the customizable plugins and functionality you would otherwise have access to with wordpress.org are limited with wordpress.com, since you can’t install everything that WordPress offers.

All that said, and while we do recommend wordpress.org for those who plan to scale their business in the future, if you are just starting out and aren’t sure how successful your business or site will be in the coming year, wordpress.com is a simple and accessible option for anyone with internet access.

You’ll see tons of famous bloggers and even small business owners, photographers, or other creatives using wordpress.com as basic hubs for their business information, opting instead to rely on phone, email, or other communications to get the word out about their business.

If that’s more your style, then signing up for wordpress.com can be completed in three simple steps:

How to sign up for wordpress.com
  1. Type wordpress.com into your browser
  2. Enter your information to sign up for a free account, and opt for paid tier options if you choose
  3. Use their templates and quick-customization tools to start building your website or blog

Once you’ve completed those three steps, you can start operating with peace of mind, knowing that you have a simple solution moving forward with your independent operations.

But what if you want more out of your website? What is the use of wordpress.com in that situation?

A big roadblock for many clients who come to us is that they began with a wordpress.com website, only to find out how difficult it can be to scale your website should your business grow to capacity.

As an answer to this question, let’s explore the major advantages that come with wordpress.org, and see whether that option might be better suited to where you are now with your business.

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What is WordPress.org?

Wordpress

As we mentioned, wordpress.org has a ton of the same features and functionalities as wordpress.com. It is open-source, versatile, and easy to use, but because you are managing your hosting, you don’t have to worry about the same limitations you’ll face with wordpress.com.

In other words, you’ll have much more freedom and flexibility with your website! 

Note of course that with wordpress.org, you will have to pay for a hosting account for the WordPress software to work within. If you have a domain name however, and are looking to host your own website, then wordpress.org is definitely the way to go for your business.

Why we recommend wordpress.org for your business

Honestly, we recommend wordpress.org to all our clients. It’s a sure-fire way to make sure they benefit from the many advantages you can get, and often-times for the same or less money you would pay with wordpress.com alone.

The biggest advantage here – which we impress on everyone who works with The Digital Navigator – is the fact that you will own a self hosted WordPress website, and therefore have full and total control over your business. That’s the main difference between wordpress.com and wordpress.org.

When you opt to work with other hosting platforms like wordpress.com, Kajabi, Wix, or even Squarespace, site ‘owners’ are limited by the terms of the company on which their site is hosted.

Translation: you could lose your site in the event of an outage, or if your products don’t meet their terms and conditions. 

With that main advantage in mind, let’s look at eight other features and functionalities which put wordpress.org ahead of its competitors:

Top 8 advantages of using wordpress.org

  • Deploy your own customizations, code, plugins, and software. You get to choose which options are best for your particular niche and operations–there are literally no limits to the combinations you can create. (We offer website management plans with plugin options worth over $4K!)
  • Full control over where you host. With the right hosting platform, you can have blazing fast speed thanks to your website’s independence from WordPress. Fast site speed will also have a huge impact on your costs per lead and sales overall–learn how in our latest article on the subject.
  • Choose how many tracking codes you want. This has to do with privacy legislation. If you want to learn how to avoid getting fined, we can help make sure you comply in as little as ten minutes.
  • You can develop your own check-out system through WooCommerce or other payment solutions. We recommend WooCommerce since it integrates completely with wordpress.org, but if you want a direct comparison for which eCommerce platform you should choose, we recommend this article.
  • Access to a Content Delivery Network (CDN). Content delivery networks provide incredibly fast speeds to a global user base, which is especially important if you are a content creator, consultant, or business offering membership or courses. Learn more about how CDNs help optimize website speed.  
  • Low development costs. Because there are a ton of developers available to help you manage and build your website, you will have more opportunity to choose what you are willing to pay for your site, plus benefit from easy customization options.
  • Easy to scale your website. Since wordpress.org is open source, you truly own your own installation. With wordpress.com you can migrate it out but are restricted by their terms, whereas wordpress.org gives you full freedom to scale so you’re always ready to accommodate new product options, markets, or sales funnels.
  • Free and paid theme options. Although we recommend avoiding custom themes (as they can be difficult to maintain), some of the paid theme options are great! We love Divi from Elegant Themes, but have found good results from Astra Theme and Elementor Page Builder as well.

All said and done, these advantages are key if you plan to host any one of the following website types:

  • Large business website
  • eCommerce website
  • Professional website
  • Membership website
  • Course provider or Consultant website
  • …or any other website that will provide you with a source of income.

Summary: pros and cons of wordpress.com vs wordpress.org

At this point in our comparison of wordpress.com vs wordpress.org, you might already have an idea of which service/hosting platform you will use. However, let’s quickly summarize the main difference between wordpress.com and wordpress.org:

Wordpress.com pros and cons

Wordpress.com pros Wordpress.com cons
Easy to set up Not as customizable
100% free for basic plans Limited plugin options
Easy to customize Limited number of themes

 

Wordpress.org pros and cons

Wordpress.org pros Wordpress.org cons
Completely free to download Associated hosting and domain fees
Flexibility to use themes Need experienced help maintaining your website
Access to entire library of free and paid plugins
Complete control over files

 

So, what is the main difference between wordpress.com vs wordpress.org?

“WordPress.com is similar to your WordPress.org website with the exception that you’re settling for a slower host with limitations that will hurt your leads and sales efforts.”

As we mentioned, the key difference between wordpress.com and wordpress.org is who’s actually hosting your website. With wordpress.com, you don’t need to buy and host your website, while with wordpress.org, you benefit from a self hosted website.

Why is that so important?

Because if you have plans to include investors in your model, or if you hope to sell your business in the future, you will have full control over that sale without having to migrate your site first. You can pass along domain information and consider your exit hassle-free.

As well, while wordpress.com has limited security features, wordpress.org can be set up with as many security options as you need. We at The Digital Navigator recommend (and use) two firewalls, a dedicated protective option for plugins, and weekly updates to your hosting software.

It is also worth noting that while wordpress.com requires you to sign up for an account to create your website, that wordpress.org allows you to download their files without an account–so long as you have your own hosting platform. That’s also why wordpress.org offers one-click installation, which we take pride in managing for our clients at The Digital Navigator.

 

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org: Cost Comparison

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org: Cost Comparison

For any business owner, budget is key. There are cost options associated with both wordpress.com and wordpress.org, however, we recommend investing in good hosting through wordpress.org since it will far outweigh the prices you might pay with wordpress.com.

Nevertheless, let’s explore a brief comparison of costs for either option so you can move forward with a clear conscience (and help convince your accountant as well!).

WordPress.com Costs

While you can explore the pricing options in full here for wordpress.com, know that your monthly bill will range anywhere from $0 dollars for basic plans with limited functionality, to about $59 a month for business services that include SEO tools, eCommerce options, and increased access to usability plugins.

When you’re looking for true business quality operations through wordpress.com however, we’ve seen clients come to us with bills as high as $2K a month since the $59 a month option is still incredibly slow where hosting is concerned, and has a ton of limitations.

WordPress.org Costs

“A really great host and maintenance service should only cost you about what a coffee a day would cost. At The Digital Navigator, our most comprehensive plans run at about $347/ month, but even then, this rate far surpasses rates known to other hosting platforms.”

The WordPress.org software itself is 100% free; however, if you want to make your website public, good web hosting and a domain name comes at a reasonable price–particularly when you start to compare prices with the cost of running a physical storefront.

With our plans for example, a year’s worth of managed web hosting will run about $1,200 to $4,100, which is really just a drop in the bucket for any serious business. We truly believe that cutting corners here can end up reducing sales revenue, where owners will spend more time paying people to optimize an otherwise ‘free’ service.

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WordPress.com vs WordPress.org: Which is the best fit for you?

Now that you’ve seen the results of our comparison between wordpress.com vs wordpress.org, which one do you think is the best fit for your business?

Based on the difference between wordpress.com and wordpress.org, what deciding factors have made you lean in one direction or the other?

Wherever you stand, here are our final thoughts on the types of businesses that would benefit from using wordpress.com vs wordpress.org in a nutshell:

We recommend choosing wordpress.com for your business if you…

  • Are a hobbyist who is not focusing on a for-profit venture
  • Want to create a blog to share your thoughts and creative expressions without ad monetizing
  • Want to make a local website for organizations close to home, such as a neighborhood watch or community center
  • Are looking for an extremely simple website (about one to five pages total) to test whether you have a minimum viable product or service, before you start your sales stream

We recommend choosing wordpress.org for your business if you…

  • Operate a business and have sales income
  • Plan to scale your business in the future
  • Want to offer courses or membership services online
  • Want to monetize your website with ads or affiliate marketing
  • Want to collect leads for your business through website forms or grow your email marketing list
  • Plan to run digital marketing campaigns
  • Plan to include specific functionalities on your website such as chatbots, special pop-up tools or events listings and calendars

For those who fall into the wordpress.org category, who may not have a ton of experience running a hosted platform or managing the customizations that come with optimizing your website online, we recommend finding a trustworthy website hosting service to streamline operations.

That’s one of the main services we provide at The Digital Navigator, and why we’re so confident that wordpress.org is best suited for tons of businesses just starting out online today.

Through interactive support and one-on-one learning, our customer service team of non-developers help make your first steps to website development easy to understand. They also help you learn how to host your own website.

Then, The Digital Navigator applies our expert team of developers to do all the behind-the-scenes work for you–so you don’t get bogged down with all the technical details described above.

Best of all, we reach out to third-party developers and plugin providers on your behalf when and if any issues arise. Due to our expertise in this area, we are able to pin-point specific problems and get simple solutions before you even know there was an issue in the first place–and we do this at no additional cost.

Make sure when you’re shopping around for a website management service that you look for options that provide speed optimization and security as well (which we do).

If on the other hand you just want to take advantage of our service and speak to us about how else we can help your website accrue the sales you’re dreaming of, go ahead and schedule a consultation with us right away!

Until then, we hope you found this article helpful, and that you feel confident in understanding the difference between wordpress.com and wordpress.org–though if you don’t we’re always around to answer your questions, and stick by your side for the long haul.

Talk soon!

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