WordPress.com vs WordPress.org – Which is Better? (Comparison Chart)

Did you know that WordPress.com and WordPress.org are actually two very different platforms? Often beginners confuse the two which leads them to choose the wrong platform. We’re often asked by our users which is the better platform: WordPress.com vs WordPress.org. To help answer that, we… Read More »

The post WordPress.com vs WordPress.org – Which is Better? (Comparison Chart) appeared first on WPBeginner.

Did you know that WordPress.com and WordPress.org are actually two very different platforms? Often beginners confuse the two which leads them to choose the wrong platform. We’re often asked by our users which is the better platform: WordPress.com vs WordPress.org. To help answer that, we have created the most comprehensive comparison of free WordPress.com vs WordPress.org (self-hosted version).

Our goal is highlight the key differences between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org, so you can choose the right platform for your needs.

Self hosted WordPress.org vs free WordPress.com

Since choosing the right platform is crucial for your online success, we have created the most complete comparison of WordPress.com vs WordPress.org ( text comparison, table-based comparison, and a full infographic).

If you just want to start a blog or make a website the RIGHT way, then you can skip this article and head over to our guides here:

Having said that, let’s take a look at the differences between self-hosted WordPress.org vs WordPress.com.

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org (Infographic)

Self Hosted WordPress.org vs Free WordPress.com

Note: This infographic and article compares the powerful self-hosted WordPress.org with the free WordPress.com hosting service. You can unlock additional features in WordPress.com by upgrading to their paid service. We have highlighted those features as well.

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org Comparison

The best way to understand the difference between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org is to take a look at each platform individually.

WordPress.org

WordPress.org aka “the real WordPress”, is the popular website platform that you have heard all the great things about.

It is open source and 100% free for anyone to use. All you need is a domain name and web hosting. This is why it is also referred to as self-hosted WordPress.

Below are the pros and cons of using the self-hosted WordPress.org to build your website or blog.

WordPress.org Benefits

With WordPress.org, you have full control of your website. You are free to do anything you want and customize it as much as you need. Here are some of the benefits of choosing WordPress.org to build your website, and the reason why it is the go-to choice.

  • It is free and super easy to use. (See why is WordPress free?)
  • You own your website and all its data. Your site will NOT be turned off because someone decides that it is against their terms of service (as long as you are not doing something illegal). You are in full control.
  • You can add free, paid, and custom WordPress plugins / apps to your website.
  • You can use customize your website design as needed. You can add any free or paid WordPress theme that you want. You can also create completely custom designs or modify anything that you want.
  • You can actually make money from your WordPress site by running your own ads without sharing revenue with anyone.
  • You can use powerful tools like Google Analytics for custom analytics and tracking.
  • You can use self-hosted WordPress to create an online store to sell digital or physical products, accept credit card payments, and deliver / ship the goods directly from your website.
  • You can also create membership sites and sell memberships for premium content, courses, etc and build an online community around your website.

WordPress.org Cons

There are a very few cons of using the self-hosted WordPress.org site.

  • Like all websites, you will need web hosting. This is where your website files are stored on the internet. Initially, the cost is around $3-$10 per month. However as your website grows and gets more traffic, the web hosting costs will increase as expected, but then you would be making enough money to cover the costs.
  • You are responsible for updates. You can easily update your WordPress site by simply clicking on the update button (1-click), so it’s not too much work.
  • You are responsible for backups. Thankfully, there are tons of WordPress backup plugins that let you setup automatic backups.

The real cost of WordPress.org website varies based on what you are trying to build (simple blog, portfolio website, eCommerce store, membership site, etc). There are also other factors like free templates vs premium templates, free plugins vs premium plugins, etc.

On a low budget, you can build your website for as little as $46 per year. See our guide on how much does it really cost to build a WordPress website for full details.

For 99% of users, our recommendation is always to use WordPress.org. See our guide on how to start a website.

WordPress.com

WordPress.com is a hosting service created by the co-founder of WordPress, Matt Mullenweg. Because of the same founder, often users confuse WordPress.com with the popular WordPress.org software.

The WordPress.com hosting service has 5 plans:

  • Free – Very limited.
  • Personal – $36 per year
  • Premium – $99 per year
  • Business – $299 per year
  • VIP – starting at $5000 per month

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of WordPress.com.

WordPress.com Benefits

The free WordPress.com platform is a good choice for hobby bloggers and those starting a blog for their family. Here are some of the benefits of using WordPress.com:

  • It’s free for up to 3GB of space. After that you will have to switch to a paid plan for more space. (Personal plan $36 /year gives you 6GB, Premium plan $99/year gives you 13GB storage, or Business plan for $299/year for unlimited storage).
  • You will not have to worry about updates or backups. WordPress.com will take care of that.

WordPress.com Cons

There are several limitations of free WordPress.com which differentiate it from WordPress.org. Here are some of the disadvantages of using WordPress.com:

  • They place ads on all free websites. So your users will see ads, and you don’t make money from it. If you don’t want your users to see their ads, then you can upgrade to a paid plan (starting from $36 per year).
  • You are NOT allowed to sell ads on your website. If you run a high traffic site, then you can apply for their advertising program called WordAds where you share revenue with them. Premium and Business plan users can use WordAds right away.
  • You cannot upload plugins. Free plan users get built-in JetPack features pre-activated. Business plan users can install from a selection of compatible plugins ($299 / year). WordPress.com VIP program lets you install plugins, and it starts from $5000 per month.
  • You cannot upload custom themes. Free plan users can only install from the limited free themes collection. Premium and business plan users can also select premium themes. There are limited customization options for the free version. Premium and Business plan users can use custom CSS.
  • You are restricted to their stats. You cannot add Google Analytics or install any other powerful tracking platform. Business plan users can install Google Analytics.
  • They can delete your site at anytime if they think it violates their Terms of Service.
  • Your site will display a powered by WordPress.com link. It can be removed by upgrading to the Business plan.
  • WordPress.com does not offer any eCommerce features or integrated payment gateways.
  • You cannot build membership websites with WordPress.com.

As you can see, the WordPress.com hosting platform is quite limited when you’re on the free, personal, or even premium plan. To unlock some of the more advanced features, you have to be on the Business plan ($299 per year) or on the VIP plan ($5000 per month).

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org (FAQs)

Since this is a popular topic, and WPBeginner is the largest free WordPress resource site for beginners, we get tons of questions regarding WordPress.com vs WordPress.org.

We have done our best to answer the most frequently asked questions below:

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org – Which is Better?

If you are a personal blogger, and you don’t care about making money from your website, then go with the free WordPress.com.

If you are a business or a blogger that wants to make money from your site, then we recommend using the self-hosted WordPress.org. It gives you the freedom and flexibility to grow your website the way you want.

While you can get several advanced features with the WordPress.com Business plan ($299 / year for each website), you can make that money go much further on a self-hosted WordPress site which costs $46 per year.

In our expert opinion, WordPress.org is hands down the better platform. That’s the platform that every professional blogger, small business owner, and even big name brands likes Disney uses.

How do I start a WordPress.org Website?

To start a self-hosted WordPress website, you need a domain name and WordPress hosting.

A domain name is your website’s address on the internet such as google.com, wpbeginner.com, etc. Web hosting is where your website files are stored on the internet.

We recommend using Bluehost for hosting your website because they are one of the largest web hosting companies in the world. They’re also an official WordPress.org recommended hosting provider. Last but not least, they’re offering our users a free domain + 60% off on hosting.

For step by step instructions, you can checkout our free guide on how to make a website.

If you need help, WPBeginner team can even build your website for free. Learn more about how our free WordPress blog setup works.

Can I move from WordPress.com to WordPress.org?

Often new users who don’t know the difference between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org end up starting with the free WordPress.com service. Once they see the limitations of the platform, they want to switch to “the Real WordPress” aka WordPress.org.

Yes, you can definitely switch from WordPress.com to WordPress.org and fairly easily move all of your content.

We have created a step by step guide on how to move your blog from WordPress.com to WordPress.org, or you can take advantage of our free blog setup servie, and we will transfer your blog for free.

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org – Summary

The best way to think about the differences between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org is the analogy of renting a house vs. owning a house.

WordPress.com is similar to renting a house. You have limited power and control over what you can and cannot do.

WordPress.org is like owning a house. Where you have full control, no one can kick you out, and you can do anything that you want.

Below is the summary of everything we discussed above in our self-hosted WordPress.org vs WordPress.com comparison:

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Final Thoughts

The confusion created by the similar domains: WordPress.com vs WordPress.org is quite unfortunate for beginners. There is a lot of history behind the decisions, and you can read more about that in our article how WordPress.com and WordPress.org are related.

Our hope is that you found this article helpful in understanding the differences between WordPress.org and WordPress.com.

We wish you all the best with your website and hope that you chose the right platform: WordPress.org.

If so, you may want to follow our guide on how to learn WordPress in 7 days or less.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

The post WordPress.com vs WordPress.org – Which is Better? (Comparison Chart) appeared first on WPBeginner.

Who Owns WordPress and How Does WordPress Make Money?

There has always been confusion among beginners about who owns WordPress? It’s a bit unreal to think something can be 100% free. If you have ever wondered who owns WordPress and how does WordPress make money, then you’re in the right place. In this beginner’s… Read More »

The post Who Owns WordPress and How Does WordPress Make Money? appeared first on WPBeginner.

There has always been confusion among beginners about who owns WordPress? It’s a bit unreal to think something can be 100% free. If you have ever wondered who owns WordPress and how does WordPress make money, then you’re in the right place. In this beginner’s guide, we will answer these common questions along with covering how does that impact the ownership rights of your WordPress site and blog content.

Understanding the Differences between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org

Before we can answer the question about the ownership of WordPress, it’s important that you understand which WordPress you are talking about.

The #1 root cause for confusion is that often people don’t know that WordPress.com and WordPress.org are two fundamentally different products with different owners.

The difference between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org

WordPress.org is the popular content management system (CMS) that you always hear about. This is the real WordPress, and it is 100% free. It is often referred as self-hosted WordPress. When you hear things like you can create any type of website in WordPress with plugins and custom themes, this is the WordPress people are talking about.

WordPress.com is a web hosting service that offers a stripped down version of WordPress to make it easy for you to blog. You don’t get all the WordPress goodies like plugins, custom themes, etc.

To keep this article focused, we will not go into the feature comparison of the two. You can learn more about that in our WordPress.com vs WordPress.org chart.

Understanding the difference between the two is essential for understanding the ownership and business models behind the two products.

Who owns WordPress.org and the popular WordPress software?

WordPress is an open-source software. This means that anyone can see the code and contribute to the software to make it better. It’s the contributions by thousands of independent people from across the world that built WordPress to what it is today.

WordPress is licensed under GPL, and it’s important that you understand the benefits of the GPL license because that will help you better understand the ownership.

We will summarize the GPL in three main benefits:

  • You can use WordPress in whatever way you like without any restrictions.
  • You can customize, add or remove anything in WordPress that you don’t like without any restrictions.
  • You can repackage, rebrand, sell and distribute WordPress without any restrictions except that it is also released under the GPL license.

The last part usually blows people’s mind away. Yes, you can indeed take WordPress, change the logo and the name, and start selling it (100% legal).

In other words, the code base of WordPress belongs to the community (you). The thousands of people who contributed to this non-profit project did it without any direct compensation. We will explain this in more details in the business model section of this article.

Summary: Any website you create using the self-hosted WordPress software is 100% owned by you. The content you upload to these sites is also 100% owned by you.

The WordPress trademark and the WordPress.org domain is owned by the WordPress foundation, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, whose sole purpose is to ensure that WordPress is freely available, maintained, and developed.

Who owns WordPress.com

WordPress.com is owned by a privately held company called Automattic.

You have to understand a little bit of history of the open-source WordPress project to understand Automattic’s contributions and the reasons why they get favorable treatment such as the ability to use the WordPress trademark and the coveted WordPress.com domain as part of their paid product.

Automattic was started by the co-founding developer of the open source WordPress software, Matt Mullenweg.

Matt created Automattic in 2005, almost two years after WordPress, with the primary purpose to make WordPress hosting easier and allow people with little technical knowledge to start a blog with WordPress.

Since WordPress.com platform was powered by the open source WordPress software, Automattic had a vested interest in the further development of the free WordPress software.

Several of the early Automattic employees were contributing developers of WordPress prior to the company, so it should go without saying that financial interest wasn’t the only reason why Automattic invested in WordPress.

Because the open-source project didn’t really make any money in the beginning, Matt first registered the WordPress trademark through Automattic.

As WordPress grew in popularity, Automattic donated the WordPress trademark to the WordPress Foundation in 2010 to ensure long-term sustainability of the non-profit project.

It’s important to note that Matt Mullenweg is the CEO of Automattic and also serves in the board of the WordPress foundation.

Now that you are familiar with the history, let’s talk about ownership of content on WordPress.com.

When you build a site using WordPress.com, you have to adhere to their Terms of Service policy. Although it clearly states that it’s designed to give you as much control and ownership of your content, someone can still shut down your site if they believe it’s in violation.

While you have 100% control over your site, you’re limited to the feature-set that’s offered to you which does not include plugins, custom themes, etc.

Hopefully by now you should have the answer to your question about who owns WordPress.

Now let’s take a look at how does WordPress make money.

Business Model of Automattic vs Business Model of WordPress

The business model of Automattic is to sell WordPress related services such as hosting, backup, and others, so we won’t spend too much time on that.

In short, Automattic makes money on WordPress.com by selling advertising on your free sites. If you choose to pay for their hosting plans, then you get additional premium upgrades such as the ability to hide ads, purchase domains, additional disk space, commercial themes, etc.

Our goal in this section is to explain the business model behind the open source WordPress software and answer common questions like how do WordPress developers make money if they’re voluntarily contributing to a free non-profit project.

Let’s start with the question on why do developers contribute to WordPress if they aren’t getting paid?

While there can be altruistic reasons, we’re going to focus on the two primary monetary reasons:

  • They sell WordPress products or services (custom plugins, themes, web development, consulting, etc.)
  • They work for a company that sell WordPress products or services.

In other words, they are making money, but they are not getting paid by the WordPress foundation.

As WordPress has grown in popularity, there have been an increase in the number of businesses that sell WordPress related products / services. This has increased the commercial interest in the further development of the open-source WordPress software.

Think of what Automattic was able to do in the beginning, except now there are multiple companies hiring dedicated staff who contribute in the development of WordPress because they understand as the WordPress project grows, so will the revenue opportunities.

So where does the WordPress foundation fit in the picture?

WordPress foundation is a non-profit organization, so it’s primary source of revenue is through donations.

These donations are made by individuals like yourself and also corporations who’re using WordPress to make money.

How does this all apply to you as the user?

While you are not directly paying for WordPress, you could be indirectly paying for it.

For example, if you host your website on Bluehost, Siteground, WPEngine, or any other major WordPress hosting company, then you are indirectly paying for WordPress. Because all these companies regularly contribute back to WordPress.

If you are using Yoast SEO, BackupBuddy, Sucuri, or any of WPBeginner family of products (OptinMonster, Envira Gallery, Soliloquy, etc) then you are indirectly paying for WordPress. Because all these companies regularly sponsor WordCamps and/or contribute to WordPress.

Hopefully, this helps you better understand the WordPress business model and clear up all the concerns regarding that matter.

What can we do to improve and clear up some of the confusion?

There is very little that can be done about the domain situation due to the business models involved.

The only real way to solve it is through education which has to be two part.

The first and foremost is the role of media.

Major tech media outlets like TechCrunch, Recode, TheNextWeb, etc need to do a better job at fact-checking to avoid articles that claim Automattic as the parent company of WordPress. It could be as simple as saying the parent company behind WordPress.com.

You can simply google the term “WordPress parent company” and you’ll find tons of articles from major tech media outlets that report false information (example: here, here, here, here, and here).

The second role is enforcement by the WordPress foundation as well as Automattic.

These media outlets are usually pitched these press releases, so if there were some re-enforcement with the top outlets, the rest will follow.

Often at blogging events when you see a WordPress booth, it’s usually an Automattic (WordPress.com) booth. While the marketing verbiage can be improved, having personally seen the employees answering questions at the booth, they are extremely helpful and almost always explain the difference.

At TBEX North America 2015, while we visited their booth, at least two people asked the question in the roam of ownership of WordPress and the Automattic employees did an excellent job clearly explaining the difference.

Conclusion

We hope this article helped you answer the question about who owns WordPress, how does WordPress make money, and what that really means for your website’s control and ownership. You may also want to read our article on 15 most frequently asked questions by WordPress beginners.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

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