WordPress.com vs WordPress.org – What’s the Difference?

Updated 13th of August, 2015.

Confused? Thought so…WP.com vs WP.org

The most common question among most new bloggers – What’s the difference between WordPress.com and a self-hosted WordPress.org version.

Well, to keep it simple – one is limited, the other is not. The one is free, the other is not.


You’ll only get a sub-domain from WordPress.com, but its’ free…

Sub-domain is a part of larger domain. For example, my site domain name is StartBloggingOnline.com. If my sub-domain is MyFreeBlog, then my full domain name will be MyFreeBlog.StartBloggingOnline.com

See the difference?

Before I move on, I just want to let you know where else you can start a free blog on a sub-domain (besides WordPress.com):

When you go and sign up on WordPress.com you’ll get a domain name like: YourNewBlog.WordPress.com. When you go with self-hosted WordPress, you’ll have your own domain name like – YourNewBlog.com

On the downside, your blog address will cost you around $10 per year. It’s not much, but still some money.


You’ll have limits on WordPress.com

WordPress.com has around 100 free themes to choose from,

WordPress.org (self-hosted) has around 1500 free themes to choose from.

The same goes with plugins and different add-ons. In short, you’ll have some limits which doesn’t allow you to really customize your blog.

You won’t be able to add AWeber or Mailchimp applications to gather e-mails and build lists for business purposes. You won’t be able to add different plugins and themes that can make your blog look “cool” and unique.

Your blog will also be limited in size – which means that if you go too heavy on posting images and videos – you might need to sign up as their premium customer which costs $99 / year.

What’s the downside for avoiding the limits on WordPress? You’ll need to sign up for hosting, which is roughly $3 per month.


You don’t own your content on WordPress.com

You heard it right. You don’t own the content nor the blog you’re posting on. WordPress owns it, thus they can shut it down whenever they want to. Don’t believe me, read this.

That’s the main reason it’s free.

On a self-hosted WordPress, you’ll own your content and you can even sell it as a website/blog without any permissions. You can place ads and even monetize your blog – you can’t do that on a free WordPress platform.


People won’t take you seriously when you’re on WordPress.com

Don’t get me wrong. WordPress.com is perfect for classroom blogs or blogs that won’t be used more than 2 months, but when you want to be a serious blogger (individually or for company) you need to have your own domain name and own hosting.


Have a look at this inforgraphic I made

Difference between two WordPress


I’m using self-hosted WordPress, here’s why

I’ve been using self-hosted WordPress blog for years now. Unfortunately, I started out on a free WordPress platform and later had to move onto self-hosted one.

If you are SERIOUS about blogging, hands-down go with WordPress.org.

If you are just starting off then free services can be an easy decision, but I don’t recommend it. Why?Either you are setting up a website or creating a blog – free platforms are getting more and more strict about rules and allowed content.

They might delete your blog without any warnings at all. You don’t have full control over your blog – it means they can add random advertisements on your blog that make it look “spammy” and cheap.

Here’s what happened to well known publicity expert – Joan Stewart

Publicity expert Joan Stewart, also known as The Publicity Hound, learned the consequences of not self-hosting. While her regular blog was self-hosted on WordPress.org, she was using Blogger.com as the archives for her ezine, “The Publicity Hound’s Tips of the Week.” Blogger hosted the archives.

One morning, when I tried to get into the archives, I discovered the entire thing was gone,” she said. “My stomach did flip-flops as it became apparent that several years worth of content had disappeared. I contacted Blogger but they never explained what happened. I had forgotten that my web developer backed up the archives weekly, so I lost only a week’s worth of content.

Her blog is now part of her website, on a self-hosted WordPress.org platform.


What’s your choice?

If you are serious about blogging, you want to do it long-term and/or earn some money then go back to homepage and get yourself a self-hosted WordPress blog.

If you have no intentions to blog more than a few months, then follow this tutorial and set up a limited free blog on WordPress.com


Question and Answers

  1. Christy

    If you start on WP.com, can you transfer your blog to WP.org after a few months? The reason I ask is that the upfront cost is a lot for my budget.

    • Mike

      Yes you can. If your not tech-savvy then you most likely have to pay someone to fully transfer the site from free to self-hosted option.

      If you are serious about blogging, then it’s wise to start with your own domain from day one.

  2. Thanks for this. And this is urgent: I’d like to self-host my blog. But I need a web host and . How can I pay for these services from here (Nigeria)? I much prefer a wordpress.org blog, and will be willing to pay. But the host and the buying the domain, that’s the problem. What do u recommend?

  3. tommie

    Thanks for this article – it’s really helpful. I’m someone who has been using WP.com (I didn’t realise there were two options when I set it up) and I’m now desperate to move to WP.org. Do you have any tips on how to do this? Or is there a company or person you would recommend that I could employ to do the transfer? I’ve looked around but I’m at a bit of a loss. Any info greatly appreciated!

  4. Claire

    This is really so helpful – I was having such a hard time understanding the differences between WP.com and WP.org!

    I am interested in creating a WP.org blog, but have very limited knowledge of coding. Does that option require a lot of coding? If so, do you have any tips on how to learn all of the necessary details?


    • Mike

      Thanks for the kind words Claire :)

      WordPress.org doesn’t require much coding, don’t be worried about it. There are plenty of tutorials on YouTube that explain everything you need to know about WordPress.

      Let me know if you have any other questions,

  5. Abby

    Hi Mike,

    I’m totally new to blogging and would love your advice .

    Not realising there were 2 options with WordPress, I opened an account with .com and paid for a domain name they matches my twitter and FB profiles.

    I’ve engaged someone to install and customise a theme but she’s just pointed out I can’t do this on .com.

    Can I still keep the domain name I got via .com and just open an account in .org? And what are the options for hosting?

    Thanks in advance for your help!

    • Mike

      Hi Abby,

      Indeed – WordPress.com has some limitations – like you mentioned in your comment. It’s wise to sign up with some hosting company, such as iPage.com and transfer you domain to there. Once that’s done, you can start tweaking your WordPress site.

      Let me know if that helps,

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