Whenever we look into starting a blog, we are bombarded with a multitude of options. Some of the options like Blogger, WordPress and Tumblr are very popular, and others, like Ghost, for example, are works in progress. Selecting which blog platform to use depends on your particular requirements based on the type of blog you have and what you wish to do with your blog. If you are blogging for fun or as a means to hosting a personal journal, you can use BlogSpot, WordPress.com or Tumblr as they are free, and quite easy to manage. When you are blogging to promote your business or to make money, it is best to use a more professional platform such as WordPress.org (self hosted).
In this guide, I will tell you all about what WordPress is, and I will illustrate for you the difference between these two variants of WordPress. This will help you to understand which WordPress platform will be best for you.
Let’s have a look!
What is the WordPress platform?
WordPress was started as a blogging tool, and it evolved into a CMS (content management system). The first version of WordPress was released in 2003, as an open source project licensed under GPLV2. Over the past 10 years, WordPress has evolved into one of the most popular platforms for creating blogs and websites.
WordPress is based on PHP and MySQL. Founded by Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little, WordPress is a project backed by the parent company Automattic, which also offers various WordPress related services and products such as WordPress.com, VaultPress, JetPack, VideoPress, WordPress VIP, Gravatar and many more.
For beginners, here are two important things to know about WordPress:
Unlike the standard websites we know of, WordPress is backed by a huge community of freelance designers and WordPress development companies offering free and premium WordPress themes.
One of the biggest challenges for a webmaster of any website today is to create a great design, and WordPress themes rise to that challenge very well.
Anyone can download WordPress themes for free from the official WordPress repo, from third party websites, or by paying a little for premium market place. With a few clicks of a button, you can change the design and appearance of your theme. WordPress can be used to create a blog or a website, and the theme aspect makes it really easy for anyone to start a website with no real coding knowledge.
WordPress plugins extend the core features of the WordPress software. They help to add new features to your WordPress powered websites. There is a WordPress plugin for almost everything. All you need to do is find a plugin (features) that you need for your WordPress powered site, and when you add that plugin, you are adding those features to your site.
Due to the huge number of WordPress plugins available, one can easily become confused as to which plugins to use. For this reason it is a good idea to follow guides like this one: Essential WordPress Plugins for Every Blog.
You can download WordPress plugins from the official plugin directory or from many individual plugin developers or companies.
WordPress.com vs. WordPress.Org: What’s the difference?
WordPress offers two variations of its’ software – WordPress.com and WordPress.org. WordPress.org which is also popularly known as a self-hosted WordPress blog, which I will explain further below.
WordPress.com is a free blogging platform offered by Automattic, which allows anyone to create a blog for free.
When you create a blog on WordPress.com, you will get a web address like domainname.WordPress.com. Your blog will be hosted on the WordPress server. This platform is perfect for someone who wants to have a blog simply for the purpose of hosting his or her personal writing. There are many paid add-ons available, and you can buy custom domain names and use paid themes, and so on.
On WordPress.com, however, you will have many limitations in terms of managing your blog. For example, you cannot install third party plugins, and you have limited theme choices. From the perspective of a personal blog, however, this is not a bad option, as the WordPress team takes care of managing your blog’s architecture and back-up.
WordPress.com is useful for:
- Individual who wants to start a personal journal blog
- Company needing to have a web-space for announcements, where factors like design and space are not important
WordPress.com is not for:
- People who are planning to make money from a blog
- Companies using a content marketing blog as their marketing channel
- Individuals desiring total control over their website (FTP, custom code, custom plugins, etc.)
- Anyone wishing to use ad networks like AdSense or Infolinks, or wishing to create a blog for affiliate marketing purposes
Here is an official TOS page for using WordPress.com blogs, which will give you all the information you need regarding fair usage and TOS of WordPress:
WordPress.org : Self-hosted platform
WordPress.org is a complete solution for people who are looking to start a blog for the purpose of making money, for promoting a small business, or for any other use such as creating an e-commerce site.
To use WordPress.org, we download a copy of WordPress from the official download page and install it on our own hosting server. Since WordPress.org is one of the world’s most popular platforms, many hosting companies offer custom solutions or scripts like Fantastico, to let you install WordPress with one click.
I will write more about the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org later. First, let’s have a look at some of the features of WordPress.org blogs:
WordPress.com and WordPress.org have similar interfaces (the WordPress dashboard). WordPress.org, however, removes all the limitations of WordPress.com, and offers you complete control over your blog. You can create your custom theme, or install third party themes or plugins on your self-hosted blog. You can monetize it in any way you choose, such as AdSense, other affiliate marketing methods, in-text ads, paid reviews, and so on.
Recommended reading: How much does it cost to start a self-hosted WordPress blog?
Here is a basic chart showing some of the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org:
I hope this article has helped you to understand what WordPress is as well as the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.com. I also hope the information I have shared here has helped you to decide which blog platform you should use for your particular purposes.
Here are some interesting facts about WordPress:
- Some of the most popular websites in the world (Techcrunch, CNN, Forbes) are powered by WordPress VIP.
- 19% of the websites in the world are powered by WordPress.
- A WordPress app is available for all popular mobile platforms (iOS, Android, Blackberry).
- You can do a search engine friendly migration of your existing blog from Blogger.com or WordPress.com to a self-hosted WordPress.org blog.
- The WordPress platform created a complete market place for individuals and companies to make money. You can find or post jobs on many freelance marketplaces like Freelancer.com. You can also get free support from an amazing community of WordPress users via the support forum.
- WordPress is used to create many other types of websites such as directory websites, affiliate systems, portfolio websites, ticketing systems, and so on. There is a plugin for almost everything for WordPress.
- You can install WordPress locally to learn, test or develop anything on WordPress. (Windows and Mac)
- ShoutMeLoud is powered by the WordPress.org platform. :)
If you have any questions or doubts regarding WordPress, feel free to ask me via the comments section below.
If you find this guide useful and informative, please feel free to share it with your friends and colleagues on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus.