WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org: Differences & Which One to Use?

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org

This post is part 1 of a series.

Whenever we look into starting a blog, we are bombarded with a multitude of options. Some of the options like Blogger, WordPress, Medium.com and Tumblr are very popular, and others, like Ghost, for example, are “works in progress.”

Selecting which blog platform to use depends 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 of hosting a personal journal, you can use BlogSpot, WordPress.com, Medium.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 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 later evolved into a full CMS (content management system).

The first version of WordPress was released in 2003, as an open source project licensed under GPLV2. Over the past 15 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 their parent company Automattic, which also offers various WordPress related services and products, such as WordPress.com, VaultPress, JetPack, VideoPress, WordPress VIP, Gravatar, and many others.

What is WordPress

(Scroll to the bottom for some more interesting facts about WordPress)

For starters, there are two important things to know about WordPress:

WordPress Themes:

Unlike the standard website creators we know of, WordPress is backed by a huge community of freelance designers and 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 free WordPress themes from the official WordPress repo, or from third party websites. You can also pay a little bit of money in a premium theme market place.

With the 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:

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: Best 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 is also popularly known as a “self-hosted WordPress blog,” which I will explain in a minute.


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 “name.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 writings.

There are many paid add-ons available, and you can buy custom domain names, use paid themes, and so on.

On WordPress.com, however, you will have many limitations in terms of managing your blog.

Here are two big limitations:

  • You cannot install third-party plugins
  • 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 good for:

  • Individuals who want to start a personal journal type blog
  • Companies needing to have a web-space for announcements, where factors like design and branding are not important

WordPress.com is not good 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
  • Anyone wanting to create a blog for affiliate marketing purposes

Here is the official TOS page for using WordPress.com blogs, which will give you all the information you need regarding fair usage and the full TOS of WordPress.

WordPress.org aka 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 small business, or for any other use such as creating an e-commerce site.

To use WordPress.org, download a copy of WordPress from the official download page and install it on your 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 which lets 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 platform:

WordPress.com and WordPress.org have similar interfaces (i.e. the WordPress dashboard).

WordPress.org, however, removes all the limitations of WordPress.com, and offers you complete control over your blog.

You can:

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:

Comparing WordPress.com & WordPress.org Features


I hope this article has helped you to understand what WordPress is as well as the differences between WordPress.org (self-hosted) 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 website.

I have also compiled a huge list of WordPress video resources as well as a WordPress guide, to help you understand WordPress better.

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.

Here are some other interesting facts about WordPress:

  • Some of the most popular websites in the world (TechCrunch, ShoutMeLoud CNN, Forbes) are powered by WordPress VIP.
  • 30% 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 marketplace 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)

Here are a few hand-picked articles for you to read next:

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Authored By
A blog scientist by the mind and a passionate blogger by heart ❤️. Harsh Agrawal is recognized as a leader in digital marketing and Cryptocurrency space. Fountainhead of ShoutMeLoud and CoinSutra, and a Speaker at Inorbit, IBM, India blockchain summit. He has won numerous awards for his work at ShoutMeLoud. Life motto: Live while you can! Teach & inspire while you could & Smile while you have the teeth.

38 thoughts on “WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org: Differences & Which One to Use?”

  1. Hi Harsh,

    Great blog you have. I just bought the hosting service to BlueHost and installed WordPress from there as per your guide, now, I want to make sure that I am using wordpress.org and not WordPress.com. Since the next step is paying for a theme I think It is WordPress.com. Should I download the file for wordpress.org and install it manually?

    Thank you

  2. Hi Awesome ….

    hello harsh sir i m looking to start a proffessional blog and try and discover all of the associated things approximately running a blog. Then i heard about wordpress and confused among wordpress.com and wordpress.org that which one is high-quality. however this submit get me out of all of the confusion. thanks a lot for this

  3. I used to use blogger. But they are very limited and look unprofessional. I now use both wordpress.com and wordpress.org. WordPress rocks.

    1. Hey Jewel
      Actually, you cannot use WordPress.com and WordPress.org (Self Hosted) together.

      For WordPress.com you’ll get the subdomain, not your own Domain. (example: yourwebsite.wordpress.com) and you cannot choose your own Hosting.

      In WordPress.org you can have your own Domain and choose your Desired domain (example: yourwebsite.com).
      It’s better to use WordPress.org coz it’s open source and has a lot of Plugins and Themes and is also very Developer friendly.

      I would Highly recommend using wordpress.org with any hosting provider.

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