FAQ, Getting Started

WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org

WordPress is a publishing platform that makes it easy for anyone to publish online and proudly powers millions of websites. This guide explains the differences between WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org to help you decide which one is best for you.

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Overview of Options

Using WordPress comes in three flavors:

  • Fully hosted with WordPress.com.
  • WordPress.com with an upgraded plan that allows most of the same functionality you find on self-hosted sites.
  • The self-hosted version, whose software is available for free at WordPress.org. Self-hosted WordPress requires purchasing hosting with another provider, such as Bluehost, GoDaddy, etc., and installing WordPress software on it.
Focus on your beautiful content, and let us handle the rest.
WordPress.com Business & eCommerce
Get the best of both worlds: the carefree ease of a managed platform while you focus on your content.
Get your hands dirty, and host your website yourself.
Get StartedStart with BusinessVisit WordPress.org
Premium hosting and security are included. You can even upgrade to a custom domain, like YourGroovyDomain.com.Your custom domain, premium hosting, security, and backups are included. As secure as WordPress.com, as versatile as self-hosted.You’ll need to find a host and perform backups and maintenance yourself. We offer VaultPress for security and backups.
Choose from a large collection of beautiful themes.Choose and customize any of our beautiful themes or install your own custom theme.Install custom themes. Build your own with PHP and CSS.
Add sharing buttons and manually share your content to social networks.Integrate your site with Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and other social networks.Install a plugin like Jetpack, to enable sharing functionality on your site.
Popular features like stats, comments, and polls are included. There’s no need to install plugins.Install plugins to extend your site’s capabilities (e.g. to create an online store).Install plugins to extend your site’s functionality.
WordPress.com forums are always available for support.Premium support via live chat and email.No dedicated support. Visit the WordPress.org support forums for assistance.
You must register for an account on WordPress.com and abide by our Terms of Service.You must register for an account on WordPress.com and abide by our Terms of Service.No registration with WordPress.org is required.
Get StartedStart with BusinessVisit WordPress.org

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Which Version is Right For You?

Choosing between WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org largely depends on what functionality you need to have with your site:

Self-Hosted / WordPress.org

Hosting your own WordPress site can be fun and rewarding. However, WordPress.org does require some technical knowledge and places more responsibility on you, the publisher. 

You can download the WordPress software for free at https://wordpress.org, but you must install it on a web server before it will work. You will need to research and install your own themes and plugins

Many hosting providers offer a one-click installation of WordPress — here are a few examples. Additionally, many web development agencies specialize in building WordPress sites.

Managed Hosting / WordPress.com

WordPress.com is different. Here at WordPress.com, you don’t have to download software, pay for hosting, or manage a web server. You can instead focus on creating unique content and let us handle the rest!

Publishing your website is always free here at WordPress.com, and paid upgrades are available to help you supercharge your site. These upgrades let you use a custom domain (like my.blog), extensively customize the appearance of your site, upload HD video, and lots more.

WordPress.com is a commercial enterprise owned by Automattic, a company started by the founding developer of WordPress and staffed by full-time developers, designers, and support engineers. In addition, Automatticians (employees of Automattic) regularly contribute back to the WordPress software to benefit the entire community.

WordPress.com is an excellent choice for bloggers, photographers, artists, plumbers, doctors, restaurateurs — almost anyone. However, techies that prefer to maintain complete control over their code should consider hosting their WordPress installation. We provide many themes and built-in plugin functionality, so you won’t need to upload your own – though you can if you have a plugin-enabled plan for your site.

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Do I Need to Self-Host?

You may have heard that you need to self-host because what you want is unavailable when hosting WordPress.com. While there may be some cases where this is true, you can accomplish most of these things with your WordPress.com site. Below is an overview of many of the options available with sites you host through WordPress.com!

I need a Website, not a Blog.

On WordPress.com, we use “website” and “blog” as interchangeable terms. Additionally, you can use all of our themes for either a website or a blog. Learn more about trying out different themes in this helpful guide. Or, learn how to set your homepage to a static page instead of a blog here.

I need specific features like SEO and Social Sharing options.

WordPress.com already includes the following features, so you don’t need any third-party plugins:

We also have a large collection of customizable themes to choose from in our theme showcase.

I need to install a Plugin or Custom Theme.

Does your site need more functionality? Want to utilize a theme you’ve purchased elsewhere or had custom developed for you?

Suppose the features above don’t meet your needs. In that case, you can install custom third-party plugins and themes you’ve purchased elsewhere by utilizing our WordPress.com Business or eCommerce plan upgrade. You can read more about the features included in the plan here.

I need Stats and Google Analytics.

WordPress.com stats are built into every WordPress.com site, from our free plan to our Pro plan.

If you want to use Google Analytics for more in-depth data, you can integrate it with a site on the WordPress.com Pro plan.

I want to earn money from my site.

If you’d like to earn advertising revenue, we do have an advertising program, WordAds. You can apply for WordAds here; you will need a custom domain name, and your site must meet a minimum traffic requirement.

Google AdSense and other outside advertising is permitted for sites on the WordPress.com plugin-enabled plans.

You can use PayPal buttons on any WordPress.com site. The easy-to-use Pay with PayPal buttons are available on many of our plans as well.

Affiliate links can be used on WordPress.com sites, provided they are not the primary purpose of your site.

I need support for my site.

WordPress.com is a company with dedicated support staff. “WordPress” itself is open source software and is supported by volunteers.

If you need help getting started, it’s best to host your site on WordPress.com, where you can access support. We offer support via email, live chat, and/or support forums, depending on your upgrade.

I need FTP or Server Access.

SFTP access is currently available for sites on our plugin-enabled plans. There’s more information about FTP access here. We do not have ways to increase PHP limits or make changes to core WordPress files.

We do also have alternatives for FTP access on WordPress.com listed here.

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So, WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org? Still not sure?

Still not sure which way to go? Find out more about WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org to see which is best suited for you.

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