WordPress is arguably the top content publishing site in the world. However, as a beginner, you’ll almost certainly be faced with choosing between self-hosted WordPress.org and free WordPress.com. Read on to compare the pros and cons of each option.
WordPress.org is the base of self-hosted WP and allows you to obtain a free copy of WordPress Content Management System(CMS). With this option, you can download the CMS and enjoy the support of the world’s most-used CMS. The software can be obtained under the open source licence and anybody can download and use it. WP powers 25% of all the websites in the world and is home to a thriving, helpful community.
Meanwhile, WordPress.com is a business website and a commercial venture run by WordPress creators Automattic. With this option, you can create a website with their hosting and use the WordPress CMS. Though WordPress.com is free, there are certain limitations. To get rid of these, you may buy a paid-for version.
Those that create their blogs with WordPress.com don’t have any concerns about hosting, settings or files as everything is overseen by the WP team. This means you don’t need to get involved with upgrades or maintenance.
WordPress.org versus WordPress.com
When it comes to ease of use, WordPress.com is ideal for beginners. You don’t need in-depth knowledge of hosting or installing WP. You don’t even need to worry about being hacked as WP oversee everything.
With WordPress.org, you will need substantial knowledge of topics like hosting and will need to update the core on a regular basis. You will be in charge of maintaining everything and will need to install new security and backup plugins yourself unless you hire someone else to take charge of this.
Control versus freedom
Many people opt for WordPress.org as they like the extra level of control they are given. You will need to arrange hosting and load your website as well as the content on it. With free WordPress.com, you will get free hosting, configuration and files, but you may be left disappointed if you require a fully-functional site. For instance, you won’t be able to open an eCommerce site with a free account, whereas you can with WordPress.org. The reason why the free version of WordPress has limitations is that the owners would prefer you to pay for the premium variant, which is understandable but can mean you’re losing out substantially if you do use the free WP.
Nonetheless, many people do like being able to hand over maintenance and security concerns to the WP team. When you do use the free version, you won’t be able to use custom plugins, will be faced with limited storage and won’t own the actual files which mean having no FTP access. Furthermore, you will be forced to display ads on your site, which can be somewhat off-putting.
There are no real limitations to WordPress.org, unless you can’t or don’t want to pay for the service or lack the knowledge needed to manage your site and can’t get someone else to look after it for you. You will be able to use any theme or plugin you like.
When you use WordPress.org, you will need to obtain hosting and a domain. The more seriously you are taking your site, the bigger the chances of needing premium themes and plugins become. Themes can cost up to around $60 and hosting between $5 to $50 depending on which kind of server you wish to use. You may wish to begin with shared hosting, and move to VPS if or when your audience grows. You can expect to pay between around $5 to $15 for your domain, unless you’re looking for a premium domain which will cost much more.
Though you can achieve more with self-hosted WordPress.org, with full control comes a great deal of responsibility, and you may need to pay out a great deal for maintenance and development if you’re unable to carry out these tasks yourself. Installation and hosting needs to be taken care of, as do updates, regular backups, obtaining security plugins and resolving any issues that might occur.
We would argue that WordPress.org is the ideal choice if you require a plethora of features and don’t mind the extra responsibility that comes with this choice. There are of course scores of hosting providers on the market, and it really is worth investing your time to shop around and compare companies so you can get the best possible deal for your needs. Have you decided which platform you wish to use for your online venture? If not, there is no need to rush into it. Furthermore, you may wish to start off with free WordPress.com and graduate to WordPress.org if you start to find your options too restricted.