WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org: Which One is Right For You?

When I first started blogging, I read several articles about the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org, but eventually decided to host my blog using WordPress.com.

My easy-to-use WordPress.com site has served me well over the past year or so, but when I decided to combine my blog and website, it was time to move to WordPress.org. I’ve spent the past few weeks searching out a new theme, finding a good web host, and learning a little bit of coding to get my new WordPress.org site up and running.

Here are a few things I learned about the difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com, in case there are others out there who are wondering which option is right for them.

What’s the Difference Between WordPress.org and WordPress.com?


WordPress.org is open source blogging software that you can download, upload to a 3rd party server, and create a blog or website with. When you use WordPress.org you have the ability to make your blog or website look however you’d like it to, and the option to install lots of ‘plugins’ that super-smart people create and add to the WordPress.org plugin library. Plugins range from social sharing widgets to contact forms to spam blockers and much more.

To use WordPress.org on your own you’ll need to know (or be willing to learn) a little bit about servers (web hosts) and ftp sites and possibly some CSS coding. Don’t let this scare you though! I knew very little about any of these things a few weeks ago when I decided to make the move – you can learn as you go.

A Few Benefits of WordPress.org:

  • You have more control over the way your site looks.
  • You can sell ads for your website and keep 100% of the profit (I’m not interested in doing this, but I know many bloggers are).
  • You can add lots of fun plugins.
  • You can make use of just about any custom theme you’d like.

A Few Cons of WordPress.org:

  • This might sound like a minor quibble, but it’s driving me batty: as far as I can ascertain, there is no ‘Like this post’ button for WordPress.org. I’m hoping that someone will create a plugin for one soon. [Update: they did eventually add this to Jetpack!]
  • You’ll likely need to pay a monthly fee to a hosting company. I’m using Laughing Squid, which has been wonderful and very helpful thus far! The monthly fee is modest, but it’s something I didn’t have to worry about with WordPress.com. [Update: I eventually moved to Site5, which I’ve been very happy with for many years.]
  • If you’re not technically savvy to the ways of self-hosted blogs (I wasn’t), it might take you some time to get a WordPress.org site up and running. You can pay someone to help you do this if it’s not something you want to bother with. WordPress offers this service, as does wpbeginner, to name two options.


When you use WordPress.com, you set up a site and WordPress.com takes care of the rest (back-ups, upgrades, spam, etc.). You don’t have to worry about adding plugins or messing with coding or paying a monthly fee for a server host. But, you also don’t have as much freedom when it comes to making your site look and act the way you would like it to.

A Few Benefits of Using WordPress.com:

  • It’s easy to set up.
  • You can get traffic from WordPress’s Freshly Pressed [now called Editor’s picks] and post tags.
  • You don’t have to worry about your site crashing if you get a monstrous amount of traffic.
  • There’s a like button for every post (I love that button!).

A Few Cons of Using WordPress.com:

  • WordPress can show ads on your blog to users who aren’t logged in if you don’t pay the yearly fee of ~$30 to have the ads removed.
  • You can’t modify your theme very much (although you can a little bit with the CSS upgrade [$30/year]).
  • You can’t use plugins.

Here’s an official explanation from WordPress along with a full list of the pros and cons of each platform: WordPress Com vs. Org.

And here is an easy-to-read infographic that shows the differences between the two options from the wpbeginner site.

Which WordPress site is Right for You?

To decide which WordPress platform is right for you, you’ll need to consider your plans for your blog or website.

  • Do you want to blog just as a hobby? WordPress.com is probably right for you.
  • Do you want to blog to earn money? You’ll likely need to move to WordPress.org.
  • Do you want something that’s easy to set up and takes very little work to maintain? WordPress.com is probably a good option for you.
  • Do you want something that gives you total control over the way your site looks, and any profits you might make from your site? WordPress.org is for you.

In a nutshell:

WordPress.com: Easy to set up, not as much design flexibility, you won’t get 100% of your profits should you choose to monetize.

WordPress.org: You need some technical know-how to set it up, but you get full design control and do with it as you please.

Author: Carrie Mumford

Carrie Mumford is a writer and content manager living in Calgary, Alberta. She write short stories and non-fiction articles, and blogs about technology, editing, writing and (of course) books.

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