Welcome to my series of quick tips for WordPress bloggers! Please note that nothing I post here will be for experienced users. Instead, the series is just quick little tips that I’ve come across since moving to WordPress. If you happen to have a random question about WordPress, feel free to send me an email and I’ll do my best to hunt down an answer!
This week’s quick tip…WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org!
When a blogger decides to either start a new WordPress blog or to move their current blog from another platform to WordPress, one of the first confusions they may run into is the two different WordPress options available: WordPress.com and WordPress.org. These two publishing options look and seem similar but they are actually completely different. And if you’re confused about which one is right for you, you’re not alone! So for those that have been wondering what exactly makes a WordPress.com blog different from a WordPress.org blog, here are some of the key points about each publishing method:
- Free – WordPress.com is hosted by some of the key creators of WordPress software in the same way that Blogger is hosted by Google, so creating and publishing on WordPress.com is completely free of charge and setting up your first blog takes mere minutes
- Unbreakable – If things like HTML, CSS and PHP are foreign languages to you and getting a Forbidden error when you tried to access your site would have you convinced the police were coming to take you away, you’ll love publishing on WordPress.com. Spam, upgrades, backups and security are all handled by the site owners and the only Themes and Plugins that are offered are ones that are guaranteed to work as they should
- Cutting Edge – The designers behind WordPress.com put a lot of their energy into it since it’s the money-maker. So WordPress.com actually shows the newest developments sooner than WordPress.org
- No Monetizing Options – WordPress.com prohibits users from using third-party ads, sponsored posts, affliliate links or any other possible monetization options, so if you want to make money on your website, it is NOT the choice for you
- No Control – While you can choose from any of the 160 themes and the approved Plugins available to WordPress.com users, you cannot upload your own Themes and Plugins and you cannot edit the HTML, PHP or content of a theme
- Ads – WordPress.com makes money from advertisements, so unless you purchase an ad-free option for about thirty dollars a year, your site will display advertisements periodically to your readers
- Total Control – Because you choose where your website is hosted and then install the WordPress.org software there, you have total control over the experience. You can choose the high performance of a dedicated server, use an inexpensive shared hosting plan or, if you have the money and the know-how, even run your site on a server computer in your very own home
- Limitless Possibilities – Not all WordPress Plugins and Themes are created by WordPress designers. In fact, the vast majority aren’t. They’re created by third-party developers and then offered to WordPress.org users. The Plugins can make your site do almost anything and are all available to WordPress.org users. And that means everything about your site can be completely customized to suit you
- Monetization Options – Whether you want to host a store on your site or monetize your blog with Google AdSense or other third-party advertisers, you are the boss when it comes to making money on your WordPress.org website
- Easy to Mess Up – That limitless functionality that comes with being able to install and upload whatever you want also means that you may install or upload something that causes your site to crash or stop working like it should. And things like backups, upgrades and dealing with spam are your responsibility
- Expensive – WordPress.org blogs are self-hosted, which means that you have to purchase hosting and then install the WordPress.org software with that host. Most reputable hosts have an easy one-click installation of WordPress software, but depending how busy your site is, hosting can cost you anywhere from $5 to $500 per month
- Complicated – When you run a WordPress.org site, you are free to change the code and styling to your heart’s content. But it’s always possible that one thing you change may cause changes to other aspects of your site. And figuring out what has caused the problem can be a long trial and error process if you’re not a professional designer
Basically, as long as your blog is just a hobby, you will probably be completely happy on a WordPress.com website. But if you decide that you want to start making money or creating a genuine, recognizable brand for your site, you will likely be better off with a WordPress.org site. And if you deeply care about what you are creating, keep in mind that when you publish with WordPress.com, you are publishing to a platform you don’t control. If it unexpectedly shuts down one day, you may very well lose everything. While a hosting service could do the same thing, you can completely back up your entire site including your theme, plugins, posts, comments and everything else whenever you choose.
Any other advantages or disadvantages I missed? Which do you prefer; WordPress.com or WordPress.org?