WordPress.org and WordPress.com – Which Platform Shall You Choose for Your New Website?

The trigger for this article came because of a haughty remark made by a PR consultant in a small local Singapore firm recently, who asked why they should hire a WordPress trainer if she can easily teach her own staff, since she already owns a WordPress blog she had installed for free. I didn’t bother to explain further but another question from a student today prompted me to think about really writing an article to clarify the differences between the WordPress.com and WordPress.org platforms, as I realised there are still many professional marketers and even influencers or bloggers themselves who are still unaware that these are actually two different WordPress platforms.

So what are the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org? WordPress.com is an online website builder that let you create and host a website, and WordPress.org is a self-hosted software that you can use together with a web host that you purchased. Both of them are free to use, and although there are many differences between them, the one stark difference can be explained in one sentence – the type of hosting, or rather, who is the one hosting your website. For WordPress.org, you basically host your own website with a web host at a cost, and you can have your domain name as SingaporeCakeShop.com, for instance, while with WordPress.com, it’s free and the only domain you can have is something like this: SingaporeCakeShop.wordpress.com.

For WordPress.com, it is basically a plug and play platform where any beginner can easily create a free account and start to blog in minutes, while for WordPress.org, you need to purchase a web host account, install the website, set up the WordPress content management system and configure your website the way you want it to be, and it’s not as easy as ABC. Here are the main differences.

Differences Between WordPress.org and WordPress.com

  WordPress.org WordPress.com Free Plan
Web Hosting and Cost You have to pay for your own web server, costing between US$50 – 200 a year depending on which host you use. You can easily create a free account and start blogging immediately. There is no cost involved if you choose the free plan. WordPress.com hosting service has 5 plans:

  • Free – Limited
  • Personal – US$36/year
  • Premium – US$99/year
  • Business – US$299/year
  • VIP – from US$5000/month
Hosting Storage Usually from 5GB onwards to unlimited, depending on your host. 3GB for free plan and 6GB to unlimited if you upgrade to their premium plans.  
Domain SingaporeCakeShop.com SingaporeCakeShop.wordpress.com
Custom Themes Ability to use custom themes Cannot upload any custom themes although you have more than 200 themes to choose from.
Plugins Ability to use your own plugins Does not support 3rd party plugins
Codes Ability to modify PHP, HTML and CSS codes. Cannot modify any codes at all.
Branding Ability to customise your brand throughout the website. Restrictions in customising the website according to your brand. Your site will have a liner below that says ‘Powered by WordPress.com’ although you can remove it if you upgrade to their business plan.
SEO Features You can use any SEO plugins. No SEO capabilities.
Analytics Ability to use your own analytics to track web statistics. Inability to track web statistics, though you can install Google Analytics in the upgraded WordPress.com business plan.
eCommerce Store Ability to use it as an eCommerce store with the right theme and plugins. No eCommerce store facility.
Membership Ability to create a membership portal. No membership capability.
Revenue and Ads You can make money from your site. WordPress will put ads on your site and you do not get any revenue share. You can however, apply for WordAds, WordPress’ advertising platform if your site has a good amount of traffic. This will allow you to share revenue with them.  
Backup You have to do frequent backups. WordPress will do the backup for you as long as you save your work.
Violation of Terms of Services WordPress cannot delete your website. If WordPress thinks that you have violated their terms of services, they can delete your site any time.
Mobile Responsive Yes Yes
Support Access to more than 300,000 active members in different support forums worldwide, including the official WordPress.org forum. Limited or almost non-existent.

Please note that although WordPress.com is free to use, they also offer many premium upgrades such as domain name registration, the ability to upload videos and the ability to choose more premium themes from their library.

Some of the disadvantages of using the self-hosted WordPress.org are that you might need to increase the web hosting space as your website grows, update your WordPress site frequently and do backups although there are many plugins to help you with these tasks.

You can also further customise your WordPress.org website into a blog, portfolio, eCommerce store, membership site or even a video platform. Premium WordPress themes will cost a bit more, but there are plenty of free themes for you to choose.

WordPress.org and WordPress.com

Creating a website in Singapore has now become easier and cheaper with various training grounds and coaches, but when you’re just starting out, which is a better platform? I would say it depends entirely on what you are going to use your site for, and how serious you are going to be with your website. If you just want to start a blog to write about your personal views or issues and do not care about making money at all, then I would say you should just start with a free WordPress.com. But if you are looking to monetise from your website in future, then definitely, you need to start your website from a self-hosted platform like WordPress.org as you can then have the flexibility to do what you want with your site. Personally, I recommend the majority of students to go with the WordPress.org platform as it is the platform that every professional blogger or company uses and you have complete freedom to customise and use it in any way you want.

And one more thing, do not worry if you have already committed to starting your website on a WordPress.com platform. You can easily migrate to a WordPress.org self-host platform. Here are some simple steps:

(1) Go to the ‘Settings’ sidebar menu of your dashboard, where you can export posts, pages etc. or even ‘Export All’, to save you the trouble.

(2) Choose ‘Create an XML file containing your posts and comments for you to save or import into another WordPress blog’.

(3) Select ‘All Content’ to export everything and you will then download the XML file onto your computer.

(4) You are all ready to migrate to WordPress.org.

(5) Purchase a web host such as Hostgator or BlueHost. Usually, these web hosts will have a one-click installation of WordPress.org.

(6) After the installation is done, you can then import all the content that you have exported out of your WordPress.com site that is currently stored in the XML file on your computer onto your new WordPress.org website.

(7) Finally, if your old WordPress.com site already has a lot of traffic, I would suggest you redirect your existing visitors to your new website by using a 301 redirect, which let your visitors and search engines know that your website has moved. However, this comes at a cost. You can also insert a new post in your old blog that said that your website has moved to a new address, and insert that URL into the post.

If you are still facing difficulty in migration, I would suggest you hire some programmer from Fiverr or Upwork to help you at a reasonable cost. 

I hope the above can help you make an informed choice about your website but if you still have any questions, feel free to reach out to me below or click here to find out more about our web development package.

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Bei

Bei

With over 20 years’ of experience in training, copywriting and integrated marketing communications in the F&B manufacturing and leisure, travel and tourism sectors, Bei possesses a unique understanding of all aspects of marketing practice, with a passion for content marketing and SEO. She is also the author of 4 English guidebooks for students and a book of sketches on Amazon. Connect with her at [email protected]

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