WordPress.com Vs .org: Which Is Best For Your Business Website?

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Wordpress.com VS Wordpress.org... let the battle commence! It's critical when starting with WordPress that you choose the correct version for you, and understanding the differences between .com and .org will ensure you make the right decision for you and your business
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Kelly Sparkes Opal and Onyx Founder

Hi, I’m Kelly and I help female entrepreneurs translate their brand and message into a beautiful, responsive website, optimised to draw in and convert their ideal customer.

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Hi everyone, I’m Kelly, and today I’m going to talk you through the differences between wordpress.com and wordpress.org.

It’s critical when starting with WordPress that you choose the correct version for you. Understanding the differences between .com and .org will ensure you make the right decision for you and your business.

First of all, congratulations on choosing WordPress. Its popularity is increasing year on year, with W3Techs showing that 40% of websites are built with WordPress in 2021. So you’ve made the right decision, and now you need to decide between wordpress.com and wordpress.org.

Hosting

WordPress is the software that the website is built on. For you to create your website, you need to host it somewhere and it needs a web server. This brings me to the main difference between .com and .org – the hosting.

If you sign up to wordpress.com, you can have a very basic WordPress website hosted for you free of charge.

On wordpress.org, you can download the WordPress software free, but you will need to organise and pay for the hosting to use it yourself, so it’s ‘self-hosted’.

Domain names

The domain name is the address you see at the top of the browser window, which you type in to get to a website – amazon.com or kellysparkes.com.

WordPress.com allows you to create a website without a domain name, using the wordpress.com subdomain. For example, I could have kellysparkes.wordpress.com for free if it was available, however, this doesn’t look very professional.

It would be better to have a custom domain name, like kellysparkes.com. This is only available on the ‘personal plan’ and above, and that’s going to cost you at least £36.00 per year.

You also need to pay for your domain name, which on wordpress.com is included for the first year, but there is an annual charge for your domain name after that.

Using self-hosted wordpress.org, you can use any domain name you like without any additional costs, but you do have to register your domain name the same way as wordpress.com. Some hosts will throw this in free for the first year, so you’d be in the same position as wordpress.com. Alternatively, you can buy it separately and keep it separate from your hosting.

Functionality

The best thing about WordPress is you can achieve anything you want on your website using plugins – and I am not exaggerating. If you can think of it, there’s probably a plugin created for you to do it. You could add a shop, a membership site, any learning platform, and all using plugins.

On wordpress.com, there are limitations to what you can do, even with the more expensive packages, and on the cheapest packages, you can’t install plugins at all. However, on wordpress.org, you can install any plugin you want and you have complete freedom.

Design

In WordPress, the design is controlled by a theme, templates, or a plugin.

On wordpress.com, you are very limited as to what you can install, especially on the lower packages and you may not be able to get the design you want or all your branding to work.

If you are using the self-hosted option, you can use whatever you like. You could use a page builder like Elementor, for example, to build your theme from scratch – your own header, your own footer – you can design anything you want. You can also ensure your website is completely on-brand.

Updates

On wordpress.com, it is very easy to update, as they do them all for you. However, that’s not always the best way, because sometimes updates cause problems, so you want to make sure you are checking them. For example, if wordpress.com decide to update your website whilst you’re on holiday and it breaks, then you might not notice for a few days, so it’s much better to update them yourself.

With self-hosted WordPress (wordpress.org) you can install a backup plugin so you can back up your website before you do any changes. You can do your changes one-by-one, check if anything’s been affected and roll back any changes you’re not happy with. WordPress.org is much more flexible.

Budget

WordPress.com goes from their basic free plan, right up to their £36 a month plan (if paid yearly) or £47 if you want to pay month-to-month.

If you’re using wordpress.org, you can get basic hosting from as little as £5 per month with a free domain for the first year. However, if you want to use decent hosting, then it’s probably going to cost you £10 to £20 per month. On top of that, if you want to have any support or any maintenance, that’s going to incur extra charges, too.

Overview

Overall, if you haven’t guessed already, for a business website I recommend using self-hosted wordpress.org. You have complete control of your website and you own it totally, and the freedom to use all the glorious WordPress features.

However, if you’re just starting out and you’ve just got a personal blog or a small hobby project, then please use wordpress.com. It doesn’t matter and you probably won’t need all the things I’m talking about. If you do happen to need them later on, it’s an easy job to migrate your website over to self-hosted.

If you’re still on the fence about choosing wordpress.com or wordpress.org, then please click here to take my free quiz to help you make the decision.

So what did you decide for your website? Are you going to use wordpress.com or go for the self-hosted option?

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