If you don’t know what WordPress even is, start by reading this breakdown. Then you’ll be ready to dig into the nuances of the 2 sources that you can get WordPress from. Because WordPress as a tool is the same when talking about WordPress.com vs WordPress.org. The difference is in what pieces of the tool are available to you + what they cost. Spoiler alert: The .org option is not limited to non-profits.
Like most things that are free online, at some point the people behind that thing want to make money. I don’t blame them. This is the core difference between WP.com + WP.org — one is completely free + one is mostly free.
What you need to know about WordPress.com vs WordPress.org
The free one
Let’s start with the free one, cause that’s easier to understand + it’s what most online entrepreneurs will want to use for their business. The free option can be found at WordPress.org.
In my explanation of what WordPress even is, I pointed out that your URL/domain + your hosting account are not free, but WordPress itself is. When you go to WordPress.org, you can download all of the files necessary to run WordPress — but you’ll need a server to install it on (your hosting account) + a web address to point it to (your domain).
This is the best option for business owners because you can make money off of the WordPress.org installation of WordPress. You also have much more control over the look of the site + what functions you can add to it.
The sorta free one
The version of WordPress offered at WordPress.com is free for you if you don’t need a lot of storage space. (Aka you won’t be uploading tons of images, audio or movie files.) And you don’t want a unique domain name.
That means you can have a free blog operating at yourusername.wordpress.com. But you cannot run ads or make money off of this website. And you have limited options for theme + plugin installation.
If you want a custom domain name, access to more themes, more storage space or the chance to make money, you will pay a monthly fee from $4/month to $25/month.
WordPress.com is best for personal blogs because of your limitations in the layout + add-on features. You can move from WordPress.com to a WordPress.org site after some time but it isn’t as easy as simply starting with the free option.
However, the one big perk of WordPress.com over WordPress.org is that WP.com will take care of your site maintenance for you. Partly because they don’t allow you to add your own third-party plugins or give you the chance to add a custom theme.
But if dealing with maintenance scares the pants off of you, there’s an option that isn’t WordPress.com. You can hire someone like us to help with maintenance. That way you’re not limiting your site’s growth by picking WordPress.com for your business.