If you don’t know what WordPress even is, start by reading this breakdown of the tool before digging into the nuances of the 2 sources that you can get WordPress from.
Once you understand the open source CMS tool, the next thing you’ll want to understand is the difference between WordPress.com + WordPress.org. Spoiler alert: The .org option is not limited to non-profits.
Like most things that are offered up for 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.
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) + 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 (think more of something like an online journal) 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, hire someone like us to help with it instead of limiting your site’s growth by picking WordPress.com for your business.