WordPress is the most used content management system (CMS) in the world. With over 25% of websites built on WordPress across the globe, it’s easy to see why it comes so highly recommended.
What you may not realise, however, is there are two WordPress platforms – wordpress.com and wordpress.org. The other confusing thing is, they are two separate entities and not actually related.
A lot of beginners and new comers to WordPress don’t realise this and find themselves in a predicament when it comes to setting up and growing their business.
A bit of history…
When WordPress was first developed, it was designed as a blogging platform. This is why it’s still such a good blogging platform now as the core features revolve around content creation and usability. The first WordPress platform was wordpress.com. This platform was designed for beginners and social bloggers looking to create and share content with little to no overheads or technical knowledge. As the internet and website world grew, so did WordPress and that’s where wordpress.org came into play. It’s more robust, feature packed and highly customisable. There’s almost nothing it can’t do – well not that I’ve discovered anyway!
Let’s break it down based on features and nut out the pros and cons.
What’s the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org?
The main difference is who you are hosted with. WordPress.com will house your website on their servers and maintain control of it for you. WordPress.org on the other hand needs you to provide the hosting platform through a third party e.g. Siteground, Hostgator, VentraIP etc.
What’s the cost difference between the two WordPress platforms?
While WordPress.com does have a free plan that will allow you to get up and running on the web for free, it does come with it’s limitations that will quickly frustrate.
- Your site is built on a subdomain – meaning it will have a variation of mywebsite.wordpress.com which doesn’t look overly professional for a business
- The WordPress advertising is visible
- You can’t install plugins or new themes except for the ones included
- You can’t monetise your blog or site
- Limited storage space
You can choose a paid plan which will give you a lot more scope and the ability to add a cart, your own domain and a few other things. Plans start at $10 AUD per month for a freelance plan and $33 AUD per month for a business plan (which would be the minimum recommendation to give you freedom to customise your website). All of a sudden you’re looking at a minimum of $120 a month to have your site up and running with limitations still attached.
With wordpress.org you can have a fully functional website up and running for the same cost as the lowly freelance plan with no limitations on how you customise your website or what features you add to it. Hosting can be purchased for as little as $2.95 per month from companies such as Bluehost, but my recommended hosting provider is Siteground.
When would I go with WordPress.com?
If you’re a blogger looking to simply get some content out on the internet or share personal stories for family, friends and followers to read with no intent to montetise, then this platform will be fine. You can set it up for free and be up and running in an hour or two. You will just need to accept that you will be limited in design choices and features.
The other draw card is you won’t have to worry about plugin and theme updates or website backups which can be daunting. Being a fully managed platform, this is taken care of for you.
You can go up to the paid plans as I mentioned above which will give you a lot more freedom without the technical hassles. If your budget can extend to $33p/m for piece of mind of not having to manage your website then it’s definitely an option for you. If you’re looking to grow a business then I wouldn’t recommend starting here.
When to choose WordPress.org?
In most cases, if you’re looking to build a website for a business then this is where you need to be. You will have full control of your website, be able to add plugins (aka endless features) and your choice of theme to give your site a personalised and fully branded touch. To get set up, you will need to have a hosting account, but most hosting providers have one-click WordPress install which makes setting up your site quite easy. If you purchase your domain through the same provider, you don’t even need to worry about changing where it points. It will automatically direct straight to your new WordPress install.
I know WordPress comes with a learning curve and can be daunting, but if you have the time to learn how to use it, you will find it the best platform
A few questions to ask yourself
When it comes to selecting the right platform for your website, there are many things to consider.
- What do you want your website to do?
- Do you need eCommerce functionality?
- Do you need to integrate mailing lists?
- Will you be selling courses?
- What is your budget?
- What is your level of technical expertise?
- Will you need to factor in scalability and growth?
Before you look at any platform, whether it be WordPress or a managed platform like Shopify, you need to answer the above questions first. Trust me, it’s not a fun job changing over once you’re up and running.