Do I need WordPress.com or WordPress.org?
Some people don’t realise that WordPress.com and WordPress.org are not the same. It’s important to know the differences, advantages, and disadvantages of each before deciding which to set up. Otherwise you may try to do things you’d always heard were possible with WordPress, but aren’t in your version.
WordPress is open source software you can download and install on any web hosting server. It is owned by no one company or individual and maintained by a team of people from around the globe. You can use it for free and without restriction.
This is a blog hosting service, owned and operated by Automattic Inc. It uses WordPress as its basis (with some modifications) but is a profit making business, which contributes resources back to maintaining the WordPress open source project. You can set up a simple blog for free, with the address something.wordpress.com, but to use your own domain name you will need to get a premium subscription. If you end that, you cannot move your website to another provider because you never have access to the source files.
Which should I use?
That depends entirely on your intended purpose. WordPress.com blogs work well for individuals who want to do just that—blog. You can pay for upgrades and unlock features, such as additional templates or the ability to install plugins, but you never have access to source code and you’re not getting WordPress per se, you’re getting a version that Automattic Inc turned into a platform for generating income from subscriptions. If you want to do more than select a preset template and write a simple blog, it’s probably not the option for you.
All the websites I build use WordPress open source software, installed on a client’s own hosting server. Using WordPress, we can build our own templates and style the website exactly as we wish, and also access thousands of plugins to extend functionality. We can also pick up that website and move it to another hosting provider, because we possess the source files. Or we can close our hosting account but keep our website for use again at a later date.
In short, for personal blogs, WordPress.com is a good option because you can do it all yourself with no need for a developer, but beware of what fees you’re racking up for premium features over the long term. If you’re after a website for business or to do anything more than run a blog, I would always recommend WordPress itself, hosted on your own server.
7 June 2022