WordPress.com or WordPress.org? (How to make an informed decision)

Should I rent or Should I own? Have you been down this path? You want to live in the perfect house. But you are not sure if owning is right for you. If you rent, you don’t have to worry about the maintenance. If you own, the house is yours to do as you please. So what you do? How do you make that informed decision?

Making a decision between WordPress.com and a self-hosted WordPress (WordPress.org) solution will feel the same. You need to understand what each solution has to offer before you make a decision.

Should you even care?

The simple answer is YES! Understanding the differences allows you to make an informed choice.
So lets look at the differences that stand out.

All about hosting

The biggest difference is that with WordPress.com, your website will be hosted on the WordPress.com website.

However WordPress from WordPress.org is a self-hosted solution. Which really means that you have to purchase you’re own hosting service and install the WordPress software.

So really what it boils down is choosing either a hosted WordPress.com solution or a self-hosted WordPress site solution.

Let’s first talk cost.

How much does it cost?

Technically there is no cost associated with the WordPress software.

WordPress.com: It is free to use. You don’t even have to purchase a domain (you can if you want but at a cost). Your website address will look like this – yourwebsitename.wordpress.com

Self-hosted WordPress: The WordPress software from WordPress.org is free but you need to pay a monthly hosting fee to some hosting provider. Additionally you will need to buy a domain name for your website.

Will you need to install it?

Yes! it’s free and easy to install

WordPress.com: Everything is setup for you. There is no installation. It is easy to setup your website in minutes.

Self-hosted WordPress: You might need some technical skills to know how to FTP (File Transfer Protocol) files. However don’t fret, these days most hosting services have a one-click installation for WordPress.

But what about backups you ask?

Maintenance and Security

WordPress.com: Everything is automatic. All backups, updates to the plugins etc. are taken care for you. You don’t have to worry about a thing.

Self-hosted WordPress: You need to backup your files, install security and manage updates yourself. But there are plugins that will take care of these functions and make it very easy to manage. As for updates, WordPress has a one-click update feature that make it really simple.

So let’s move onto the look and feel of the website.

Choice of Themes

WordPress is all about Themes. Think of a theme as template on which the entire look and feel of your website will be based.

WordPress.com: You are limited to the themes offered by WordPress.com. Still, there are quite a few themes offered and additionally there are premium themes that you can purchase.

Self-hosted WordPress: There are themes and themes and themes to suit every business. Choices are plentiful, both free as well as paid. With so many choices you are more likely to find a theme that fits your needs and brand. Or you can even build a theme yourself.

Plugins and Widget Options

Plugins are like little software apps that extend the functionality of your WordPress theme. Widgets are similar to plugins except they provide functionality to the content of your sidebar and footer.

WordPress.com: Comes with a limited number of widgets and plugins. So you are limited in extending the functionality.

Self-hosted WordPress: Just like themes there are tons of plugins and widgets. And the number keeps growing.

Customize your Website

The power of WordPress is the ease in which you can customize your website theme and plugins to reflect your brand and style.

WordPress.com: Here you are limited to the options available by your theme. There are advanced custom features but this comes at a price.

Self-hosted WordPress: The sky is the limit. There so many themes that provide many easy custom options and they don’t require any technical background. However if you are technically inclined, you have complete control to change the code.

But do you really and truly own your website?

Ownership of your site

WordPress.com: When you are on hosted someone else’s site, you must abide by their terms of use. You cannot control what ads will be placed on your website. Yes, WordPress.com has the right to place ads on your website and they will.

Self-hosted WordPress: You are in control. If you don’t like your hosting provider, no problem. It is as easy as folding up your tent and moving to a different camp site.

Am I stuck with WordPress.com for life?

“But what if I’m already on WordPress.com? Can I fold up my tent too?”

Remember you can always move to a self-hosted website from WordPress.com without losing your content. The operative word here is content. Only content can be moved not your theme.

Wrapping it up

So should you rent or should you own?

You need to make a choice based on your website goals and how they match up with the differences listed above. If you just want to experiment with WordPress. Or you have a hobby blog that you want to try out. Then start with WordPress.com. Your content can always be exported when you are ready to have a self-hosted site.

On the other hand if you have a small business that is growing. Or you plan to have a hosted site down the road, then it would be much easier to bite the bullet and start with a hosted site from the very beginning.

You are now ready to make that informed decision.

Do you still feel unsure how to proceed, don’t hesitate to contact me. I will be more than happy to help.

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