WordPress.com and WordPress.org: Free vs. Self-Hosted Blogs

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Getting started with a brand new blog can seem like an overwhelming process at first.

There is a lot to understand, including your hosting plan and your blogging platform. You’ve probably already heard a lot about WordPress and then you’re ready to get started and you learn there there a Wordpress.com vs. Wordpress.org

What’s the difference anyway?

In short, the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org is how your blog is HOSTED. We’ll explain this in detail in this article, so you can make sure you’re making the right decision when starting your blog.

WordPress.org (Self-Hosted)

WordPress blogging platform

If your blog is self-hosted (with a company like Bluehost), you will use WordPress.org with your blog. In this case, you will pay for your blog hosting and own your domain name.

We love Bluehost for a variety of reasons, but one of which is because it comes with a FREE domain name. Owning your domain name means that no one else can use it but you.

When you hear awesome things about how great WordPress is, peeps are talking about WordPress.org, which has a lot more features than WordPress.com.

It’s also free to use when you have a domain name and blog hosting plan.

Some of the top reasons why you should go with WordPress.org:

  • Access to plugins, applications, and other extensions for your blog
  • More control over your blog and content
  • Ability to monetize your site with ads (free version does NOT allow this)
  • Google analytics can be integrated to track your website visitors and stats.
  • More customizability over your blog design with both free and paid themes
  • Option to create an online store and monetize by selling products

The only downside is of course that you have to pay for hosting for your blog, which is generally one of your biggest costs for getting started.

We’ve partnered with Bluehost to get our subscribers a discount on their hosting plan – as low as $2.75/month (paid annually).

If you are planning on turning your blog into a business, this is the only way to go.

Next, let’s move on to the free version: WordPress.com.

WordPress.com (Free Version with Limitations)

WordPress.com is the free version, and as with most free software, this comes with a big asterisk.*

There are a few different options when it comes to using WordPress.com. There are both free and paid plans, with the paid plans having different costs and different options (from Personal all the way to Business).

WordPress.com is better suited for people wanting a hobby blog that aren’t interested in monetizing it. If you love writing and you just want to have a creative outlet to share your thoughts, this is probably for you.

If you want to monetize your blog and turn it into a business, WordPress.org is the better option.

Here are some of the reasons why we feel that you should NOT start with a free WordPress site:

  • Only allowed up to 3GB of space until you have to upgrade to a paid plan
  • You CANNOT monetize with ads, which is the way that most new bloggers monetize first — BUT they still put ads all over your website. You just don’t earn any money from them. (Yikes…)
  • Can’t upload any plugins, which help you design your blog, collect emails, add social media icons, and more.
  • Can’t upload a customizable theme to help you design your blog (only use the limited options that WordPress provides)
  • Your site can be deleted at any time if WordPress feels that you have violated their terms of service for any reason.
  • You do NOT own your domain name. You’ll have .wordpress.com attached to your otherwise nice blog name.

The last point is a big one. For example, we own the domain and blog, createandgo.com. If we opted for the free version of WordPress, our website would be www.createandgo.wordpress.com.

We wouldn’t OWN the domain name, which means that if we chose to blog with a free site for a few months before upgrading, someone else could purchase the domain name createandgo.com and we would no longer be able to use it.

As you can see from the list above, your use of your WordPress.com blog will be very limited. That is why it’s best for hobby bloggers.

Is It Okay to Start Off With a Free Blog?

We often get asked if it’s okay to start off with a free WordPress blog to test the waters and decide if it’s right for you and then upgrade at a later point.

The answer is that’s fine if that’s what you want to do. 

You’re going to create more of a hassle to transfer your blog over to a self-hosted version at some point. You should also make sure to purchase your desired domain name regardless of whether you pay for hosting because if you don’t, someone could take it.

Most people that end up starting with the free version end up abandoning it or very quickly decide that it isn’t going to do the job and upgrade to the paid version.

We personally feel that the only way to get started is to DIVE IN and invest in yourself and this new business. Blogging is no different than any other business and has start-up costs. It deserves time, attention, and some initial costs to get started on the right foot!

How to Start the RIGHT Way

If you feel like you want to really give blogging a real shot, starting with Bluehost + WordPress.org is the way to go! There are a few different hosting options out there, but Bluehost is one of the best in the biz, and for good reason.

Read This Next: How to Start a Blog (on WordPress) Step-by-Step Guide

If you found this article on WordPress.com and WordPress.org for blogs or have any questions, please feel free to leave them in the comment section below!