This blog post is a part of the “Start Your Own Blog” series.
Other posts covered in this series are
- Part 1: <<You are now reading this>>
- Part 2: Beginners Guide: How To Buy Domain & WordPress Hosting
- Part 3: Beginners Guide: How To Install WordPress
- Part 4: Beginners Guide: How To Install A WordPress Theme
- Part 5: Beginners Guide: How To Install A WordPress Plugin
- Part 6: Beginners Guide: 19 Essential WordPress Settings
WordPress is undoubtedly the pioneer in the field of the content management system (CMS). This is quite evident from the fact that the market share of WordPress is about 60 percent in CMS. Thus WordPress has more users than all other content management systems combined. Joomla is the next popular CMS in the market and has a share of the just less than 6%. When it comes to WordPress blogging, we often come across two names WordPress.com and WordPress.org. We would be quite confused in the initial stages of our blogging career regarding the selection of the platform. These two platforms differ from one another in a number of ways. Let us first understand some details about WordPress before understanding the differences between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org.
What is actually a WordPress platform?
WordPress is an open-source and free content management system. This platform is designed on PHP programming language and makes use of MySQL database. The first version of WordPress was launched on May 27, 2003.
Today WordPress powers about 34% of the entire web with more than 76.5 million blogs hosted on this platform. Let us now understand the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org before making a choice of the platform for our blog.
This is actually a hosting service owned by the company Automattic that uses WordPress as its CMS.
For hosting a blog here, we do not have to buy a domain (website name like blogtriangle). A domain will cost somewhere around $30 a year. We also do not need to buy any paid hosting service. A hosting service provides us with server space to store our contents. Hosting also incurs a cost which may vary widely depending upon the service provider, type of hosting plan we choose, etc. On an average, for a decent hosting service the price will be about $75 a year.Wordpress.com provides complete freedom from such worries of hosting and domain name.
The free plan from WordPress.com provides us with 3 GB of storage space and a number of free themes to choose from. Thus, in short, we do not have to spend a penny on our blog. Well after reading this if you think that WordPress.com is an awesome choice for our blog then let us discuss a few of the disadvantages of this platform.
1) The free version of WordPress does not actually provide us with a domain. Instead, it gives a subdomain. Let us understand this with an example. If blogtriangle were to be hosted on the free WordPress.com platform then our address would be like blogtriangle.wordpress.com. A domain name is like a brand name for our blog. It is quite obvious that the above name is not professional and does not provide uniqueness to our blog.
2) The free version has advertisements placed on our blog by WordPress. This makes our blog look spammy and less professional. The most important thing to understand is that we don’t make any money out of these ads but WordPress does.
3) Another drawback of the free plan is that we cannot upload custom themes. Themes provide the look and feel for our website. We will see in detail about themes at a later part of this blog series. In the free plan, we have to choose from their limited and available free theme options.
Free themes may not be optimized for performance or SEO. Also as there are only limited options of available themes with minimal customization, most of the sites hosted on WordPress.com would look alike. Thus our site may fail to gain attention from readers.
4) WordPress free plan also has limitation to add Google analytics features which let us know the statistics like the number of visitors, bounce rates, etc. Thus we become completely unaware of our blog statistics and popularity.
5) The free version will always display a link indicating that WordPress powers our blog which may have a negative impact on readers.
6) Another major drawback of the free version is the copyright issue. When we write and publish content in a WordPress.com blog we do not legally own this content. WordPress can delete our content any time without prior notice. Hence our effort may go in vain all of a sudden.
Now that we have discussed the pros and cons of WordPress.com let us have a look at the details WordPress.org
WordPress.org is a self-hosted service. Here we have to buy a domain name (I bought it from Godaddy) and hosting service (mine is SiteGround) by spending a few bucks. We have to then install the free WordPress CMS to our server.
Thus we create a brand for our blog rather than being on a WordPress subdomain as discussed before. There are thousands of free WordPress themes available in the market which we can use without any restriction.
It is always recommended to use a premium theme for a professional blog. Premium theme owners optimize their theme for affiliate marketing, SEO and performance. I use Genesis theme by StudioPress for blogtriangle and highly recommend the same to my readers.StudioPress also has a number of other highly optimized themes that are suitable for every niche.
When it comes to plugins the numbers are much more on the higher side. There are more than 55000 plugins available in the WordPress directory.
We don’t have to even go for the paid ones until we generate sufficient revenue to afford them. The free plugins and themes are enough for setting up an impressive blog.
The greatest advantage of WordPress.org is that we can monetize the site in any way we want. We can place any number of ads, affiliate links, etc on our blog and make money out of this. The contents in the blog will be completely owned by us and hence there is no fear of losing our hours of effort due to some unknown reason. Also, our blog will look professional with no WordPress branding and random ads placed by WordPress.
WordPress.com also offers paid hosting plans with custom domains as in the case of self-hosted services.
The price tag starts at $4 a month for the personal plan with 6 GB storage space. The premium plan comes at a price of $8 a month. We can monetize these WordPress blogs easily through ads and make money out of it. WordPress also has business plans with a price of $24 a month. This plan is provided with unlimited storage space, availability of SEO tools and Google analytics integration. Newbie bloggers have far better options for hosting and hence I do not recommend this service.
Note: As we know by now WordPress.com and WordPress.org are completely two different lines of business. These two are related to each other because both are founded by the same person Matt Mullenweg. You can read about the history of WordPress here.
Finally which one to choose?
WordPress.com is suitable for hobbyist bloggers and personal blogs which do not have any monetizing perspective. On the other hand for those who consider blogging as a profession, a self-hosted blog using WordPress.org is the best option. In the next part of this blog series, we will learn how to buy a domain and a hosting service for a self-hosted blog.
Note: It is always better for newbie bloggers to have some hands-on experience in WordPress before starting a blog. I have already covered in detail about setting up WordPress locally on our computer using XAMPP or DesktopServer or InstantWordPress.Follow these tutorials and have local WordPress installation up and running in less than 10 minutes. We can use this local installation for learning and testing purpose.