WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org: Which is better for you?

Trying to figure out what website platform is the right one for you? WordPress comes out on top as the leader in blog platforms. Now – did you know there are two different WordPress platforms? There is! WordPress.com and WordPress.org.  I’m so glad I started out with WordPress.org.  It has made a big impact on me, my blog, and my business. Uniquely Women has seen so much growth and wouldn’t have had that with WordPress.com.  Let’s break it down for you.  WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org.  

WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org: Which is better for you?


#1. Pricing

The most obvious difference – the pricing. WordPress.com is free to use (at least, their basic plan is free). It’s worth noting that once you start adding on extra features, you will need to upgrade to one of the higher WordPress.com plans and start paying at that point. One example of an upgrade is a custom domain name (because you have limitations with WordPress.com – as mentioned later on in this post.)
WordPress.org is a paid platform. Your website will be “self-hosted” with this option. You have to purchase a custom domain name and hosting.  I recommend iPage. You can purchase both your domain name and hosting directly through iPage. iPage has a special introductory pricing for $1.99/month, which is the lowest I’ve seen for hosting. 

I’ve used a lot of different hosting platforms, and iPage is by far my favorite.  Their troubleshooting and customer service is unlike any other.  Online chat or call and get a real person on the phone in minutes! It seems like that should be the norm, but it isn’t. If I ever have any questions – I love being able to get the answer in minutes!

#2. Built-in Ads on WordPress.com

On WordPress.com, you’ll notice that your site sometimes has links and ads (usually Google Adsense ads) that you can’t get rid of.  They have full control over the ads and will profit from them. 
On WordPress.org, the only ads on your site are the ones you’ve put there (if you chose to run ads.) You have complete control over your website, and any income earned through ad networks you earn! (yay!)

#3. WordPress Will Run Their Own Ads On WordPress.com

Because WordPress.com is a free platform to use, WordPress’ rules clearly state that you’re not allowed to earn any income through ads placed on your website. The only way to access ad revenue is to upgrade to one of their higher plans. 
On WordPress.org, you can do whatever you please. That includes placing whatever kind of ads you like on it!


#4. WordPress Owns Your Site On WordPress.com

Unlike WordPress.org, where you have full ownership and control over your website, WordPress.com websites are owned by WordPress itself. SO, technically if WordPress really wanted to, they could shut down your website.  They do own it, after all.  I don’t know anyone that this has happened to, but it is something to think about.

#5. Domain Name Will Include “WordPress” With WordPress.com

Because you don’t have to purchase a domain name with WordPress.com, your domain name will always have “.wordpress” added to the end of it. For example, if my blog was on WordPress.com, my domain name would look like this:
The only way to get around this is to purchase your own custom domain name or to upgrade to one of WordPress’ premium plans.
As I mentioned earlier, when it comes to WordPress.org, you always have to purchase a custom domain name before you can start creating your site. You can choose whatever domain name you like – including different endings, like .com, .net, .blog, .co, etc. Whichever you choose!

#6. Limitations On Theme Selection With WordPress.com

When you design a WordPress website, you’ll use what’s called a “Theme” to design your blog.   You don’t have to have a theme.  There are ways to design a blog with what’s called code. 
There are literally thousands of beautiful WordPress themes to choose from.  There are many different styles for you to choose from.  
Themes are very limited when it comes to WordPress.com.
On WordPress.com, you are allowed to use only the free themes provided by WordPress. If you are wanting more features – you would once again need to upgrade to one of their premium plans.
With WordPress.org, you can choose whichever theme you set your heart on. You can change all the colors, fonts, and even the layout, if you’d like!
Here are some themes I like and have had success with:

Studio Press (Genesis)  – One of the all time most popular and extremely powerful frameworks for WordPress. I currently use on my own blog. One of the best features is being able to utilize plugins to make your blog look exactly the way you want!  I would highly recommend for your WordPress blog.

Restored 316 – These are the most beautiful themes I have come across.  I have set up some blogs before using these themes and they turned out dreamy.  So many beautiful ones to choose from!

Theme Forest – Theme Forest has a wide array of blog themes.  The theme I use now is called the Florence theme.  I love the functionality and sleek design of it.  Of course, they have a theme to fit everyone’s personality.

#7. You Can’t Add Plugins On WordPress.com

Plugins are amazing features that WordPress has created.  These features can be placed anywhere on your website.  They can be placed in the sidebar, within a blog post, or behind the scenes.  For example, on Uniquely Women I have plugins for:

  • Social media icons
  • Editorial Calendar
  • Spam Protection
  • Pop-up Forms – and more!

Plugins can be downloaded instantly.  There is no coding (whew!) and can easily be added where you would like it within your website.  There is literally a plugin for everything!
Looking for some awesome WordPress plugins? Check out this list of my top fifteen!
Plugins, though, are only available via WordPress.org – NOT WordPress.com. I think about not having plugins on my website and I kinda freak a little inside.  They are great additions and don’t know what I would do without them, honestly.

RECAP – Which is a better fit for you?

The answer really depends on where your blog is now, or where you want your blog to go. WordPress.com can be a good place to start your blog and grow it, while WordPress.org can take your blog further and allow for more functionality. That doesn’t mean you can’t start on WordPress.org though, and I’ve heard of many successful bloggers who have (I did!) If you’re a current WordPress user, I’d love to know which platform you’re using and why. And if you’re looking into using WordPress, which platform are you leaning towards?

If you have any other questions regarding the difference between these two platforms, let me know in the comments!


If you now have decided to go with WordPress.org – I’ll show you step-by-step on how to set it all up.

Super Easy!

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  • Reply infocultureweddingca December 12, 2016 at 8:56 am

    Thank you. I have always wondered the difference. I use wordpress.com but the paid version and I can do all the above. They are no ads.I can add plugins and my site is great. I guess some people use the free options which I have never used.

    Thanks for clarifying.


  • Reply Susan Velez December 12, 2016 at 8:58 am

    Hi Nicole,

    Great tips on the way to break down the difference between both platforms. I’ve been working with WordPress for over 8 years.

    I got started on the self-hosted WordPress platform because I always wanted full control over my blog. I don’t really have that much experience with the free platform.

    I think anyone who is serious about turning their blog into a business should start with their own self-hosted blog. There are much more advantages to having a self-hosted blog.

    Not to mention all the plugins you can use to help you with your blog.

  • Reply Amber Moore, EVA December 12, 2016 at 10:46 am

    Great article! I started on the free platform (because I didn’t have start-up funds and I will not go into debt), but now that I’ve brought in some revenue I’ve considered making the jump. You laid out some great points!

  • Reply Dana December 12, 2016 at 11:42 am

    I have read several books about blogging and they all said WordPress.org is the best way to go if you plan on blogging long-term. My problem is I am pretty good with a computer, but not an expert. It looks like there is so much more involved with WordPress.org and I am not sure I have the skills for it. Any thoughts on how or where to better educate myself on how to use WordPress.org?

  • Reply kitstanwood December 12, 2016 at 5:57 pm

    WordPress.org all the way for making revenue and all the plugins!!

  • Reply Hannah Haefele December 12, 2016 at 8:01 pm

    This is such a great post! WordPress (.com and .org) both work with the statement “You get what you pay for.” And with different hosting options, WordPress.org can be pretty cheap!

  • Reply Her vs. World December 13, 2016 at 4:55 pm

    I wasn’t familiar with wordpress.org until this post, so thanks for this! It sounds like wordpress.org may be the better of the two..

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