WordPress.org vs WordPress.com
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WordPress.org vs WordPress.com is something we're asked over and over again by many business owners. Why should they pay for WordPress.org if WordPress.com offers WordPress for free? Once you understand the basic difference between the two platforms, you'll see why one is better for business website than the other.
Owning a House vs Renting an Apartment
This analogy works well for non-technical users, in my experience, so I wanted to share it with you to help you understand the difference between WordPress.org vs WordPress.com.
Renting an Apartment: WordPress.com
When you rent an apartment there are a lot of things you can and cannot do. For example, you can paint the walls, you can hang shelves and pictures on the walls, you can put in your furniture and make that space your own.
But, there a lot of things you cannot do with a rented apartment. For example, you cannot break down a wall, you might not be able to have pets, you cannot add another room, or any other major structural changes.
That's really how you should see WordPress.com. It's a commercial service by Automattic, a company that was founded by Matt Mullenweg (a co-creator of WordPress software).
WordPress.com offers a free option for you to create a blog, which is limited to their sub-domain (ex: example.wordpress.com). You can of course add a custom domain for a small fee ($13/year).
But, since WordPress.com is a network platform (a building) all these WordPress.com website/blogs are apartments inside this large building. In order to provide privacy and security for each website, WordPress.com places enormous restrictions for each website.
Some restrictions include:
- You can't upload your own custom theme, must use their limited library of themes
- No custom plugins are allowed
- Free version includes ads, which you can remove for $30/year
- Limited control of content and no FTP access
- No 3rd party advertising is allowed (Ex: Adsense)
- You can't tracking your traffic with Google Analytics
These restrictions are not compatible with an effective marketing strategy that a business website will need. If you want a simple blog, WordPress.com is a good choice. If you're a business owner and need a website to generate leads and sales don't you dare getting yourself an apartment and wonder why you're not getting customers - get yourself a house (next).
Owning a House: WordPress.org
The good news is, you don't need a mortgage to host a WordPress.org business website. When you own a house, you have full control over what happens to your house. If you decide that the wall in the kitchen must go - get rid of it. If you want to be a cat lady and house 20 cats, do it. There's no one stopping you, for the most part.
Analogies aside. When you own a house, you can do whatever you want to make it your own in every way possible. That's exactly what you can do with a WordPress.org business website. It allows you to do anything you want to make it an effective lead and sales generating machine for your growing business.
With WordPress.org business website you can:
- Upload your own custom theme and modify it as much as you like
- Upload custom free and premium plugins
- No ads included
- You can run 3rd party advertising (Ex: Adsense)
- You have FULL control over your content
- You can track traffic with Google Analytics or any other 3rd party tracking platform
It is critical that money you invest in your first business website do not go to waste with WordPress.com. You will quickly realize limitations and will need to invest more money to convert WordPress.com to WordPress.org. Start your business website right the first time using WordPress.org.
Keep in mind, as with a house you are responsible for maintaining your WordPress.org website. This includes making sure it is secure, all plugins and core are upgraded to latest versions, fix issues when they arise, etc. There's a tremendous online community of service providers that can help you with any WordPress issues, it's easy to find help and even get some free help through WordPress.org community forum.
The Cost of WordPress.org
At this point you should realize how important it is for you to build your business website with WordPress.org - NOT WordPress.com. So I want to take a second to explain some costs associated with a WordPress.org website.
- You will need a custom domain, most .COM domains run around $12/year
- You will need hosting compatible with WordPress:
- Option 1: Shared hosting is the cheapest - $3 - 10/month usually paid annually (best for beginners)
- Option 2: WordPress specific hosting - $25 or more/month either monthly or annually
- Optional: Premium theme - prices range $40 - 100 one time fee
- Optional: Premium plugins - prices range $5 - 150 one time fee usually, some require subscriptions
- Optional: Premium WordPress support from 3rd party service providers - prices range from $50 - 300/month (like WordPress Care)
Depending on what your needs are there might be additional fees, like for SSL certificate, email, etc.
If you're just getting started and you're on a tight budget, go with shared hosting since it's more affordable and it will work well for you.
You already know, pick WordPress.org for your business website. It will provide you with a flexible and solid foundation to get started and grow your business. To make sure you're not making major WordPress mistakes, check out this blog post on 5 WordPress mistakes that are killing your business and how to quickly fix them.