How to choose between
WordPress.org ? This question, I bet you ask yourself if you are a beginner, or that you have already asked yourself if you have a little bottle.
Indeed, there are two “versions” of WordPress which certainly have some points in common, but above all a lot of differences.
This article will discuss them in detail and explain which version to adopt according to your expectations, your technical skills, and your objectives.
Immediately, the summary.
WordPress, owner’s turn
WordPress, what is it?
Launched in 2003, WordPress is a content management system (CMS, for Content Management System, in English) which is used to create websites (showcase sites, online stores, blogs, etc.). It is free, open-source, and “aims to democratize web publishing”. It propels 43.0% websites around the world.
With 64.2% market shareit is the most widely used CMS on the planet, far ahead of its main competitors, which include:
Among the many misconceptions that stick to the skin of WordPress, there is the following: “WordPress is only for creating blogs “. Oh really ?
And if I tell you that the Walt Disney Company, the White House, the Renault group or the Obama Foundation are all sites designed with WordPress, do you believe it? If not, you can.
How’s it going for WordPress? Now, I suggest you discover specifically
To learn all about the number 1 CMS on the market, consult our dedicated resource.
WordPress.com, what is it?
WordPress.com is a hosting platform (like Blogger, Tumblr or OverBlog) that allows you to create your site and administer it for free. It is a for-profit company owned by Automattic, the company founded by Matt Mullenweg, one of the creators of WordPress software. To work,
WordPress.com uses the open-source WordPress software.
By creating a site with
WordPress.com,you will be able to publish articles, install a theme, but you will not be able to install plugins (with exceptions that we will see later) to add new functionalities.
You may not know it, but millions of sites are hosted with
WP.com. To facilitate the management of all these sites, it is preferable to maintain a certain consistency.
If everyone installed plugins, it would quickly be a mess. The quality of service would no longer be the same and everyone would suffer.
I remind you that with the version of WP in
.com, you don’t have to pay anything, if you wish (there is a paid version anyway). There are therefore counterparties (we will see them later). You can’t have it all, can you?
For more flexibility, you will have to go for a walk on the side of
What is WordPress.org?
WordPress.org is the open-source software that anyone can download and use for free. To make it work, you need a hosting server and a domain name.
The domain name of your site is a crucial element. To choose the right one, see our guide: How to choose a domain name.
WordPress.org, we are talking about a self-hosted solution. It is managed by the WordPress Foundation (a non-profit organization) created by… Matt Mullenweg.
WordPress.com or WordPress.org: we recap
The main difference between the two versions is how your site is hosted.
WordPress.com is a hosting platform that provides you with a turnkey solution, while
WordPress.org is a self-hosted solution (you take care of it yourself). However, the software used to operate both versions is the same.
WordPress.org represent in a way two ways of using WordPress. But as you can see, they are still intimately linked to each other..
For example, the development of WordPress is managed in part by the company Automattic – hundreds of developers “outside” Automattic also participate in the development of WP, on a voluntary or paid basis -, which owns
WP.com. You follow ?
After having cleared the ground, I suggest you make a comparison
WordPress.org taking into account 5 main areas: price, maintenance/security, personalization, monetization, and marketing/SEO.
In the end, you will find out which version you are made for.
The two WordPress.com plans
WordPress.comyou have two options:
- take advantage of the 100% free offerbut you will see that it is very quickly limited;
- switch to the paid offer (WordPress Pro).
If you decide to create a free site on
WP.com, you should be aware that advertisements may appear whether you like it or not. This is one of the annoying counterparts of the free offer.
In addition, you will not have the right to monetize your site through advertisements.
With the free offer, you will have to make do with:
of a domain name in
- 1 GB of disk space ;
- community support (i.e. without any guarantee).
To benefit from more advanced options, you will have to upgrade to the paid offer.
To obtain it, count 15 €/month. Note that the main advantages of the paid version consist of:
be able to choose your own domain name (ex :
monsite.fr) without “undergoing” the extension
- remove ads ;
- get more storage space (50 GB).
To know the other advantages of the paid version, take a look at this comparison.
Year-round, your site
WordPress.com will therefore cost you €180 if you subscribe to the paid offer.
The price of a site on WordPress.org
In itself, The software
WordPress.org is free. So you can use it on an unlimited number of projects.
But to make it work, you will still have to invest (at least) in a domain name and hosting.
A domain name costs on average ten euros per year. You can either reserve it on a generalist platform like Gandi or OVH, or acquire it at the same time as your hosting solution (hosts almost always offer bundled offers like domain name + hosting).
For starters, shared hosting will be more than enough: in this case, you share the bandwidth of the same server with other users. This will be appropriate for freelance sites, VSEs, SMEs, associative sites and bloggers.
When it comes to hosting, WPMarmite has been using o2switch since December 2015.
They only offer one offer at €5 excl. VAT/month, but it is very comprehensive. If you’re going to launch something long-term, WPMarmite highly recommends going with them. Their support is super professional and responsive.
On average, count from 30 € to 80 € per year for a domain name and hosting with a site
WordPress.orgwhen you start.
Which, in the end, is more advantageous than the premium plan of
To be more precise, the investment on a self-hosted site will then vary depending on what you want to do. Let’s say that you can completely make do with free themes and plugins. But you’ll soon realize that paid resources can really help.
We recommend reading this article to learn more about how to host a site with WordPress.
Maintenance, support and security on both platforms
How WordPress.com works
To be able to start a site on
WordPress.comyou just have to create an account, as you could on a third-party service like Gmail, for example.
Then you have your hands free. You focus only on the creation of your content and the design of your site.
For the rest,
WordPress.com works on your behalf and takes care of the maintenance and security of your site (updates, backups, fight against spam, site optimization, etc.).
On your side, you can sip a mint on the terrace, and sleep soundly.
If you have a concern, you can consult the official forum if you take advantage of the free offer. The paid plan provides access to email support and live chat.
WP.org, you will see that you have a lot more responsibilities. It will take a little more getting wet to maintain your site!
How does it work on WordPress.org?
On the self-hosted version of WordPress, the installation, maintenance and security of your site is for your apple (you can also choose to outsource it, but at your expense).
To start, you should make updates to your site as soon as they are available.
This mainly concerns themes and plugins. At this level, there are some precautions to take if you want everything to go well.
Another important element when talking about maintenance: ensuring regular backups. You can use a plugin like UpdraftPlus or the ManageWP service.
In terms of technical optimizations, it is recommended to pay particular attention to the loading speed of your site. This is particularly important for natural referencing and user experience.
The WP Rocket plugin allows you to manage this effortlessly, and it can also optimize your database.
To fight against spam, the native Akismet extension will do just fine. It is present by default on every new WordPress installation and does the job great after activation.
In the event of a problem (bugs, site down), you will also probably need to use an FTP client like FileZilla to access the server, as well as a code editor to tweak the files.
In short, as you can see, there are a lot of things to think about and tools to use. It’s a shot to take and it’s not that complex with a bit of experience. But these are responsibilities to consider before choosing which version to use.
WordPress.org is no less secure than
WordPress.com. Simply, on the self-hosted version, it is up to you to put in place the right actions and the right extensions to protect you as much as possible (no site is infallible, unfortunately).
If you want to know more about WP security and discover practical advice to put in place immediately, I advise you to watch the Security Point on the WPMarmite YouTube channel.
Finally, let’s finish with the support on the version in
Here too, you must manage on your own in the event of a problem with your installation.
However, you can find a lot of info on official forumsspecialized blogs like… WPMarmite, or on the Codexthe official WordPress documentation.
On the other hand, you are entitled to assistance (most of the time by e-mail) if you buy premium themes or plugins. Basically, you have to pay to be directly helped.
And in terms of personalization, what does it give?
On the personalization side, I put an end to the suspense right away:
WordPress.org is much more flexible than its counterpart in
.com. With him, you can do whatever you want, which will not be the case with
What about themes and plugins?
On the self-hosted version, you can install all the themes and plugins you want, whether free or premium.
For example, you have access to extensions from your back-office via the menu Extensions > Add.
An extension allows you to add functionality to your site, without having to put your hands in the code. In total, the official WordPress directory has them 59,638. Something to have fun. 😉
WPMarmite has also presented you with the essential WordPress plugins in this article.
WordPress.com is much more limited at this level. If you want the same freedom as with
WordPress.org, you will need to subscribe to the Pro version, at €15/month (€180/year). It is only at this price that you can for example install WooCommerce, Yoast SEO, etc.
Other, impossible to use themes and plugins from third-party services with the free version.
You will have to settle for features natively integrated by
WordPress.com (this concerns in particular SEO, sharing buttons on social networks, a contact form, statistics and backup).
And at the level of themes, the free version includes a hundred of them, additional premium themes being available with the paid version of
WordPress.com. You can have an overview of all these themes here.
When we set up a website, whether for ourselves or for a client, it is often important to be able to modify it as we wish, so that it resembles our expectations.
WordPress.com, the task is quite difficult. The free version does not allow you to customize the CSS code, which is so important to manage the visual aspect of your site.
This option is provided with the Pro offer. Without it, you will only benefit from basic options, with which you can only influence color schemes, background designs, or even predefined font styles.
WordPress.org, you do what you want. You have access to all the files of your site and if you master the code at least, you are free to customize your site as you wish.
Speaking of which, a small parenthesis before finishing this part on customizing the design: know that on
WP.comyou cannot remove the mark
WordPress.com of your footer, unless you subscribe to the Pro offer.
Another exception: the use of a compatible theme ESF (Full Site Editingi.e. Complete edition of the site)which allows you to modify the entire structure of your site (footer included, therefore).
There is nothing wrong or shameful in displaying that one uses
WordPress.com (some voluntarily leave the WP brand on their sites
WordPress.org), I simply find it unprofessional.
Your rights to content
Beyond the offer you choose, you should also know that
WordPress.com can delete your site overnight.
You do not believe me ? Go check it out, it is written in the conditions of use at the level of paragraph 13 :
Automatic [NDLR : la société qui édite
WP.com] may revoke your access to any or all of their Services at any time, with or without cause, with or without notice and effective immediately.
Of course, this only happens in rare cases (when sick people post unclear stuff), but who knows… Septemberbe political, religious or other opinions could be censored.
If you have monetized your site and sell products/services to your customers, I let you imagine the hassle if Automattic decides to make your site disappear in a snap.
WordPress.orgyou have all the rights to your site and its content: you own it and dispose of it as you see fit (but you must still comply with the legislation of your country).
This won’t necessarily be your main focus when you launch your site, but it can become so over time. One day, you may want to monetize your site, if only to cover your running costs.
If you opt for the version in
.com, good luck ! Since it is a commercial enterprise, its purpose is to make profit. Therefore, it will be able to display advertisements on sites that use its free offer. Admit that this does not necessarily sound very professional.
To be quiet at this level, you must subscribe to the Pro offer to be able to remove ads and monetize your site.
Know that :
you can advertise, in particular via the official platform of
WordPress.com, called WordAds. Except that you cannot precisely choose the placement and type of advertisement,
WordPress.comdoes it for you. Still with the Pro offer, you can also use another advertising service, such as Google AdSense for example;
- you can add affiliate linksincluding with the free offer, but only if the main goal of your site is to create original content ;
WordPress.comprohibits sites whose major content consists of sponsored articles.
That still has quite a few limitations.
And now, what happens if you want to create an online store?
Well, you can use WooCommerce, but only with the Pro plan. The latter also allows you to sell your products and/or services via PayPal, using a dedicated button (in this case, you will need to have a PayPal account).
WordPress.org, no problem. Once again, you will be able to do whatever you want in terms of advertising, affiliation, e-commerce, etc..
In this regard, I recommend that you read this article if you want to discover all the methods and best practices for making money online with WordPress.
SEO on both versions of WordPress
To get a minimum of traffic on your site, you will also have to take care of your natural referencing (SEO).
WordPress.com is naturally optimized for SEO (like
WordPress.orgby the way), comes with an XML sitemap, and does what is necessary to index your site on search engines.
You can also have access to detailed statistics on your traffic and, if necessary, you can even connect your site to the Google Search Console.
It’s not bad and it may be enough for some of you. However, I still notice a few flaws.
With the free offer, you cannot use a personalized domain name and must opt for a subdomain of the type:
This is not optimal on an SEO level and it is better to have a personalized domain name, as is the case with
Then, you cannot have access to an SEO plugin like Yoast SEO unless you subscribe to the Pro plan. It is only at this price that you will be able to finely optimize your SEO on page.
If you don’t want to use Yoast, advanced SEO tools will be available on
WordPress.combut only with the Pro offer (the SEO Tools option allows for example to modify your title and meta-description tags).
Another advantage that you only find with the Pro plan: integration with Google Analytics, which gives access to more advanced statistics.
With the self-hosted version, there are no limitations. You start with the custom domain name of your choice, and you can install the SEO plugins that suit you.
The procedure on WordPress.org
To create a site on
WordPress.orgyou will have to follow 5 steps:
For an overview of the procedure, I advise you to watch this video:
And to go even further, you can also consult the article “Hey, what is a professional WordPress site?” “.
The procedure on WordPress.com
Install a site on
WordPress.com is much faster and less technical.
There are 4 steps:
- you provide an e-mail address, a username and a password (to go faster, you can even connect via your Gmail account, if you have one);
you choose a domain name and its extension.
WordPress.comthen invites you to choose either its free offer (subdomain
WordPress.com), or its paid offer;
then you can let yourself be guided by
WordPress.comby choosing to start writing your first publications, laying the foundations of your site or even starting an online store. You also have the option of starting your site from scratch or importing content from an existing site, if you already have one;
- finally, a few seconds later, you are directly connected to your site and can start customizing it.
WordPress.com, for whom?
WordPress.comis primarily aimed at beginners who want to create their first personal site/blog quickly and on their own, without having to manage technical operations (hosting, maintenance, backups, updates).
You just have to take care of content creation and basic customization, WordPress takes care of everything else.
The price argument can also come into play: with
WP.com, you can create a site for 0 € with the free offer. But remember: you will be extremely limited in this case:
- you cannot use a custom domain name ;
- storage space is limited to 1 GB;
- you cannot install extensions ;
- you cannot monetize your site ;
- advertisements will appear on your site, etc..
To take advantage of more advanced features, you will have to opt for the paid version. The latter remains less flexible than a site
WordPress.orgbut you won’t have to worry about the technique.
WordPress.org, for whom?
We can sum it up to the dilemma tenant / landlord. Being a tenant isn’t bad in itself, it’s just more convenient at some point in your life. However, one day, you may want to fly on your own and become an owner.
If you plan to have an independent site, go to
Even if it requires some technical knowledge, practice and investment of time, initially,
WordPress.org is appropriate for any type of user (from beginner to advanced) who wishes to have control over their site and not be limited in their personalization.
In this case, you can only rely on yourself to install, maintain, secure and back up your site.
So which version of WordPress did you choose to use?
Tell me everything in the comments. And if you liked this article, share it on social networks. 😉