Disclosure: Some of the links in the post below are "affiliate links."
I see this question a lot in different groups and forums I participate in. If you’re confused about it, you are not alone.
So just what is the difference between wordpress.org and wordpress.com?
Let’s see if I can explain it in regular people speak. Because I have a hard time with all that tech mumbo jumbo, too.
WordPress.com is a blogging and content management system. Huh? Yeah. Okay. That’s a little fuzzy to me, too. Basically, WordPress provides you a spot to do your blogging the same way Blogger (BlogSpot) does. You simply sign up with WordPress.com, fill in a few blanks like what you want your blog name to be, your email, etc. and start writing. It’s free and there’s no commitment. Decide blogging’s not for you? No biggie. Just stop. You haven’t paid for anything.
The drawback is that WordPress has ultimate control of your content. Oh, you can write whatever you want as long as it’s within their terms, but if the WordPress.com service went away, so would your hard work. Or if they decided they didn’t like something you wrote, usually someone has reported a blogger for that to happen, they can shut down your blog. If you had decided you liked blogging and blogged your heart out – for years – it could all be gone. Vaporized at the whim of WordPress.com. Now, I’m sure this doesn’t happen all that often to normal bloggers, but it could. You never know. It could happen by a comedy of errors. Only you wouldn’t think it was very funny. But the most annoying thing is that you are not allowed to use Google Adsense and other advertising networks with wordpress.com. While you can use affiliate links and sponsored posts, you can’t put those types of ads on your blog. Which might not be a deal breaker for you, but if you’re a serious blogger, putting in full time hours, you usually want to do a little of that.
WordPress.org does not provide you a place to blog. It’s only the where you go to download the program to do it.
You have to:
- Get a domain name (A domain name is ex.: http://justvintagehome.com)
- Find a host to park your domain. I use WebHostingBuzz, have since their inception and am very content. No problems. But there are a multitude of good hosting companies out there.
- You’ll have a place to automatically download WordPress. That will make sense when you see it. Not something to go into here.
- Follow the simple – really super easy! – instructions and you can start blogging right away.
But it doesn’t stop there. You’ll want to find a free (or paid, if you like) theme, add plug-ins for all kinds of cool things, like recipe cards, galleries, Pinterest buttons, bios…. just about anything can be automated. Ultimately, you’re in total control. Coding is not necessary, but some of us like to tinker. Some of us kill our blogs tinkering, too. It’s happened to me more than once. Ha! But you don’t have to tinker. It’s ready to go without it.
In short, wordpress.com is an all encompassing venue, wordpress.org is just the place to get the “software.”
A note about wordpress.com. You can have your own domain name there, but it is not necessary, where with wordpress.org it is.
Neither is right or wrong. What’s right is what’s right for you. I highly recommend wordpress.org, but I like being in control. I enjoy tinkering under the hood if the urge hits. I like customizing. And I like to make “passive” money with AdSense. Not that I’m getting rich here or anything.