What is the difference between WordPress .Com and .Org?

People are often confused about the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org because they sure sound similar. This workshop highlights the key differences between .Org and .Com. Watch this short video to answer any questions you have.

Learning outcomes

  1. Define what is WordPress.
  2. Identify the main differences between WordPress .Org and .Com.
  3. Choose a hosting company that suits your requirements.

Comprehension questions

  1. What is the difference between a CMS and a hosting company?
  2. How do I self-host?
  3. Which elements do I need to take into consideration before choosing between WordPress .Org or .Com?


WordPress.org hosting: https://wordpress.org/hosting/

Dotcom versus Dotorg: https://wordpress.com/com-vs-org/

Dotorg support page: https://wordpress.org/support/article/wordpress-vs-wordpress-com/

WordPress.org for Enterprise: https://wordpress.org/enterprise/

WordPress.org Showcase: https://wordpress.org/showcase/


Welcome to Learn WordPress – my name is Wes Theron.

So one of the most commonly asked questions is what is the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org? Oftentimes, many people new and old to the WordPress community confused Dotorg and Dotcom because they sure do sound the same.

In this video, we’ll highlight the differences, which are very important because Dotorg is free and open-source and Dotcom is a hosting company with other add-on services. But more about that as we continue. I think the crux lies in first looking at the word “WordPress” and then at Dotcom and Dotorg. WordPress is a content management system or CM, and it allows you to build your blog or website. It is free software or open-source software as many refer to it. This means anyone can download WordPress and anyone can volunteer to improve, develop and manage WordPress.

So for example, if you want to volunteer there are many areas to get involved in – from translating, writing code, helping the training team, and even helping organize events. And as open-source software, it is both free to use the way you want to use it and priceless.

Now that we know that we will better understand where Dotorg And Dotcom fit in. Let’s start with Dotorg, also referred to as self-hosted WordPress. The WordPress software is free to download on WordPress.org for you to host at the website hosting company of your choosing, even on your own server. Dotorg is used by individuals as well as large enterprises to build blogs, websites and e-commerce sites. It is important to remember it is not a normal application you can run on your computer – it needs to be installed on a webserver to work.

So, for example, let’s say I wanted to start a business website – I could go to WordPress.org, download the software, and then go through the steps to download it on my own server or choose a hosting company that suits my needs. Many hosting providers offer a one-click installation of WordPress.

WordPress.org is also called self-hosted WordPress sometimes. When choosing a host for your WordPress.org site, there are many awesome hosts that specialize in WordPress to choose from – a few examples are DreamHost, Bluehost, GoDaddy and SiteGround. And this is where the difference lies – WordPress.com is one of the hosting companies you could choose from. So instead of downloading the software and choosing to self-host or using a different hosting company, you could go directly to WordPress.com, register an account and they will take care of your registration, hosting and also offer support. So WordPress.com is a hosting option available for open-source WordPress that comes with the software pre-installed, and they cater for everyone, from bloggers to publishers and small businesses to large enterprises.

Lastly, let’s look at a few practical differences that will hopefully clarify things even more.

Let’s start by looking at plans and pricing. If you use WordPress.org, you need to pay a small amount for hosting. And hosting companies also have higher-tiered plans available, such as a pro or business plan, for example. WordPress.com offers a free plan where your domain name will end with “wordpress.com” and they also have paid plans which introduce extra features at various tiered levels.

This leads to another important consideration – WordPress.org offers users access to thousands of free themes and plugins. Themes dictate the appearance of your site, and plugins extend the functionality. If you’re using WordPress.com, you have access to some themes and plugins. But if you would like to have access to all the plugins and install one of the numerous themes available, you will have to opt-in for one of their higher-tiered plans. So if you’re on a budget, and you want access to the plugin directory WordPress.org will be the better choice. On the other hand, if you’re interested in a higher tiered plan, and the backing of a team of experts, WordPress.com might be the answer.

What about code? Self-hosted and managed hosting sites have access to code editing, offering full developer control and customizability. WordPress.com offers the same service on some of the higher-tiered plans.

Next up is Support. Self-hosted and managed hosting typically come with a range of support, but the user is responsible for their own website or any issues they may encounter. WordPress.org has support forums where users can ask questions and support each other. Themes, plugins and hosting companies also provide support and are eager to solve any problems. WordPress.com comes with support that will solve any issue you have with your website and they also have Happiness Engineers that are 24/7 available. So if you’re using a WordPress.org website and you face a problem, you can make your way to the Dotorg support forums. Or depending on the issue, you can contact your theme or a plugin you’re using for help. If you’re using WordPress.com, you can visit their site and request support.

Another important topic is Security and Backups. WordPress is secure software with a dedicated security team. A website is public and can be a target for hackers. If you self-host your website, it is recommended to take full responsibility for your website security and make backups unless you opt-in for a premium managed WordPress site. WordPress.com, along with other managed WordPress hosting companies, can take care of security and make backups for the user. If you’re using a WordPress.org site, it is encouraged to implement security best practices and you can use any of the security plugins available.

Hosting your own WordPress site can be a bit challenging at times, as it requires some technical knowledge and places more responsibility on you, the publisher. If you’re using WordPress.com, you can rely on their knowledge and expertise. But at the end of the day, it is both fun and rewarding to develop a website with any hosting company you select.

So, to end off – should you choose WordPress.org or WordPress.com? The choice is up to you. Whether you’re using WordPress.org or WordPress.com, you’re still using WordPress. It’s a fantastic content management system to make blogs, websites, and even apps. Which one you choose all depends on your needs and desires. Your WordPress site belongs to you and you can choose where you would like to host it. Think of your site as a mobile home – you own it, but you have to choose where you want to live. You can even change hosting companies if you would like to.

Here at Learn WordPress, you can learn how to use WordPress no matter where you host. I will add links to more resources below this workshop to help you on your journey ahead. Happy creating!

Workshop Details


Wes Theron

I am an Instructional Designer for the WordPress open-source project sponsored by Automattic. I am a strong supporter of the open-source movement. I have a background in education and content development. I am a husband, father, dreamer and lifelong learner.