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/


Hi, 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 confuse Dotorg and Dotcom because they sure do sound the same. In this video, we will 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 Dotcom and Dotorg. WordPress is a content management system or CMS. 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 help organise events. And as an 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, or 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 eCommerce 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 web server 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. 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. They cater for bloggers to large enterprises.

Let me explain the difference in terms of a metaphor. WordPress.com is like renting a house. You don’t own the home. But you have the advantages of living in the house and the support of the rental company, or in this case, the hosting company. WordPress.org is like renting land and building your own house. Renting the land refers to renting space from a hosting company to house the website that you have built. You can build your own website or could pay someone to develop your site on your behalf.

WordPress.org is also called self hosted WordPress sometimes, and when choosing a host for your WordPress.org site. There are many awesome hosts that specialise in WordPress to choose from. A few examples are DreamHost, Bluehost, GoDaddy, and SiteGround. Lastly, let’s look at a few practical differences that will hopefully clarify things even more.

First up is Plans and Pricing to get started. If you use WordPress.org, you need to pay a small amount for hosting and a domain name. WordPress.com offers a free plan but it comes with limited features, and your domain name will end with WordPress.com. 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. But if you are using WordPress.com, you only have access to installing your own theme and plugins when you register for some of their 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 are interested in a business plan, and less control over your site, 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 on the other hand, unless you register for a higher tiered plan, provides no access to code editing other than CSS. CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheets, and is used to style almost any HTML tag that creates a visible element on a page.

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 are using for help. If you are using WordPress.com, you can visit this site and request support.

Another important topic is Security and Backups. WordPress is a secure software with a dedicated security team. A website is however public and can be a target for hackers. So if you self-host your website you need to take full responsibility for your website’s security, and make backups. Unless you opt in for a premium managed WordPress host. WordPress.com, as a hosting company, can take care of security and backups for the user. If you are using a WordPress.org website, you will need to implement security best practices and also use one of the security plugins available.

What about technical skills? Hosting your own WordPress site can be fun and rewarding. But it also requires some technical knowledge and places more responsibility on you, the publisher. If you have decided to use a hosting company like WordPress.com, you can rely on their knowledge and expertise.

So to end off, should you choose WordPress.org or WordPress.com? The choice is up to you. Whether you are using WordPress.org or WordPress.com, you are still using WordPress. It is a fantastic content management system to make blogs, websites and even apps. Which one you choose all depends on your needs and desires. Many people decide to use WordPress.org because it gives you the full flexibility of WordPress at a very low cost. 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.

  • Length 7 mins
  • Topic WordPress
  • Language English
  • Subtitles English
  • Transcript View
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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.