Are you a beginner blogger looking to make money blogging? You have probably heard in passing about WordPress. When I first began blogging, I didn’t know anything like WordPress.com or WordPress.org. Worse still, when I found out about the existence of WordPress.org, I thought that WordPress.org was for organizations.
Choosing the best blogging platform will be crucial for your online success as a beginner blogger. I will start by saying that both WordPress.com and wordpress.org are great; it only depends on your reason for blogging.
WordPress.com is usually free, and most beginner bloggers go with the free version; however, if along the way you feel the need to upgrade the functionality of your website, then you can upgrade your plan on wordpress.com.
In this article, we will compare free wordpress.com with self-hosted WordPress.org and highlight some of the features you can get by upgrading your wordpress.com site.
You probably have heard that WordPress is one of the best CMS in the market, hosting over 40% of all the websites on the internet. The WordPress that is celebrated that much is definitely WordPress.org, not WordPress.com.
What is the Hype on WordPress.org all about?
As a beginner blogger, you need to know some of the benefits of self-hosting your wordpress.org site. All you need is have a domain name and a hosting plan. A domain name is what your site will be called; for example, in my case, my domain name is thisperfectmess.net.
Usually, a domain name is unique to each blog, and a pro tip on picking a domain name would be to pick something that people can remember quickly, or you can pick something depending on your blog’s niche.
Benefits of using wordpress.org
As a blogger, you need to have full control of your blog and everything that happens in it. WordPress.org gives you full control, among other benefits:
Making money as a blogger on wordpress.org
If you self-host your blog on wordpress.org, you can earn revenue by selling ad space without sharing that revenue with anyone. As we will see later, earning money through selling ads is harder with wordpress.com.
Also, you can sell both physical and digital products on your self-hosted wordpress.org site. The blog allows you to sell, accept payments and ship your products directly from your website.
Ideally, you have endless opportunities to make money with your wordpress.org blog.
Customizing your blog on wordpress.org self-hosted site.
When using wordpress.org, you can install useful plugins that allow you to run your site smoothly and efficiently. As you grow in your blogging career, you will realize that there is a plugin for anything you want to do. Whether you want one to track your site’s analytics or one to help you with SEO, you can always get a plugin on the plugin directory on your site.
As a blogger, you will realize how much you need plugins. You cannot master everything off the head that is needed to grow your website. Plugins in your website help you do things that would require you to have some technical knowledge to do, for example, pasting a Google AdSense code on your website once you get monetized.
Plugins also help you do things that would have otherwise taken a lot of time automatically. For example, you probably do not require a lot of technical know-how to make a table of contents for your blog post, but it would take some time. Therefore, plugins help you save time and spend it on more important tasks of growing your blogs, for example, writing quality content.
Also, a WordPress.org self-hosted site allows you to choose from a pool of free and premium themes. A WordPress theme allows you to customize the look and feel of your blog depending on your needs or the niche you write about.
While most people might think of a theme as something that determines the look of your blog, there is more to it. A good wordpress.org theme will make you rank higher in the search engine if at all its design follows the best search engine practices.
WordPress themes also affect things such as mobile responsiveness and your site’s speed. These factors, in return, affect the users’ experience every time they visit your site. As a beginner blogger, you need to pay attention to user experience as it will greatly affect your traffic and retention too. In addition, the amount of time users spend on your site will affect your ranking on search engines.
Site’s Ownership with WordPress.org, terms, and conditions
Another benefit of having a self-hosted wordpress.org blog is that you determine your terms and conditions. You have full control over the data on that website and the website itself.
You can write about anything on your wordpress.org site without your site being taken down in the name of violating the terms and conditions of WordPress. As long as you are not doing anything illegal, your site will be up and running.
Setting up an online store on wordpress.org.
After some time blogging, you might decide to set up an online store on your WordPress site; WordPress.org allows you to do that, which is favorable for a blogger that is starting small but has future expansion plans, which in most cases on your blogging career does happen.
WordPress.org allows you to set up a store, accept payment, and ship goods to your clients. Therefore, wordpress.org is a good fit if you plan to expand your operation.
In your blogging career, you will realize that analytics are very helpful as they help you determine how well you are doing in establishing your online presence. Also, analytics help you make better-informed decisions on steps to take in the future to enhance growth.
Cons of using wordpress.org
Having looked at all the advantages of using WordPress.org, let’s look into the disadvantages so that you can make a more informed decision.
As you probably know, with freedom comes responsibilities. WordPress.org allows users a lot of freedom, as we have already seen, from customization to determining your terms and conditions. Using WordPress.org, however, will require users to install WordPress themselves. The good news here, though, is that most web hosting companies allow you to install WordPress with a single click.
WordPress.org, as compared to wordpress.com, is not free. Initially, you will require anything between $3-$10 per month to pay for hosting, depending on your hosting plan. This amount may increase in the future as your blog traffic increases. However, your site will also be earning you money that can help cater to those costs.
With a wordpress.org site, you will be responsible for back-ups and updates. Do not fret; it’s not as technical as it may sound. With the updates, there will always be a notification when you open your dashboard, and a single click will do the magic. With backups, there are a ton of plugins that can help you do that.
Benefits of using wordpress.com
If you are new to blogging and are looking to blog something as a hobby, wordpress.com is a great place to start. With increased interest in becoming a professional blogger, the free wordpress.com may not be enough for you, and you might be forced to upgrade.
At the time of writing this article (June 2022), WordPress.com offers two paid plans, WordPress starter and WordPress pro. The chart below shows what each plan offers.
|WordPress Starter||WordPress Pro|
|Costs $5 per month and billed annually||Cost $15 per month and is billed annually|
|Advanced SEO tools are not included||Advanced SEO tools are included|
|You can accept subscriptions and donations||You can accept subscription and donation|
|Allows storage of upto 6 GB||Allows storage of up to 50GB|
|Allows google analytics||Allows google analytics|
|Does not allow WordPress Plugins||Allows unlimited Plugins|
|Does not allow selling products with WooCommerce||It allows selling products with WooCommerce.|
|Automated Website backups are not included||Automated backups are included|
|Earning money from ads is not included||Earning money from ads is included|
WordPress.com is free to use for up to 3GB of space. This means that if you are looking to be a hobby blogger and do not require a lot of space, the free WordPress.com will be perfect for you. If you intend to have more storage than what they offer, you will have to upgrade to one of their paid plans.
Both updates and backups on wordpress.com are taken care of by WordPress.
Cons of using wordpress.com (the free version)
WordPress.com places ads on all the free websites. Though your users see these ads, you do not earn any ad revenue from them. You can only get WordPress.com to stop showing ads on your site if to upgrade from the free plan.
Monetizing a free wordpress.com site is really challenging. WordPress.com does not allow you to sell ads on your website. If your blog has high traffic, they allow you to apply for WordAds, their ad program, and you still have to share your ad revenues with them.
WordPress.com can delete your site anytime if they feel you are violating their terms of service. If you are lucky, they will notify you to migrate your content. If you are not, then all the work you have been doing will go down the drain.
Expanding your operations with a free wordpress.com site will also be challenging. For example, it does not allow you to have eCommerce features or integrated payment systems unless you upgrade your plan. Also, you cannot build a membership website with a wordpress.com site.
With a free wordpress.com site, you are limited to their statistics. You cannot add google analytics, a powerful tool for monitoring your stats and helps you make better-informed decisions on your site.
WordPress.com always comes with a wordpress.com branded domain. To get a custom domain without wordpress.com at the end, you have to upgrade your plan.
Using a free wordpress.com limits you to the themes that you can use from their theme directorate. You must upgrade to a paid version to pick a theme of choice.
In addition, you cannot install plugins on a free WordPress.com site. They have jetpack pre-installed, and if you need more plugins installed on your site, you need to upgrade your wordpress.com plan.
So, what’s the verdict? WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org.
I would say that wordpress.org is the real deal if you want to start a blog and make money blogging. If you started on wordpress.com, you probably realize how many limitations you are bound to face by reading this.
However, if you have already been writing on a free WordPress.com site, you do not have to worry y0ou can always transfer your content to a wordpress.org self-hosted site.
We hope you learned all the possible differences between having your site on wordpress.com versus having it on wordpress.org.
Do not forget to check out our complete guide on how to make money blogging.