Choosing Between WordPress.com & WordPress.org

  • blog
  • blogging
  • WordPress
  • wordpress blog
  • WordPress CMS

So far we have looked at:

Now we will be moving onto WordPress itself, after all without it you will be creating a WordPress blog.

If you are not familiar with WordPress, you may have seen there is www.wordpress.com and www.wordpress.org.

Before we get into the differences between the two, I want to explain what WordPress is.

WordPress is an open source content management system (CMS).

What is a CMS?

A CMS is a way of managing content for a website or blog in a user friendly manner without having to be a web designer or developer.

WordPress is not the only CMS available, there are several others but it is still the most popular and widely used.

50-60% is WordPress’ share of the global CMS market – making it the most popular CMS of them all for the 7th year in a row. ~ codeinwp

Getting back to the difference between the .org and .com website.

At the .com website you don’t need to download anything and you can create a WordPress blog that is hosted on the WordPress servers.

When going to the .org website, you will see there is an option to download WordPress, which means you need to set it up yourself, and host it on your server.

Don’t let the technical terms scare you; I will explain each in more detail.

All the websites you visit when using the Internet are hosted on servers.

What does this mean?

In order for a website to be accessible on the Internet it needs to be hosted, that is you need to copy the files for the website onto a computer (server) which is connected to the Internet.

They are then accessed by their URLs such as www.wordpress.com or www.wordpress.org

URLs are also referred to as domains and they are linked to the files that were copied to the server.

Each domain is unique and is registered with a hosting company, usually the same one that is hosting the files for the website.

Hosting refers to a “folder” on a computer where the files are stored.

Both a domain and hosting are charged for and the cost can vary depending on the hosting company.

Coming back to the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. With the one you will need to register a domain and setup the hosting yourself (WordPress.org) and with the other (WordPress.com) you don’t.

Each of these come with their own advantages and disadvantages.

Let’s have a closer look.

Choosing the free WordPress.com option to start your blog
Choosing the free WordPress.com option to start your blog

WordPress.com

WordPress offers you four options to create a blog and one of these is free.

If you are not ready to host your own WordPress blog the free option is a reasonable start, keeping in mind that you will not be able to upload themes or install any plugins which we will discuss later in this series.

To get started, you can click on Get Started.

Next you will need to go through four steps to setup your blog starting with the details for your blog.

WordPress.com Step one
WordPress.com Step one

Next you will need to choose the address (domain) of your blog.

WordPress.com Step two
WordPress.com Step two

If you choose the free option from WordPress.com, your address (domain) will look something like this:

myblog443904543.wordpress.com

The other address (domain) options are only available in the Premium and Business Options which have monthly fees.

WordPress Step two
WordPress Step two

After you have selected your address, you will be asked to select one of the WordPress options, namely Personal, Premium or Business.

In this post we are comparing the free option which is the Personal one.

WordPress Step three
WordPress Step three

In the next and fourth step you will need to create your WordPress.com account by choosing filling in your email address, username (this is automatically populated but can be changed) and password.

WordPress.com Step four
WordPress.com Step four

Once you have created your blog and account, you will be able to select a free theme.

What is a WordPress theme?

A theme is the look and feel of your blog.

WordPress comes with default themes such as Twenty Seventeen.

WordPress Twenty Seventeen theme
WordPress Twenty Seventeen theme

To access your themes, you can go to Appearance in the sidebar and select Themes.

Access WordPress themes
Access WordPress themes

Finding a theme

WordPress.com will give you access to all the free themes available.

In order to add a new theme, you will need to click the “Add New” button on the Theme page.

Adding a new WordPress theme
Adding a new WordPress theme

You can now either browse through the featured themes, or search for a theme using a keyword.

Let’s search for “twenty seventeen”…

WordPress theme search results
WordPress theme search results

Once you have found your theme, you will need to install it by hovering over the thumbnail and clicking install.

You can also preview a theme before installing it by clicking the “Preview” button.

Installing WordPress theme
Installing WordPress theme

Activating a theme

After your theme has been installed, you will need to activate it in order to use it.

Activating a WordPress theme
Activating a WordPress theme

The look and feel of your blog will now change according to the theme you have activated.

You can see what your blog looks like by clicking the “Visit Site” link in the activation theme message.

New theme activation message
New theme activation message

With the free WordPress.com option, you are limited to only free themes as well as customizing options for the theme.

Also, when using the free option, you are not allowed to monetize your blog, in other words you cannot place ads on your blog or selling anything.

Let’s quickly summarize some of the advantages and disadvantages of starting your blog using the free option on WordPress.com:

Advantages

Disadvantages

Keep in mind these advantages and disadvantages are for the Personal Option (Free) on WordPress.com.

The other options (Premium and Business) unlock certain features.

Choosing the WordPress.org option to start your blog
Choosing the WordPress.org option to start your blog

WordPress.org

When choosing this option your blog will be hosted on a host of your choice.

When it comes to this option, depending on the hosting company you choose you will either need to:

To get started as soon as possible it is better to choose a hosting company that offers a WordPress installer and for that reason we will be using SiteGround (this is not an affiliate link) as they are one of the most respected WordPress hosting companies around.

WordPress hosting by SiteGround
WordPress hosting by SiteGround

SiteGround offers three WordPress packages to choose from. You view these by going to WordPress Services > WordPress Hosting.

SiteGround WordPress hosting packages
SiteGround WordPress hosting packages

For beginners and even intermediate, the StartUp package is more than enough.

SiteGround WordPress hosting packages
SiteGround WordPress hosting packages

When you are ready, you can click on Get Started.

Next you will need to register the domain for your blog.

Register blog domain at SiteGround
Register blog domain at SiteGround

Once you have registered your domain, you will need to fill in the details for your account.

SiteGround account details
SiteGround account details

After you have filled in your account details, you will be able to select WordPress to be installed as well as configure your WordPress login settings.

Configure WordPress login details with SiteGround
Configure WordPress login details with SiteGround

At the next step, you will need to confirm that you want to install WordPress.

SiteGround confirm WordPress installation
SiteGround confirm WordPress installation

There are also a few extra services offered, but they are not essential to creating your blog.

If you don’t want your personal details shared as the owner of your domain, you can enable the “Add Domain Privacy” setting for an extra cost.

No payment details are shared, only contact information.

As an example you can go to ICANN WHOIS and search for www.google.com to see what details are shared.

ICANN WHOIS
ICANN WHOIS

You don’t need to enable the service “Add SG Site Scanner” as we will be installing a plugin for this.

Lastly you will have a summary of what you requested, such as the WordPress installation and any enabled services in the previous step.

SiteGround WordPress hosting summary
SiteGround WordPress hosting summary

If you are happy with everything, you will get a success message after clicking “Complete Setup”

SiteGround WordPress success message
SiteGround WordPress success message

You will now be able to log into your SiteGround account as well as the Admin Panel for your WordPress blog.

SiteGround account
SiteGround account

There are two ways to access the Admin Panel for your WordPress blog:

You can either log into your SiteGround account, select Go to Admin Panel under the My Accounts tab or go to yourblog.com/wp-login.php

Both options will take you to the WordPress login screen.

WordPress login screen
WordPress login screen

One of the biggest benefits of choosing WordPress.org over the WordPress.com Premium or Business Options is the cost.

Let’s compare the difference in cost between the WordPress.com Business Option (the option that unlocks all the features) and the WordPress.org option.

That is a saving of $225 per year!

The WordPress.com Business Option does offer free access to premium themes, but there are many quality free themes available to choose from.

Besides the savings, let’s have a look at the other advantages and disadvantages of using the WordPress.org option.

Advantages

Disadvantages

As you can see the WordPress.org option makes more sense, when it comes to costs and features.

But you can still use the WordPress.com free option and later migrate to another WordPress host option.

Migrating from WordPress.com to Different WordPress Host

When moving from WordPress.com to another host such as SiteGround all you need to do is export your content and import it.

Exporting from WordPress.com

Log into your WordPress account and select Export from the Tools sidebar.

WordPress export option
WordPress export option

Next you will be able to choose what you would like to export.

WordPress export options
WordPress export options

If you are moving from WordPress.com to WordPress.org, it is best to choose the “All content” option.

Next you will need to download your export by clicking “Download Export File”

Importing to different WordPress host

After you have downloaded your export, you can select the “Import” option from the Tools sidebar.

Because we are importing from another WordPress blog, you can select the WordPress import option.

If you haven’t used the WordPress Importer before, you will need to first install it.

Install WordPress importer
Install WordPress importer

After the WordPress Importer has been installed you can click on “Run importer”.

Run WordPress importer
Run WordPress importer

All you need to do now is select the export file you downloaded and import it.

Import exported WordPress file
Import exported WordPress file

Once your export file has been uploaded, you will be asked who to assign the content to and whether or not to import the attachments (Attachments being any type of media).

Depending on what your author/username is, you can select it using the drop down “next to or assign posts to an existing user”

Make sure you check the “Download and import file attachments” so that all the media used in your posts are also imported.

WordPress import options
WordPress import options

After clicking Submit you will see the results of your import.


WordPress import results
WordPress import results

Summary

In this post we looked at the differences between using WordPress.com and WordPress.org for your blog.

Some parts of this series will require that you have full access to WordPress features such as uploading and editing themes and installing plugins.

This is not essential to creating your own blog but it will enable you to do a lot more with your blog.

If you want to stay up to date with the Become A WordPress Pro series, please make sure you subscribe.

Next we will be looking at Getting Familiar With The WordPress User Interface.

Thank you for reading and please let me know if you have any questions in the comment section below.

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