If you want to start a blog then I recommend that you begin with WordPress.com as it’s free and easy to get setup, however if you’re serious about blogging, and if you might want to connect your blog to a website then I suggest that you go with WordPress.org. If you already have the former and you want to make the switch to the latter there is no better time than now.
What is WordPress.org and why should I make the switch?
WordPress.com is the hosted version of WordPress which lives on Automattic’s servers. They have complete control of the environment and only give you access to some of the features of WordPress. There are some technical advantages but they are outweighed by the power and flexibility of WordPress.org.
WordPress.org is the self-hosted version of WordPress. You can download the software for free, however you will need your own server to install it on. Many hosting companies come with a one-click install which takes 5 minutes to get up and running. If you want to move from WordPress.com to WordPress.org there will be more involved but it should take no longer than half an hour.
Here are some of the advantages of WordPress.org over WordPress.com:
A basic WordPress.com plan is free which is great if you don’t want a custom domain name and don’t mind choosing from one of the free themes available, however if you want a website with your own domain name, extra storage and no advertising then WordPress.org will be a more affordable solution.
2. Custom Domain Name
When it comes to branding your website having a short and memorable domain name without someone else’s name attached to it is key to looking professional.
You can buy your own domain name and forward it to your blog/website with WordPress.com however you’ll have to pay an annual premium just to do so.
3. Custom website
With WordPress.com you can choose from a small selection of themes, at the time of writing they are limited to just 194 free themes and 184 premium themes.
With WordPress.org you can get a developer to create a unique theme just for you or you can choose from thousands of free and premium pre-built themes. Whilst this can be a bit overwhelming, you can filter down based on your requirements to give you a smaller range of the best ones suitable to you.
WordPress.com does give you some flexibility to edit your code but again this comes at a premium.
With WordPress.com you only have a standard set of features, however with WordPress.org you can adapt your website with plugins to add a wide range of extra functionality to your website.
To give you an idea of what you’re able to achieve with plugins, here are some of my favourites:
- Yoast SEO – This allows you to have a better search engine ranking by optimising your site and giving you tools to help improve your content.
- Contact Form 7 – This gives you the ability to easily create and manage multiple contact forms.
- Disqus – This replaces and improves the default comment field making it more inviting for people to leave comments.
See here for a complete list of all my favourite WordPress plugins.
WordPress.com display their own adverts on your site and custom adverts are not allowed. However you can pay a premium to remove them. You can add your own adverts if you receive over 25,000 page views a month but any revenue is split 50/50 with Automattic.
With WordPress.org you have complete control over your website so you can run as many banner ads and affiliate links as you want, with the benefit of any profits going straight into your pocket.
Adding a shop to your website gives you the ability to list and sell digital and physical products. WordPress.com doesn’t allow this and because of that all of the e-commerce solutions require a WordPress.org website.
With WordPress.org you have the ability to add Newsletter signup forms anywhere on your website, to entice readers to give you their email address in exchange for updates and/or bonuses, to educate and reward them for being a subscriber. With WordPress.com you can only collect email addresses via the contact form which limits your ability to convert your visitors into raving fans and/or customers.
WordPress.com owns your content, it is only when you take the management of your website into your own hands that you have complete ownership and control, to give you the ability to do anything you want. The sky is the limit.
Ready to convert your blog to a WordPress.org website? If so please check out our article: How to migrate your blog from WordPress.com to WordPress.org.
What advantages have you experienced with a WordPress.org website compared to WordPress.com one? Please leave a comment in the form below.
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