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Part 3B: How does WordPress.com and WordPress.org stack up? And what the heck is the difference?
You've heard of people talk about WordPress.com and WordPress.org — A WordPress blog versus a Self-Hosted WordPress Blog. Let me break it down for you.
Also, in order to help you understand better which type of WordPress blog will work for you, if any, it'll be important for you to weigh your other options: Blogger and Tumblr.
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Okay, so the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org (self-hosted)
is most like Blogger and Tumblr. It is a blogging platform that will take care of most of the technical aspects for you and will allow you to focus on your content. But because it's easier to use, it has its limits.
is its own animal. By using self-hosted WordPress, you need to do quite a bit of backend setup and maintenance (like registering for a hosting service in addition to registering for a domain name), but the results are incredibly diverse, functionality is high, and the process can be extremely rewarding.
There are similarities between WordPress.com and WordPress.org (self-hosted) blogs
Since both .com and .org WordPress blogs are both in fact WordPress, you can expect there to be a lot of similarities.
In terms of using the blogging platform, the user Dashboards are very similar to one another, meaning that when you go to publish a blog post, the user interface will look similar in both atmospheres.
Also, a lot of the same basic functionality exists in both WordPress.com and WordPress.org blogs, like blog post formats available and social aspects available.
Format and Social Aspects for all WordPress Blogs
WordPress has done a lot of catch up to other blogging platforms over the past couple of years. In terms of blog post formats, the format options available are limitless. You can easily post a standard format blog post, a photo, a quote, or other types of blog posts just like Tumblr.
In terms of social aspects, WordPress allows for built-in followers, meaning that anyone with a WordPress.com account can log in and choose which WordPress blogs to follow.
Recently, self-hosted WordPress blogs made it easy to have similar "built-in" functionality as WordPress.com blogs, making it easier for you to set up your blog so it has nice following capabilities (turn on JetPack on your self hosted WordPress blog and you'll see a nice big list of functionalities).
Now for the differences…
Let's Talk About WordPress.com First
Again, WordPress.com blogs are easier to set up and a lot of the dirty work is done by WordPress.com so you can focus on creating and publishing your blog content.
WordPress.com's Design Options and Growth
Like Blogger and Tumblr, WordPress.com offers several WordPress themes within your WordPress Dashboard. Some are free, and you can buy others. Once you choose a theme, there are usually a few customization options such as colors and typefaces. You may also be able to change out your header image (the photo or graphic that displays at the top of your blog) and your logo.
If you're focused on content creation, WordPress.com can be a great solution for you especially if you're looking for a more streamlined look and feel (over Blogger).
In terms of growth, options are limited. There are a handful of built-in plugins that provide extra functionality for WordPress.com blogs. Again, like Tumblr and Blogger platforms, WordPress.com is best for a blog where the main purpose is to publish new content (posts) and have a few pages to accompany the blog.
Cost of a WordPress.com Blog
WordPress.com is a free blogging platform. You can easily purchase and add on a domain name that will set you back about $13 per year. Like Blogger and Tumblr, you can have a blog at WordPress.com that looks like this:
or also like this
WordPress.org (self-hosted) Blogs Have More Functionality
It may seem like this blog post series has been leading up to me wanting to push self hosted WordPress blogs. I've done my best to avoid the inevitable bias (since I am a self proclaimed WordPress lover) but I'm only human.
I freaking love self hosted WordPress sites. And here's why.
WordPress.org Design Options, Growth Opportunities, Functionality, and Tech Savviness Required
Self hosted WordPress blogs are easily the most flexible blogging platform. That said, it will take the most tech power to set it up and maintain it. As I mentioned in the considerations for choosing a blogging platform post, the more functionality and complexity a blogging platform has, the more time and energy it's going to take to both set up and maintain. Just keep that in mind.
Overall, WordPress.org blogs are open source, which means that designers and developers can work together with WordPress to make amazing design templates, extra functionalities (hello WordPress Plugins) and developers can also help each other out with coding along with the holy grail WordPress Codex.
As far as design options go, the opportunities are limitless. There are countless amazing WordPress templates for sale and for free, and it's easy to find the perfect pre built one and tweak and customize it through a code editor on the back end.
WordPress.org blogs have amazing functionality capabilities. Decide you want a slideshow on the homepage instead of just blog posts? Easily done. Want to embed your newest video thumbnails in your sidebar? Easy peasy. Well, easier done in WordPress.org blogs than in any other platform I've mentioned. Most importantly: Want to have custom post types (hello, portfolio site) — easy and beautiful!
Because WordPress is such a powerful entity, it's constantly growing as fast as web design in general. Lots of people make their living off of creating WordPress themes, custom designs, plugins for the masses, WordPress tutorials, etc. Once you go WordPress, you never go back.
Cost of a Self Hosted WordPress Blog
With great power comes great cost. Well, it's not that bad, but the cost is certainly expensive enough to where it's not for everyone.
Self Hosted WordPress Isn't for Everyone
All of that said, a self hosted WordPress blog isn't for everyone. It may be too complex for what you need and what you envision for the growth of your blog. In fact, I have a couple of Tumblr blogs because that's all I need for those sites (hello, Sour Bunnies web comic).
And all of that said even more, if you have the desire to move forward with a self-hosted WordPress blog but don't have the time or technical abilities to do so, you can always hire a designer or developer to help you with setup and ongoing maintenance (yeah yeah, another shameless plug: I do that).
Yeah, I know I talked too much
I know I talked too much about WordPress. I'm sorry. I truly am. So sorry, in fact, that I will post my final blog post in this series tomorrow: the truly watered down version of this entire series of how to choose a blogging platform!
So, now that I've brain dumped my knowledge and opinions of WordPress.com and WordPress.org blogs, it's your turn.
Do you have any questions about WordPress blogs?
Cover photo by Emma Matthews