WordPress org vs com: Which one do you need?

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Are you just now realizing there are TWO WordPress platforms? WordPress.org and WordPress.com? Now you are wondering what the difference is. Well you have come to the right place. I want to simply show you the difference between WordPress org vs com, and help you decide the right one for your site.

A Quick Summary:

There are two “WordPresses”. And when people say, “Are you on WordPress?”, 99% of the time they are talking about WordPress.org – NOT WordPress.com.

WordPress.org is a software, that does not stand alone. It can be added to a hosting provider’s plan, and allows you to upload any 3rd party plugins and premium themes with full flexibility. Think of it as an open door to publish anything.

WordPress.com is a service and a complete platform (like Squarespace, Google Blogger, or WIX). It includes the WordPress interface, but also includes a subscription wordpress hosting plan, it’s own versions of themes and plugins, and it does not allow a lot of 3rd party integrations. Think of it like a closed system.

What you need to know:

If you plan on selling products or services extensively, using advertisements, editing html, adding custom fonts, or using one of the hundreds of thousands of “WordPress” themes, you need to use WordPress.org which is added to your host. Do not set up a plan with WordPress.com.

If you are interested in a blogging platform that includes hosting that does not include the option for selling products, advertisements, 3rd party themes, plugins, and editing html, you can begin with WordPress.com, and not purchase your host or custom domain name separately.

WordPress.com is easy to set up, but is very limited and is difficult to transfer later to a self-hosted domain. WordPress.org requires more work to set up at the beginning, but will never need to be transferred again because it gives you full control.

Even for beginners with limited technical expertise, I recommend WordPress.org.

My recommendation:

I 100% recommend WordPress.org.

In my early days, I didn’t know the difference, and I moved my blog from Google Blogger to WordPress, com, not knowing the difference between WordPress org vs com, and it didn’t let me use custom themes, plugins, or fonts. I was sorely disappointed, and the process to move off of WordPress.com was very cumbersome.

Your next steps:

If you don’t yet have a wordpress website and are interested in owning your website (not paying rent on a platform), then first start by researching hosts and purchasing a domain name. Install wordpress with your host. Do not start on WordPress.com.

If you are interested in a host + platform that is limited, but all-inclusive, do not start with a host or purchasing a domain, and set up an account directly on WordPress.com.

If you already have a site on WordPress.com, and wish to move it over to a self-hosted WordPress site, keep reading.

If you want to learn more, keep reading.

WordPress org vs com


According to their website, WordPress.com says “Build and grow your website with the best way to WordPress. Lightning-fast hosting, intuitive, flexible editing, and everything you need to grow your site and audience, baked right in.”

WordPress.com is just that – a website builder and a host combined.

WordPress.com includes a pricing plan that includes everything – including their own versions of themes, WordPress plugins, and fonts. This sounds easy and logical, but actually it includes a lot of restrictions.

If you wanted to purchase a 3rd party theme or plugin – from someplace like Genesis or Elementor – than you would not be able to use it on a WordPress.com site.

WordPress.com is an alternative to Squarespace – just much more limited.

WordPress.com offers free plans and paid plans, and in doing so, requires a subscription to its platform.

The WordPress.com dashboard is similar to the WordPress.org one, but is much more limiting.


WordPress.org is another beast.

The WordPress software that is FREE to download and upload onto your managed wordpress host. This process involves paying for a hosting plan (from a company like Bluehost or Bigscoots), and uploading this free software to it.

WordPress.org is an open-source platform, which means it is a software that is released under a license, and may be developed in a collaborative, public manner.

This software allows the user to upload their own resources, content, themes, plugins, fonts, and any 3rd party it chooses. It also allows the user to edit HTML, CSS, javascript, and any code that included in the software.



WordPress.com includes it’s own site editor that allows you limited customization options to customize text, images, colors, fonts, layout, and position of all the elements on the site. There is a CSS editor in their Explorer premium plan, which begins at $8/month. If you are looking to customize with a 3rd party theme (like from Genesis or Elementor) or if you are wanting to hire a WordPress developer to work on your site, they probably will not work on or be compatible with WordPress.com.

Here are their pricing plans that they offer for their all-inclusive platform:


WordPress.org offers unlimited customization options on their software. Their free platform includes CSS, HTML, javascript editors, and is compatible with any 3rd party plugin, theme, font, and file editor. With WordPress.org, you will be able to completely own and edit your files and make any changes you desire.

All tutorials and articles on Motherboard Mentor will be compatible with WordPress.org NOT WordPress.com.

If you are looking to monetize your site, the differences between WordPress.org and WordPress.com is drastic. Here is summary:


WordPress.com includes it’s OWN advertising and monetization options. With it’s Entrepreneur plan starting at $45/month, it includes: WordPress.com’s WooCommerce platform to allow you unlimited product sells, advertising with WordAds, the official WordPress.com advertising program, and limited use of 3rd party advertisers.


WordPress.org is a software that allows unlimited monetization and advertisement options. It can be used with any product, shop, or online store software (WooCommerce, Shopify, SendOwl, etc.) and any advertising company (Mediavine, Google Ads, Raptive, etc.).

If you are looking to make money with your site, I recommend WordPress.org hands-down. You will be thoroughly frustrated by WordPress.org.

Transferring from WordPress.com to WordPress.org

Most people that begin on WordPress.com, desire at some point to transfer to WordPress.org. Never the other way around.

That said, it is VERY hard to transfer from WordPress.com.

As this Reddit article points out:

Important note that newbies may not be aware of. If you ever want to leave and migrate your site from WordPress.com you need your FTP (File Transfer Protocol) credentials. Unlike almost every other hosting service WordPress.com DON’T automatically give these to you if you start with a basic or lower level plan. You can only get them by paying…and upgrading to PRO.

Similarly, many hosts will move a Squarespace site over free of charge within hours. They will not offer to transfer over a WordPress.com site.

If you are looking for an all-in-one blogging platform that includes a web host, I recommend Squarespace over WordPress.com.

I will soon write an article demonstrating the process of transfering from WordPress.com to a self-hosted site. But in the meantime, remember this: WordPress org vs com – it is not that hard to decide between. WordPress.org is more versatile in every way. If possible, do not choose to start your site on WordPress.com

Common Questions:

Is WordPress.org and .com the same?

No. WordPress.org is a software installation for a site hosted by a 3rd party host. WordPress.com is an all-in-one platform and host that does not allow 3rd party themes or plugins.

What is WordPress.org used for?

WordPress.org is an open source software used for websites hosted on 3rd party hosts – used for blogs, websites, online journals, online shops and services, and niche websites.

Does my WordPress site need a host?

WordPress.com sites are hosted on the WordPress.com platform. WordPress.org websites do need a 3rd party host.

Should I host my own WordPress server or buy hosted?

Motherboard Mentor recommends hosting your WordPress.org website on a 3rd party host.

Do I have to download WordPress.org to use it?

You can download WordPress.org to upload it to your hosting plan. Or you can import WordPress directly inside the CPanel of your host for the setup.

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