WordPress.org vs. WordPress.com – What’s the difference?


The wordpress.com vs. wordpress.org thing can be a bit confusing. Rather than providing a long and drawn out history of the company, let’s get straight to the facts and most common related questions:

What is WordPress?

WordPress is the most popular software globally for creating websites. WordPress allows the site owner and its users to make changes to their website with a WYSIWYG editor without having to edit the HTML code that makes up the website. We provide the hardware (servers) that run it: called WordPress Hosting.

What is WordPress.org?

wordpress.org is an organization or global software developers responsible for maintaining the open source WordPress code. Because it’s open source, anyone with coding experience can submit contributions to the project. The software provided by wordpress.org is what is used to power all WordPress sites hosted with Websavers. This software also powers its commercial sibling: WordPress.com

What is WordPress.com?

wordpress.com is the corporate entity that makes money from services relating to the WordPress software. Their parent company name is Automattic and their employees are some of the key software engineers contributing to the WordPress code.

Automattic makes money from the WordPress project by providing a hosting platform at WordPress.com, related cloud services, and a bunch of WordPress plugins.

Here’s some examples of their free plugins for WordPress: WP Super Cache, WooCommerce, and WP Job Manager.

Here’s a few of their freemium (free to a point) or premium (paid) services: the freemium blogging platform at WordPress.com, backup services (Vaultpress), anti-spam services (Akismet), and premium functionality for WooCommerce through the WooComm Extensions store.

Is WordPress just for blogging?

The WordPress software was originally created to be a blogging platform available either as a blog you can host with us (using WordPress.org software), or as a locked-in hosted service provided at WordPress.com. But that does not mean it is only good for blogging. In fact it can, and has, been used to create professional websites.

Do I need WordPress.com if I already have self-hosted WordPress?

Need? No. But you might want a WordPress.com account for certain purposes.

You definitely won’t need to do anything with the hosted blogging platform that wordpress.com provides, because your self-hosted WordPress website will take care of all of the blogging functionality for you, and more – without the need for wordpress.com servers.

That said you may still eventually run into cases where you are using or want to use premium plugins or services provided by WordPress.com/Automattic. In those cases a WordPress.com account is used to purchase licenses for those premium plugins and also to link plugins installed on your website (that are built by Automattic) to WordPress.com services.

Should I move from WordPress.com to self-hosted WordPress.org?

You may wish to move to self-hosted WordPress for a few reasons: affordability, portability, freedom, and improved support.

No plugin restrictions

The WordPress.com Explorer plan cannot use plugins freely. That requires the Creator plan or higher which costs more than 3x as much. With self-hosted WordPress, you can use plugins freely and we don’t limit the plugins / themes you can use.

No hosting transfer limitations

If you ever wish to leave WordPress.com’s hosting, you have to disentangle the site from WordPress.com’s strange ecosystem, which (let me assure you) is not an easy proposition. On the flip side, with self-hosted WordPress.org, if you ever want to change your hosting provider you can simply move the website exactly as it is because it’s totally self contained.

Sales Commission

  • If you’re using WooCommerce with the Explorer plan, then WordPress.com will take a 4% commission on top of the transaction fees for any sale they conduct.
  • If you’re using WooCommerce with the Creator plan, WordPress.com will take a 2% commission on top of the transaction fees for any sale not done through the WooCommerce Payments provider (eg. PayPal, Stripe, etc).

We don’t charge transaction fees, because it’s ludicrous that your host should take a payment percentage from your website.

I registered my domain with wordpress.com but I really want a self-hosted WordPress site. How do I point it to Websavers instead?

The folks at wordpress.com have a guide showing how to do exactly this.

You can read further details about the difference between wordpress.com and wordpress.org on the wordpress.org support site here.

Jordan Schelew

Jordan has been working with computers, security, and network systems since the 90s and is a managing partner at Websavers Inc. As a founder of the company, he's been in the web tech space for over 15 years.

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Websavers provides web services like Canadian WordPress Hosting and VPS Hosting to customers all over the globe, from hometown Halifax, CA to Auckland, NZ.

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