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Getting Started With WordPress: Choosing WordPress.com or WordPress.org?

Currently there are over 74.6 million websites built on the WordPress platform with over 37 million WordPress related web searches happening each month. Clearly the popularity of the WordPress platform is ever growing – and with that said more and more people are looking to build a website using the WordPress platform. However before you get your WordPress website started you need to make a crucial decision as to whether or not you will be using WordPress.com or WordPress.org. So let’s understand what the differences between these two are and which one is best for you.

WordPress.com

WordPress.com is a remotely-hosted version of WordPress which allows you to bypass most of the technical side of installing and managing a WordPress website. Essentially think of it as a managed, shared hosting platform that uses WordPress, and that handles all of the updates, backups, and security for its users. Unlike WordPress itself, WordPress.com is a company with employees whose job it is to develop, maintain, and support the WordPress.com platform.

With WordPress.com, you can start as many WordPress blogs and websites as you like, and they’re all hosted and supported for free by the team at WordPress.com. This all sounds great, however there are a few limitations here to take note of. First off if you want to use your own custom domain name with your WordPress.com blog you’re out-of-luck on doing so with the free plan. You will need to upgrade to the Premium plan at the least at $99/yr. Furthermore if you plan to build an eCommerce website you’ll need the Business plan at $299/yr.

Pricing aside, there’s the theme and plugin limitations as-well. In an effort to have the best platform for all of its users – WordPress.com blogs are limited to specific themes and plugins that they are allowed to activate. Think of it like leasing a car as opposed to buying one. Sure when you buy a car you can chop up the bumpers, lower it, install that enormous sound system you’ve been holding onto since the 90’s. However on a leased car you’re stuck following what the dealership that sold it to you allows you to do with the vehicle.

WordPress.org

WordPress.org is the home of the open-source WordPress platform. This is where you’ll start off if you choose to manage your own WordPress website. This means that everything starting from acquiring your hosting and domain name, installing WordPress, choosing your theme and installing it, keeping your installation updated – all falls on you. However you now have full control over whatever you want to do on your WordPress website. You have full capability to download any theme from Envato, or plugin from CodeCanyon and utilize it within your website.

Now the beauty here is that most hosting providers offer one-click installations of WordPress through various tools within your hosting control panel; and most hosting providers will offer you a free domain name with a yearly hosting package regardless – so you’re initial setup wont actually be anything to worry about. I’ll have a tutorial up soon showing just how easy it is.

Past your initial setup and install however there’s alot more you need to be aware of with a self-hosted WordPress installation. For starters WordPress is constantly being updated, and it’s up to you to make sure you keep your website updated. This means maintaining your base WordPress install, your plugins, and your themes. This also means that sometimes an update will cause a plugin to no longer work as intended – which will be up to you to diagnose and fix.

Luckily these days there is plenty of community support for WordPress and chances are you’ll be able to find assistance for your issue via the plugin support forums, StackOverflow, or even through my Free WordPress Assistance Helpout on Google+.

Which One Do I Choose?

Deciding which path is the right one for you relies solely on how comfortable you are doing some of the more technical side of things yourself; or if you have someone on your team who can. If you feel confident that you will be able to handle the setup and maintenance of your website on your own then start off with your own WordPress installation. Otherwise if you would feel more comfortable having someone else take the reigns on the maintenance of things while you focus solely on writing your content – having a remotely hosted version from WordPress.com is the way to go.

About Michael Boguslavskiy

Michael Boguslavskiy is a full-stack developer & online presence consultant based out of New York City. He's been offering freelance marketing & development services for over a decade. He currently manages Rapid Purple - and online webmaster resources center; and Media Explode - a full service marketing agency.

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