What is the difference between self-hosted WordPress.org and WordPress.com

When starting out with WordPress, this question comes in everyone’s mind  – What’s the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org? Choosing which platform is best for you? Following this guide to answer this question.

wordpress.com vs self-hosted wordpress.org

WordPress.org Overview

In brief, WordPress.org is where “WordPress” the software is freely available to the public. You download it freely, install it on your hosting and will have a website totally owed by you.

That means:

  • You have to buy hosting
  • You have to buy domain
  • You have to manually install WordPress
  • You manage and maintain the website

Besides that, the power of self-hosted WordPress.org site is:

  • You can install and use any theme you want, including premium ones
  • You can install and use any plugin you want, including premium ones
  • You can customize the website the way you want.

WordPress.com Overview

On WordPress.com, installation is a snap, and the web hosting is provided and FREE!

In brief:

  • You don’t need to buy hosting
  • You can use the subdomain yourname.wordpress.com. If you want your own domain, you have to buy a domain AND upgrade your account to Personal plan at least.
  • You don’t need to manually install WordPress
  • Your website is maintained by WordPress.com

Regarding using themes and plugins, you simply can’t:

  • You can choose only the themes provided by WordPress.com. Most of them are good enough for you. Check our our TheFour theme on WordPress.com.
  • You can’t install any plugin.

To customize your website, you need to upgrade your account to Personal plan to have basic customization. If you want to control custom CSS, you need Premium plan.

The difference between 2 platforms is summarized as below:

WordPress.comSelf-Hosted WordPress.org

WordPress.com WordPress.org
Price Free + Premium Free
Need to buy web hosting No Yes
Need to buy custom domain Yes and requires Personal plan Yes
Manual install No Yes
Manage and maintain website No Yes
Can add custom CSS code Requires the Premium plan Yes
Can use plugins No Yes
Can use custom themes No Yes
Overall difficulty with set up/maintenance Easy A bit more complicated

Which platform is for me?

Self-host WordPress.org is suitable if:

  • You want to use a custom theme, especially a premium theme.
  • You want to use custom plugins
  • You want to customize your website a lot

WordPress.com is suitable if:

  • You’re just a blogger and don’t want to spend too much time with installation, setting up the website
  • You have a limited budget for web hosting

So, choosing a platform mostly depends on your budget and how you want to manage your website. Each platform has its own pros and cons. We hope this quick guide can help you understand 2 platforms better and choose the best for you.


  1. C. Peter Eckrich on July 25, 2018 at 00:22

    We have a hosted site that is over 10 years old, it needs major updating, and we have decided to do that w/ WordPress. This being done for us, but we expect to make future up-dates / changes in-house once it has been converted. It sounds like we belong in “.org”. Would it make sense to, for some fee, to have WordPress become the new host for our site. If so, how do you do it?

    • Anh Tran on July 25, 2018 at 07:26

      Hi Peter. Yes, your site is a “.org”, e.g. the self-hosted version. You can host your website on any host you want, like SiteGround or BlueHost. WordPress.com can also host your website if you have a Business account.

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