The Difference Between WordPress.com and WordPress.org Blogs

Just finding out about WordPress? Then you my be wondering , “What’s the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org blogs?”

WordPress.com is a free blogging site where you register and set up one or more new blogs. You blog’s Web address will be {mynewblog}.wordpress.com, where “{mynewblog}” is the domain you select for your blog.

WordPress.org blogs are blog sites that have WordPress’s free blogging system installed on them. This means you would download the code then install it on a server and run the blog from there. Many choose to use a Web hosting company that has a quick WordPress install. WordPress.org blog are often referred to as “custom blog installs.”

The following items are some of the key characteristics of WordPress.com and WordPress.org blogs:

WordPress.com

WordPress.com logo

  • Free, most of the time. You can pay for premium services like domain mapping and video-related upgrades
  • Allows users to create multiple blogs under one user account.
  • Does not allow users to run JavaScript code. This limits a user’s ability to add many types of custom widgets.
  • Does not allow users to run advanced analytics programs like Google Analytics. This falls under the “no JavaScript” bullet point but is an important example of the limitation. WordPress.com does have a very basic blog stats feature though.
  • Has a set number of available themes. However, WordPress recently expanded it’s Theme team and has been releasing a greater number of new themes.
  • Has a new Slideshow tool that is wicked cool and even works with the new iPad.
  • Has strict rules about the type of advertising that can be done on the blog.
  • Has built-in widgets but does not allow for third party-plugins
  • Has support at http://en.support.wordpress.com/. Note: there are different Support sites for WordPress.com and WordPress.org sites.

I recommend WordPress.com to:

  • New bloggers or people who have only dabbled in blogging. The system is easy to use, it’s free, and if you change your mind about your blog’s focus, you can easily create a new blog under that same account. It also makes for a good introduction to WordPress.org blogs because the two function the same way.
  • Anyone who is “testing out” blogging.
  • Small companies and organizations that need a blog but don’t have the resources (time, people, or money) to manage a custom install blog.
  • Small companies and organizations that need a Web site with a full content management systems, but don’t have the resources to build a custom site. There are several tweaks that can be made to a WordPress.com blog that can make it run as a “regular” Web site.
  • Teachers/professors that want to teach blogging to their students. It’s an easy to use fully functioning blogging system.

WordPress.org

WordPress.org logo

  • Free WordPress.org code download. The download includes everything you need to get a new blog running if the server is properly configured. WordPress.org boasts of having a 5-minute install but it will take longer the first time.
  • Allows for one blog per install. However the highly anticipated WordPress 3.0 release will allow for the creation of multi-site blog networks.
  • Allows site owners to add plugins and code that contain JavaScript. WordPress.org runs on your site domain, so you can put any kind of code you want on it. There are thousands of free plugins to help customize your blog.
  • Requires frequent updates to patch up new security holes and new builds.
  • Can use thousands of different free and premium themes as well as custom-designed themes.
  • Allows you to run any kind of Analytics program you like, including Google Analytics.
  • WordPress.org blogs are open-source.
  • Has its own Support site: http://wordpress.org/support/.

I recommend WordPress.org to:

  • People, companies, and organizations that want to leverage the full force behind blogging and have the resources and willingness to learn a full-bodied blogging system.
  • Individuals that want to build a personal brand.
  • Techie tinkerers. There are a million and one things you can do with a WordPress blog.
  • Anyone who wants to couple ecommerce and blogging.

So which is right for you, a WordPress.com or WordPress.org blog setup? Still not sure? Drop a comment or tweet me up on Twitter at @jesseluna.

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2 Responses to The Difference Between WordPress.com and WordPress.org Blogs

  1. Jrhorrell says:

    Hi Jesse,

    I currently have a wordrpress.com blog. If at a future date, I choose to create a wordpress.org blog, would it be possible to transfer my posts, comments, etc., to my wordpress.org blog?

    In addition, I have some other questions for you but in order for them to make sense, you probably should visit my blog first. The url to my blog is http://www.jimhorrell.wordpress.com/

    Thank you,

    Jim Horrell

  2. jesseluna says:

    This WordPress.org info page should help with importing issues: http://codex.wordpress.org/Importing_Content. Basically, there’s an import tool under Tools > Import that allows you to import from WordPress.com.

    I did an import from TypePad to WordPress and had some issues with image references. I don’t think there will be issues going from WordPress.com to WordPress.org but haven’t tried it.

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