There’s a lot of confusion out there surrounding WordPress, what exactly it is and the proper way to set up your website.
Many bloggers sign up with WordPress.com simply because that’s what they found first and they make it very simple to sign up (even for free).
Simply put: WordPress itself is a free open-source software that allows people to publish content and build websites.
- WordPress.com is a hosted platform that makes use of the WordPress software.
- Self-hosted (or WordPress.org) refers to purchasing your own hosting and then installing the WordPress software.
What is WordPress.com
WordPress.com is similar to SquareSpace or even Wix. They take care of all the technical stuff and all you really have to do is build your website with the tools they provide.
As long as you have a WordPress.com account you can go in and create a new website. It’s that easy! But on the free version and even some of the premium plans you’re going to have a lot of limitations.
You’ll only be able to use certain themes and plugins and you won’t be able to monetize your website. You can’t add scripts for email marketing tools and you will have a limited amount of space to use.
They also place ads on your site if you’re using the free plan.
However, you can get more freedom by upgrading to one of the higher paid plans. For example, just to be able to monetize your site you will be paying WordPress.com $8/mo. At that price you might as well go with Siteground hosting.
The ability to upload your own plugins and themes at WordPress.com will set you back a whopping $25 per month!
That’s nearly the same price as Kinsta’s managed hosting, which is one of the fastest and highest quality hosting companies.
For some bloggers or business owners who want to get started right away or just want to use a free platform, WordPress.com is a fine choice.
But if building an income from your website or having access to all the tools you need is important, you’re better off going with self-hosting from the start.
What is WordPress.org, or self-hosted?
WordPress.org refers to the open-source software that you download and then install on your hosting.
If you don’t know what web hosting is it’s the place that houses all your website files and technology.
There are many different ways to build a website once you obtain hosting but WordPress is the most popular.
While you do have to pay a monthly or annual fee for website hosting, the WordPress software is always free.
Finding the right web hosting company for your needs and price range can be a daunting task.
There’s a lot of misinformation out there that can entice you into going with a bad company.
You’re in luck though because I have tons of experience working with different web hosts over the years. Check out this detailed guide about choosing the best web host for your needs.
If you’re looking for the cheapest option available or need something where you can pay by the month, I recommend Namecheap shared hosting or EasyWP by Namecheap. You will need a Namecheap domain to use EasyWP though.
But my #1 recommendation for hosting is Siteground. The support is great, they’re easy to use and help you manage your WordPress install, and it’s pretty affordable when you first sign up.
While you can download WordPress directly from the .org site, it’s much easier to do so through your hosting.
Check out this tutorial on how to install WordPress in just a few minutes to get your site started. That guide uses Siteground and there’s a video tutorial using Namecheap, but the process is typically similar for most hosts.
For example, if you just Google “your host name install WordPress” you can find a guide from your host!
If you’re familiar with WordPress.com then you’ll notice that the interface is a lot different and you have full access to everything WordPress can do, like install themes and plugins and add any scripts and ads you want.
Can you move from WordPress.com to WordPress.org?
Yes! Whether you already signed up for WordPress.com because you didn’t know or you already have an established site it’s never too late to move.
Most hosts will be able to migrate your content over for you but it’s very easy to export your posts and pages from your old WordPress.com site onto your new self-hosted website.
Your theme, widgets, and any plugins won’t be able to be copied but you can always just reinstall them. My guess is you’ll want to use a new theme since you’ll have access to way more options!
Do you still have questions about the different WordPress options? Let me know in the comments below!
Want to learn more about WordPress? Join the Free WordPress Course for Beginners!