What’s the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org?

Why are there two different WordPress sites?

It has always seemed unnecessarily complicated to me. But there it is, there are two of them. They do different things and it helps to understand what those are, especially if you want to set up your own site using WordPress.

In the simplest of terms:

WordPress is software (a content management system) that you can use to publish things to the web.

WordPress.COM is where you can get a blog or website (or a website which includes a blog), with no fuss and no need to understand code or web design or hosting. Your site’s home is with them.

WordPress.ORG offers you the actual software. You get a blog or a website, and it lives wherever you want it to live. That means more work on your part.

WordPress.ORG explains it like this:

WordPress is the free, open source web publishing software project, owned by no one individual or company. WordPress.com is a hosted blogging service run by a company called Automattic.

WordPress (sometimes called “WordPress.org”) is software that you can download and install on any web host.

WordPress.com (a.k.a. “wpcom” or “WP.com”) is a for-profit hosted blogging service run by Automattic.

That’s still probably not very clear – and I think that’s because many people don’t really understand the concept of hosting. And how does a host differ from an internet service provider, anyway?

Let’s look at hosting step by step:

Picture it (as Sophie Petrillo in Golden Girls used to say):

You are at a computer (or phone or laptop or smart TV) and you are looking at a website – this one, for example.

How are you seeing that website? It is being delivered to you by an internet service provider, which in South Africa could be Telkom or MWeb, for example, or a cellphone company, either over actual cables, or via wireless technology.

But where is the website? It is lives on the big computers of a hosting company, which provides a space for the site’s files and makes sure it is viewable on the web.

Got all that? Back to WordPress.

WordPress.com gives you the ability to have a website/blog without worrying about the hosting part of things. They do the hosting. Your URL (web address) might look like this though: www.craftgroup.wordpress.co.za. That’s good for your family genealogy site, or your craft group, or your church youth group. You can do this yourself because setting up a site on WordPress.com happens on the site, in a step-by-step process.

If you are running a business, though, you might want something more professional: a URL that says www.yourbusiness.co.za. To get that you’re going to have to register your URL and find a hosting company, and then find a way to get your blog/site into the innards of that company. The software from WordPress.org that runs your site will sit with whatever host you have chosen. It is usually easier to pay a professional to sort this out for you.

What happens then?

Whether you have your site on WordPress.com, or on hosted by another company, you will use the WordPress publishing program to make changes to your website.

If you are a non-technical person this is probably already more information that you need. In that case, start here:

  1. Do you want a simple blog for personal use, and are happy for the web address to have the word WordPress in it? Then head to WordPress .com.
  2. Do you want a website for a business or any other professional purpose? Then head to WordPress.org – or hire someone who can help you through this process.

Contact me if you would like to chat about how I can help with all your organisational or communication needs (coaching, editing, writing, social media) – or if you would like a little WordPress coaching.

Main photo by Stephen Phillips – Hostreviews.co.uk on Unsplash

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