You probably have stumbled upon hundreds of articles comparing self-hosted WordPress.org and WordPress.com. Their opinions about the two are a bit different. However, one thing everyone seems to agree on is that “Don’t use WordPress.com because of its limitation. Self-hosted WordPress.org is way better to start a blog or a website on.”
However, is that really true?
Having experience using both types of website building, we think everyone is wrong about WordPress.com and gives it a rather bad reputation.
In this post, we’re going to explain why we say self-hosted WordPress.org is NOT better than WordPress.com. In fact, we think WordPress.com can be a more suitable choice for beginners when starting a blog or a website compared to using self-hosted WordPress.org.
Self-hosted WordPress.org and WordPress.com: A brief introduction
Before diving deep into this post’s main topic, it’s best to understand a little bit more about WordPress.org and WordPress.com.
WordPress.org is the home for the WordPress software – a free content management system (CMS) that helps you quickly create and manage sites’ content. Because it’s only a tool to assist you in building websites and blogs, you still need web hosting services to host the content. In that way, people can find and access it. Hence, the term self-hosted WordPress.org is coined.
On the contrary, WordPress.com is a hosting service and website creator built on the WordPress core. It means if you register for WordPress.com, you don’t have to find web hosting services yourself. Therefore, sometimes, people call it hosted WordPress.org.
Using self-hosted WordPress.org and WordPress.com introduces slightly different levels of controls, advantages, and disadvantages over the management and customization of a website.
However, we won’t go into details about that here. They’re for a different post.
Now, let’s go through the benefits of using WordPress.com over WordPress.org and why we think it might be better for beginners to go with WordPress.com.
The benefits of using WordPress.com over self-hosted WordPress.org
There are a bunch of built-in features and benefits WordPress.com provides that a self-hosted WordPress.org site doesn’t have out of the box.
Let’s see what they are!
With WordPress.com, you don’t have to find and set up a web hosting service yourself unlike in the case of self-hosted WordPress.org.
WordPress.com takes care of all the heavy lifting to help you start building your blog and website in the fastest and easiest way.
Free to use forever
You can start a completely free blog or website on WordPress.com with its custom domain name extension.
This allows you to test out the power of WordPress freely without having to pay in advance for a web hosting service.
Alternative To Google Ads: WordAds
In case you didn’t know, to be able to display Google ads to make money from your blog or website, it has to go through a strict review process to determine if it has enough content and doesn’t violate any advertising rules.
For example, we got rejected by the Google Ads program once because we only had 10 blog posts at the time of applying.
Using WordPress.com Premium, you automatically got accepted to the WordAds program, a high-quality advertising optimization platform for WordPress sites. It means you can instantly display ads right from the get-go.
Additionally, WordPress.com makes it super easy to show WordAds advertisements on your site with just a few clicks – no coding or third-party plugin required!
Unlimited Premium Themes
If you upgrade to a WordPress.com premium plan or higher, you get access to an unlimited number of powerful, flexible, highly-customizable premium themes at no extra cost.
Google My Business
Google My Business is a service for businesses to manage their online presence across Google, including Search and Maps. It helps people find and understand your business and improve your exposure on the internet.
Using WordPress.com, you can quickly connect it to the service to view stats and other useful information right from your site dashboard.
Collect Stripe And Paypal Payments
Upgrading to the WordPress.com personal plan gives you the ability to accept one-time or recurring payments through Stripe or Paypal for products, services, memberships, subscriptions, donations, etc.
This feature is usually not available by default for self-hosted WordPress.org sites unless they install third-party plugins like WooCommerce.
Accept donations and tips
You can easily set up a Donations Block on your WordPress.com site to accept donations, contributions, and tips for your hard work.
Subscriber Only Content
WordPress.com allows you to lock specific content on your site, so only people who subscribe to your monthly or yearly membership program can access it.
You might have to spend quite a bit of money if you use a plugin like Memberpress or RestrictContentPro to have this feature, which costs at least somewhere around $99/year to $149/year.
With Paid Newsletters, you can automatically share premium content you publish on your blog with paying subscribers through email.
Automated Backup And One-Click Rewind
Backup & Rewind is a WordPress.com Business feature that keeps a record of your site’s content automatically (pictures, texts, videos, plugins, etc.), allowing you to restore your website or blog to a specific point in time.
This is useful in case you make an editing mistake, or your site crashes for some reason.
You can get this feature for self-hosted WordPress.org websites at an additional cost. For example, BlueHost offers the CodeGuard-powered Automated Backup feature at $1,99/month.
Another feature that is available in the WordPress.com business plan is SEO Tools. It allows you to optimize your site for SEO with custom meta descriptions, custom title formats, social previews, etc.
Again, this feature can cost you somewhere around $1,99/month if you start a blog or website with self-hosted WordPress.org.
Built-in Site Stats
WordPress.com provides you with a powerful built-in stat page, showing you how many views and visitors your site gets, what posts and pages are the most popular, which links are clicked, which videos are played, which countries your audience comes from, and more.
Google Analytics And Site Verification
Google Analytics is an advanced web analytics platform developed by Google, complementing WordPress.com stats, and giving you in-depth insights into your visitors.
Adding Google Analytics to a WordPress.com site is simple and straightforward with a built-in tool and no coding skills required.
WordPress.com also has its own site verification and sitemap tools that allow you to automatically send your site to all major search engines for indexing.
These are features that are often not supported by self-hosted WordPress.org by default.
Advanced Social Media
WordPress.com’s Advanced Social Media features give you the ability to connect, schedule, and share your posts to many big social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Linkedln, and Tumblr.
There are also many other great advanced social tools WordPress.com offers out of the box, such as Instagram and Pinterest Embeds, Reblogs, Geotagging, Survey, Poll, Quiz, and more.
Although you can install third-party plugins to get similar features for your self-hosted WordPress.org site, they can be hard to manage, and you might have to pay additional fees to use them.
VideoPress is a lightweight, responsive, and highly-customizable video player included in WordPress.com and Jetpack paid plans. It allows you to host and embed fast, ad-free, unbranded videos on your blog and website with no additional charges for bandwidth usage and no caps on the number of video plays.
Free Email Forwarding
Upgrading to a WordPress.com paid plan allows you to access the Email Forwarding feature. It lets you use your custom domain in your email address, such as email@example.com, so your email address looks more professional. All mails sent to this custom email will be forwarded to another email address.
With a business plan, you can have up to 100 email forwards.
Many self-hosted WordPress.org hosting services also offer free custom email accounts using cPanel Webmail. However, they are sometimes buggy and take a little bit of time to set up correctly.
Free Photo Library
WordPress.com automatically integrates your site with a Pexels free photo library with over 40,000 copyright-free images.
This feature allows you to quickly find and add beautiful images to your blog posts and pages without ever leaving the editor and digging photos from other websites.
The biggest advantage of using WordPress.com is that you have access to its Reader, a very active feed aggregator that automatically brings every WordPress.com blog together in one place.
The Reader allows everyone to search, visit, like, share, and comment on a blog post directly from it.
Additionally, people can follow a site and start seeing its posts as well as getting notifications when a new one is published. It means your site automatically gets extra exposure if you use WordPress.com.
It’s worth noting that a self-hosted WordPress.org site can appear on the WordPress.com Reader. However, to achieve that, you must have a paid Jetpack plan.
Self-hosted WordPress.org and WordPress.com: The real price comparision
We have gone through all the benefits of using WordPress.com over self-hosted WordPress.org.
But, to access many above features, you have to subscribe to a WordPress.com paid plan, which starts from $4/month (billed annually). And if you want to access all, you might have to choose the Business one, which costs $25/month.
How about self-hosted WordPress.org?
For example, BlueHost is one of the most affordable hosting services out there, costing you a minimum of $5.95/month (billed annually). Then, most features we have mentioned can be obtained with a $19.95/month Security Daily JetPack plan. If you choose to pay for other individual third-party plugins, the cost can go up a whole lot more.
Therefore, in total, you might have to spend at least $25.9/month for your self-hosted WordPress.org site to have similar advanced features as a WordPress.com one.
As you can see, the costs between the two are more or less the same.
So, in the end, should you use WordPress.com or self-hosted WordPress.org?
The answer is it depends. If you are looking for a low-upfront-cost solution and extend the site functionality yourself later, you should go with self-hosted WordPress.org.
And if you want to start a blog or a website with full-fledged features in the quickest and easiest way, WordPress.com should be your go-to destination.
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