WordPress.com vs WordPress.org self-hosted

WordPress is my life and my passion – I wouldn’t know what to do without it. I often recommend it, I often install it and I teach people about it.

One of the question I often get asked by beginners is “what’s the difference between WordPress.com and this self hosted thing”? Let me explain.


is a free for all hosted service with a good choice of Layouts (called Themes) and Plugins (those are sidebar widgets and little programmes to add functionality to your blog). You get 5GB of web space and don’t have to worry about finding a web host. You’ll be part of a big blogging community and can start with literally no knowledge of HTML & Co. However, this version is limited in what you can achieve with it.

Then there’s


which is the “software” you can install on a web server and expand to whatever you see fit. It works just like the free version, with the advantage that you can add as many Themes and Plugins to it as you like: turn your site into a shopping cart, use it as Framework to build a proper website, or amend the code to your heart’s content. It’s all open source. You’ll have to have your own webspace with MySQL database, a little knowledge about HTML and how to use an FTP client though.

I recommend signing up for a free account at WordPress.com first and play around with it to get a feel for the platform. You’ll have a URL like yourblog.wordpress.com, but you can add a proper domain (like yourblog.com) for a little bit extra if you want. If it does what you want it to, great! If you find the choice of Themes and Plugins a bit limited, or if you’re looking for a special function you want on your new site, you can always import your posts and pages into a self-hosted version of WordPress later.

The main advantage of a self hosted WordPress over the free version is that you have unlimited control of how your website looks and what it does. Any functionality you can think of, someone’s written a plugin for it. There are hundreds of thousands of designs available, and if you’re comfortable hacking code, you can even build your own Themes and Plugins.

Why would I pay for something that I could get for free?

WordPress.com has a few limitations that you’ll probably find very annoying when your site takes off or if you’re serious about your website as part of a business. Ask yourself this:

  • Do I need an ecommerce site for selling products?
  • Do I want a unique photo blog?
  • Do I want to display advertising?
  • Do I want to use a particular plugin I’ve seen?
  • Do I want to use premium themes for fully customised layouts?

In that case, self-hosted is for you.

At WP Hosting we offer competitive WordPress packages ready to go: You get the latest version pre-installed on our servers and automatic core upgrades too. You can use a domain you already own, or we can register one for you.

Plenty of tutorials on how to get started are on WordPress.com, and they even have some cool video tutorials about every aspect of the platform on WordPress.tv.

Can I move my blog from WordPress.com to a self-hosted package?

Within reason yes. Your content can be exported to an XML file which you can import to your self-hosted version. This will include all your posts and pages as well as comments – however sidebar content, links and custom menus will not be ported and will have to be re-built from scratch.

If you’ve come to love a particular theme on WordPress.com and would like to use it on your self-hosted site do a search for said theme and see if you can download it somewhere. Usually though customers are happy to give their site a visual overhaul to mark the occasion.

At WP Hosting we do all the hard work for you: sign up for one of our packages and you’ll get the self-hosted (unlimited) version of WordPress pre-installed and ready to use.

Happy Blogging ;-)