With so many blogging platforms out there, it can be hard to decide which one to use.
When lots of platforms claim to offer a ‘done for you’ service, why should you choose something with as many customisation features as WordPress.org?
As you might expect, all those options (which can seem kinda overwhelming and confusing at first glance) are also the biggest plus of WordPress.org as a blogging platform.
I go into detail in this post about why I prefer WordPress to other platforms like SquareSpace & Wix, so I won’t repeat myself here.
Affiliate disclosure: this post uses affiliate links. If you purchase products or services via an affiliate link I’ll get a small commission (which supports the running of this site) and it won’t cost you anything extra. I’ll specifically point out each affiliate link in the post. You can read my full policy here.
This post is part of my series on starting & building your food blog. Other posts in the series include:
- How to set up a food blog in WordPress (in just an afternoon)
- How to choose a name (and a domain) for your food blog
- How to pick (& set up) hosting for your food blog
- 10 Reasons to use WordPress.org for your Food Blog
- How to Install WordPress on your blog with SiteGround
- How to quickly set up a business email address (& use it in Gmail)
WordPress.org Vs WordPress.com
Just a note: when I refer to WordPress.com in this article, I’m referring to the free version. There
What’s the difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com?
WordPress.org and WordPress.com are both Content Management Systems – that it, platforms that allow you to manage the content on a site or blog.
Both WordPress.org and WordPress.com run on the open-source* WordPress software. So what’s the difference?
WordPress.com is the commercial arm of Automattic (the creators of WordPress). A site on WordPress.com uses the WordPress software, hosted and managed by WordPress.com.
A site ‘on’ WordPress.org, however, uses the WordPress software, installed & hosted on a server, and managed by the site owner.
In practical terms, bloggers, independents and small businesses will likely use a managed hosting provider (I recommend (affiliate) SiteGround for this).
This way, WordPress is installed, hosted and managed by your hosting provider – and you never need to touch a line of code.
The key difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org is how they are hosted and managed.
Being open-source means that the source code – the technical stuff that actually runs the WordPress software, is publicly accessible, so “anyone can inspect, modify, and enhance it”. It also means that is is “developed as a public collaboration” and, more importantly, “made freely available”. You might be worried about the security of something that anyone can access – don’t be -WordPress has “inherent security built directly into the software” – and you can also install plugins that add extra layers of security. Don’t let the thought of code put you off – as a normal WordPress.org user with (affiliate) managed hosting you likely won’t ever need to touch this.
What are the pro’s & cons of WordPress.org Vs WordPress.com?
More design control – you can add your own themes and plugins to get your site looking exactly the way you want it.
Some costs upfront, for hosting and domain name purchase. Can be very cheap to start.
You own all the content on your site, with no editorial restriction or terms of service guidelines set out by WordPress.
Unrestricted monetisation options, with the ability to install plugins for adverts, eCommerce etc.
You, not WordPress, are responsible for hosting & maintaining the site – and managing any issues that arise.
Limited customisation options – some themes and plugins are available on the paid versions, but not as many.
Free to start, though there are costs associated with premium options & custom domains.
You may not ‘own’ your content. Even on the paid version, you’re subject to editorial restrictions from WordPress.com’s ToS.
No monitisation on the free version & restricted monetisation options on all paid versions.
No responsibility for maintenance – WordPress manages all hosting and maintenance for you.
Why use WordPress.org instead of WordPress.com for your food blog?
The two biggest pros of using WordPress.com for your blog or site are
Using WordPress.com can be cheaper in the very beginning. It has a free version – where you can start a blog or site using a subdomain (ie. ‘yousite.wordpress.com’).
The truly free version of WordPress.com is highly restricted though, and can’t really be used for a professional site. The cost of even the cheapest paid plan on WordPress.com is comparable with the cost of managed hosting services like (affiliate) SiteGround – at the time of writing, the lowest-cost plans on both came in at under £3/month.
When you also factor in monetisation options available on WordPress.org, it can definitely work out cheaper in the long run.
Equally, if you’re building a blog or site to be part of your business (either as a revenue stream in itself or as part of digital & content marketing activities), cost shouldn’t necessarily be the deciding factor when picking a platform.
A small outlay upfront (for a professional domain name, reliable managed hosting and a modern theme) can pay huge dividends down the road.
It can seem, at first glance, that WordPress.com is easier to use than WordPress.org – because it has fewer options and extras available – the flipside to this, of course, is that there is far less scope for customisation.
As with considering the cost, looking purely the ‘ease of use’ in terms of getting a very basic site up and running online, shouldn’t be the sole criteria when weighing up your options.
WordPress.com sites, even on the highest paid tiers, significantly restrict your ability to customise. Or, to turn that on its’ head, WordPress.org has almost unlimited customisation options.
Between theme templates and thousands of trusted plugins, you can build on WordPress.org aligned perfectly with your branding and the look & feel you’re hoping to portray with your site – all without ever coding anything.
Have I persuaded you yet? WordPress.org is the way to go when building a professional blog or site. Use my affiliate link to get started with managed WordPress hosting on SiteGround today, or check out my complete guide to starting a food blog for a business.