If you are not interested in paying for your own hosting, managing your own web server or paying someone else to handle that for you, you will probably want to use WordPress.com. It is free and easy to set up. You will also have a number of options for customizing your website.
One disadvantage of using WordPress.com for free is that your domain name will, by default, include “WordPress.com” in the name. You also cannot upload any custom themes or plugins. Finally, you cannot modify the PHP code behind your site.
While WordPress.com has a free option for set up, it also offers several premium upgrades (paid options) including domain name registration (if you do not want WordPress.com in your domain name), the ability to upload videos, and usage of their premium themes.
Using the downloaded (free) version of WordPress from WordPress.org opens up more control and flexibility for your WordPress site. It also means more responsibility. Although the software is free to download, you do have to have a domain name and hosting account both of which have a cost associated.
Using a self-hosted version of WordPress means you can use your own domain name, upload and install themes and plugins, edit the code behind your site and have access to your site’s database (or files). Most of the showcase sites you see on the WordPress site are the self-hosted version of WordPress, since many of them have unique functionality or a custom-made design.
Both WordPress.com and WordPress.org have pros and cons, depending on your needs.
- have to place your site under a subdomain
- cannot remove WordPress.com’s ads and branding
- limited disk space of 3GB
- cannot monetize your blog or website
- cannot install plugins or any themes that are not available on the platform by default
- change to commercial/ paid: cost is $8/mo hosting + $15/yr for a domain name = $111/yr
- have your own registered domain name
- host your website and have full control over it
- able to customize how your site looks and functions
- free to monetize your website as desired
- usually almost unlimited disk space and bandwidth
- cost is usually around $2.95/mo for hosting + $15/yr for a domain name = $50/yr
If you just want to get your toes wet, so to speak and try out WordPress for free, by all means check out Wordpress.com. Those that are ready to jump in with both feet should consider following my advice and get your own domain name and hosting plan. The WordPress software is free and in the long run, not only will you learn more, but it will be more cost effective. You will be in control of your content.
Those that are ready to get started, please check out what I recommend regarding picking a domain name.