Guest blogged by Nick Harrison
This is actually a question I get asked constantly, and WordPress doesn’t communicate it very well to a new blogger. The difference boils down to control versus limitations. That control, however, means more cost and more work.
WordPress.com: WordPress.com is a free hosting solution. When you go on WordPress.com and create a blog account, you are able to access their software that is already installed and create your very own blog. You have different blog themes to choose from and almost anyone is able to create a blog using their very simple user interface. Literally, within minutes, you can be online with your very own blog at username.wordpress.com.
Now for the bad part of WordPress.com. You are limited. As in, you cannot install your own plug-ins or change anything. You are under complete WordPress control. You can’t change or have someone change any of the coding either. You are in a box limited to that WordPress theme environment and a list of widgets. You are powerless like the people in Matrix controlled by machines who think you are just a battery.
WordPress.org: WordPress.org is a do-it-yourself platform. How it works is you get your own hosting account (about $10 per month – i.e. GoDaddy, Verio, Blue Host) and purchase a domain name (about $10 per year) and install the WordPress software on their server. It sounds complicated, but it is very easy and WordPress has plenty of documentation on how to do it.
By installing WordPresson a server yourself, you are privy to the true power of WordPress,, which is a full-fledged CMS (content management system), meaning you can even build an entire Web site using it. But for the newbie blogger, it means you can use any theme you want and download any plug-in you want. You have complete control.
Because the WordPress software is independently hosted on your own account, if WordPress went out of business tomorrow, your site would still work fine. You can have your own newsletters, Tweetmeme buttons, and any plug-in that is out there; most are very easy to install, which you can do by clicking a few buttons.
You can always start with WordPress.com and move your way to a self-hosted solution such as WordPress.org. All of your content and comments are easily transferable. But if you haven’t yet chosen a platform, go ahead and start with WordPress.org.