If you’re just starting your food blog (or even if you’ve been at it for a while!) you may be confused between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. What’s the difference between the two? To help answer these burning questions, we’ll cover the pros and cons of each platform to help you pick the best one for your needs.

WordPress.org

WordPress.org (AKA self-hosted WordPress) is the most popular content management platform on the web. In fact, WordPress powers 40% of all websites on the internet. As you can see, it’s the top choice for many many website owners and for good reason. WordPress.org is 100% open source software and it’s free for anyone to use. It’s also incredibly flexible and allows for endless customizations. All you need to get started with WordPress.org is a domain name and web hosting.

The Pros

  • Complete control. You have full control of your website. You can do anything you want with your site and customize it as you please.
  • You also get to use your own domain name without “wordpress.com” attached to the end of it. There’s nothing better than your own domain name!
List of wordpress.org features

Source: WordPress.org

  • Flexibility and customization. WordPress.org offers users a lot of flexibility when it comes to customizing their sites. You can install any number of free or premium themes and plugins (i.e. Tasty Pins, Tasty Recipes, and Tasty Links), as well as add your own custom code, to change how your website looks and works. There is no limit to what you can do with your site.

An example of the thousands of plugins available to WordPress.org users

  • Monetization. If you plan to have a monetizable food blog this is a big one! WordPress.org allows you to run ads, and place affiliate links, on your site without having to share the revenue with your hosting platform.
  • Tracking and scripts. You can install scripts for things like Google Analytics with no limitations.

The Cons

  • Domain name and hosting. When you use WordPress.org you’re on your own with your domain name and hosting. Depending on who you decide to host with, this expense can add up.
  • Technical. WordPress.org requires a bit more technical prowess than WordPress.com. Because WordPress.org does allow for more customization, site maintenance can get a little more complicated. While not necessary, it does help to know some basic coding and web knowledge.
  • File backups and updates. You are responsible for making sure your site is backed up and your plugins and themes are kept up to date. This isn’t complicated, but it is one more thing to add to your to-do list.
  • No live support. WordPress.org doesn’t provide live support, so you have to work with your hosting company or reach out to the community forum if you ever need help.

WordPress.com

WordPress.com is a freemium website hosting service that was created by Matt Mullenweg, the co-founder of WordPress.org. Because the two have the same founder, users often confuse WordPress.com and WordPress.org.

The Pros

  • Free to use. WordPress.com provides a free subdomain and hosts your site for free for up to 3 GB of space. Once you reach that space limit you will have to upgrade your plan to increase your storage amount.
  • Ease of use. WordPress.com is incredibly easy to use. Everything you need is laid out for you. You don’t have to worry about hosting, updates, backups, security, etc. WordPress.com literally takes care of everything for you.
  • 24/7 support. Support is available 24/7 through email and community forums. And if you have a paid plan, you can chat with their support for real-time assistance.

The Cons

  • Ad placements. WordPress.com places ads on all free websites, but the catch is that you don’t make money off of these ads. If you don’t want your users to see these ads, you’ll have to upgrade to a paid plan.
  • No monetization. You are not allowed to sell ads on your website or use ad networks like Mediavine, AdThrive, Google AdSense, etc. However, you can apply for the WordAds program, but any revenue generated is shared with WordPress. In addition, you cannot add affiliate links to your site if you are using the free plan.
  • Limited customizations. You can’t upload any custom themes. Instead, you are limited to a selection of free and premium themes that are available. Free plan users aren’t able to install any plugins, but paid users can install from a selection of compatible plugins.
  • Branded domain. Free WordPress.com sites come with a WordPress.com branded domain (i.e. https://yourblog.wordpress.com.) You’ll have to upgrade to a paid plan if you want to remove this branded domain.
  • No tracking scripts. You can’t install tracking scripts like Google Analytics. Instead, you are limited to the stats WordPress.com generates for you.

Which Should You Choose?

In the end, WordPress.org is the best option for the majority of food bloggers. The added ability to install plugins, themes, and make customizations makes it a far better option than WordPress.com.

On the other hand, if you are just looking to start a casual hobby blog, and don’t plan to generate revenue from your site, WordPress.com is still a good option.

Looking to migrate from WordPress.com to WordPress.org? This is a great resource for you to check out!