WordPress websites currently account for 40% of the internet, making it the most popular method of building websites in 2021. To run a WordPress website, you need three things - the WordPress software, your website content, and WordPress hosting, which provides the storage for all the code.
While WordPress offers web hosting directly on the WordPress.com website, this is not necessarily the best option as you are limited in what you can do with your website.
WordPress.com vs. WordPress.Org
- You may have noticed that there is WordPress.com and WordPress.org. What is the difference between the two? Which one should you use? Let us start with a basic overview.
- WordPress provides hosting for websites created directly through the WordPress.com website. Matt Mullenweg, the co-founder of WordPress, developed this for-profit service. You design and launch your personal website directly on the WordPress.com website.
- WordPress.org provides open source software (free) that you use on your personal web hosting. It is sometimes referred to as self-hosted WordPress because you need your own web hosting and domain name. When you hear the word "WordPress", it means this open source software.
- WordPress uses a custom version of the software provided by WordPress.org, so there are limitations. The full power of WordPress can only be used with your own WordPress hosting.
Does WordPress offer hosting?
Yes, WordPress offers hosting on WordPress.com and has both free and paid plans on offer. If you host directly on WordPress.com, there are no upfront costs and you do not have to purchase a separate domain name. WordPress is automatically installed for you and kept up-to-date.
However, there are limitations even with the paid plans, so you can quickly outgrow WordPress.com. The tools, plugins and themes you have access to are limited to those built into WordPress.com, not the entire catalog available directly from WordPress.org.
- Restrictions of free websites hosted on WordPress.com.
- Custom domain names cannot be used, and you are limited to one subdomain.
- Themes and plugins cannot be installed, and the themes provided cannot be customized with CSS.
- Users will see ads on your site's home page and you will not make money from them, nor can you add your own ads.
- WordPress branding in the footer cannot be removed.
- Limited SEO and analytics tools for the website.
- No options for backing up the website.
- Limitations of websites hosted on WordPress.com.
- The tools, plugins and themes you have access to are limited to those built into WordPress.com, not the entire catalog available directly from WordPress.org.
- The costs can be higher than with traditional web hosting.
To use WordPress.com professionally, you must purchase at least the $50 annual package so you can use a custom domain name and remove advertising from your site. Domain names can be registered through many different companies, but if needed, you can register a domain name directly with WordPress.com when you create your account.
The next level is Premium for $96 per year. It mainly offers backups, Google Analytics integration, the ability to add custom CSS and run your own ads to monetize the site. However, you will have to share the generated revenue with WordPress.com.
- The $300 per year business plan allows you to install compatible themes or plugins. Besides, you can remove the WordPress footer link and get SEO tools.
- To create an online store, you need the eCommerce plan for $540 per year. There are also VIP plans for enterprise-level websites, though they start at just over $20,000 per year.
Themes and Plugins
- There are about 100 free themes to choose from and another 80 that can be purchased individually. All of these themes are designed specifically for use on WordPress.com and are not the same as those available for self-hosted WordPress sites. Note that these themes cannot be customized with CSS unless you have a premium plan.
- While the core WordPress package includes the basic features to get a site up and running, most users will need additional features provided only by plugins. Starting with the Business plan, you can install certain plugins, otherwise you are limited to the features provided by WordPress.com.
- Some basic Jetpack features are available on WordPress.com sites, including the ability to add contact forms, surveys, and reviews. It also creates a log of site activity, such as when pages/posts are published or modified and when a new theme is activated.
- It is important to know that not all themes and plugins work on WordPress.com hosted websites. Be sure to check with the developers if you want to use a particular theme or plugin.
Should I host on WordPress?
If the above limitations do not prevent you from achieving your website goals, hosting at WordPress.com may be suitable for you.