Explaining the Different Types of WordPress

WordPress.org, WordPress.com, Self-hosted WordPress, Bluehost, Siteground. I don’t know what to pick, I’m confused!!!

New Blogger

The question was posed by a new blogger in one of the Blogging Facebook Groups I frequent. It’s actually a variation of question that crops up quite regularly.

The purpose of this blog post is to explain the basic differences and terminology used for the benefit of newbies rather than a lengthy ramble.


WordPress – What is it?

WordPress is open-source software. The software is free. It is used to manage websites, including blogs.


What is WordPress.org?

WordPress.org is the website where you get the WordPress software from. It is also the home of the documentation, themes and plugins.

Now, unless you want to download and run the software locally on your own machine, you’ll need to find web hosting. Web hosting provides the space where your WordPress installation is stored.

Setting up WordPress in this way is known as Self-hosted WordPress. If it sounds difficult, it isn’t. Read on.


Self-Hosted WordPress

The good news is many web hosts such as Siteground, Bluehost, Dreamhost and Cloudways include features where WordPress can be installed on their web space without any technical knowledge.

You won’t need to physically get the software and then install it. The web host has it already and make it easy for you to install in a couple of clicks.

What do you pay for with Self-Hosted WordPress?

With Self-Hosted WordPress, the software is free and you just pay for the web hosting and a domain name (web address).

Full Control

Self-Hosted WordPress gives you full control and allows you to extend the functionality of your blog with plugins and change the design using themes.


So, what is WordPress.com?

WordPress.com is a platform owned and operated by Automattic.

You can set up a free account which includes a locked-down version of WordPress already installed.

You’ll get to choose a subdomain name (web address) but it will be something like yoursitename.wordpresss.com (subject to availability).

With the locked-down version of WordPress – you can’t just upload any theme or plugin and you have limited options on what you can modify.

You can unlock features by paying extra. i.e. You can upgrade your free plan to paid plans and unlock some of the functionality, allowing you greater control.

You can pay to have a custom domain, pay for the ability to customize the design to a greater extent, pay to be able to install plugins.

So, in effect – you have a tightly controlled free option (WordPress.com) with paid upgrades OR a paid option (Self-hosted WordPress – where you pay for hosting to run free open source software) with far greater control.

I’d recommend the Self-hosted option – you have far more control over your site. Personally, I’d recommend SiteGround or Cloudways as the web host.

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