When you are first introduced to WordPress you will have a major decision to make right off the bat. You will have to choose between WordPress.com or a self-hosted version of WordPress (from WordPress.org). While both versions are very similar, there are a couple of major differences that you should consider before you make your choice:
1. The most major difference between .com and self hosted is how hosting is handled. .Com will provide you with WordPress, a domain name and hosting for free. It is an all in one website solution. The self hosted version of WordPress requires that you provide your own hosting and domain name.
Hosting can be found for about $10 a month, and a domain name waill cost you about $11 for the year. Now, the decision between a paid option or a free one seems like a no-brainer, but there are a couple more things to consider…
2. Plugins : Another major difference are the use of plugins. WordPress.com actually doesn’t include plugin capability. With self hosted you can use whatever plugins you please. This can be a major decision, because there are
very powerful plugins out there, and some sites may need to use them. On the flip side, WordPress.com does include a suite of features that mimic some of the most popular plugins.
3. Themes : With WordPRess.com you are limited to the free themes that exist in the WordPress repository. You also can’t modify the CSS or other coding yourself. A self hosted WordPress blog features full theme support. You have the same themes as WordPress.com but you are also free to explore the paid/premium theme market. On top of that, you can edit the code of your theme to further customize the look and feel of your site.
4. Monetization : With a self hosted blog you can sell as many ads as you want on your site. There is no limit and you keep 100% of what you earn. WordPress.com does not allow ads on sites unless you have 25 000 page views/month. You then have to apply to use ads and you split all revenue with WordPress.com 50/50.
5. Maintenance : With a self hosted blog you are in control of all of your own maintenance. This means that you have to keep your site secure and backed up yourself. You also have to update themes and WordPress versions when
prompted. With WordPress.com many of these up keeping type duties are automatically handled for you behind the scenes.
There is a lot to consider when you choose WordPress.com vs. a self hosted WordPress installation. It really all comes down to personal preference. If you want a free, no hassle solution with limited flexibility (but still powerful) then WordPress.com might be a great choice.
If you are looking for maximum flexibility, power and revenue potential then a self hosted installation is the only way to go. Now that you have read this article you know the major considerations, you have to think about. Weigh your options and make a choice! best of luck on your WordPress journey.