WordPress.com is an incredible service for non-technical folks to create a website quickly, but there may come a time when you outgrow what it offers. In this post I’d like to share exactly how to know when it’s time for you to move from WordPress.com to WordPress.org.
Wait, there’s a difference?
If you’re scratching your head right now and wondering why I’m talking about WordPress.com vs WordPress.org, it’s because there are two ways you can work with WordPress. First, there’s the fully-hosted WordPress.com. Second, there’s the self-hosted version whose software is available for free at WordPress.org.
The distinction may sound strange at first, but based on your goals, you’ll likely have a preference for one or the other.
WordPress.com is an excellent option if you want to get your website or blog online quickly, you don’t require custom web development, and you’re happiest if you never have to look at a line of code.
It’s also completely free (although there are some paid upgrades available).
Here’s the intro video for my WordPress.com Essential Training course. If you think WordPress.com is for you, check it out. 🙂
WordPress.org is great for those who need fully custom websites and like complete control over the design and code base. This option also gives you the freedom to work with the web host whose services best fit your needs (here are my web hosting recommendations).
While the software is free, the cost of custom design, development, and web hosting services can be costly.
In short, WordPress.com is limited, but it’s simpler and more cost-effective. WordPress.org offers total freedom of use, but it comes with greater responsibility and cost.
3 ways you can know if it’s time to move on
As awesome as WordPress.com is, it’s possible that your needs can outgrow the service. While WordPress.com is free and there are some paid upgrades available, these basic truths apply:
With WordPress.com you have:
- Limited theme options
- No plugins (Update: As of August 2017 WordPress.com now allows for plugins)
- Limited storage on the free plan
- Pay to remove ads
- Very little technical control, if any
With WordPress.org you get:
- Full theme customization
- All plugins allowed
- Storage is only limited to what’s provided by your host
- Run your own ads (or use affiliate programs)
- Full control over your database and theme files
The reality is that for many (many!) people, the limitations of WordPress.com don’t bother them. In fact, those limitations could be seen as benefits for those who want a more streamlined experience without the hassle of technical details.
That said, how do you know when it’s time to move on? Ask yourself these questions:
Are you frustrated with the lack of customization options? In other words, have there been times when you’ve said, I wish my site could do this or I wish my site could do that? If so, just ask yourself how critical it is to your business that your website have those capabilities? If it’s very important, it’s time to move on.
2. E-Commerce & Membership
Do you want to sell things on your site or maybe build a membership site? You can’t do either of those things with WordPress.com, but you can create highly customize e-commerce and/or membership sites with WordPress.org.
What about monetization options? Do you want to run an Adwords campaign or participate in affiliate networks without restriction? There are guidelines that dictate the use of these things on WordPress.com and if you’ve found yourself hitting up against a wall there, maybe it’s time to move on.
How to move from WordPress.com to WordPress.org
Should you decide that moving to WordPress.org is right for you, here are instructions to guide you.
Also, there are many professionals (like me!) who make their living creating custom WordPress.org websites and one of them could also help you with the transition.
At the end of the day, both WordPress.com and WordPress.org are amazing tools that put the power of self-publishing into the hands of millions of users and that’s an incredible thing.