What do you mean there is more than one WordPress? Surely WordPress is just… well, WordPress. Right? Ummm yes, and no.
Ok, so that answer is probably confusing an already confusing situation so let us start from the beginning, after all, it’s a very good place to start.
WordPress is what is known as an open-source website building software that sprung into public in 2003 – that’s right, it is older than Twitter and Facebook! Being open source means that anyone can use the software, use any or all the code that makes up the software and can do so free of any charges or licensing. I know, amazing right!
WordPress powers 37.8 % of the entire internet, that’s over 75 million websites within the whole world wide web! With tens of thousands of new websites being built, using WordPress, every single day. Its safe to say that WordPress is amongst the most popular of all website builders out there in the digital world today.
So how come something so awesome and so popular is also free? Well, WordPress is not actually owned by any company. It is run and developed by volunteer developers from all over the world – we love an awesome collaboration!
So why and how is there more than one WordPress? Ok, so let’s dig a little deeper into the details to find a little clarity on the wonder that is WordPress.
The One and Only – WordPress
You see there is only one WordPress, and this one word is used to refer to that one-and-only, all-powerful, open-sourced greatness. WordPress is entity so great in its digital sorcery, that like other greats of our universe – Ghandi, Cher, Adele! – it is known around the world by its one true name, the one and only, WordPress.
So WordPress.org is the same as WordPress?
WordPress.org is a nickname often given to the free and awesome WordPress, and it is the web URL where you will find this web-building-great residing. It is also where you will find all the info you need about the software, the many plugins that collaborate with WordPress and how to get involved with the WordPress Community.
.Org is a web handle usually used by non-profit, socially focused organisations such as charities and voluntary groups. So when you think WordPress.org, think about that warm, friendly and welcoming place where that non-profit, open-source WordPress and its WordPress family and friends like to hang out.
Ok, so what about WordPress.com?
WordPress.com is a completely different entity. It’s the for-profit company owned by a company called Automattic which in turn is owned and run by WordPress’ original founder. WordPress the awesome free software was launched in 2003, where as wordpress.com was launched in 2005.
As you’d expect, wordpress.com uses the WordPress software in its services, but its main draw is that it can also host a blogging website that you can then create using WordPress. This means that, if you want to have a blogging website, instead of finding your own hosting, you can sign up for a wordpress.com account and start building your hosted website straight away.
So when you see the .Com, think ‘company’, as in the for-profit company that has the same founder as the original WordPress.
But wait! Before jumping into the wonderful world of WordPress, lets look at the pros and cons of using the WordPress software for a website you’re hosting elsewhere, and a website built and hosted at wordpress.com
- Its Free! – I mean, who doesn’t love free?!
- Self-hosting (Hosting is that little place in the internet universe where your website will live) – this means you can find the best hosting deal for you!
- A whole range of WordPress themes to choose from, to really personalise your website – with more being added by creative people all over the world, every day!
- Soooooo many different plugins to customise your website to do exactly what you need it to do. Whether you’re after a blog, an online shop, membership site or more, there is likely a WordPress plugin that will help you make it.
- You can do whatever you want with your own site! – so if you want to sell advertising space to other businesses or feature affiliate links so you can build that passive income and monetize your blog/site, go ahead!
- Analytics – You can add tracking and analysing tools such as Google Analytics, with no restrictions.
- You must purchase your website hosting and your website domain yourself. Look around, as some hosting providers can also provide you with your domain name too so you can bundle these purchases together into one payment.
- You must ‘set up’ WordPress, to start building your site. Again, check with your Hosting provider as they often provide a one-click solution to this, or can sometimes do it for you. If not, there are loads of helpful tutorials on the web and in the WordPress community at wordpress.org
- You must make sure that you take the steps to keeping your website secure, including obtaining a security certificate (so Google knows your site is safe) and making sure you have a backup copy of your site, just in case. Again, speak to your hosting provider as this maybe a service they can help you with and as always, there are plugins and tutorials that can help you out too.
- There is a free, limited option that will allow you to create a basic site for free. Any extra features that you want can be obtained by upgrading to one of WordPress.com’s paid packages.
- com allows you to choose a sub-URL so you don’t necessarily need to buy your own full domain name.
- You don’t need to organise a security certificate or back up site as WordPress.com does this for you.
- Free websites use a sub-URL which means that your website URL will be www.YOURWEBSITENAME.wordpress.com – this isn’t always the best when it comes to brand identity and having a professional looking website. If you want your own domain, you will need to upgrade to a paid package from WordPress.com.
- The free plan will mean that you have adverts running on your site, from WordPress.com. To remove them you will need to upgrade to one of the paid packages.
- The free plan only gives you a small number of free website themes to choose from and you cannot use any plugins. To have access to more themes and/or plugins, you will need to upgrade to a paid package.
- You cannot run adverts from other companies, that have paid you, on your site. You must sign up to the WordAds scheme to do this and that means sharing your income with WordPress.com. You also cannot use affiliate links on your free website either.
- The free websites are for simple information sites or blogs, if you want to open an online shop, create a membership site or use affiliate links to gain that passive income, you’ll need to sign up to WordPress.com’s paid packages.