Indeed there is a difference yet this is one of the most frequently asked questions I find myself answering in e-mails.
Considering there is an abundance of in-depth articles on this subject, I am simply going to list 4 I found to be very thorough, 2 of which include infographics and visualizations that make digesting the information a bit easier.
Here’s the list of articles (links open in new tab):
- WordPress.com and WordPress.org via WordPress.com
- WordPress.org vs WordPress.com: ‘A Definitive Guide for 2014 via WPMUdev.org (includes easy to digest visualizations)
- Self-Hosted WordPress.org vs Free WordPress.com [Infographic] via WPBeginner.com
- WordPress.com vs WordPress.org: What’s the difference? via DIY Themes.com
Now that I’ve shared this information, I will summarize for those with less time on your hands.
WordPress.com is free similar to Blogspot and Tumblr. You can pay for upgrades including custom domain names, increased storage space, and no ads being displayed on your site.
- If you prefer things easy,
- Do not mind limited control,
- Do not want to deal with server maintenance or technical issues,
- and Have more money to invest, then WordPress.com is definitely worth consideration.
eCommerce is not possible on a WordPress.com website. This is a big deal if your band plans on selling merchandise through your website. If you are simply relying on sales from iTunes, Spotify or a site like Bandcamp, then this will not be an issue for you.
WordPress.org is the free open-source content management system software which you can install, customize, and configure under your own domain name with the web hosting provider of your choice.
- If you prefer to maintain full control,
- Do not mind getting your hands dirty,
- Want to save a bit of money,
- and Enjoy learning new things, then WordPress.org is for you.
Most hosting providers offer 1-click installs of the WordPress software so installing it and getting your site running is a simple and easy process that does not require the expertise of a web developer.
For a cost comparison of web hosting providers, check out our article The Cost of Starting Your Website – with Price Comparisons.
Due to the open source nature of this software, there is a HUGE development community contributing to security, the custom themes and plugins library, as well as providing support and advice to those with issues in the WordPress.org forums.
With that said, you can find hundreds of thousands of themes and plugins to further customize and enhance your WP powered website at the click of a button. If you are overwhelmed and need help finding themes, plugins, and developers to trust, simply use search engines to assist you in finding answers.
Below are example search phrases to use to conduct research and make informed decisions about whether a plugin (or theme) is worth your time (or a waste of it).
- best wordpress themes for bands
- top twitter plugins for wordpress
- best contact form plugins wordpress
- plugins every wordpress site needs
- best backup plugin for wordpress
- best database optimization plugins wordpress
Now you have the resources you need to make a well informed decision about using WordPress.org or WordPress.com. For those that prefer watching videos, here’s an informative one from WPMU.dev.
I highly recommend watching this entire video or going through the articles listed above. There are a lot of differences between the two platforms not listed in this article that are discussed in greater detail elsewhere.