WordPress.com vs WordPress.org Explained Using an Analogy

Ever since I started volunteering at the WordPress.com support forum, one of the most frequent replies from the volunteer members and the staff will be to clear up the confusions between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org.

In this post, I’ll try to explain the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org using an analogy. If you have another analogy to share or if you think that any of the examples given in this post is not appropriate, feel free to comment and let me know!

Note: The term website or blog or site might be used interchangeably in this article as they meant the same thing.

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org In Overall

When we perform a Google search on the keyword WordPress.com vs WordPress.org, most of the articles will tell you the differences similar to this.

WordPress.org is a community providing the open source WordPress software.

WordPress.com is owned by Automattic that uses the WordPress software to provide a website/blog publishing service to the users.

The explanation seems pretty easy to understand, but not to anyone who has no technical background at all. So to illustrate this differently, I’m using a house as the analogy.


Having a site on WordPress.com is like renting a house. Once you’ve signed the tenancy agreement with the owner, you’re eligible to move into the house.

No matter you’re on a free plan or paid subscriptions on WordPress.com, once you signed up, you’re enjoying the free hosting + WordPress software that allows you to start building your site/blog, hassle-free.


To use the WordPress software, you need a domain and hosting. So instead of renting a house, you’re renting a piece of land (hosting) and building your own house (WordPress site) on top of the rented land.

To build a house, you need to have an adequate knowledge of the architectural design of a house. Else, you may have to hire a professional to design and build the house for you.

Similarly, you’re recommended to have basic knowledge on how to install WordPress and set up your site on the hosting. If you’re unsure on how to do that, you can hire professionals to assist you in building your WordPress site.

The Domains

No matter where you hosted your website, you need a domain to tell others where your website is and how to access it. A domain is like an address to your site.


On WordPress.com, when you’re creating a new site, you’ll be given a your-chosen-name.wordpress.com domain for free. So the address of your house will be something like Unit ABC, WordPress Building, USA.

Of course, if you don’t like the domain, you can upgrade the site to a paid plan to use a custom domain, e.g. your-domain-name.com. In other words, your home address will become Unit XYZ, USA.


Under normal circumstances, a WordPress site will need a custom domain unless it’s hosted on a free web hosting account that gives you a free subdomain. So normally, your WordPress site will have a domain like your-domain-name.com. In my analogy, your home address is Unit XYZ, USA.


WordPress is known for its flexibility and the power to extend the functionality of the site by using plugins. While a hosted WordPress site can have any plugins installed, WordPress.com site has its limitation on this.


All WordPress.com sites have Jetpack installed by default. This plugin provides over a hundred free themes, site stats, customizing tools and more. In order to install additional plugins, WordPress.com users have to subscribe to Business Plan which costs $ 300 annually.

So depending on how much rent you’re paying, you can only decorate your house with pictures and furniture. To do more than that like having a larger window in your living room, you need to pay a higher rent.


Unlike the WordPress.com sites, a new installation of WordPress only has two default plugins – Akismet Anti-Spam and Hello Dolly. You’re free to install any plugins to your site. However, you’re taking your own risk in damaging your site if you installed a conflicted or malicious plugin.

Apart from being able to decorate your house with pictures and furniture, you can even expand your living room, add more rooms to your house as long as you have enough space in your rented land.


Sometimes, we may want to migrate our site to another hosting provider, which could be having cheaper plans or better support. There is a significant difference in moving sites for WordPress.com and WordPress.org.


No matter if you’re moving your site from WordPress.com to hosted WordPress site or to another WordPress.com site, the only way is to export the content (posts, pages, categories, and tags) and import it to the new site. You need to activate the theme and customize the layout again on the new site.

Let’s say if you simply do not like the domain name of your site and wish to keep all the content, including the theme and layout, you can change your site address (for free plan) or map your site to a different domain name (for paid plans).

So to move away from your current house to another house, you can only bring your clothes and personal belongings. Any decoration or furniture you placed in the current house will stay and you need to re-decorate your new house when you move in.


Migrating a hosted WordPress site can be easily done with a migration/site duplicator plugin. Your content, plugins, themes, customization (CSS) will be moved to the new host.

Note: this will not be applicable if you’re moving your site from a hosted WordPress site to WordPress.com site.

It’s a bit funny to use the analogy for this case but migrating a hosted WordPress site is like moving your entire house away from the rented land and put it on another piece of rented land.

Further Reading

There are much more differences between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org which I’m not able to explain in detail using the analogy. If you’re interested to know more, here are some of the articles for your reading.


I do hope you’ll have a better understanding of the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. To me, it’s hard to say which one is better as it depends on your requirements and your knowledge on the WordPress software.

As a beginner who is totally new to WordPress, I would suggest creating a free account on WordPress.com and start building your site. WordPress.com is a worry-free playground that you can build your site, publish your content without worrying about the WordPress installation, security issues and taking backups of your site.

Even if you’re an experienced WordPress user or building a business site for your company, you’re able to take advantage of the different features of the plans on WordPress.com to create a professional site without worrying much on the site and hosting administration.

On the other hand, if you’re a WordPress developer or you enjoy the flexibility to have any custom plugins and themes installed, a hosted WordPress will be a better choice.

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