A lot of people get confused between wordpress.org and wordpress.com. They are both from the same company, Automattic and both are free but there are differences and for businesses in particular it is important to choose the right platform.
So, what’s the difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com?
Basically the .org and the .com WordPress installations operate in the same way. They are both CMS (Content Management System) setups, both have the same organisation of posts, pages, tags, categories etc. There are some major differences though between the two and it is these differences which can decide which one you go for. If you choose to have a wordpress.com blog then your website will be hosted at wordpress.com and your domain name will probably be something like myblog.wordpress.com. This means that you could, in theory, have a website/blog absolutely free. You don’t pay for hosting or for a domain name. This makes wordpress.com ideal for brand new bloggers or for people who are just looking for a personal blog rather than a business blog. The downsides to this is that you are limited to how much customisation you can do. For example, there are a limited number of themes to choose from and you cannot add your own CSS. You can’t monetize your site and in fact wordpress.com retains the right to add Google Adsense adverts to your site for its own benefit. At times these can include adverts contradictory to your blog content and there is nothing you can do about it. There are opportunities to upgrade your .com blog but these all require paying for e.g. CSS customisation, your own domain name etc.
WordPress.org, on the other hand, is self-hosted. What this means is you have to find a host, register a domain name and then install WordPress yourself (or get a developer to do it for you). Whilst this is relatively straightforward for absolute beginners this can be somewhat stressful. The advantages of having a .org site is that you have your own domain name (essential for business users), you can choose whatever themes you like (free or paid-for) and you can add whatever plug-ins you like (free or paid for) and you can do your own customisation of the CSS and/or the PHP files.
I would always advise people to have a .org site because you have much more freedom and if you end up having a very popular site you will want this freedom eventually. For business users, the .org site is critical, you need your own domain name and you need control of your site. If you are just wanting a personal blog to play with and not to make money out of them a .com site is fine but for any serious user the .org is a must. For more information about how to get your wordpress.org blog setup please contact me.