WordPress.com Review: For Hobbyist Bloggers and Those Who Want to Practice WordPress

WordPress.com comes up quite a bit considering WordPress is the most common website builder people use to run their websites. That said, there are some things that need to be cleared up before moving forward. The first part is that you have two options to choose from: WordPress.com and WordPress.org. This article is reviewing the WordPress.com website builder, but most people are going to want to know what makes these two systems different.

What’s the Difference Between WordPress.com and WordPress.org?

This is the big question that always comes up when talking about WordPress. For some reason they decided to give the two systems really similar names, but they are fairly different.

To start, WordPress.com is more for hobbyists and beginners, or those who don’t feel like paying any money for their website. WordPress.org, on the other hand, is a free software, but costs come into play with things like hosting, themes and domains names.

Here are the basic differences:

WordPress.com

  • Limited support for themes
  • No plugins are allowed
  • Completely free
  • Minimal options for monetization
  • No maintenance required
  • You get traffic from the WordPress.com network

WordPress.org

  • Complete theme support
  • Plugins are allowed
  • Expenses for hosting, themes, premium plugins and domains
  • Tons of options for monetization
  • A decent amount of maintenance required
  • You must build your own traffic

How Many Sites Have Been Made With This Website Builder?

The numbers don’t specify how many sites are built with WordPress.com and WordPress.org separately, but over 74 million websites are currently using the overall WordPress platform. This makes it the most popular content management system in the world, beating out the likes of Magento, WIX, Weebly and more.

WordPress.com Features

The main benefit of going with WordPress.com is that you can create a beautiful website for free. The builder is completely hosted, so you don’t have to go out and get your own host and domain name. Starting a blog is as easy as it gets. In fact, WordPress.com was built on the idea that everyone using it is going to blog at some point. Keep in mind that you do have the option to implement your own domain name, but you’ll have to find that from a third party.

When constructing your site you’ll notice that a few built-in plugins are provided for things like SEO and social media. These are setup so that you don’t have to go out and install your own plugins. They try to give you all the essentials, considering you don’t have access to the plugin store, and the theme selection is somewhat limited.

Other than that, WordPress.com works well from the backend. It has a bit of a learning curve, but making a page or post is completed within a few clicks. Besides being free, a primary reason people go with WordPress.com is because you gain access to the WordPress network, so people are able to discover your site without you putting in any work.

WordPress.com Ease of Use

backend

As mentioned above, WordPress.com has a bit of a learning curve. However, compared to WordPress.org, it’s much easier to pickup. Making a new blog post or page is simple and intuitive. The tabs on the left hand side include options for your blog, categories, tags, featured images, sharing and more. The general dashboard provides personalization for themes and menus, along with tools for sharing, domains and settings.

Overall, the functionality is limited, but it has one of the cleanest interfaces for people who are simply looking to get their thoughts onto the internet. That’s exactly why we recommend it for hobby bloggers.

WordPress.com Pricing

wp_pricing

As we’ve stated before, WordPress.com is completely free. You don’t have to pay a dime unless you plan on bringing in your own domain name. However, you do have the option to go with one of the premium plans. Personally, I feel like you’re better off choosing the self-hosted WordPress.org if you’re thinking about paying money, but let’s go over what the premium plans have to offer.

  • Free – For no charge you get unlimited pages and blog posts, a custom WordPress address, hundreds of free themes, 3GB of space and community support.
  • Premium – For $8.25 per month you receive unlimited pages and blog posts, your own custom domain, free themes, advanced design customization, 13GB of space, no ads, and email and live chat support.
  • Business – For $24.92 per month you get everything from the premium plan, a selection of over 50 premium themes, unlimited space and Google Analytics.

Each plan has a short free trial, or you could just test out the free plan for as long as you want.

WordPress.com Templates and Design

wordpress_themes

The templates are not close to any of the premium solutions you’d find through WordPress.org. However, many of them are built primarily for blogging, and they have clean and modern interfaces for a decent amount of customization.

I like the Business plan because you still have access to some premium themes. However, WordPress.org still crushes it considering so many premium theme dealers have options for you to choose from.

WordPress.com Ecommerce

The only solution for selling online with WordPress.com is with the Business plan. Therefore, if you go with the other plans, don’t expect to be selling anything in the near future.

The Business plan provides connections to places like Ecwid and Shopify, but it’s a strange setup. Honestly, if you’re going to sell products online, you might as well just make the full site on Shopify.

WordPress.com SEO and Marketing

Marketing comes in the form of your blog, social media buttons and a few other simple plugins that are packaged into the website builder. I wouldn’t get my hopes up for expanding too much, because your access to marketing plugins is completely cut off. Your best marketing tool comes in the form of the WordPress network.

seo

SEO is done automatically, but you have the option to change around a few items manually. For example, the slug, meta data and description are all there for you to customize.

WordPress.com Customer Support

The free version of WordPress.com has a huge amount of community support, but this requires you to do your own research. The higher plans give you tools for live chat and email support.

Conclusion

Who is the WordPress.com website builder made for? It’s for hobbyist bloggers and beginners who are trying to figure out how to make a site. I wouldn’t expect much in terms of scaling up a site, but I do like WordPress.com for those who are practicing for when they would like to upgrade to WordPress.org.

Catalin Zorzini

I'm a web design blogger and started this project after spending a few weeks struggling to find out which is the best website builder for myself. Check out my current top 10 website builders.

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