WordPress is software that you use to build a Web site. To use it, WordPress must be installed and running on a “hosting” computer (one that’s set up to “serve” web pages on the internet).
You can set up a hosting account and install WordPress yourself. Or you can open an account at WordPress.com, where WordPress is already installed, and create your site on their computers.
The first kind of WordPress site, called “self-hosted,” allows you maximum flexibility, since it’s your copy of the software to do with as you like. On a WordPress.com site you’re using a copy of the software installed and run by WordPress.com, so you don’t have as much flexibility — you can only use themes they provide, and you can’t install plugins — but for many people, it offers all the functionality they need. It’s not hard to move from WordPress.com to a self-hosted WordPress installation, so it can be a great place to start.
To learn more, see WordPress.com, WordPress, and WordPress.org
To learn how to install WordPress yourself, see Installing WordPress (featuring the “Famous 5 Minute Installation” ) or the Beginner’s Guide: How to install WordPress manually.
For a detailed comparison, see below.
|Feature||Free WordPress.com||Paid Upgrades – WordPress.com||Self-Hosted|
|Cost||$0||$12 – $100/year, depending||~$120/year|
|Use Own Domain Name (mydomain.com)||No||Yes ($12 to map; $17 for registering and mapping)||Yes|
|Shows WordPress Ads to Visitors||Occasional||No ($30)||No|
|No||Yes, through Google Apps for My Domain if you’ve mapped your own domain name||Yes|
|Theme Customization (edit CSS)||No||Some||Yes|
|Premium Themes||No||Some, no child themes||Yes|
|Plugins (such as BuddyPress, ad management, SEO, e-commerce, etc.)||No, but a few plugin-like features provided by WordPress.com (e.g.Polls, Ratings, and Sharing)||No, but a few plugin-like features provided by WordPress.com (e.g.Polls, Ratings, and Sharing)||Yes|
|Track visitor stats||WordPress custom||WordPress custom||Any, including Google Analytics|
|Custom PHP coding||No||No||Yes|
|WordPress Updates||Automatic||Automatic||Your responsibility|