WordPress is a software for creating blogs. A blog is a type of website where lists of posts are displayed in reverse-chronological order. Authors periodically write posts for readers to browse and read. Blogger, Medium, and Tumblr are all examples of blogging sites.
WordPress can also be used to create websites that aren’t blogs. WordPress has thousands of themes (layout and color) and plugins (additional functionality such as sharing buttons), making it easier to build a website than making everything from scratch. You don’t need to know how to write computer code to create a WordPress website. It works like Microsoft Word: you click buttons and WordPress will generate the computer code for you.
WordPress.org allows you to download WordPress’s source code, which are files that your computer uses to run WordPress. You would place the files on your own web server (a computer that contains your blog’s files so other people can access your blog). You can run a server on your computer by downloading a program. This way, when someone accesses your blog, they will download the files from your computer to view your blog. The biggest benefit of running your blog from your own server is that you have full control over your blog. You can freely install themes, install plugins, or modify the source code to customize your blog.
WordPress.com uses the same source code as WordPress.org, but you don’t need your own server. The files are installed on WordPress.com’s servers. You can sign up and create a blog for free. However, you CANNOT modify the source code. Also, you can only use the themes and plugins that are approved by WordPress.com.
WordPress.com is similar to websites you’re already used to, such as Facebook, Twitter, or Reddit. You simply create an account and start posting. You almost never have to write code or think about the server. WordPress.com’s team handles your blog’s security (against hackers), so security issues are very rare.
WordPress.org vs. WordPress.com
Whether you use WordPress.org or WordPress.com, you’re using the same source code. Writing and reading posts is almost the same for both. The main difference is where the source code is placed. For WordPress.org, the files are installed on your server, so you have full control over your blog. For WordPress.com, the files installed on WordPress.com’s servers, so you don’t have to worry about the servers. WordPress.com is easier for beginners, whereas WordPress.org allows more customization.
With WordPress.com, you do not have to worry about setting up and maintaining a server. In addition, it is more secure because your blog’s security is managed by WordPress.com’s security experts. It’s free to create a blog, though your blog’s address will be http://yourblogname.wordpress.com rather than http://yourblogname.com. There will be ads on your blog unless you pay to remove them. You can also pay for upgrades such as faster servers, more storage space, or the ability to sell stuff.
To create a blog using WordPress.org’s source code, you’ll need a server and a domain name (your blog’s address). They cost roughly $100 per year and it can be daunting to set up if you’ve never created a website before. You will have to make sure your server is secure and up to date. You can add features to your blog by installing free plugins, such as a plugin to sell stuff or a plugin to create a forum. If you don’t like a part of your blog, you can write code to change it.
I recommend creating your blog using WordPress.org’s source code because you have literally an infinite number of ways to customize your blog (by writing your own code). Even if you don’t know how to write code yet, you can learn as your blog grows. However, if you’re unsure if you want to spend a long time building and running a blog, you can spend an hour creating a blog on WordPress.com to see how WordPress works. Once you’ve decided that you want to create a WordPress.org blog, check out my tutorial on creating a WordPress.org blog.