WordPress is a powerful publishing tool, that makes it easy for anyone to publish their content online.
WordPress comes in two different versions: WordPress.org, and WordPress.com.
While a lot of the key elements are the same, there are some important differences.
WordPress.org is a self-hosted solution.
Meaning, the full-featured, powerful software is completely free.
You are however responsible for getting a domain name, a web host (which is the company that actually hosts the files for your website), and installing the software.
Most hosts though offer an easy to use, one-click install option for WordPress, as it is a very popular tool. While you are responsible for hosting and maintaining the site when using the Self-Hosted option, you are 100% in control of your website and content.
You can use custom themes, plugins, analytics, monetize your content, and generally customize your site as much as you’d like.
WordPress.com is a commercial service targeted mainly toward bloggers.
Using the WordPress system, you can create a free blog, which includes managed hosting and a ‘yoursite.WordPress.com’ domain name.
There are several limits though. You will not be able to upload custom themes or plugins, you will not have direct access to your files on the WordPress.com server, and advertisements will be displayed on your blog.
You can however upgrade your account, and pay additional yearly fees for a custom domain name, additional hosting space, or removing the advertisements.
Choosing which option is best for you, just depends on what your goals for your website are. If you will be focusing mainly on blogging, and don’t want to handle, or hire someone to handle, the setup and maintenance, then WordPress.com will probably be a good bet.
If you are a business however, of any size, you would generally be best served with WordPress.org, the Self-Hosted option, as you will have a lot more control and flexibility for your website.
Here’s a great Infographic from the awesome folks at WPMU.org