One of the issues run into is clients who don’t know the difference between a WordPress.org website and a WordPress.com website or even that these are actually two different things. They don’t know this because it is confusing. If you are new to having a blog or website and someone tells you that you need a WordPress site, you are probably going to type wordpress.com into the address bar of your browser and come up with a page that tells you how to start a WordPress.com site. It may be awhile before you even figure out the other exists. I mean, really, why would you?! And, why does it matter? Well, it matters because they really have two different functions.
One of the differences between the two is that WordPress.com handles your hosting for you, so you don’t have to worry about setting that up. At its basic level,WordPress.com is free and easy to use. But with free and easy, comes limitations. For example, if you want to have a domain that is say, yourdomain.com instead of yourdomain.wordpress.com, then you are going to have to pay a premium price that is going to be similar to the price you would pay for a self-hosted WordPress.org site. So, you can see that pretty quickly, the cost advantage disappears.
Above, I mentioned WordPress.org is self-hosted. What that means is that you must purchase the hosting yourself. Yes, that means there are few extra steps to a WordPress.org site, but there are tutorials out there that make this pretty easy. And, if you choose a host that does managed WordPress hosting, your hosting is structured to make it even easier. So, why would you want your own hosting? You have access to all of your files yourself. In the highly unlikely event that something happened to WordPress, your files would still be sitting there (though you should definitely be storing backups somewhere else) on your server for you to use to recreate your site.
But, probably the most common reason people want WordPress.org sites instead of WordPress.com sites is your ability to customize your site with many more themes and plugins. You can even have custom themes and plugins built just for you. This is where we come in. As designers and developers, we can go in and change the colors, fonts, and structure of your theme or even build you your own theme. There are a huge number of plugins available to give you increased functionality. And if it doesn’t already exist, we or someone like us can build it for you. With WordPress.com, you pretty much have to pick a theme and then use the customizer to pick preset customization settings and use existing plugins. Additionally, there are some other WordPress.com limitations. For example, if you have a blog and want to run ads on it, you must run WordAds instead of any third party ads.
In the end, it is up to you and your needs. We work with WordPress.org sites because custom work is what we do. There isn’t really much for a designer or developer to do with a WordPress.com site, but if it meets your needs, then it is a viable option.