There are two WordPress protocols – WordPress.com and WordPress.org. How do you decide which to use?
The critical decision factors revolve around hosting, your comfort with technology, how much you’d like to customize your site, and how much you care to spend.
WordPress.com is hosted for you by WordPress, and the basic package is free if you don’t need a custom domain, don’t mind if ads are posted on your site, and use under 3GB for your files. There are extra costs for a custom domain, having no ads, and maintaining a larger site.
By using the WordPress.org framework, you can host wherever you like with your custom domain, and a larger variety of themes and functional plugins to choose from. A hosting account will usually offer email hosting and large or even unlimited storage.
If you are just getting started and your funds are limited, the basic WordPress.com package will probably be enough to get you going. However, the extras (domain mapping, no ads, extra storage, additional costs for email addresses) make it less competitive with self-hosting. If you think you might upgrade from the basic package, my recommendation is to keep your site very simple and put extra effort into your WordPress.org site when you’re able.
Here is an infographic from an excellent comparison of the two products via WPMU DEV, a premium WordPress.org theme developer.
My mission is to help you at whatever stage you’re at in your business, so get in touch to discuss what platform is right for you right now!