WordPress.com, often confused with the open source WordPress software, is a for-profit implementation of the open source software that you find at WordPress.org.
WordPress.com simplifies the process of creating a WordPress site, letting you launch your site by simply registering for a WordPress.com account. However, it also doesn’t give you access to the full WordPress software, which means you’re limited in what you can do.
- Easy, user-friendly setup process
- Custom WordPress.com dashboard
- Unlimited bandwidth
- 3 GB of storage space
- Choose from hundreds of free WordPress themes, which makes it easy to create a custom web design
- Free SSL certificate
- The easiest setup process of any free host on this list. All you do is register for an account — no WordPress installation required.
- High-powered infrastructure means your website will load quickly and reliably.
- You get access to a custom WordPress dashboard for managing your website.
- You cannot install your own plugins or themes on the free plan.
- You’re only allowed to use a WordPress.com subdomain — you need to pay to use your own custom domain name.
- No direct server access — you cannot connect via FTP or manage your database.
Who Should Use It?
WordPress.com is a great option for non-technical users who don’t need the ability to install their own themes and plugins.
For example, freelancers who simply need a place to publish their writing portfolios so they can attract writing clients would likely appreciate WordPress.com’s simplicity (though they’d probably be better off using Medium to house their writing samples).
However, it’s not a good option for technical users because you don’t get server access and it’s a stripped-down version of WordPress that doesn’t give you much flexibility.
WordPress.com is a great free option if you don’t need the full WordPress experience. You’re sacrificing the ability to install your own extensions and access your server, but you’re gaining a simple experience powered by world-class infrastructure.
If that trade-off sounds fine to you, go for WordPress.com’s free hosting plan.