WordPress.com is a hosted version of the open source software. Use it to start a blog or build a website in seconds without any technical knowledge.
An online implementation of WordPress code that lets you immediately access a new WordPress environment to publish your content. WordPress.com is a private company owned by Automattic that hosts the largest multisite in the world. This is arguably the best place to start blogging if you have never touched WordPress before.WordPress Jargon Glossary
WordPress.com uses a modified version of the WordPress.org software, and is owned and operated by Automattic, a privately held ‘for-profit’ company. Automattic was started by Matt Mullenweg, one of the founding developers of the Open Source WordPress.org software. Automattic are the people behind WordPress.com, WooCommerce, Jetpack, VaultPress, Akismet and more.
When using a free WordPress.com account, you’re supplied with a WordPress.com subdomain (e.g. yoursite.wordpress.com). If you wish to use your own domain name such as myawesomesite.com, then you need to use one of the paid WordPress.com accounts. The Personal Plan (& above) includes a free custom domain name.
WordPress.com is a hosted environment. This means that you wont need to pay for hosting as it’s provided as part of the service.
Since WordPress.com is a hosted solution, there’s nothing that you need to setup. You simply sign up for an account and then follow the instructions to create your site.
The free version of WordPress.com, and the cheaper paid plans, don’t allow you to upload third-party or external plugins to your site. The only way to install plugins on your WordPress.com site is by upgrading to their top Business or eCommerce plan. You can upload almost any plugin (or theme) with a Business or eCommerce Plan, but they wont guarantee it will be fully compatible. There are also some plugins that aren’t allowed, such as ones that duplicate WordPress.com functionality (e.g. backup, caching, security plugins).
The free version of WordPress.com doesn’t allow you to upload third-party or external themes to your site. Instead, they provide a limited selection of themes that you can choose from. Paying for a Premium plan provides access to a further selection of “premium” themes. If you upgrade to the Business or eCommerce plan you can upload your own theme.
WordPress.com will manage all the security for your site. Like any website though, if you have an insecure or short password, your account will still be susceptible to being compromised. Always ensure your password is secure and strong. Never use birth dates, family or pet names, common words or short passwords.
You wont need to perform any WordPress updates as this is automatically handled for you. You also wont need to update any plugins or themes on your free account as WordPress.com doesn’t allow you to upload any plugins or themes yourself.
Whilst your site will be automatically backed up as part of the service, no matter what plan you’re on, if you accidentally delete your own content they wont restore it for you. The only reason they’ll restore your content is if they are at fault for removing it (e.g. they accidentally remove your site for some reason or their servers crash). If you want the ability to restore a backup yourself, you will need to pay for a Business or Commerce plan.
If you delete a Page or Post it will sit in the ‘Trash’ for 30 days, unless you permanently delete it beforehand. Any content in the ‘Trash’ can be restored by yourself. If you delete your media files though (e.g. documents, images etc.), they are immediately and permanently deleted. WordPress.com backups utilise VaultPress, which is another service by Automattic.
WordPress.com sites are very limited with what you can and can’t do to your site. To gain more customisation, you’re required to pay extra fees. Free plans do not allow you to upload any plugins or themes. Your theme choices are limited to the ones that they provide. To get access to more themes, you will need to pay fees to upgrade your plan. The free Plan only provides 1GB of disk space to upload your documents and images. If you want more disk space, you will need to pay fees to upgrade your plan.
With your free WordPress.com plan, your website will display ads. You have no control over what ads are displayed, and the only way to remove them is to upgrade to a paid plan. Affiliate links are allowed on WordPress.com as long as the primary purpose of your blog is to create original content. They do not allow sites that exist primarily to drive traffic to affiliate links. Affiliate links need to be related to your site’s content in some way. If you’d like to make money on your site with advertisements, WordAds is the official WordPress.com advertising program available for site owners. The program features ads from external ad networks such as Google, Facebook, AOL, and more. Users on a paid Premium or Business plan have automatic access to the WordAds program. If you’re on a paid Personal plan you can apply to get access to WordAds but your site needs to pass a minimum traffic requirement (thousands of pageviews each month). You also need to be using a custom domain name (i.e. using your own domain name rather than a WordPress.com subdomain), which in turn means that free users are ineligible.
WordPress.com does not provide email accounts. If you have upgraded your WordPress.com plan to use a custom domain like myawesomesite.com for example, and you wish to create an an email such as firstname.lastname@example.org, you will need to use an external service to do so. Some services such as Zoho are free, whereas others like Google G Suite or Office 365 have paid plans. After creating an account with your chosen email service, you will then need to configure your DNS settings so that your email is forwarded to your selected service.
Whilst you still own your content, be aware that according to the WordPress.com Terms of Service, Automattic “may terminate your access to all or any part of our Services at any time, with or without cause or notice, effective immediately, including if we believe, in our sole discretion, that you have violated this Agreement, any service guidelines, or other applicable terms. We have the right (though not the obligation) to (i) reclaim your username or website’s URL due to prolonged inactivity, (ii) refuse or remove any content that, in our reasonable opinion, violates any part of this Agreement or any Automattic policy, or is in any way harmful or objectionable, (iii) ask you to make adjustments, restrict the resources your website uses, or terminate your access to the Services, if we believe your website’s storage or bandwidth usage burdens our systems (which is rare and typically only occurs when a website is used for file sharing or storage), or (iv) terminate or deny access to and use of any of our Services to any individual or entity for any reason. We will have no obligation to provide a refund of any fees previously paid.”
If you plan on using your site for an eCommerce business, also note that there are certain restrictions and responsibilities that you must abide by. If you plan on selling CBD and other hemp-derived products using WooCommerce, there are even further restrictions on top of their eCommerce requirements.