Is WordPress Really Free? Hidden Costs Unveiled

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A thing about WordPress that confuses people is whether or not it s free. Is it?

The truth is, WordPress can be free of charge or may have some expense associated with it. But the WordPress software itself—called the WordPress core—is free and will always be free. It is also free in the sense that you are free to customize and expand it and use it however you wish.

In What Sense Is WordPress Free?

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The reason WordPress is available for free is that it is an open-source content management system (CMS), which basically means you get free access to the engine rather than being absolutely free.

Open-source software gives you the right to use, alter, develop and distribute software or systems without paying for them. However, that’s not to say you won’t be paying for anything ever.

Why Isn’t WordPress for Sale Then?

This question would only make sense if WordPress were owned by an individual or a corporation. In reality, it’s an open-space product that involves thousands of people. There is still a team of core developers responsible for product development and enhancement, but the software code is available to all.

Daily users can contribute in several ways – by proposing new functionality, finding bugs, creating patches, and more. There is an opportunity for the most involved contributors to become team leaders.

So How Is WordPress Funded?

Fact is, thousands, if not millions, of businesses, developers, and enthusiasts benefit from WordPress. They know that without the help of people like themselves, WordPress wouldn’t work, and they wouldn’t have the amazing software they’re living with. That’s why they choose to send something back to the WordPress community: by adding to the codebase, by offering support through WordPress support forums, or by hosting WordCamps and local WordPress events.

WordPress.org vs. WordPress.com

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People often get confused as to why there are two separate websites with almost the same names-WordPress.org and WordPress.com. The first is a self-hosted free blogging platform-the one that we originally meant when we were talking about WordPress. The second is a paid hosted site operated by a commercial company called Automattic.

The owner of WordPress.com is a co-founder and creator of WordPress software, Matt Mullenweg. Mullenweg has agreed to build an alternate WordPress-hosted website with all the required resources already included in the kit. With proper assistance, any person-even one with no specific coding knowledge-can easily start and maintain a website.

The only ‘but’ being the expense of the service. WordPress.com is by definition not the cheapest way to start and manage a company website. The cheapest package lacks decent options and might not be enough to manage a beginner business project. The more customizable choices you need-the more expensive it would be. And by “expensive” we mean at least a few thousand dollars a month.

Which Parts of WordPress are Free?

Even if you don’t have a free WordPress site, there are other parts of your WordPress installation that can be free of charge. Some are always free, while some, such as plugins or themes, have free and premium options.

Getting anything free may sound too good to be true. And occasionally it may be. But people who create free WordPress themes and plugins do so for legitimate reasons: either they want to offer something back to the community or they have a free version of a plugin that you can upgrade with a paid option. In this case, the free version serves as a lead-in to the premium version.

Aspects of self-hosted WordPress that are (or can be) free are:

  • Core software
  • Support
  • Themes
  • Plugins
  • Updates

Which Parts of WordPress Are Not Free?

How much it costs will depend on the needs of your platform and whether you’re happy to pay for the functionality of a premium plugin, for example, when a free one could do the same or a similar job with a little more effort.

Aspects of WordPress that you may need to spend money on are:

  • Hosting
  • Premium support
  • Updates of premium plugins/themes
  • Premium themes
  • Premium plugins

How Much It Costs To Run a WP Website?

So now you might really wonder how much it costs to run a fully-fledged WordPress website, right? We all know about web hosting and a domain name, but there is even more to that.

1. Domain Name

You can obtain a domain name from any authorized registrar. The domain name would cost you between $10 to $30 a year.

2. Web Hosting

Hosting service should be one of the most important things on your list. The price for hosting plans ranges from as little as $5-6 to up to $900 a month. The spectrum is wide, so you have to pick the best package for the necessary bandwidth and budget.

You can also host the website via the WordPress.com hosting service. The cheaper the hosting you take-the lower the quality and the worse the web efficiency you get. Pricier hosting solutions are more versatile and provide advanced functionality such as resource isolation (you won’t share services with anyone else), among others.

3. SSL Certificate

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Very likely, you’ll also need to buy an SSL certificate. Non-business websites can get away with free options; for some, though, it is advised to obtain an EV SSL certificate. They’re going to cost you $50 to $200 a year on average.

4. E-commerce Features

Creating a WordPress-based online store can sound like a struggle, but it’s easy to do. Although WordPress lacks the functionality of e-commerce by nature, there are plenty of alternatives to fill this void.

Free WordPress eCommerce plugins are WooCommerce, Easy Digital Download, and Shopp. Other plugins used to expand e-commerce opportunities include Inventory Manager, Recurring Payments, among others. They’re going to save you $50 to $200 depending on your needs.

5. Themes and Templates

Most beginners would accept free WP themes as a good web solution. But in truth, they may not be enough.

If you create a business website for a serious company, you won’t be pleased with a standard free WordPress template. Purchasing an $80 paid template ONE time would give you a hundred more opportunities and, at the end of the day, ensure a smoother flow of visitors. Bear in mind that the most popular free themes have been used millions of times by everyone, so the website design would no longer be “exclusive.”

6. Plugins and Extensions

WordPress plugins allow you to add additional features to your site. Some plugins are free, while premium solutions can cost you between $47 and $200. Payments may be either one-time or recurring.

Total Cost of a Fully Functional WordPress Site

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Essentially, the cost of various services to help you run a website ranges widely-from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars! The price depends on the number of goods and services that you would want to provide on the platform, how fast it should be launched, how secure it should be, and how much traffic you want to manage.

Wrapping Up

The WordPress core software will always be free.

The software is free to download and free to use in whatever manner you choose. You can customize it, expand it, redistribute it, and even sell it for as long as you use the GPL license.

But if you want a wicked awesome website, there are things you’re going to have to pay for.

A self-hosted platform ensures that you have to pay for hosting at least a few premium plugins and/or themes, and support.

How much you’re going to get free and how much you’re going to end up paying for is up to you. But provided that the platform itself is free, the WordPress website still has an exceptional value for money. And it’s worth paying a little more for a high-performance, professional website.

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