WordPress is a content management system (CMS) created 20 years ago, back in 2003, as primarily a blogging tool. Today, it powers over 835 million websites — from tiny blogs to robust enterprise websites and eCommerce stores with thousands of articles — which make up 43% of all websites on the Internet.
WordPress is the world's most popular CMS, according to website owners, designers and developers, but to all newbies, one question is nagging: how much does WordPress cost? Is it entirely free or does it come with some costs?
WordPress software, also called WordPress core, is free of charge. It is released under the GNU General Public License (GPL), which allows all users four freedoms — to download, modify, use and even sell the code — as long as they do it under the GPL license.
Although the software is free, you might pay for hosting, premium themes and plugins (and their updates), as well as premium support.
This article will explain all WordPress costs so you can plan your budget.
Before we dive deeper into the pricing details, we’ll introduce you to different payment plans for two types of WordPress sites: WordPress.com and WordPress.org.
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WordPress.com and WordPress.org — What Is the Difference?
There are many differences between the two types of WordPress platforms, but the main one is in hosting provider. WordPress.com is a hosted service that lets you use WordPress software to create a website. WordPress.org is a self-hosted platform that enables you to create a website, controlling its every aspect.
WordPress.com is a basic version that allows all users to grow and develop their website along with their business. It is user-friendly but doesn’t come with many customization options.
WordPress.org provides advanced customization and monetization options from the beginning, giving users complete control over their websites. It is more complex than WordPress.com and requires coding knowledge.
WordPress.com comes in five plans tailored to satisfy different business needs:
- The free plan, although free, is limited and offers an SSL certificate, 1 GB of storage space and free themes. It is the best for personal use.
- The Personal plan costs $4 per month (if billed annually). It includes a free domain for one year, best-in-class hosting, 6 GB of storage, an SSL certificate, free themes, the ability to accept payments and unlimited email support. It is also most suitable for personal use.
- The Premium plan costs $8 per month (if billed yearly) and is the best for freelancers. It has all features of a personal plan but with more customization options. It offers Google Analytics integration, the ability to earn ad revenue, premium themes and live chat support.
- The Business plan is available at a monthly price of $25 (if billed annually). It is most suitable for small businesses because it offers features from the abovementioned plans and more than 50,000 plugins, advanced SEO tools, automated backups, SFTP, SSH, WP-CLI, and Database access.
- The eCommerce plan comes at $45 monthly (if billed annually) and offers the most advanced features of all WordPress premium plans specially intended for online stores. This plan allows you to accept payments from more than 60 countries, integrate with top shipping carriers and provide premium design solutions for online stores.
WordPress.org is free in theory, but hosting is the first cost you'll face in practice. There are many hosting companies available today whose plans range from $3 to $100 per month, depending on security, speed, substantial bandwidth, support availability and other factors. WordPress Platform recommends Dream Host and HostGator as complementary providers.
Many hosting companies include a domain name in the price, but some will require you to purchase it separately for $12 to $15 per year.
Although WordPress.org provides free customizable themes, depending on your business needs, you may want to buy a premium theme. Prices for premium themes range from $20 to hundreds of dollars, with customizations increasing costs.
WordPress.org comes with built-in SEO tools, which will meet your needs initially, but over time you may need more advanced options, which also cost.
How Much Does WordPress Cost: A Breakdown
Here are the estimated costs when building a WordPress website:
Domain Name: $0.99 — $20/Year
A domain name is your site’s address. It should contain your business name so that clients can easily find you.
The price of the domain name depends on its range in top-level domains (TLDs) and varies from $0.99 for cheaper to $14.99 for more expensive names per year.
The most common TLDs, also known as generic (gTLDs), include .com, .net and .org extensions. These three extensions are the most popular and, therefore, expensive.
Other generic extensions, like .online, .live or .tech, cost less and still are great alternatives that can make your domain name unique and memoizable.
Another popular extension is country code (ccTLD) — codes assigned to countries worldwide (for example, .us for the United States or .uk for the United Kingdom, etc.). Their price varies from $5.50 to $23.99 per year.
Web Hosting: $1.99 — $20/Month
WordPress.org is a self-hosted platform; you’ll need to invest in a web hosting plan so your website can function. While the domain name serves as the website address, hosting provides server space and displays all your website content whenever customers visit your website.
Hosting price depends on its type:
- WordPress hosting is designed for WordPress websites. It installs in one click, automatically updates and has a WordPress expert support team. Price varies between $1.99 and $11.59 per month.
- Shared hosting costs between $1.99 and $3.99 per month, an affordable option for personal and small business websites.
- Virtual private server (VPS) hosting splits each server into multiple independent virtual servers. It is an excellent option for websites with moderate to high traffic and costs from $3.49 to $77.99 per month.
- Cloud hosting uses several servers to distribute the load and reduce downtime; if one server goes down, another takes over its responsibility, so your website never stops running. Cloud hosting price varies between $9.99 and $29.99.
To conclude, depending on the type and provider, hosting costs between $1.99 and $77.99 monthly.
SSL Certificates: $7 — $1,000/Year
SSL (secure socket layer) certificate is a security protocol that encrypts data between servers and clients, ensuring privacy and data protection.
When your website has an SSL certificate, your web address will start with the HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) tag preceded by a small padlock.
Hosting providers usually include an SSL certificate in their offer, but you can also use a third-party SSL to get more security. There are three types of SSL certificates available:
- Extended Validation (EV SSL)
- Organization Validated (OV SSL)
- Domain Validated (DV SSL)
Encryption levels are the same for each type, while the screening and verification procedures required to receive the certificate vary.
Premium Themes: $2 — $200/License
WordPress offers vast free and premium themes; your choice depends on the aesthetic you’re aiming for and your business needs. Paid themes range from $2 to $200 per license.
Within both categories, you can browse the most popular or latest themes and sort them by features, layout, or the type of website they're designed for.
It is important to emphasize that free WordPress themes are not inferior to paid ones — the WordPress quality assurance team approves both. However, paid premium themes offer advanced functionality, are constantly updated, and have 24/7 support, which may be necessary for some more demanding websites.
Premium Plugins: $5 — $1,000/One-time or Ongoing Fee
WordPress plugins are software that provides new ones or expands the functionality of already existing WordPress features.
WordPress plugins come in three categories:
- Free plugins come at no cost but have fewer features than paid versions.
- Freemium plugins allow users to use the basic features, but they must pay for advanced functionalities.
- Premium plugins offer many features, regular updates and customer support.
Freemium and premium plugins typically cost between $5 and $1,000. They come with different pricing models — from one-time charges to yearly memberships.
Website Maintenance and Design
Estimated costs include the cost of web development and design and website maintenance, which can be performed by in-house specialists, agencies or freelancers.
Website design is a one-time cost, but the price drastically varies depending on the team who performs it:
- In-house service costs from $0 to $300.
- Freelancer’s service will cost you from $500 to $5000.
- Agency’s service costs between $3000 and $100.000.
The same goes for WordPress website maintenance:
- In-house maintenance can cost from $0 (included in the salary) to $25.
- Freelancer’s service is paid per hour and varies between $50 and $100.
- Agency’s maintenance services are calculated per month and can vary between $149 and $449.
The final cost for a WordPress website will depend on its size and functionality requirements. A personal blog or small business website will cost less than a vast eCommerce store or robust enterprise website.
Is WordPress Worth Its Price?
The WordPress benefits are abundant:
- Versatility — The WordPress platform allows you to create simple blogger or complex eCommerce websites. Thanks to many features and plugins, you can expand and adjust your website according to your business needs.
- SEO-friendliness — WordPress structure helps your SEO efforts, and as a result, you’ll rank higher in SERP and attract more traffic to your website location.
- Cost-effectiveness — If your needs are simple, a WordPress website can be free, but if your requirements are more demanding, you’ll have to pay for some premium features. However, you can choose between numerous plugins and fit the final price into your budget.
WordPress is easy to install and manage; it’s secure, responsive, mobile friendly and provides constant customer support. However, it also has a few downsides:
- Every feature requires installing a particular plugin. Luckily, many plugins are available, but sadly — if they are not complementary, they can slow your website down.
- Although WordPress’s security constantly evolves, the platform is often a target of many hacker attacks — it handles approximately 13,000 attacks daily.
- It can get pricier than you expect. Although you control all the premium features expenses, WordPress websites require constant maintenance, which causes additional monthly costs besides your initial website development budget.
WordPress is the most popular CMS, but even the brightest solutions aren’t suitable for everyone — some look for more straightforward or eCommerce-oriented platforms. WordPress alternatives can be CMSs or website builders. Here are our top five picks:
- Drupal — CMS is primarily used to create websites for international businesses, government, and educational institutions. WordPress and Drupal together occupy 60% of CMS marketing share. Drupal is free to use, but users have to pay for the site’s domain registration and Drupal hosting.
- Joomla — self-hosted, open-source CMS suitable for all website types. It provides 70 language translations, more than 8000 extensions, flexible design and advanced security features. Joomla is free, but you’ll have to pay for the domain name and web hosting since this is a self-hosted platform.
- Wix — hosted website builder suitable for beginners (it doesn't require coding knowledge). It provides eCommerce functionalities and is ideal for a smaller online shop. Personal and professional website plans cost between $4.50 and $26 per month, while Business and eCommerce plans cost from $17 to $35 per month.
- Squarespace — website builder with visually appealing template designs. It combines blogging and eCommerce features with built-in marketing tools and a video studio. Squarespace doesn't have a free plan, but four premium versions are Personal for $16, Business for $26, Basic Commerce for $35 and Advanced Commerce for $54 per month.
- Shopify — website builder specialized in eCommerce stores. Besides eCommerce functionalities, it supports drop shipping, allows blogging and has attractive mobile-responsive themes. Shopify doesn't have a free version. There are three plans – Basic Shopify for $29, Shopify for $79 and Advanced Shopify for $299 per month.
When deciding which platform to use for your website, consider the intent of use, customization requirements, available budget and your technical knowledge — or simply ask a professional WordPress development agency for an evaluation.
How Much Does WordPress Cost: Final Thoughts
Providing an answer to the question, “How much does WordPress cost?” is not that simple — as you can see, it can be free, but it can also cost you thousands of dollars, depending on your business requirements.
When building a WordPress website, start with the basic features and use a free theme and as many free plugins as possible. Once your website gains visibility and starts attracting profit, you can upgrade it using premium features and templates
Now that you approximately know WordPress's price, all you have left is to plan your budget and take action — alone or with the assistance of a WordPress web design agency.