WordPress is the world’s most popular content management system (CMS), powering over 40% of all websites on the internet. With its open-source software and thousands of free themes and plugins available, WordPress offers an incredibly flexible and powerful publishing platform. But is WordPress really free to use? Let’s take a closer look.
The WordPress Software is Free
The WordPress software itself is 100% free and open source. You can go to WordPress.org right now and download the full, unrestricted WordPress software without spending a penny.
Being open-source means the source code is available for anyone to view, modify and improve. The open-source development model encourages collaboration to make the software better. This is one of the main reasons WordPress has grown to be the dominant CMS online today.
Some key aspects of the open-source WordPress software:
- You can use WordPress for any purpose you want.
- You have full freedom to modify the software however you want.
- Redistribution and sharing of the source code is permitted.
- Anyone can make improvements to the code and release those modifications publicly.
So when it comes to the underlying software, WordPress is 100% free.
Domain Name and Web Hosting Costs
While the WordPress software itself is free, you still need a domain name and web hosting in order to make your WordPress site available online.
A domain name typically costs around £5-£15 per year. Web hosting prices can vary more significantly, but you can often find basic shared hosting for £5-£10 per month.
So at a minimum, expect to spend about £60-£100 annually to cover the costs of a domain and basic web hosting.
There are certainly ways to reduce these costs, like getting free web hosting or looking for domain name promos. But generally, you’ll need to budget something for these aspects.
Premium Plugins and Themes
Beyond the base WordPress software, there are thousands of free WordPress themes and plugins available to expand the functionality of your site.
However, the most robust, full-featured plugins and themes often come with a price tag. These “premium” add-ons provide extra functionality, options, and support.
For example, a free contact form plugin may only provide basic features, while a premium one will include advanced spam filtering, email automation, conditional logic, etc.
Premium themes can make building a site much easier, with drag-and-drop page builders, hundreds of customisable design options, and more.
Expect to pay anywhere from £20 to £100+ for these premium plugins and themes. So while not mandatory, these paid add-ons can enhance your site.
If you want to save time and money, building your WordPress site yourself is the most budget-friendly option.
However, you may wish to hire a web developer, designer, or agency to customise your site. Their professional services will provide a better looking, better performing end result.
But this expertise comes at a cost. Freelance WordPress developers often charge £30 to £100 per hour. Designers and agencies also have various pricing models, but expect to invest at least a few hundred to a few thousand pounds.
You may also need ongoing maintenance and support for your WordPress site after it’s built. This includes tasks like security updates, backups, plugin updates, and technical troubleshooting. Maintenance plans range from £25 per month to £500+ depending on your needs.
So if you want to outsource any aspect of your WordPress site build or ongoing upkeep, be prepared for these added costs.
Is WordPress Ultimately Free?
While the open source WordPress software is free, launching and running a WordPress site does require some financial investment. You’ll need a domain name, web hosting, and likely some paid plugins/themes.
Additional services like custom development and design are optional costs.
So in summary:
- The WordPress software is 100% free
- Domain and hosting have costs
- Premium plugins/themes enhance functionality
- Professional services provide customisation
With some savvy choices, you can launch a WordPress site for under £100 annually. But for a more advanced WordPress site, expect a budget of a few hundred pounds per year.
So while “free” might not tell the whole story, WordPress still provides tremendous value. No other CMS matches WordPress for features, flexibility, and overall cost.