Why Is WordPress Free? Who Sponsors It? Are There Hidden Costs? Find Out Answers HERE

We’ve all grown up with a thought that the only free cheese is in the mouse trap. Nothing of good-quality comes for free...and perhaps, it shouldn’t be.

BUT the rule would not be a rule without an exception. Today we’ll speak about WordPress - the most popular Content Management System available for free!

Unlike many WP competitors on the market, such a cool and useful product like WordPress comes at no cost. The other “free” services are super limited and would simply use your site as an ad platform. Hardly anyone would like to spoil their main page design with ugly ad banners or receive a third-party domain name.

WordPress is a whole different story. Most people are surprised to find out they don’t need to pay for WP services. So their next question would always be: Why is WordPress actually free?

In this post, I will give you answers to the most popular questions about WordPress. Read further if you want to know:

  • Why is WordPress free?
  • Who sponsors this engine?
  • Does WordPress have hidden costs?
  • How much do you need to spend on running a WP website?
  • And… where is the catch?

WordPress Templates

So...Why Is WordPress Free?

No more stalling; let me clarify the major question right now. The reason why WordPress is available for free is that it’s an open source content management system (CMS). And first of all, it means FREE ACCESS to the engine rather than being completely free.

You may ask, what is the difference? It’s easy. Open source software provides you with the freedom to use, modify, develop, and distribute software or frameworks without paying for it.

However, this might imply additional costs sometime later. We’ll discuss costs particularly for the use of WordPress software at the end of this article.

For now, let’s move on to the next logical question...

Why Would They Not Sell WordPress?

Come on! If WordPress is as good as they say, why not make a lot of money selling it?

This statement would only make sense if WordPress was owned by a person or a company. In reality, it’s an open-space product with thousands of people engaged. There still exists a team of main developers responsible for the product creation and improvement but the software code is open for everyone. Regular users can contribute in many ways - by suggesting new features, reporting bugs, creating patches, and more. For the most active contributors, there is a chance to become one of the WP team leaders.

In general, there is a whole philosophy standing behind open source software. People believe software is not a material good, that it was created one time and doesn’t have a net cost for each “copy.” That’s why selling its copies with no net cost is considered increasingly unfair.

How about you, do you think it’s not completely right to charge for software? Share your opinion in the comment section.

If WP Software Is Free, Who Sponsors It?

For now, we know WordPress.org is an open space content management system with an openly shared code. The actual WordPress founders get no revenue from the software distribution. The only two main components allowing them to get income from their job are products and services based on the particular software. WP developers and consultants also create custom WordPress websites, various apps, and plugins. In fact, their annual income is usually estimated in six-figure numbers.

WordPress.org vs. WordPress.com

People often get confused about why there are two different websites with nearly the same names - WordPress.org and WordPress.com. The first one is a self-hosted free blogging platform - the one that we initially mean when speaking of WordPress. The second one is a paid hosted platform run by a commercial company called Automattic.

The owner of WordPress.com is one of the co-founders and developers of WordPress software, Matt Mullenweg. Mullenweg decided to create an alternative WordPress-hosted platform with all the necessary tools and services already included in the package. With proper assistance, any person - even one with no particular coding knowledge - can start and manage a website easily.

The only ‘but’ is the service cost. WordPress.com is by far not the cheapest option for launching and maintaining a business website. The cheapest plan lacks decent options and might not be enough for running even a novice business project. The more flexible options you need - the more expensive it will be. And by “expensive” we mean at least a couple of thousand dollars a month…

Any Alternative Services to WordPress.com?

There exists a thousand other choices! But what will be your most suitable option?
According to 2019 statistics by BuiltWith, more than half of the world’s websites are WordPress-based.

statistics builtwith

Does this mean WordPress will suit you too? Not necessarily. But it’s a wonderful hosting platform for novice users who have no coding expertise.

WordPress allows you to work with third-party services and products; for instance, with high-quality WordPress themes and plugins from TemplateMonster. The software lets you modify the website design and manage its functions in a visual drag-and-drop manner.

Currently, the marketplace offers users to join ONE membership. It’s one of the greatest deals you’ll ever find. For less than $19/mo, you’ll get access to a whole set of premium WP and other CMS themes, powerful website builders, decent plugins, and a bunch of top-notch templates. There are no limitations on the number of installations - download as many as you want! All of that comes with 24/7 technical support, 1 year of free hosting, and several more perks you can read about below:

choose one

Does WordPress Have Hidden Costs?

WordPress.org claims to be free open-source software, doesn’t it? Well, technically, it really is. On the other hand, you can’t actually start a website using WP at no cost.

What is WordPress anyway? It’s a CMS (content management system) to help you create and edit website content in an easier way. But having a managing platform and a complete website is only half of the job...

To place the site on the web and make it “visible” for other users, you’ll need to 1) purchase hosting and 2) register a domain name. Without these steps, your website will simply not exist. We’ll talk more about a hosting service and domain name registration below.

Meanwhile, creating a fully-fledged webpage indeed requires some costs (they can be minimal). But can we really call those costs “hidden”–Hardly. Every website owner must sooner or later deal with the costs related to a hosting service and domain name registration, and it’s a well-known fact.

How Much It Costs To Run a WP Website

So now you may actually wonder how much it costs to run a fully-fledged website on free WordPress, right? We already know about web hosting and a domain name but, unfortunately for your budget, there exists still more.

Obligatory Costs to Run a WP Website:

  • Web hosting
  • SSL certificate (not always)
  • Domain name
Additional Costs:
  • Themes and templates
  • Plugins/extensions (apps)
  • e-commerce features

Web Hosting

Hosting service should become one of the most important items on your list. The price for hosting plans varies from as low as $5-6 and up to $900/mo. The range is huge, so you’ve got to choose your perfect plan according to the required bandwidth and budget.

You can also host your website using the WordPress.com hosting service. The cheaper hosting you take - the lower quality and the worse site performance you get. Pricier hosting options are more flexible and include advanced features like resource isolation (you will not share resources with anyone else), or others.

SSL Certificate

Most likely, you will also need to purchase an SSL certificate. Non-business websites can get away with free options; for the others, however, it’s recommended to obtain an EV SSL certificate. On average, they’ll cost you $50 to $200 per year.

Domain Name

You can buy a domain name from any suitable registrar. The domain name will cost you approximately $10 to $30 per year.

Themes and Templates

“I’m just gonna use free WordPress themes - they are totally okay.” No doubt, the software offers plenty of great website solutions. Most beginners will even consider free WP themes a decent web solution. But in fact, it’s really not…

If you build a business website for a serious company, you won’t be happy with the functionally offered by a standard free WordPress template. Purchasing an $80 paid template ONE time will give you a hundred more opportunities and, at the end of the day, guarantee a better visitor’s flow. Also keep in mind, the most common free themes have been used millions of times by everyone, so your website design will no longer be “exclusive.”

Along with the WordPress standard paid themes, take a look at WP products offered in the TemplateMonster marketplace. The prices for premium website templates range from$75 to $200. This also includes technical support and updates, which is typically unavailable for users of free themes and plugins.

Let’s be honest, the cost for one template is way more pleasant than the services of an individual web developer. The price tag here will typically range from $700 to $10,000.

Plugins and Extensions

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

What plugins are useful for an average business website? Here is a brief list of both free and paid web solutions you might be interested in:

Important: Stick to the most necessary plugins. Too many installed plugins will slow down your website speed.

E-commerce Features

Creating a WordPress-based online store may seem like a challenge, but it turns easier on practice. Although WordPress lacks the e-commerce features by default, there exists plenty of solutions to fill this gap.

Free WordPress e-commerce plugins are WooCommerce, Easy Digital Downloads and Shopp. The other plugins to expend the e-commerce opportunities are Inventory Manager, Recurring Payments, and others. They will cost you $50 to $200 depending on your needs.

Final Price?

Obviously, the cost of different services to help you run a website varies widely - from as low as a couple of hundred dollars to several thousand! The price depends on the number of products and services you’d like to have on the site, how quickly it should be launched, how safe it should be, and how much traffic you want to handle.

So...Where is The Catch?

Should there be any? WordPress is a transparent project. It helps to launch and support millions of websites every year all over the world. But most importantly, it’s made by people for other people.

We hope that this article clarified several important questions related to WordPress in general, as well as its other business projects. Feel welcome to leave your feedback about this CMS right in the comment section.

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Julia Minnie

Meet the girl who writes better than she talks. Spent 5 years on master's degree in modern German communications and on content writing. Web trends hunter, passionate traveler, Reese's lover. Facebook

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