Looking for an affordable platform on which to build your own website? Brand-spanking new to WordPress? Wondering if WordPress really is FREE to use to create you own stunning blog, portfolio site or online store? You’ve come to the right place! We’ve got the skinny on the costs associated with creating a site on the world’s most popular open-source content management system.
So… is WordPress free?
YES! As a CMS and web platform, WordPress is indeed entirely free for anyone to use.
That being said, WordPress’ amazing CMS is only part of the picture. Unlike some other platforms (like Squarespace and Wix) where necessities like hosting are built in to the total cost of using their service, WordPress focuses solely on doing what it does best – operating as a content management system. This means that, if you want to build a website on WordPress, there will be some inevitable third party costs associated with getting your site up and running.
Your costs can vary significantly depending on what you need you website to achieve for you, your own level of experience, and how much of your site build you can DIY.
Here’s what you can expect to pay for when you build a website on WordPress.
You’ll NEED to Pay for…
A domain is the ‘address’ – a string of letters and numbers – that internet users plug into their browser to access your website.
Every site needs an address, so you’ll need to add your domain purchase to your overall website budget. Depending on the name you intend to purchase, these can cost anywhere from a few dollars for the first year, right into an initial spend in the thousands to purchase a highly sought-after domain. You can get free domain registration when you bundle your domain purchase with your hosting (more on that in a second). Learn more about where to get a free domain name via our recent blog post on the subject.
Web hosting is a service that provides storage space and access for websites. Web hosting services store your website files in high-powered computers called web servers, and then transfer those files across the World Wide Web to people viewing your website.
Like domains, every published website needs hosting. Good quality hosting for WordPress starts at around $5 a month for a standard shared hosting plan, although the amount you pay will depend on how much storage capacity you need. You can learn more about web hosting options and providers via our recommendations on the best WordPress hosting.
You May Want to Pay for…
Your WordPress theme provides the entire front end styling of your WP website, such as your site’s overall design, font styling, colors, and layouts.
There are many fantastic WordPress themes available completely FREE (like the responsive free WordPress themes we design!), and there are just as many themes available that come at a cost. If you’re looking for a very specific design, or a particular functionality built right into your theme, you may want to consider investing in a premium theme for your website. These can range from around $25 right through to more than $100, depending on the complexity of the theme, who has designed it, where it is being sold, and what kind of license you purchase with it (ie, use on a single site, developer use on multiple sites, or exclusive use where you purchase that theme outright).
If you are considering the purchase of a premium theme, be sure to do your research. Not all themes are created equal. Just because a site is charging a premium price doesn’t mean they’re offering a premium product. Always check user reviews and average ratings for some peace of mind before making a purchase.
A plugin is a piece of software that can be added to a WordPress website to extend functionality or add new features.
Just like themes, there are thousands of free and paid plugins available to help you increase your website’s functionality. There are 49,663 (and counting!) FREE plugins available via the official WordPress Plugin Directory, and hundreds more paid options available from specialist plugin developers such as CodeCanyon, WooCommerce and Elegant Themes.
Whether you need to add more money into your WordPress website budget for plugins depends on what kind of functionality you want to add, and whether or not you feel the free plugins currently available will do the trick. Again – be sure to check user reviews and average ratings before playing for premium plugins.
Customization and Support
Want a completely custom WordPress website that’s built from the ground up especially to meet your design brief and business goals? A website developer can certainly help you with that! But, like any professional offering a service, you’ll need to pay them for their time.
Similarly, if you find you need additional support setting up your WordPress site, or customizing your theme and functionality, it can really be worth the investment to call in the experts and have them take care of the tricky stuff for you. Especially if this is your first time creating a site or using the WP platform.
Check out our post on where to find a freelance WordPress developer to learn more.