- Aug 20, 2020
- by Paris Backston
You may know that WordPress is free and open-source. However, this only tells part of the story. If you’re looking to build a WordPress website, you’ll need to have a budget in place in almost all circumstances. However, the real question is: How much does a WordPress website really cost?
In reality, it’s pretty hard to place a specific price tag on a WordPress site. Generally, the amount of money you’ll need will mostly depend on the type and number of resources you intend to add to the site.
In this article, we’ll first examine what it means when we say WordPress is free. We’ll then take a look at the actual costs involved when using the platform. Join us as we get to it!
Is WordPress Really Free?
The first thing many discuss when talking about the cost of a WordPress site is the cost. When we say WordPress is “free,” we’re basically referring to the core software, both in terms of cost and usage rights.
In other words, virtually anyone can download the WordPress software and work with it as they wish. The idea behind open-source software – as opposed to ‘closed-source’ proprietary software – is that it is always distributed for free and offers freedom of use.
You may be wondering how the founders and other WordPress developers make money. The major way people make money with WordPress is by developing different user-oriented solutions based on the free open-source software. Different companies and individual developers provide products and services such as themes, plugins, and hosting services, which they sell for profit.
You’ll also come across the Software as a Service (SaaS) model. The idea is to sell support services as a primary source of income, rather than the software itself.
In essence, while the core software is free to download and use, you’ll certainly need to pay before you can get your site up and running.
How Much Does a WordPress Website Really Cost (4 Key Areas)?
Let’s break down some of the key areas you’ll need to consider when spending to create your WordPress website – starting with arguably the most important factor.
1. How Much Does WordPress Hosting Cost?
When it comes to your WordPress site, the first thing you’ll want to consider is web hosting. In simple terms, this helps you store all your site’s files on a remote server, to offer access to any user in the world. WordPress-specific hosting is tailored to the platform, and usually includes under the hood tweaks to optimize your site’s running.
Depending on your needs and the type of site you intend to build, the cost of WordPress hosting can vary very widely. You can see prices ranging from as low as $0.99 per month into the thousands. In many cases, hosts will offer cheaper rates for longer-term contracts.
You’ll find that the resources offered in terms of storage, backup, e-commerce features, and more contribute to a higher price here. The most expensive WordPress plans are often managed web hosting plans with enterprise-scale features. Consequently, shared hosting plans usually offer the cheapest rates.
The major difference between managed and unmanaged WordPress hosting is that your provider carries out server maintenance and optimizations on your behalf. However, if you’re on a budget, or have existing server admin knowledge, unmanaged hosting may be for you.
2. How Much Does a Domain Name Cost?
Once you have the right web host, your domain name is usually next on your to-do list. These are only two mandatory costs involved with owning a WordPress site. A domain name is essentially a designated address unique to your website that other users can type in their browser to locate your site. You’ll need to employ the services of a domain name registrar to secure one.
The cost of your domain name depends on the registrar and the Top-Level Domain (TLD) you choose (such as .com, .org, etc.). In many cases, web hosting provide domain names, or are partnered with a registrar. While you’re signing up for a hosting plan, you’ll be prompted to either register a new domain or migrate an existing one.
In the first year of usage, domain names can be purchased for as low as $0.99. However, renewal prices often hover around $9.99 and $14.99. Existing domain names can even be more expensive, depending on its value to others. For example, it’s reported that the most expensive domain name ever sold – cars.com — was valued at $872 million.
3. How Much Does It Cost to Design a WordPress Website?
Before your site goes live, you’ll want to tweak its appearance to suit your goals. A WordPress theme is an ideal for editing the design of your site. As far as self-hosted WordPress is concerned, the Theme Directory offers thousands of free designs to install and activate.
However, if you’re looking for something to meet your unique requirements, you may want to look into premium themes. On average, they’ll cost between $30-$100 per year, and you’ll often get dedicated support, regular updates and much more besides.
You may also want to consider hiring a professional WordPress designer if you have requirements you’re not able to implement yourself. This type of service comes at a high cost though, and you’ll want to dedicate a good four-figure chunk of cash to its development in many cases.
4. How Much Do WordPress Plugins Cost?
The final area of note is plugins. WordPress plugins add extra functionality to your site. Just like themes, you can browse thousands of fully-featured plugins in the Plugin Directory. The most essential WordPress plugins are often free to use, and we’d argue that there’s less need for premium options unless you require specific functionality.
If premium plugins are on your ‘must-have’ list, you can expect to pay as low as $15 per year for some individual plugins. Recent research on WordPress plugin prices revealed that the average price is $138, although we’d suggest $50–100 per year is more realistic.
Generally, the most expensive WordPress plugins have more complex feature sets, or combine multiple use cases – such as security or e-commerce plugins.
To summarise, it’s clear that building a WordPress site will almost certainly cost you money. Though the core software is free to download and use, you’ll likely need to purchase additional elements to help get your site ready for its first visitors.
Here are the four basic important components of a WordPress site and how much you can expect to pay for them:
- WordPress hosting. Good hosting will often set you back around $10 per month over the long-term.
- Domain registration. Expect to pay $9.99–14.99 per year for a common TLD from many domain registrars.
- Themes. They can be found for free, although premium themes ranging from $30 to $100 per year is a sound investment.
- Plugins. Many are free, although around $50–100 for specific premium plugin is common.
Image credits: cottonbro.