Is a WordPress Website Really Free? The question is simple. The answer is not quite that simple. There are different aspects to consider. Let’s look at the facts.
In order to get to the bottom of the question of whether a website with WordPress is actually free, we first have to clarify what WordPress actually is. WordPress itself is a content management system, i.e. a piece of software.
This piece of software is released under an open source license. This means that the program code is freely available and can be viewed and changed by anyone. The licensing model that WordPress uses is called the GPL.
First of all, open source only means that the program code is public. This does not necessarily mean that the software is offered free of charge. The licensing model also allows the software to be sold.
However, for the most part, open source software is free. This also applies to WordPress. The software is actually completely free. There are no one-time or ongoing costs.
The WordPress software can be downloaded from wordpress.org and used as you wish. Commercial use is also possible without incurring license costs.
However, the software alone is not enough to run a website. The software must be installed somewhere on a device. In the case of WordPress, a web server is required on which the software is installed.
Cost factor 1: hosting and domain
A web server is required to run your own website. On the one hand, the web server software and the content management system – for example WordPress – must run on this server.
Monthly costs are incurred for renting such a server. How high these costs are depends on the requirements. A website that gets a few hundred visitors a month has different hosting requirements than a website that gets millions of monthly visitors.
For smaller websites, a so-called web space is usually sufficient. This is storage space on a web server. The websites of several customers run on one and the same server. This is also referred to as shared hosting.
In this case, there is no need to rent a complete server. Several customers share the resources of a server. The costs are low at just a few euros per month.
In addition, you also need a domain for your website – i.e. an address via which the website should be accessible, such as myblog.com.
With some hosting packages, the costs for the domain are already included in the package price. If this is not the case, a domain costs around 20 euros per year.
Isn’t that also free?
At wordpress.com you can create a completely free website based on WordPress. However, this is associated with certain restrictions.
On the one hand, not just any themes and plugins can be installed. More on that later. On the other hand, the free version only includes a so-called sub-domain such as myblog.wordress.com. In addition, advertising for wordpress.com is displayed.
Besides the free plan, wordpress.com also offers paid plans that offer more features. This includes, for example, using your own domain name. However, wordpress.com is then no longer free.
More information is available in the article Basic knowledge – #6 What is the difference between wordpress.org and wordpress.com? to find.
Cost factor 2: Theme and plugin
Your website needs a design. With WordPress, the design is determined by the so-called #theme. There are more than 1,000 themes to choose from in the wordpress.org theme directory. These are all free.
But there are also tons of paid themes. Many themes that are offered free of charge have a paid premium version with more functions.
Whether a free theme is sufficient or whether a paid theme is necessary or useful must be checked and carefully considered. One advantage of paid themes is definitely the support from the manufacturer.
Although providers of free themes usually provide online support, as a paying customer you can rightly expect more support. A premium theme is available for around 50 euros.
The license conditions must be observed. Often the price only includes support for a limited time. And with some themes you only get updates for a limited time.
It is quite common to have to budget for this cost annually to continue receiving updates and support.
Probably every WordPress website needs one or the other #plugin. There are currently more than 55,000 free plugins in the wordpress.org plugin directory. The previous statements about themes all apply to plugins as well.
Cost factor 3: time
This brings us to the biggest cost factor, the time to be spent. WordPress installs in minutes. Many hosters offer 1-click installations. This allows WordPress to be installed with just one click. Technical knowledge is not necessary.
A theme and the necessary plugins are also quickly installed. But what about choosing the right theme? And with the configuration until everything looks the way you want it to? Which plugins are necessary and how are they configured?
Many hours can be necessary before the website can go online. If it is also the first website, of course, the necessary know-how must first be acquired.
WordPress is relatively simple and easy to learn. Nevertheless, the learning effort should not be underestimated.
Either you have the website created by a professional or you invest a lot of time in the creation yourself. The mistake often made is not to put a price tag on one’s own time.
That might be fine if it’s a hobby. But even then, the time required should be taken into account. If you need a website for your business – no matter how small – it is usually better to leave it to a professional.
It is a fallacy that one’s own time does not incur any costs. The time should rather be spent on your own business than on creating a website.
The WordPress software itself is free. It is also possible to actually run a WordPress website completely #free. However, this comes with limitations. A very large part of the WordPress universe is then not available.
If you want to use the full functionality of WordPress, you have to operate WordPress yourself. There are costs for this
If the requirements are more extensive, the operation can quickly become expensive. Anyone who has such requirements must also reckon with these costs. For your own small website, a package for a few euros per month is usually sufficient.
The installation costs should not be underestimated. A large number of themes and plugins are also available free of charge. Maybe that’s enough. The biggest cost factor is the effort involved in setting it up. Even if it is “only” your own time.