How much does a WordPress website really cost?

The CMS WordPress often advertises itself as free, but if you look into it in a little more detail, you'll soon realize that this is only true in specific circumstances. In terms of the cost, the WordPress version you use and what you need your site to be able to do makes a huge difference. Here, we will show you a detailed summary of how WordPress pricing works and all the costs you really have to pay.

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Who can make good use of WordPress?

WordPress originally launched as a simple blogging platform, but today it has become one of the most popular content management systems (CMS) used by individuals, entrepreneurs, and big businesses, due to its major web presence and shop features. WordPress is at the base level an open-source solution, which means that anybody can freely access the source code and individually tailor and develop it. There is a huge developer community for all types of websites, and every feature has a suitable solution as either a theme or a plugin.

Is WordPress free?

It is precisely because it is an open-source solution that the question “How much does WordPress cost?” is usually answered with a quick “Nothing.” Concretely, however, this is only true in specific circumstances, i.e., when you choose the “free plan”. In other cases, using WordPress does cost money – here’s how it works.

WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org

The first important choice to make is between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. There are various costs on the .com site, which gives you ready-to-use WordPress software including hosting. With this, you can make your own WordPress website using set designs, themes, and plug-ins. This may seem like the easy choice at first, but later on, as your business expands and you need additional features or a shop, it will become a problem. You don’t get the source code with these WordPress packages, and you must therefore purchase extra themes or plugins. There’s more: the completely free version will also show advertisements on your new website. The .com version is therefore recommended for individual persons only, who may want to set up a quick and simple WordPress blog.

With WordPress.org, you can download theCMS code completely free. This gives you absolute freedom to choose your own designs and features. However, right at the beginnings of your WordPress website, the first costs appear: for hosting and for a domain.

Tip

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WordPress variants: Pricing comparison

 

WordPress.com

WordPress.org

Domain:

$4-68 per month or

$3-10 per month

Storage space:

Free for up to 3 GB; beyond that, from $4 per month

From about $4 per month for 50 GB

Themes:

From $0 to $68 as a one-time fee

Free/paid

Plug-ins:

From $10 per month to $60+ as a one-time fee

Free/paid

WordPress ads

From $4 to $68 per month

None

eCommerce

From $52 per month

Free/paid

What you need to bear in mind when reading the pricing list for WordPress.com is that you don’t need to add up all the individual lines – rather, they show the maximum range of prices. As an example, the free version is completely free, and ads can be hidden with the “personal” plan for $4 per month. In the top plan, the “eCommerce” plan at $45 per month (billed yearly), a free domain for one year is thrown in.

In terms of WordPress.org, the costs depend, for example, on whether you opt for a free or paid WordPress theme or plugins, as well as the specific shop system you want to include.

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How much does a WordPress site actually cost?

Let’s assume that you set up your website using the freely available code from WordPress.org. In this case, costs could start at around $70 per year ($14 for the domain and $56 for the hosting). If you need more webspace, several domain names with different extensions or increased security via an SSL certificate, the costs will start adding up. A lot more aspects can come into play before your finalized website goes live:

  • Basic installation and set-up
  • Implementation of security and data privacy measures
  • Themes
  • Plugins
  • Use of SEO and analysis features
  • Performance optimization
  • Regular maintenance and updates
  • If applicable, links to online stores

Obviously, the ultimate cost of your WordPress website will depend on how much you are able and willing to handle yourself. Yourtime is also valuable and is a cost factor to take into account. For other aspects, you will have to purchase additional features and tools which result in more time outlay for you. Below, we explain in detail about how extensive these individual extra tasks are.

Basic installation and set-up

If you have the technical skills, you can install and set up your WordPress website yourself. There are a ton of tutorials online that range from basic tips to how to set up security and data privacy measures. Experienced users would need about half a day for the initial set-up – if some pages are already ready to be filled out and go live, the time required will obviously go down. If you want to outsource the initial setting-up, you’ll likely be looking at a bill of several hundred to a good thousand dollars, depending on whether you go through an agency or a freelancer and depending on what security measures and other services are included.

Security and data protection measures

One of the advantages of WordPress is that there are already so many templates and plugins that meet all the current requirements. A lot of these plugins are free and can be set up in a relatively short amount of time. WordPress costs in this regard may reach a couple hundred dollars maximum, depending on how extensive the data protection measures are and whether you need to seek legal advice in the matter.

Themes

WordPress themes give your website its basic design. There are classic themes that you can get for free, but there are also more elaborate themes that can cost upwards of100 dollars. You could also consider having a theme developed for you personally – this is definitely the most expensive solution and could set you back several hundred dollars. Installing and setting up a theme should only take you a few hours at most.

Plugins

You can use WordPress plug-ins to expand your website by giving it extra features. These can range from simple table features to elaborate eCommerce systems – plugins can do it all. Here, too, there are both free and paid options. It’s difficult to give concrete examples of costs in this regard, because both the cost of the plugin itself and the time required to set it up will vary enormously.

SEO and analysis features

To optimize a WordPress site for search machines, one of the popular SEO plugins is Yoast SEO. To go along with this, you might need to adapt existing texts or images for SEO purposes. Analysis tools are often free, but they also need to be set up. In this regard too, costs arise in the form of your time spent (including both evaluating and implementing measures).

Performance optimization

In the early stages, it can also be worthwhile to invest a few hours into optimizing your loading times and other visible technical aspects, to make sure that both users and crawlers enjoy visiting your website. There are plugins that do this, too, or you can just spend a few hours making manual adjustments.

Regular maintenance and updates

During regular use, you absolutely need to keep an eye on the version of WordPress and the plugins you use to make sure they are up to date, identify and address vulnerabilities quickly, keep regular back-ups, and clean your caches and databases. Small agencies offer WordPress maintenance services at prices starting around $50 per month.

Links to online stores

Setting up an online store with WordPress is a whole different ball game. While there are plugins that offer the relevant features to do this, many other factors come into play, such as data privacy requirements, links to payment platforms and databases, and more. For this reason, it is difficult to put a ballpark figure on how much WordPress really costs for this. However, even small businesses should be prepared for a hefty four-figure bill.

Tip

Build on your WordPress expertise with the following guides:

- Optimizing WordPress performance

- Useful shortcuts for WordPress

- Linking videos in WordPress

Third-party support for WordPress – Pricing for agencies and the like

If you opt for third-party support to set up your WordPress website, you’ll need to invest little to none of your own time. However, on top of the costs for plug-ins, themes and other aspects relating to the software, this of course means you will also have to find and pay developers, potentially designers, as well as project and content managers.

If you just need a little technical help, freelance WordPress developers are the cheapest and quickest solution. For this service, you’ll likely pay an hourly fee of $20-100. Freelancers with other specialties, such as design, text and content management are often (a little) cheaper.

If you need help with a lot of aspects, it might be worthwhile turning to agencies, as they have project managers to gather the individual experts on your behalf. However, these are obviously also included in the bill, which can therefore reach several thousand dollars for even small WordPress websites.

Tip

Costs in more detail: how much does a domain cost and how much does a full website cost, independently of the system? Read more in our detailed guides.

Summary: How much does a WordPress website cost?

The real cost of a WordPress website depends on two main factors: What do you need your site to do? And how much can and will you do by yourself?

Individuals who just want to run a blog can use WordPress at little to no cost.

People who dream bigger or who want a business website will be looking at an initial set-up cost of $1150-2300, including the domain, hosting, installation and set-up of basic themes and plugins, security checks, and SEO tools. This estimate assumes that you use free extensions and designs and work with freelance developers. If you need advice and support for the design and content or if you want to set up a store with WordPress, you’ll have to dig deeper into your pockets.

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