WordPress.org vs. WordPress.com
First, let's clarify the difference between the two main WordPress versions:
- WordPress.org: The self-hosted, open-source version. You download the software and install it on your server. Technically free, but you'll need to pay for hosting and a domain name.
- WordPress.com: The hosted version, where your site is hosted on WordPress's servers. There's a free plan with basic features, but more advanced functionality requires a paid plan.
Now, let's dive into the costs associated with both versions.
Understanding the Costs of WordPress.org
While the software itself is free, there are expenses tied to creating and maintaining a WordPress.org site:
- Domain Name: To have a custom domain (e.g., www.example.com), you need to purchase a domain name. Prices vary, but generally range from $10 to $20 per year.
- Web Hosting: A web host stores your site files and makes them accessible online. Hosting costs depend on the provider and plan you choose, with shared hosting typically starting around $3 to $10 per month.
- Themes and Plugins: Many free themes and plugins are available, but premium options often provide better functionality and support. Premium themes typically cost $30 to $100, while plugins can range from $20 to several hundred dollars, depending on the complexity.
- Maintenance and Security: Regular updates, backups, and security measures are essential for maintaining a healthy website. Some of these tasks can be managed using free plugins, but professional services can provide additional peace of mind. Expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $200 per month for managed WordPress services.
Evaluating the Costs of WordPress.com
WordPress.com offers a range of plans, from free to paid options with varying features:
- Free Plan: The basic plan includes 3 GB of storage, WordPress.com branding, and a subdomain (e.g., www.example.wordpress.com). Limited customization options and no plugin support.
- Personal Plan (€4 per month, paid annually): This plan offers a custom domain, 6 GB of storage, and removes WordPress.com ads. Still limited customization and no plugin support.
- Premium Plan (€8 per month, paid annually): With 13 GB of storage, this plan adds advanced design tools, custom CSS, and access to premium themes. However, plugin support is still unavailable.
- Business Plan (€25 per month, paid annually): This plan includes 200 GB of storage, SEO tools, and plugin support. It's aimed at those who need more robust customization and functionality.
- eCommerce Plan (€45 per month, paid annually): Designed for online stores, this plan offers additional eCommerce features, such as payment processing and shipping options.
In Conclusion: Is WordPress Truly Free?
The short answer is no. While the core WordPress software is free, additional costs arise when it comes to hosting, domain names, themes, plugins, and maintenance. Depending on your requirements and the version you choose (WordPress.org or WordPress.com), the total cost of running a WordPress site can vary greatly.