What makes WordPress free (and what doesn’t!)

You’ve probably heard that WordPress is free, but what does that really mean? Today, we’re diving into what makes WordPress free, and what might cost you a few bucks along the way.

So, here’s the scoop: at its core, WordPress is indeed free. The actual software, known as WordPress core, won’t cost you a dime. It’s open-source, which means it’s like the free samples at the grocery store – there for the taking, no strings attached. 

You can download it, use it, tweak it, and customize it to your heart’s content, all without reaching for your wallet.

While WordPress itself is free, setting up and running a website can still come with some hidden costs. I’m tired of “making a house” analogy in this context, so bear with me here.

Right up to launching your website, all you’re really paying for is some space on a hosting server and a domain name. Your free installation of WordPress lives there. 

Here’s where things get interesting: you can actually set up a pretty pro-looking website without breaking the bank. With a bit of savvy and some deliberate use of free and low-cost plugins and themes, you can keep your expenses down while still creating a site that’s both functional and stylish. 

Being thrifty is part of the trade!

In this article, we’re going to break it all down for you. We’ll talk about what you can get for free with WordPress, what might cost you a few bucks, and how to navigate the whole process. 

But, let’s make sure WordPress is really what you need in the first place.

Why use WordPress?

There’s tons of reasons why web developers choose WordPress. But as a website owner, you have to consider the matter a little differently. Here’s the top 5 reasons to actually want your site to WordPress.

WordPress is easy to use for a beginner

WordPress welcomes everyone, regardless of their skill level. The WordPress dashboard is designed with simplicity in mind, making it accessible even to those without a computer engineering background. From installing themes to adding functionality with plugins, it’s all done on a graphical interface, requiring almost no coding.

WordPress supports all media types

Websites are all about attention, and there’s so much you need to hold it effectively on your website. Thankfully, WordPress doesn’t limit your creativity. Whether it’s text, images, or videos, you have the freedom to integrate any media type seamlessly into your website. With such flexibility at your fingertips, your website can be whatever you imagine.

WordPress is secure

WordPress recognizes the need for security and prioritizes the protection of your data and that of your customers. Security in WordPress has a variable aspect to it. One way it keeps your website safe is by diligently updating plugins and the core itself. Additionally, WordPress offers a suite of security features, such as automatic logout for idle users and the option for two-factor authentication, adding to your security.

WordPress is open-source

At the heart of WordPress lies its open-source nature. This means that the source code is freely available for anyone to modify and redistribute, fostering a collaborative environment where individuals can contribute their ideas to enhance the platform. That’s exactly how the developers intended it to be. Something you can use to create your own vision.

WordPress is SEO-friendly

Building a website is just the first step; ensuring its visibility in search engine results is just as important. WordPress shines in this regard, offering a plethora of SEO tools and native capabilities to increase your sites visibility while conveying authenticity to Serps like Google and Bing.

What is WordPress good for?

Now, there’s tons of reasons why you’d need a website. In other words, not all websites serve the same purpose. Here’s a list of purposes WordPress is exceptionally good for.

Hobby or Lifestyle Blogs

WordPress, with its roots deep in the blogging culture, offers features tailored for hobbyists and lifestyle bloggers. It offers the perfect canvas to organize your thoughts with ease using posts, tags, and categories, while engaging with your audience through interactive comments that you can moderate. 

Whether you prefer a sleek magazine layout or a dynamic tiled design, WordPress has themes to suit every taste. Enhance your blog’s functionality by incorporating plugins for social sharing, click-to-tweet, and more.

Professional Portfolios

Using WordPress array of themes designed for professional portfolios are more than capable of showcasing your personal brand with finesse. Utilize the “Pages” feature to craft your homepage, About page, and contact page, while leveraging “Posts” to highlight your portfolio pieces in various formats, from images to videos.

Business Websites

The full potential of WordPress for your business website is in leveraging its robust CMS capabilities and vibrant open-source community. Whether you’re establishing a small startup or managing a thriving enterprise, WordPress offers themes and plugins tailored to your needs. 

Enhance functionality with an array of plugins for SEO optimization, lead generation, analytics, and more, empowering your business to thrive.

E-Commerce Stores

You can even transform your WordPress website into a bustling online store with the help of e-commerce plugins like WooCommerce. Manage products, payments, and shipping effortlessly from the backend, while providing visitors with a seamless shopping experience on the frontend. 

Mobile Applications

User accessibility is another aspect you can cover by converting your WordPress site into a mobile application using specialized plugins. Provide users with a convenient way to access your site’s features on the go, offering a seamless browsing experience that rivals traditional web browsers. 

Membership Sites

Monetizing your content is just as possible by creating exclusive membership sites with WordPress plugins designed for this purpose. Easily manage payments, set up member levels, and monitor signups, empowering you to deliver premium content to your loyal subscribers. Building and managing a thriving membership community has never been easier, allowing you to monetize your efforts and cultivate a dedicated audience.

Can you work on WordPress for free?

Yes! The WordPress software itself is 100% free and open source. Just head over to WordPress.org and download the full, unrestricted WordPress software without spending a penny.

Open-source, by definition, refers to software that’s publicly accessible. WordPress is available through what’s called a General Public License or, GPL for short. GPL ensures the following when it comes to use of software,

WordPress GPL License allows

  • WordPress is free to use for any purpose you want
  • You can modify every aspect of WordPress
  • Redistribution of the source code is legal
  • You can publish improvements and modifications you make

Three free aspects of WordPress with potential hidden costs

Let’s delve into the factors that could influence the cost of your WordPress website, beyond just hosting and domain name,


When it comes to extending your site’s functionality, plugins are the go-to solution in WordPress. With thousands of free options available on the repository, you’re likely to find what you need without spending a dime. However, if you require more advanced features, premium plugins may be worth considering. 

While many premium versions hover around the $20-30 mark for a yearly license (don’t hold me to this, I know plugins that charge $100+ too), the cost can add up if you rely on multiple premium plugins. Nevertheless, with the abundance of free alternatives, finding the right solution is all.


Selecting the right theme defines your website’s aesthetic and functionality for the most part. While there’s no shortage of free themes on the official directory, premium themes offer additional functionalities such as advanced page builders and pre-built pages. 

While premium licenses for themes may be pricier than plugins, typically around $60 for a popular theme, the investment often includes automatic updates and developer support. Which are necessary to maintain the security and functioning of your site. Prioritize themes with active communities and regular updates to ensure longevity and compatibility.

Professional Development and Support Services

While proficiency in WordPress can often negate the need for professional services, technical challenges may come up that require expert intervention. Should you encounter such this, hiring a professional developer could cost around $30-75 per hour for custom work. 

While platforms like Upwork may offer lower rates, investing in professional support (in-house or outsourced) ensures timely resolutions. Moreover, consider affordable support services and leverage free online resources for help whenever possible.

Wrapping Up

Yes, WordPress is free. But WordPress does very little to begin with if you’re considering a full-blown business to run on it. You need hosting and domain names to get started. Which start anywhere from $10/year. 

Once you’ve got the site up and running does the real cost balance appear. Depending on your business needs, you’ll need anywhere between 10-20 plugins on your site. Most will be free but some obviously won’t. Pick and choose your plugins effectively and you can keep your costing below $100.

That being said, if you really want to run a business, or monetize in any way it’s better to invest the money instead of the time learning or finding a free solution. But it’s your business, you do you!

Until next time, happy serving!

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