If you are reading this article, you are most likely already familiar with WordPress and want to know more.
WordPress is the most popular CMS out there for quickly building a website. While we’re not talking about content management systems and just website development in general, WordPress still powers over 43% of all websites today.
Because the platform is so popular, it’s only natural that there is a lot of WordPress information to look into. Accessing all of this sometimes seemingly contradictory information can be a bit intimidating for beginners. We’ve all been there once.
In this tutorial, I’ll answer some of the most common questions you may have about WordPress, including whether WordPress is free or not. The short answer is, yes, WordPress is free. However, there is a huge ecosystem built around the platform and not everything related to WordPress is completely free. I’ll break it all down in easy-to-understand sections.
One of the first things that confused me was the fact that there are two WordPress websites. One is WordPress.org and the other is WordPress.com. Which of these is the legitimate one? They both are!
WordPress was developed by Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little. The WordPress.org version is the original open source project where the main development of the CMS takes place. It is licensed under GPLv2 and everyone is free to contribute and use the software as they please. The WordPress.com version is a product of the Automattic company and the company itself was founded by Matt Mullenweg. WordPress.com makes it easier for you to get started with WordPress and websites in general if you are a complete beginner to everything.
I mentioned earlier that WordPress.org is free. What about WordPress.com? Technically, WordPress.com is also free in the sense that registered users can host their blogs on the website for free.
However, there are a few things you should keep in mind:
1. Hosting on WordPress.com is only free if you plan to host your website as a subdomain of wordpress.com like it something.wordpress.com. Creating a website with your own domain name like something.com will require you to purchase a paid plan.
2. The free WordPress.com plan also offers a number of other tools to help you get started quickly. However, there are many restrictions imposed on your account like limited theme selection and limited storage space etc. You can access more features and higher storage with the premium plans.
The important thing to note here is that WordPress.com is free and easy to set up because it takes care of things like hosting and installation. However, you are limited in your options. The only way to remove the limitations is to purchase a paid plan.
The open source version of WordPress.org is more difficult to set up but allows you to play around with the source code. It is also completely free to use. You can install it locally on your system to learn a lot about the platform.
Let’s say you later decide to host your website online. You don’t need to purchase a plan from WordPress.com to do this. You can also purchase your domain name from any registrar you wish. This gives you more freedom and flexibility in choosing your service providers.
The core WordPress software will still be free. You will only pay for the domain name and hosting.
In short, whether you can host your blog for free with WordPress depends on your answer to this question: Do you want to use your own custom domain name? If so, then you will have to shell out a few dollars. Otherwise, you can just create a free account and be good to go.
Remember that the core WordPress platform hosted on WordPress.org will always be free to use. However, you will have to spend some money to purchase a domain name and hosting. The price of hosting will depend on your hosting providers and the amount of resources you intend to use.
Are WordPress plugins free?
As the main topic we are discussing in this article is whether WordPress is free or not. I assume you’re not too familiar with the WordPress ecosystem. I will try to explain it briefly here.
WordPress is used by all types of people and companies. This includes students, hobbyists, NGOs, local businesses, government agencies, and even some Fortune 500 companies.
WordPress core code has a lot of features, but it’s not practical to implement all the features that might be needed by such a diverse user base. This will make the whole platform very bloated, possibly buggy and difficult to use.
This is where WordPress plugins come in. They are small pieces of code that extend the main functionality of the website. For example, not everyone wants to sell products on their website, but some people do. What are the options for people who want to set up an online store? They can install plugins like WooCommerce to get started.
Likewise, you can install plugins on your WordPress website for many things like improving SEO or displaying images in the gallery etc.
Now the question is: do those plugins give you all those great features for free? In some cases they are. For example, there are over 59,000 free plugins hosted on WordPress.org.
However, remember that the people who developed those plugins don’t always do it as a side project. Creating a plug-in and subsequent maintenance takes time and effort on their part. Many of these plugins therefore work on the freemium model. In other words, they create a free plugin with limited functionality to get users to install the plugins and then users can decide to buy a premium version of those plugins if they like and want to access more features.
Don’t be discouraged though. Many of these free plugins do their job quite well considering the fact that you don’t have to pay anything to use them.
Premium WordPress plugin
Free plugins won’t get you too far if you’re working on an ambitious and complicated project like setting up an eCommerce store or online learning platform. In these cases, you can save a significant amount of time and money by simply spending some money on a premium plugin.
People who develop premium plugins have an incentive to keep the plugin under development active, provide timely support, and add new features from time to time. This can be a win-win situation for both you and plugin developers.
There are many online marketplaces where you can purchase premium plugins. I highly recommend checking out CodeCanyon. Here you can find thousands of scripts and plugins for all your needs. This includes SEO, forums, social media, eCommerce, advertising, and more.
All plugins on CodeCanyon have been quality checked by Envato and come with free lifetime updates. You also have access to 6 months of free support.
Are WordPress themes free?
The appearance of your WordPress website largely depends on the theme you have installed and activated. When you first install WordPress, some themes will be installed automatically for you. They usually only provide an essential structure for your website. You can find a list of themes currently installed on your WordPress website by going to Appearance> Themes within the admin dashboard.
Hover your mouse over any of the theme preview images and you’ll see three different buttons to view theme details, a live preview, and a theme toggle button. You can also install new themes by clicking Add new button.
There are over 9000 free WordPress themes that you can install and activate on your website. It takes just a couple of minutes to try out a new theme. At this point, you can see that WordPress offers a lot of free themes just like free plugins.
The caveat here is that free themes will usually also try to push you towards a feature-rich premium theme or subscriptions that give you more features. This is understandable considering the fact that developers spend a lot of time creating these themes and need to earn some money to support themselves.
Premium WordPress Themes
One of the biggest benefits of using a premium theme is that it will give your website a refined look. Premium theme developers spend a lot of time creating something that makes your website stand out. Granted, the premium theme you buy isn’t entirely unique yet. However, it is most likely used by fewer people than a free theme.
I would also like to mention that you can modify any theme you install to add your own unique touch to it. This is exactly what many people do instead of starting from scratch.
If you decide to use a premium WordPress theme on your website, I would suggest browsing through the WordPress themes available on themeforest. All those premium themes have been quality checked by Envato, offer free lifetime updates, and you get 6 months of free support from theme developers. If needed, you can also extend support later at a discount.
Envato Elements: Unlimited download of premium assets
What if you don’t want to pay for every single premium theme or plugin you use on your website? In that case, a subscription to Envato Elements has you covered.
An Envato Elements subscription gives you access to over 10 million creative assets with unlimited downloads at a subscription fee of $ 16.50 per month. The subscription will give you access to not only thousands of premium WordPress themes and hundreds of premium WordPress plugins, but also other resources such as stock videos, music, sound effects, photos, images and more.
I would recommend reading the license terms for a better understanding of the service, but overall it’s a very good value proposition.
With all the information available, let’s summarize the entire post in a few sentences to clearly answer the question “Is WordPress free?”.
The core WordPress software is definitely free to use however you like. Of course, you will have to pay for hosting and your own custom domain name.
There are many plugins and themes on WordPress.org that are also completely free to use. You can use them to customize and extend the functionality of your website. However, you will have to pay to use some premium plugins and themes that provide extra features, support, and updates.
The great thing about WordPress is that with some effort you can even learn how to create your own custom WordPress themes and plugins. However, my recommendation would be that instead of starting from scratch, try using what already exists and expand its functionality.