WordPress Pricing and Hosting Plans Evaluated 2020
WordPress prides itself on being the most widely used content management system (CMS) on the market today. It is estimated that around 36% of all websites currently run on WordPress, a very impressive figure when you consider that there over 1.5 billion websites on the internet today. WordPress’ popularity can be attributed in no small part to its freemium nature. The CMS can be used indefinitely without spending a penny, though you will need to pair it up with a hosting provider which does cost some money. Of course, that’s only if you want to follow the traditional route.
What a lot of people don’t know is that there are two different platforms out there that share the name WordPress. One is an open-source piece of software that can be downloaded for free by going to WordPres.org while the other one is a hosting service that you can purchase from WordPress.com. The two are somewhat related but they are not the same thing. Don’t worry, we’re going to talk in more detail about the differences between the two a bit later on.
For now, all you need to know is that WordPress.com is very similar to services like Wix, Weebly or Squarespace. In other words, it’s an all-in-one package that comes with web hosting, website builder, domain name, customer support, and more. While WordPress.org is a fantastic CMS for experienced users, WordPress.com is often a better choice for novice webmasters because of its accessibility.
We know there’s quite a bit of confusion floating around when it comes to the topic of WordPress.com vs WordPress.org. Since most people are already familiar with the free software, we figured we should take a look at the paid service and see what it offers. With that in mind, down below you can find everything you need to know about WordPress plans and pricing.
WordPress Hosting Prices
WordPress hosting isn’t the best out there but it doesn’t have to be. The service is primarily aimed at beginners who are looking for an easy way of building a website or who aren’t tech-savvy enough yet to handle the intricacies of the WordPress CMS. There are four primary packages to choose from along with a fifth plan that you can use entirely for free. The service is very affordable to begin with but does get pretty expensive once you reach the higher tiers.
As it’s often the case with these types of things, the free plan offered by WordPress comes with a lot of limitations but gives you a risk-free way of testing the service. The WordPress SaaS (software as a service) doesn’t let you use premium themes unless you pay for one of the higher tiers. If you’re sticking with the free plan, you’ll only get access to a few dozen themes and you can’t fully customize them. On the bright side, you have 3 GB of storage space to work with, which is a lot more than other services give you with their free tiers. It’s usually somewhere around 500 MB.
A couple of other pros of the free plan include Jetpack and a pre-installed SSL certificate. Jetpack is a very useful jack-of-all-trades plugin that helps boost your website, protect against spam, improve your SEO, and more. Unfortunately, that’s where the pros end. You can’t install additional plugins like you can with the WordPress CMS and your website will be stuck with a “.wordpress.com” extension because there’s no free domain name. In addition, the free plan forces your website to display WordPress-branded ads.
Needless to say, the free plan comes with quite a few drawbacks but you can get rid of most of them by upgrading to a paid plan. The cheapest one goes by the name Personal and will set you back $4 per month. Not too bad all things considered, however, WordPress doesn’t support monthly billing so you’ll need to pay upfront for an entire year. That’s not ideal but it’s a common practice that even major web hosting providers like Bluehost are fans of ,so we can’t be too upset at WordPress for not supporting month to month billing. What we don’t like about WordPress Personal is that it doesn’t give users access to premium themes either.
Having said all that, Personal is certainly a nice upgrade over the free tier. For starters, the plan no longer forces websites to display branded ads and even includes a free domain name for one year. The plan also comes with basic live chat and email support, which the free plan doesn’t have, and the available storage space is increased from 3 GB to 6 GB. The other main feature is the ability to configure your website to accept payments or donations from your visitors. Even better, you can also limit certain types of content to paying subscribers.
It’s not a bad idea to stick with the Personal plan for a while but eventually you’ll have to upgrade to Premium if you want to unlock some of the best features. Premium comes in at $8 per month and is considered the best value plan you can buy from WordPress. While it does cost twice as much as the first package, it includes a lot of great tools and features like ad support, VideoPress support, PayPal Google Analytics integration, additional storage (13 GB) and more. The plan also unlocks access to premium themes and templates that you can use to build professional-looking websites.
Unfortunately, you can’t install plugins or upload custom themes to your website with this plan either. And, similar to the free and Personal plans, sites built with Premium display non-removable WordPress branding in the footer. Naturally, that’s not a very good look if you want to use a website to promote your own brand instead. Personal would have been a lot easier to recommend if not for the forced branding, however, we still think it’s the best choice value-wise since the final two packages are a lot more expensive.
The Business plan is the one that removes pretty much all limitations and bumps up the available storage space up to 200 GB. At $25 per month this package isn’t exactly cheap but includes a number of features that are essential for growing businesses. For example, you finally get to install plugins and upload custom themes. One of the best features of WordPress is precisely its massive selection of themes and plugins.
In many ways, the Business plan gives you a sense of what it would be like to work with the WordPress CMS. But the good news is that you don’t need any technical skills because one of the other features of the Business plan is a one-on-one orientation with a WordPress engineer that will help you set up your website and teach you everything you need to know about the platform.
In addition to all of that, the package also comes with SEO tools, an automated backup & restore tool, SFTP access, and database access. Equally important is the fact that Business removes the WordPress branding from the footer. To sweeten the deal even further, WordPress is throwing in 24/7 priority live chat support as well.
This final plan offered by WordPress is a bit of a tough sell due to its high price, but it’s a must for users who want to set up an online store. The eCommerce plan includes everything found in the previous tier plus a number of extras like premium themes designed specifically for storefronts. The price is a whopping $45 per month so we recommend getting this only if you think you can build a profitable online store on the back of it. Otherwise, you’re better off just sticking with the Business package.
If you do want to go all out and subscribe to the eCommerce plan you’ll be able to accept payments from customers in over 60 countries via services like PayPal, Stripe, and more. The plan also allows you to sell unlimited products or services and integrate with top shipping carriers like UPS. Finally, WordPress includes a number of eCommerce marketing tools that can be used to optimize for sales, launch email marketing campaigns, and integrate with social media platforms like Facebook.
This is a less known service offered by WordPress that you won’t hear a lot about by going to the main website. Instead, WordPress VIP has a separate website that lists tons of information regarding the service and how it works. Essentially, this is a fully managed hosting platform that comes with a plethora of features and dedicated support but is not meant for the common user. Instead, this is an enterprise-grade hosting solution that powers websites created by big companies like Facebook, Spotify, TechCrunch, USA Today and others.
Unlike the standard plans described earlier, WordPress VIP doesn’t seem to have a fixed price tag. The company mentions that VIP plans start at $1.700 per month but it’s apparently not uncommon to pay $5,000 per month for the service or even more. It’s one of those things where the price varies depending on each client’s needs. The hosting here is cloud-based and given that it’s a fully managed platform, you can expect WordPress to do most of the heavy lifting for you. This includes taking care of all security-related issues and even helping clients design custom websites.
WordPress.com vs WordPress.org
When most people hear about WordPress they tend to think about the CMS since it’s by far the most popular platform of the two. You can download the WordPress software for free but you have to purchase the web hosting (and sometimes a domain name) separately from a third-party provider. In order to make the most out of the CMS, it’s highly recommended that you also buy a premium theme. These usually cost between $50 and $70 but some of them are quite a bit more expensive.
Because of these factors, and others like premium plugins, the final monthly price of a WordPress-based website can vary greatly. If you want to keep things budget-friendly, you can stick to the free themes and sign up with a cheap hosting provider to bring down the costs to just a few bucks per month. At the same time, though, you could end up paying hundreds of dollars each month if you decide to buy an expensive dedicated server. It’s worth noting that premium WordPress themes are a one-time investment so you only have to worry about the price of hosting in the long run.
The WordPress.com hosting service was created by Matt Mullenweg, one of the co-creators of the WordPress software. His company offers all-in-one packages that include a website builder inspired by the popular CMS. However, this variant of the platform is more limited in some ways and doesn’t give you the same level of flexibility as the free software. As I’m sure you’ve already gathered by now, the platform’s capabilities depend on how much money you’re willing to spend on the service. The Business and eCommerce plans are almost as flexible as the standard CMS while the free tier is vastly more limited.
The primary advantage of WordPress.com is that it makes things a lot easier for newcomers. You don’t have to buy web hosting, a domain or anything else separately because you can get an accessible package that comes with everything you need right off the bat. And while the costs of working with the CMS vary from website to website, here the prices are fixed. You will need to pay separately for the domain once the first term expires and it stops being free, but aside from that, you won’t have to worry about any extra expenses with the WordPress SaaS.
Not a Difficult Decision for Most
So which one should you pick? Well, it mostly boils down to how tech-savvy you are and how much time you’re willing to invest in your website. Working with the CMS has a lot of advantages but it is less accessible for newcomers. There’s also no customer support so if something brakes you’ll have to fix it yourself. You may be able to rely on your hosting provider for help on occasion, but you have to be ready to take matters into your own hands for the most part.
WordPress.com is pretty much the exact opposite. The fact that it’s more limited is actually an advantage in some cases because it doesn’t feel as overwhelming. Unless you buy the Business or eCommerce plans, you’ll only be able to rely on the customer support 5 days a week. Not ideal but it’s much better than nothing. If you do sign up for the Business or eCommerce plans, you can expect 24/7 assistance and priority support.
In short, if you’re a newcomer who needs as much help as possible to get started you may want to look into WordPress.com. Once you gain a bit of experience under your belt, however, we recommend switching to the CMS because it’s definitely the better platform overall.
WordPress (.com) Pricing FAQ
Can I Use the Free Plan for as Long as I Want?
Yes, the free plan isn’t a limited time offer or a trial. Not only can you use the free tier for as long as you wish but you can also create as many websites as you want. Keep in mind, though, that resources are shared between all your sites so if you create too many of them it will eventually affect the performance.
Does WordPress Charge Any Hidden Fees?
The short answer is no. As mentioned earlier, you will have to pay separately for the domain name but WordPress is transparent about the fact that the free domain is only available for the first year. Unlike some of its rivals, WordPress doesn’t sell any optional add-ons or services so there’s no need to worry about those either.
What Are Some Good Free Alternatives to WordPress?
Our number one pick would be Wix, with Weebly being a close second. A few other good alternatives you may want to check out include Site123, Strikingly, Webnode, and Jimdo. Just like WordPress, all these free web hosting services also offer premium plans.
What is WordPress’ Refund Policy?
WordPress offers a standard 30-day money-back guarantee with all premium plans. But keep in mind that this policy doesn’t extend to domain names, which are considered a separate product.
WordPress is the most popular website building platform available on the market today and we don’t think that will change anytime soon. So is it worth paying for WordPress.com when you can simply get the CMS for free? It may seem counterintuitive but there are actually times when WordPress.com might be a better option. The service can be a great fit for novice webmasters or for those looking for a service that’s completely free. Yes, the CMS can be downloaded for free but you still have to pay for hosting.
The free plan offered by WordPress won’t allow you to create a professional website, but you can use it to experiment with website building. Once you’re ready to take things to the next level, we recommend skipping over the Personal plan if possible and going straight for Premium since that’s the best value package. The Business plan isn’t half bad either but there are better options out there in the same price range or even cheaper. As far as eCommerce is concerned, it’s probably best to try specialized platforms like Shopify since they are much better at supporting online stores.