WordPress software is free — and open source at that. Anyone can go to WordPress.org and download the latest version in order to manage, post, and publish on the web. This is a huge part of why WordPress now powers over a quarter of the entire internet!
But if WordPress is free, you may be wondering, then why do WordPress websites cost money?
Think about WordPress as a state-of-the-art kitchen that lets you cook up any number of interesting dishes. Even if you own a really nice kitchen, you’d still need a house to put it in. You’d also need an address so people could come over. And you might want to paint the kitchen cobalt blue and add an over-the-top neon yellow backsplash — no judgement.
Okay, a little judgement.
The point is, WordPress can’t operate on its own. In order to get a fully functional website, you’ll need to spend money on a few other essentials:
Just as with the kitchen example, there’s no one true way to build (or decorate) your WordPress website. Depending on your preferences, the costs can range from less than $100 per year all the way up to thousands of dollars. But no matter your budget, there’s a solution out there that will meet your needs.
Here are four ways to create a WordPress website on four very different budgets. Which one works for your wallet?
Free WordPress Website
“I don’t mind limited functionality as long as it’s free.”
When you just need to get a site up and you’re not picky about its functionality, there’s no price point like free. You can visit WordPress.com and set up a blog in minutes for no money down.
This is perfect for the person who wants a bare-bones blog, but this option does come with some big drawbacks:
- A unique domain name isn’t included, so your URL will end with .wordpress.com.
- Since you’re sharing the free resources with all of WordPress.com’s other users, you have a very limited amount of bandwidth and storage space.
- You can’t have a custom blog design.
- WordPress.com will place ads on your site that you can’t remove unless you upgrade to a paid account.
Like they say, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. But if you’re willing to go with the flow and don’t mind the limitations, a $0 WordPress blog might be just what you’re looking for.
Free WordPress Website Costs
|Domain Name||Not included|
|Basic WordPress Theme||Free|
Budget WordPress Website
“I don’t want to spend a lot of money.”
Maybe you’re starting a site for the first time and just want to test the waters. Or maybe your blog is purely for fun, and you don’t want to put too much money into a hobby. In this situation, you’ll want to cover the basics but not much else. Here’s what you’ll need.
Starting at $95.40/year
This is the most affordable kind of hosting. When you buy it, your site lives on a server with a group of other customers’ sites, and everyone shares the price. With a 100 percent uptime guarantee and 24/7 support, DreamHost shared hosting is ideal for customers with one or even a handful of small websites, like blogs or portfolios.
You can try it for $10.95 a month, but the best deal comes when you lock in for three years of hosting at a time. Most importantly, shared hosting comes with a one-step WordPress setup, so there’s no tech know-how necessary.
Build an online presence. Launch your first website today!
Free with shared hosting
Hosting gives your website a place to live, and a domain name is the address people use to find that space. It’s the URL people type into their browser to find the site. Registering a domain name can cost anywhere from $10 to thousands depending on demand, but when you buy DreamHost’s shared hosting, you get a domain name included.
Free from the WordPress Theme Directory
Once you have a home and an address, it’s time for the fun part — decorating the place. When it comes to how your site looks, WordPress offers a lot of free options.
You can browse the WordPress Theme Directory to find different looks for your site, and search more specifically by features like color, number of columns, and customizable elements. Better yet, every theme in the directory has been specially vetted by WordPress for quality control.
|Budget WordPress Website Costs|
Mid-Range WordPress Website
“I’m willing to pay a little more for a few great features.”
Virtual Private Server (VPS)
Starting at $180/year
For those who’ve outgrown Shared Hosting, DreamHost’s VPS service makes you king or queen of your own castle. With unlimited bandwidth and domains, this is great for big WordPress sites — or those who want to host more than one site on the same virtual server.
Need more control? Expand your website’s potential with VPS.
Free with DreamHost VPS
Once again, this is included when you buy DreamHost’s hosting.
Premium WordPress Theme
For a more unique look and additional features, you can choose from a variety of premium WordPress themes at marketplaces like StudioPress and Pixel Union. Not technical? Many premium themes come with easy to use site-building tools for additional customization.
|Mid-Range WordPress Website|
|VPS Hosting||$180/year and up|
|Premium WordPress Theme||$20-$80|
High-Performance WordPress Website
“I want the best WordPress site money can buy.”
With more features and none of the technical slog, DreamPress Plus takes care of all the WordPress upkeep so you can focus on your content. Plus, it’s speedy — five times faster than shared hosting. The service is also designed to scale so you don’t need to worry about your site ever overloading, even if an A-lister tweets about you. Last but not least, you get Jetpack Professional, the gold standard for WordPress backups and security, at no additional cost.
Want bells, whistles, and Jetpack Professional at no additional cost? Sign up for DreamPress Plus!
$11.95 and up
Once again, you get a free domain name with the hosting package. But for a fancier website, you may also want additional domain names that redirect, so both cupcakesbyhannah.com and cupcakes-by-hannah.net go to the same place, the better to help potential customers find you.
Forget a packaged theme. If money is really no object, why not work with a professional designer to build your ideal WordPress site from the ground up? Designers’ fees can vary widely depending on experience level and your local market, but you can expect to spend a minimum of $100 an hour to work with one.
|High-Performance WordPress Website|
|Domain Names||$11.95 and up|
|TOTAL||$1311.35/year and up|
So there you have it. WordPress may be free, but you’ll have to shell out a little (or a lot) of cash to build your online home.
With contributions from Lauren Orsini.