Is WordPress Free to Use? What Are The Hidden Costs?

One of the reasons for WordPress’s popularity is its open-source software. If you’re asking, “Is WordPress free”, the answer is yes. But, there are some hidden costs to setting up and running a website.

The best part is that you can create a basic, working website for almost nothing and then expand it using both free and low-cost plugins and themes. Understanding what to expect ahead of time will allow you to budget properly.

In this article, we’ll answer the question, “Is WordPress free”. Then, we’ll explore some of the hidden costs of setting up a WordPress website.

Let’s get started!

What is WordPress?

WordPress is a free and open-source content management system (CMS). It is used by over 43% of all websites on the internet. It’s a popular tool for those with no coding skills who want to create websites and blogs. The software costs nothing. Anyone can install, use, and edit it for free.

For more details, check out our beginner guide on what is WordPress. vs. – What’s the Difference?

Although both and allow you to build WordPress-based websites, they differ significantly. The main difference between the two is “Hosting”, or who hosts your website. is a self-hosted, free platform where you may purchase and control your website’s domain name, add-ons, security, and code. hosts your website for you and offers different price options, a domain name, and many default features.

Check out our complete article on vs for more details.

Is WordPress free to use?

Yes, WordPress is free and open-source software. This means that you can download, use, and modify WordPress without paying any fees or licensing costs. However, you may need to pay for web hosting and a domain name to run your WordPress website, and there may be additional costs if you choose to use premium themes or plugins.

Why is WordPress Free?

WordPress is released under the General Public License (GPL). This means anybody can download, use, edit, customize, and even sell the source as long as they do it under the GPL license.

The main philosophy behind free and open-source software is freedom. The creators believe that everyone deserves the freedom to manage the software and what it does for them. When you use paid software, the program controls the user, and the developer controls the program.

So, why is WordPress free? Basically, WordPress is not managed by one person; rather, it is an open-source community effort to which thousands of people contribute to make it what it is today.

What Can You Get on WordPress for Free?

WordPress offers four key components for free: the core open-source software, themes, plugins, and updates. Let’s take a deeper look at each one.

Core WordPress Software

First and foremost, you get free, open-source core software. However, you will need web hosting and a domain name to allow it to work, which we will cover later in the article.

After you have web hosting, you may manually install WordPress by downloading it from the official WordPress website or installing it straight from your hosting account.

Download WordPress

Free Themes

A WordPress theme is a group of files defining the site’s appearance. It may include page templates, font, color options, and different customizable website elements and widgets.

There are thousands of free themes available via the WordPress theme directory. Here are some best ones:

These themes are made by a number of developers. They are all thoroughly tested before being released, so you are sure that they are well-coded, trustworthy, and secure.

Free WordPress Themes

Furthermore, the WordPress theme directory is the only place where you can safely get free themes. You may either download them straight from there or install them using the Themes page in your site admin.

Don’t get free themes from other places! If the theme is reliable and safe, the developer should make it available through the official directory. If not, you are at risk of putting a theme on your site that contains spammy or even harmful code.

Free Plugins

Similar to themes, the plugins directory offers a huge range of free WordPress plugins. They range from small plugins that add a few lines of code to your site or dashboard. Or complex plugins like WooCommerce, which adds a full-featured store to your site.

Free WordPress Plugins

You may be wondering why someone would spend time developing a plugin and then make it available for free. That’s a good question. Developers of free plugins often fall into one of three categories:

  • They are WordPress lovers that want to share their code and contribute to the community.
  • They are agencies that have created a plugin for usage with their clients and want others to benefit from the code.
  • Lastly, they are professional plugin developers that have created a free version of a plugin with the idea that a fraction of those who use it would upgrade to the premium version or purchase add-ons.

This means people create free plugins for profit or for more philanthropic causes.

But, like with themes, if a plugin is offered for free, its inclusion in the WordPress plugin directory means that it has been tested and is most likely secure and reliable. You can’t guarantee this for all plugins all of the time because they may be affected by upgrades. Still, a good plugin developer will update their plugin to ensure it’s compatible with the latest WordPress version.

When you install a plugin, you’ll see when it was last updated and whether it’s compatible with your version of WordPress.

Free Updates

WordPress updates are needed to keep your WordPress site safe from bugs and malicious attacks. Free updates are available for the core WordPress software, plugins, and themes. Furthermore, some premium plugins and themes offer free updates for a limited time.

When an update to the WordPress core software is available, a notification will appear at the top of your WordPress admin panel. Alternatively, go to Dashboard » Updates to see if your core WordPress software, themes, and plugins are up to date.

WordPress Updates

We recommend first testing the core WordPress software upgrade on a WordPress staging environment or a test site. This lets you detect any issues with existing themes or plugins in a secure environment. Such issues might break the functionality of your website, which you don’t want to happen in its live version.

Hidden Costs to Pay Using WordPress?

Many aspects of WordPress are free, which is one of the great things about the platform. However, this does not mean running a professional WordPress site is free.

You must pay for hosting and a domain name to have a live WordPress website. Also, you may need premium plugins or themes to get extra functionality.

The following are some of the hidden costs of using WordPress.

Web Hosting

If you choose a self-hosted WordPress site, which will allow you more flexibility and freedom than a site, you will need to pay for a hosting provider.

It is important to note that each hosting provider may provide different hosting packages. As a result, while selecting a web host for a WordPress site, we recommend considering the following factors:

  • WordPress auto-installer: This feature lets you install WordPress easily from your hosting account dashboard.
  • Reliability and Uptime: A good hosting provider should offer a high level of uptime, ideally 99.9% or higher, to ensure that your website is always accessible to visitors.
  • Speed and Performance: Your website should load quickly to ensure a good user experience. A good hosting provider should have fast servers and optimized infrastructure to ensure fast website loading times.
  • Security: Security is crucial when it comes to hosting your website. Make sure your hosting provider offers security measures such as SSL certificates, firewalls, and regular backups.
  • Scalability: Your website may grow over time, and you will need a hosting provider that can accommodate your needs as you expand. Look for a provider that offers scalable hosting plans.
  • Customer Support: A good hosting provider should offer reliable customer support 24/7 through various channels such as email, phone, or live chat.

Check that your hosting provider offers all of these features before selecting one. You can check out Hostinger since it offers all of these essential features that you want to run a smooth WordPress website.

Hostinger Pricing Plans

Even though you’re using, if you upgrade from the free plan, you’ll pay for your hosting at the end of the day.

Domain Name

A domain name is your website address that users put into their browser URL bar to browse. To get a domain name, search for a domain registrar, look for an available name that fits your business, and register with it.

The cost of a domain is determined by the top-level domain (TLD) chosen. There are several extensions available. However, the most popular, .com, may cost between $10 to $20 per year.

Once you’ve registered a domain name, you must renew it yearly. To save money, look for a hosting provider that offers free web domains for the first year of your hosting plan. Check out Hostinger, which offers a free domain for one year when you are signing up for 12, 24, and 48-month hosting plans.

Premium Themes

If you can’t find a free theme that fits your needs or want a theme with a drag-and-drop page builder interface, you may buy a premium WordPress theme.

For example, let’s compare the Astra theme free vs. pro plans:

Astra Free vs. Pro

Here are some other best premium WordPress themes you should check out:

When you pay for a theme, be sure it matches your needs and is safe to install on your site. Specifically:

  • Verify the license: is it released under the GPL?
  • Read the reviews and articles that mention/review it.
  • Ask other WordPress users and developers.
  • Look to see whether there is a free trial, a money-back guarantee, or a cooling-off period.

You don’t want to spend your money if the theme doesn’t fit your needs.

Premium Plugins

Like premium themes, premium plugins provide more functionality and customer support options than free versions. For example, let’s compare the Elementor free vs. pro plans:

Elementor Free vs. Pro

If you invest in the right premium plugins, you can save a lot of time and significantly boost your site. When installing a premium plugin, use the same caution as you would while installing a premium theme. As a result, you should check the following:

  • If the provider’s plugins are also available in the plugin directory.
  • The plugin is released under the GPL.
  • What kind of support will be offered to help you use the plugin and fix any problems?
  • Whether there is a money-back guarantee.

Support and Maintenance

When it comes to operating a WordPress website, you’re very much on your own. Some maintenance tasks include handling updates, applying WordPress security measures, keeping track of uptime, and speeding up WordPress.

These tasks take up much of your time, which might otherwise be used to build your business and invest in the site’s content.

If you want someone else to do these tasks, you have two options: hire another team member or use a WordPress maintenance service.

For example, WPBuffs is a good example of a support and maintenance service provider.

WP Buffs

Web Development

Even if you don’t have any coding skills, you can create your own WordPress site. But, fully customized WordPress sites may need changes in the plugins or theme code, such as custom CSS. In this case, you may want to hire a website developer.

The cost of recruiting a WordPress developer depends on your needs and the developer’s experience. Hiring a developer to customize an existing WordPress site will cost significantly less than creating a new WordPress site from scratch.

With sites like Fiverr or Upwork, you may find a freelance developer while staying within your budget. While there is no fixed price, hourly charges range between $15 and $28.


Alternatively, you can also hire a web development agency or web design service provider to complete the website’s project.

How Does WordPress Make Money?

Now you might be thinking about how WordPress can keep running if it’s free. After all, the WordPress team still has to cover the cost of things like site hosting and hardware. So, if WordPress is free, how does it generate money?

Matt Mullenweg, the co-founder of WordPress, owns a firm named Automattic. Automattic offers many freemium blogging services, including the previously mentioned In addition, the company owns popular freemium WordPress plugins such as Jetpack and Akismet.

As previously stated, is a freemium website hosting provider. Users may build a blog or website for free, but they must pay to unlock powerful and essential features such as plugins. This income helps to support and contribute to With the profits generated by Automattic, the firm can afford to keep functioning and free for all.

Can You Make Money from WordPress?

Another often-asked question among WordPress beginners is, “Can I make money using WordPress?” Generally, when you get something for free, you cannot earn from it. However, you can make money with WordPress. There are 2 ways to make money with WordPress or any other open-source software: by creating products or services based on that open-source software.

Many WordPress users have created successful businesses based on excellent WordPress products, plugins, themes, and even WordPress hosting services. Along with Automattic, some other well-known multi-million dollar WordPress companies are:

Check out: Best ways to make money online blogging with WordPress.

Final Thoughts on “Is WordPress free”?

The core WordPress software will always be free.

The software is free to download and use any way you want. You can customize, extend, redistribute, and even sell it as long as you use the GPL license. In addition, you can use free add-ons like plugins and themes to create a website.

However, to have a completely working and live website, you must pay for a few extra elements. A hosting service and a domain name are both required. Paid themes and plugins are optional but can improve your website.

Furthermore, If you want someone to help you in creating and maintaining a WordPress site, you must pay for the service separately.

We hope this article answers your questions about whether WordPress is free and some hidden costs of running a WordPress site.

If you’re ready to get started with your WordPress website, check out our two articles on:

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