WordPress is the leading Content Management System (CMS) platform on the internet right now. And this trend of using WordPress doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon. With over 60% market share in the CMS industry, WordPress runs over 34% of all websites on the Internet.
Moreover, it is THE leading platform when it comes to blogging on the Internet. But any user that’s new into Blogging might consider how much effort it takes in creating and managing one. However, the leading question in the mind of any new WordPress user is: “Is WordPress Free?”
And that is the exact question we will proceed to answer on today’s blog on ThemeGrill. Is WordPress free in every sense of the Word? What’s the idea behind its open-source nature? What can be the hidden costs behind running a WordPress website? We aim to help you come to a conclusion regarding all these questions and more on our blog today.
In this article, we are going to go over the following topics:
- WordPress.org vs WordPress.com
- Is WordPress Free?
- What Else is Free in WordPress?
- Hidden Costs Behind WordPress
- Monetization in WordPress
- Will WordPress remain Free?
WordPress.org vs WordPress.com
The first thing to note is that there are two different versions of WordPress, known colloquially as WordPress.com and WordPress.org.
So let’s get started with the first topic to tackle here; the distinction between WordPress.org and WordPress.com. While we have an excellent article here summarizing the whole difference between WordPress and WordPress.com, the main idea comes down to the following points:
- WordPress.org is the home website that serves as the repository for WordPress software and many of its plugins and themes. It is an open-source software that can be used to build blogs and websites, and manage their content.
- WordPress.com is an online platform that lets you build websites on its self-hosted servers using WordPress as the CMS. Automattic owns the service, and the platform itself operates similarly to Tumblr, Blogger, or Wix.
Is WordPress free?
Essentially, Yes; WordPress is completely free. However, it comes with some major points that you need to consider.
The WordPress software itself is completely free and users can freely use it for their websites. On the other hand, they still need to host their website, get a domain name, and deal with the rest of the burden that comes with owning websites, all of which costs money. So, you won’t be able to run a WordPress site for free. To use a metaphor, WordPress is like a free car. Even though the car itself is free, you’re going to have to spend money on fuel and maintenance.
Why is WordPress Free?
WordPress is completely free because of its open-sourced nature. WordPress itself is licensed under the GNU-GPL License, which means distributing, modifying, and sharing WordPress is completely free. This also includes plugins and themes too!
Built using MySQL and PHP, the creators of WordPress worked to create a web platform that was completely free and open-source in nature. So yes, in true essence, WordPress is free.
Rather than being owned by a single person or a single entity, WordPress is a shared product amongst millions of users worldwide; Built, developed and managed by all their combined effort.
Can I Make a WordPress Blog for Free?
Now, this takes us back to our earlier topic regarding the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. While you can blog freely on WordPress.com with some limitations, you can’t do so by using WordPress as the CMS itself. You still need to get a website to do so.
However, the cost of server hosting and domain registration is very low these days so you can go ahead and get a site at minimal costs. In order to drop down the cost of your WordPress site, you can choose free WordPress themes and free WordPress plugins. This can easily drive down the cost of maintaining your website as well.
What else is free in WordPress?
It’s not just WordPress itself that is completely free. With its open-sourced nature comes additional contributions put in by the community to improve the CMS as a whole. This comes in the form of free plugins and themes. Users constantly come up with amazing free content as a means of serving the community. There are also those who consider it a source of income and provide pro service along with additional features for a defined amount of money.
But the bottom line remains that if you want to add functionality to your website or change its look without investing a single dime, you can freely do so.
Let’s highlight each of these components of the free nature of WordPress:
1) Free Themes
Users on WordPress can choose to use free themes to add a better look to your website. These can come with different layouts, different color designs, additional theme features, parallax effects and more. Free themes are becoming a better option for users every day with more and more theme developers coming up with great themes for free. You can check out our list of the best free WordPress themes to consider your options as a free user.
2) Free Plugins
WordPress can always use additional functionalities that users can enjoy. Whether it is SEO optimization tools, form builder, site security, image optimization, social media tools or anything else, WordPress has you covered. Choosing to use a plugin comes as an easy option for WordPress users as you can find tools for almost every purpose. The opportunities are endless. And what’s more? It’s all free to use.
3) Free Updates
It is important to highlight that WordPress intends to remain free until the end of time. So obviously any major updates to WordPress are freely shared for all users. You will never have to worry about not being able to update your WordPress installation ever. Updates are an essential part of every software and WordPress is sure to provide all the updates to all its users without any distinction.
Hidden Costs Behind WordPress
An important concern for a lot of WordPress users in the areas of additional costs for running WordPress websites. Are there are any pitfalls you could get into while setting up your WordPress platform? In simple, no. But there are areas that you might need to invest in.
Of course, setting up your website will take additional costs in terms of hosting, domain name registration, SSL certificates and more.
And this is without even getting into the territory of WordPress.com. While setting up a free blog on WordPress.com is easy as it gets, there’s a certain paywall that prohibits you from some features that you can freely access on your own setup site. This includes your personal domain that isn’t registered under WordPress.com, monetization, and access to management of plugins and themes.
Hosting can be quite a pitfall for your expenses based on the provider you choose. The best ones provide excellent site management and security services as well as additional features like extra server space, SSL certificates and more.
If you’re a WordPress site owner looking to cut down your site expenses, an appropriate hosting service is necessary. Luckily for you, resources that list out the best hosting services as well as free hosting services available for WordPress.
2) Premium Themes
Some website owners might prefer to choose premium themes instead of free ones. These premium themes come with the best features available along with high-quality support. However, using these premium themes can be quite expensive compared to their free counterpart. The decision to make here can be based on whether or not the additional costs for your website are worth the additional features you can get.
3) Premium Plugins
Additionally, you can also choose to use premium plugins for your website too. Getting premium licenses for your website tools can be one of the best ways to improve your website overall. Whether you’re building lead generating forms or improving your website’s SEO or just enabling better security; the features of premium plugins can be unmatchable by other free plugins. The downside is that paying for the premium license for each and every premium plugin for your website can easily rack up expenses.
There’s also the availability of premium support and updates provided to pro users compared to free users. And that can certainly play into your decision of choosing paid vs free plugins.
Monetization in WordPress
Now that we clarified that WordPress is completely free and open-sourced, a huge question remains about whether or not you can profit off of it. What are the legal terms behind selling WordPress themes and plugins? Can you make money from your WordPress blogs?
First of all, let’s clarify something crucial: Yes, you can profit off of WordPress. WordPress is definitely a business you can invest in, provided that you have the right mindset going into it.
1) For Developers and WordPress Professionals
Some companies like WPEverest and Yoast make money by providing users with premium plugins for various site needs; Other websites like ElegantThemes sell users Themes and Theme building tools.
But that’s not all! There are other means of monetization through WordPress too. SEO Experts and specialists can make bank off their services. WordPress experts and bloggers continually blog every day to provide the best tips, themes, and plugin advice and more to users around the world.
Additionally, there are other means of monetization through WordPress, even on the developer side! This includes providing fully furnished websites for users, setting up websites for companies, and more. You can even set up and manage enterprise-level websites for large companies as a fully-fledged service. The opportunities are endless.
2) For Bloggers
WordPress blogging is also certainly a means of income for many users. Whether it’s simple lifestyle blogging or business-related, blogging provides a broad avenue for marketing. Content marketing and lead generation are some of the leading means of marketing products online these days and blogs easily support such activities.
Adding sponsor deals, advertisements, and business offers to your blog opens ways for you to make money off your website. For websites that are run on the WordPress service itself, monetization is completely left up to the site owners themselves.
However, blog monetization on the free WordPress.com blog is a bit more limited. You can learn more about how WordPress.com monetization works over here.
But what it boils down to is that free WordPress.com users cannot earn through their website ads unless they apply for the WordAds program. However, it requires high enough viewer traffic and verification of your site content by WordPress.com itself.
3) WordPress Plugins and Themes under GPL-GNU License
By now, we’ve made it clear that WordPress itself is filed under the GNU-GPL license. This also means that all its plugins and Themes are filed underneath it. While WordPress itself is an open-source project, it is not copyright free. In fact, all the modifications and contributions made to WordPress can be copyrighted too. Essentially, that means WordPress plugins and themes can also be copyrighted. This provides for a legal means of protecting the products you create using WordPress. So, if you’re a developer, you don’t have to worry about having your plugins and themes stolen or replicated.
Moreover, content produced using WordPress does not fall under GPL. You are completely entitled to profit off any blogs, videos, portfolios and other content that you create using WordPress. So feel free to monetize your blogs without any worries. You can learn more about this whole ordeal over this page explaining WordPress Licensing and the GPL.
Will WordPress remain free?
Absolutely, yes. WordPress is free, and it aims to stay that way till the end of its service. The WordPress trademark is owned by the WordPress Foundation, a charitable organization based around the free use of WordPress. The foundation aims to ensure that its free use of WordPress is provided to users all around the world till the end of time itself.
Therefore, you can stay safe knowing that the CMS that you love and use is sure to stay free.
And that ends our discussion on the topic of ‘Is WordPress Free?’ We hope this article provided you some valuable insight into the free and open-source nature of WordPress and what it means for you. If there’s anything we can help you with, feel free to leave a comment. Keep the discussion going down below!
Additionally, if you want to learn more about alternative ways of creating blogs for your website or ways to help you monetize your website better, we have the perfect articles for you:
- Best Blogging Platforms to get you started!
- 5 Key Criteria to Choose the Best WordPress Hosting Service
- What is WordPress.com VIP? And Is It Worth The Investment?