Last updated on July 29th, 2022 at 08:36 am
In this article, I’ll be talking about self-hosted WordPress costs, not WordPress.com. There are big differences between the two, as WordPress.com is more like a website builder. If you’re looking for information about WordPress.com, I’ll be doing a guide to that soon. In the meantime, check out my infographic on the differences between self-hosted WordPress and WordPress.com
“How much does WordPress cost?” is a question I get asked a lot. I’ve also seen plenty of misinformation about WordPress being free. In this article, I’m going to be debunking that myth and giving you the lowdown on how much WordPress really costs.
Sure, self-hosted WordPress itself is 100% free. You don’t have to purchase a license to use it, you can install it on as many websites as you want, whether that’s one website or thousands of websites. Even the website builder version (wordpress.com) is free to get started with. Sounds great, doesn’t it? I can see why people say that WordPress is free.
The thing is, though, WordPress isn’t really free. Getting your website online takes more than just a Content Management System (CMS) like WordPress.
I’ve heard some bloggers talk about the ‘hidden costs of WordPress’, but actually, the costs aren’t hidden. It’s just that because they’re (usually) all separate costs, you never really see one single figure that answers the question of how much does WordPress really cost?
Quick Guide to WordPress Costs
|Domain Name||$1-$20+ per year|
|Web Hosting (budget)||$2-$10 per month|
|Web Hosting (premium)||$15-$50+ per month|
|Design Tools||Free-$10+ per month|
What Contributes to the Cost of a WordPress Website?
The actual costs for your WordPress website come from the essential things you need to actually make your website visible to your audience. While I’ve covered most of the essentials in this list, there are plenty of other costs that you might incur in running your website. These can include search engine optimization (SEO) costs and processing fees if you’re running an eCommerce website. However, because those are more ‘optional’ than essential, I’m not covering them here.
WordPress Cost #1: Domain Name
Without a domain name, you don’t have a website (or, at least, your audience can’t visit it). In some cases, you might get a free domain name when you purchase your web hosting plan (see WordPress Cost #2 below.) However, fewer and fewer website hosting providers are offering free domain names these days.
Bluehost and Hostinger do, but higher-end web hosts don’t – plus free domain names are usually only free for the first year. After the first year, you’ll have to pay, so you do need to factor in domain name costs when calculating how much your WordPress website costs.
Domain name costs do vary quite a lot. The price you pay often depends on the end part of the domain name, the top-level domain or TLD. TLDs like .com are the most popular and can be more expensive, while newer extensions like .xyz, .online, .blog, etc. can sometimes be cheaper.
In some cases, domain names can cost thousands of dollars. This can happen if someone identifies a domain name that could be popular, brandable, or in some other way valuable and purchases it at a low price. They can then sell the domain at a much higher price either using a domain name broker or a domain auction like GoDaddy’s domain auctions. Generally speaking, I’d avoid looking at premium domains unless you really have to!
Expert tip: Don’t buy your domain name from your web host (unless you’re getting it free). Web hosting providers tend to charge more for domain names and renewals – and there are plenty of third-party websites where you can get a low-price domain name. Google Domains, GoDaddy, and Namecheap are three of my favorite domain registrars. Sometimes you can even pick up a domain name for less than a couple of dollars for the first year.
Domain name costs to factor in (estimated):
- From your web hosting provider: $10-$20 depending on the TLD
- From a third-party domain registrar: $1-$15 depending on the TLD
WordPress Cost #2: Web Hosting
Web hosting is another essential that you absolutely can’t do without. I’m going to presume that you know the basics of web hosting, but there are a couple of things you need to know in order to estimate the actual cost of your WordPress website.
All web hosting is not equal. If you’re on a budget and need to keep your costs as low as possible, then shared hosting is okay (as long as you’re not expecting huge amounts of traffic). Shared hosting is generally built on overcrowded servers that can’t cope with large traffic spikes. If you can afford it, I always recommend more premium hosting such as specific WordPress hosting, cloud hosting, or a VPS (virtual private server).
Obviously, more premium hosting is more expensive – though you can pick up some great deals on managed WordPress hosting. Check out my expert guide to read about my take on the best small business hosting providers. Things to look for in web hosting include a free SSL certificate, firewalls and other security features, dedicated resources, automatic backups, and fast servers.
Expert tip: Stay clear of ALL “free” web hosting! They may say they’re free, but they’re not really. You’ll have to use a sub-domain (e.g. yoursite.freewebhostingprovider.com) and if you want to use your own domain, you’ll have to upgrade. That’s without taking into consideration the slow speeds and poor security free web hosting is infamous for.
Web Hosting Costs to factor in:
- Shared hosting: $2-$10+ per month (paid annually)
- WordPress hosting: $5-$30+ per month
- Cloud hosting: $10-$50+ per month (only pay for what you use)
- VPS hosting: $10-$50+ per month (only pay for what you use)
WordPress Cost #3: Themes
WordPress themes (the equivalent of a template in website builders like Wix) are more of an optional cost – there are thousands of free themes available to use. However, I’m including them in my list because a lot of those wonderful free themes are actually better described as “freemium”. Sure, they’re free to use, but once installed you’ll find that a lot of the best features are reserved for the “pro” or “premium” version (which, of course, you have to buy.)
You also need to be careful when choosing WordPress themes because the wrong one can negatively affect your site’s performance. Some themes are “bloated”, meaning the file sizes are larger and they contain more scripts and unnecessary files. The bigger the file size of your website, the longer it takes to load and/or the more pressure it puts on your web hosting server. Because speed really does matter, you want a WordPress theme that is fast. My personal recommendation is Astra (there are both free and Pro versions) which I use to build my websites.
A word of warning with WordPress themes. All of the themes in the WordPress theme repository have gone through an approval process, checking that they have the correct files and won’t break your website. The same can’t be said for some websites that offer free WordPress themes to download.
Because of the way WordPress themes are built, it’s relatively easy for someone to inject malware or other malicious code into the files, so be very cautious of downloading WordPress themes from anywhere other than the WordPress theme repository or a reputable premium theme marketplace.
Expert tip: Stick to reputable companies like Evanto/ Evanto Elements, ThemeForest, Elegant Themes, Restored 316, and Template Monster if you opt to buy a premium theme.
WordPress theme costs to factor in:
- Themes from the WordPress repository: FREE (but premium upgrades have more features)
- Premium themes from marketplaces: $29-$99+
WordPress Cost #4: Plugins
Plugins are small pieces of code that provide extra features for WordPress sites, such as contact forms, extra design features, ad blocks, analytics, email marketing popups, speed optimization, and much more. Like themes, a lot of WordPress plugins are free (indeed, most of the plugins that I use are free) and available in the WordPress plugin repository.
There are literally hundreds and thousands of free plugins available to install directly from your WordPress dashboard but like themes, the free plugins can be limited. Premium versions of plugins add more features, but also come with additional costs.
There are some WordPress plugins that don’t have free versions and have to be purchased separately and uploaded to WordPress directly rather than installed from the plugins repository. It’s worth mentioning that there are usually free plugins that do the same thing as those premium-only plugins. There’s only one premium plugin that I recommend over all the free alternatives, and that’s WP Rocket. Arguably, WP Rocket is the best speed-optimizing plugin around.
Expert tip: Don’t get taken in by marketing hype! Only upgrade to a premium version of a plugin after trying it out for a while and if you’re sure you really need the extra features the pro version offers. In a lot of cases, you don’t need the additional functionalities that are hidden behind a paywall.
WordPress plugin costs to factor in:
- Plugins from the WordPress plugin repository: FREE (but with premium upgrades costing around $49+)
- Premium plugins: $10-$100+
- Recommended premium plugin: WP Rocket – $49+
WordPress Cost #5: Page Builders and Design Tools
Before the release of WordPress 5.0, WordPress wasn’t particularly user-friendly when it came to creating pages and designing your website. That goes back to its origins as a platform for creating blog posts, in the days when the design wasn’t quite so important. Before WordPress 5.0, if you wanted more of a website-builder experience with WordPress (like you get with website builders like Wix and Weebly), you had to use a page builder plugin.
That changed when WordPress rolled out the block-based Gutenberg editor, replacing the classic text editor with a more intuitive, user-friendly way of creating pages and posts. Later WordPress releases have added even more design flexibility. That means that you no longer need to use a page builder plugin like Elementor or Beaver Builder (both of which are free but with more advanced premium versions.)
It’s worth noting that while Gutenberg is much better than the classic editor and it’s much easier to add a wide range of blocks, sections, and widgets to your posts and pages, Gutenberg is still relatively basic compared to Elementor. You can add more blocks and features to Gutenberg with plugins like Spectra (formerly known as Ultimate Addons for Gutenberg), but Gutenberg is still not a front-end editor like Elementor, so you have to preview your pages manually to see exactly what your visitors will see.
If you find that Gutenberg isn’t right for you then you may need to factor in the costs of purchasing a pro license for Elementor (especially if you want to take advantage of a wide range of pre-designed pages and page elements like sections.)
Other Design Costs
Other design-related costs you need to factor in include the costs of creating graphics or using images on your website. Websites that use more visual elements tend to perform better than websites that rely heavily on text – and while you can use free image websites like Pixabay and Unsplash, at some point you will need to create custom graphics.
My go-to tool to use for graphics is Canva – not only does it have a free plan that you can use when you’re getting started, but it also has templates for social media posts, and much more. I started out using the free version but quickly found that it was worth the relatively low cost to upgrade to a pro plan to take advantage of the massive range of design elements available.
Freepik is another great resource – and, again you can access some images and design elements for free, or choose to upgrade to a subscription. Freepik is excellent for vector images – and you can use those in Canva to create stunning infographics.
Expert tip: If working with images and creating graphics for your website fills you with dread, you can purchase pre-made graphics from Envato and Creative Market – or even hire a low-cost designer on Fiverr. Never, ever, use images you find using Google Image Search. You risk breaching copyright laws by effectively stealing someone else’s content.
Page builder and design costs to factor in:
- Premium version of Elementor: From $49 for a single license (one website)
- Canva Pro: $99 per year (or $10.99 monthly)
- Freepik Premium: From $9.99 per month
Average WordPress Website Costs
Although there are a lot of different factors that contribute to the total cost of a WordPress website, I’ve worked out some examples to give you a rough idea of how much to budget for when planning your online launch. Pricing can change and although I’ll keep this post updated with the latest prices, please remember that these examples are just guides and the actual cost of your website may be more (or less) than the examples below.
Much Does a Low-Budget Website on WordPress Cost?
Average Cost: $3.99/month for hosting
You can launch a budget WordPress website for as little as a couple of dollars a month by using a low-cost web hosting provider such as Hostinger (with prices starting from $1.99 per month if you sign up for a long-term plan.) Bear in mind that it will cost more if you purchase a month-to-month plan for your web hosting rather than purchasing a 1- or 2-year plan up front.
By using free themes (I recommend either Astra or Kadence, as both have free versions that have all the functionalities you need without having to purchase a Pro version) and free plugins, you can get your WordPress website online with just the cost of your hosting. Later, when your business or blog is making money, you can upgrade – but when you’re just getting started, you don’t need to spend money unnecessarily.
What you need for a budget WordPress website (with my top recommendations)
- Web hosting. I recommend Hostinger’s WordPress hosting plans. Not only is Hostinger cheap, but it’s also super-reliable. While the Single WordPress plan starts at $1.99, the WordPress Starter plan (from $3.99/month) includes a free domain name, up to 100 websites, and 3x more SSD storage (100GB) compared to the Single WordPress plan. You can read more about the web hosts I recommend in my guide to the best web hosting providers.
- WordPress theme. There are thousands of free themes in the WordPress theme repository, but I recommend Astra, Kadence, or the default WordPress theme, Twenty Twenty-Two. All of these are optimized for speed (to give your users a better experience) and Google’s mobile-first indexing. They’re great for WordPress beginners, too.
- WordPress plugins. It’s important not to add too many plugins to your WordPress installation as the more plugins you have, the bigger the impact on your website’s performance. However, there are some plugins (all free) that I recommend you use:
- Speed optimization and caching. If you choose Hostinger for your web hosting, Litespeed Cache is included in the installation. This is a fairly easy-to-use option, but there are other speed/caching plugins available, such as W3 Total Cache and WP-Optimize.
- Image optimization. Some speed/caching plugins include image optimization tools, but there are also specific image optimization plugins such as Smush, Optimus, and EWWW Image Optimizer.
- SEO. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an essential part of getting your website ranked by Google (without it, you’re not going to see your website grow) and SEO plugins are crucial. I recommend Yoast or RankMath – both have free versions that help you manage your meta descriptions and optimize your content for the best results.
- Spam filter. If you have a contact form on your website (you should) and/or have comments enabled on your blog posts, you need a spam filter plugin to weed out the bots and spammy comments that are an inevitable part of having a WordPress website. Akismet is probably the most well-known anti-spam plugin as it’s included with WordPress (you just have to activate it) but another free option is Anti-Spam Bee.
How Much Does a Mid-Budget WordPress Website Cost?
Average Cost: $30/month + around $100/year for premium themes and plugins
If you have a bigger budget for your WordPress website, then you might want to opt for a host like WP Engine or Kinsta which only offer WordPress hosting. These hosts use more powerful servers (often cloud hosting servers) to deliver faster speeds than shared hosting servers and usually come with perks that you don’t get with budget hosts.
They include the essentials like free SSL certificates, but often include staging areas (so you can make changes to a copy of your live site, without impacting your visitors. This is a great way of testing out new things without risking breaking your website. Kinsta even offers an application that you can install on your computer, DevKinsta. This enables you to build your WordPress website on your local drive and then push it live when you’re totally happy with your website.
Premium WordPress hosting from WP Engine starts at $30/month – but it does include free access to dozens of premium themes from StudioPress and a free copy of the Genesis framework.
Kinsta’s pricing also starts at $30/month, but doesn’t include quite as many perks as WP Engine. However, Kinsta uses the Google Cloud Platform to power its server network, so its speeds and reliability are hard to beat.
With a mid-budget WordPress website, you probably want to look at premium themes and plugins, too. For some things, you can absolutely get away with using the free versions of popular plugins. However, I’d recommend WP Rocket (around $49/year) for speed optimization at the minimum. I’d also recommend opting for the Pro versions of Astra or Kadence themes (around $49/year).
Other than those premium purchases, you can use the same setup I recommended for a budget WordPress website. Yoast does have a premium version that you might want to consider, but at $99/year, you have to weigh up whether you really need the extra features it offers.
How Much Does an eCommerce Website Cost?
Average Cost: $19/month + payment processing fees of at least 2% + premium plugin costs ($100/year)
The costs associated with an eCommerce website are similar to a mid-budget WordPress website. You could risk setting up an online store on a budget website, but I wouldn’t recommend it. eCommerce websites tend to get more traffic, so you need more powerful hosting (such as specific eCommerce hosting or cloud hosting) to cope with the bigger demands on the server. If you do want a budget option for eCommerce, then SiteGround has WooCommerce hosting plans that are optimized for WordPress. Prices start at $3.99/month.
Nexcess offers WooCommerce hosting starting at around $19/month, and it also has its proprietary StoreBuilder platform that’s built on WordPress and aimed at beginners. Kinsta and WP Engine also have customized WooCommerce hosting plans available, starting at $30/month.
WooCommerce, the most widely-used eCommerce plugin for WordPress is free to install and use – although it does have add-on modules available at additional cost. You don’t need to purchase any additional modules to run an eCommerce store with WooCommerce, though. The essentials such as product displays, shopping cart, payment gateways, and essential inventory management are all included in the basic WooCommerce installation.
One extra cost you will need to factor in with eCommerce websites is payment processing fees. These are unavoidable, and depend on which payment processing gateway you’re using. Generally speaking, though, you need to factor in payment processing fees of at least 2% of each transaction.
I’d recommend purchasing WP Rocket to boost the speed of your eCommerce website and I’d also suggest choosing a premium image-optimization plugin like Short Pixel. You’re likely to have a lot more images on an eCommerce website so keeping those images optimized is more important than ever. Large image files are one of the biggest reasons for slow page loading speeds (something you want to avoid at all costs!)
Top WordPress Alternatives to Consider
WordPress is the most popular CMS, powering at least 38% of all websites online (exact percentages vary depending on where you look for statistics!) and it’s more beginner-friendly than ever now – but if you decide it’s not for you, then there are a whole host of easy-to-use website builders available.
This is probably the most well-known website builder around, and you can use it for free (albeit with a lot of limitations!) It’s a drag-and-drop website builder than’s designed for beginners. It’s incredibly easy to use and you don’t have to pay separately for hosting – the price you pay for a premium Wix plan includes hosting and essential security features. The biggest drawback with Wix is that there’s no easy way to migrate your website to another platform (or even change your site’s template.)
Another popular drag-and-drop website builder, but slightly more limited compared to Wix. Weebly is more beginner-friendly than Wix, though. It also has a free plan, so you can try it out totally risk-free – but the limitations of the free plan mean you’ll soon need to upgrade. Weebly is okay for basic websites but it has fewer templates than Wix. Although its prices include hosting and security, it’s still much more costly to build a website with Weebly than it is with WordPress.
There are several reasons why I prefer WordPress over any of these website builders. Firstly, WordPress is much more flexible, thanks to the wide variety of plugins available. Secondly, it’s cheaper to build a website with WordPress. Finally, you can easily migrate your WordPress website to another hosting provider if you find a better deal. With website builders it’s very difficult (sometimes impossible) to migrate your website to another provider, meaning you either have to stick with the website builder you’ve chosen or start again from scratch!
WordPress Costs Less Than You Might Think
Building a WordPress website can be incredibly cheap. That means you can get your website online for less than the cost of a Starbucks’ Latte! Yes, there are some other costs to bear in mind – but with free themes, plugins, and design tools available, the actual cost of starting a WordPress website is minimal
That means that if it’s concerns about the cost of a website that is stopping you from starting your own blog or business website, there’s no reason not to get started. Most web hosting providers have money-back guarantees of at least 30-days, so there really is no risk to you. Sign up with Hostinger today and your website could be live by tomorrow – especially if you use one of the starter templates included for free with the Astra theme.