If you run a simple, personal blog, using WordPress is free, but you may need upgrades if you plan to have either high traffic or plan to link the blog/website to your business. These upgrades can include top-notch web hosting plans that can cost anything between $3 and $200 a month and premium content, like handy plugins and fancy themes, to bring the website’s layout or design to a new level.
The average cost of premium WordPress services, including web hosting. design costs and costs for implementing plugins, is $50-$300 annually. However, this price can wildly vary depending on what needs to be added to the site.
Some blogs and websites can operate on a very bare design with minimal bandwidth and no plug-ins, while others need large amounts of bandwidth and a fancy, eye-catching theme with helpful plug-ins to attract potential consumers or satisfy current ones. Different hosting plans can also affect speed and downtime of the site. Typically, the most expensive part of operating a WordPress website or blog is its hosting, so let’s explore that first.
Hosting Your WordPress Site, an Essential, but Somewhat Pricey, Element of Any Modern Website
Hosts are known as the services that “save” your website’s data and provide you with a domain name, as well as email accounts associated with that domain. There is a free option offered by WordPress that can give you 3GB of storage, but no custom domain name or email account. As an example, the free option would name your website/blog yourwebsite.wordpress.com instead of yourwebsite.com.
This storage is more than enough for small, personal websites and blogs, as you typically won’t need too much storage in the first place, however this absolutely won’t work for businesses that plan to offer a much larger amount of content on their website or have higher amounts of traffic.
After WordPress’s free plan is their paid plans. They offer three different tiers of hosting, each with different features that can enhance your site or blog in many ways. The first is WordPress’s personal plan, priced at $5 a month.
The personal plan gives your website a custom domain name instead of being hosted on WordPress’s domain, meaning the pesky “wordpress.com” will be removed from your website’s address, as well as offering 6 GB of storage instead of three. This plan also removes WordPress’s advertising that could be hindering potential traffic and offers customer service through live chat and email.
Next, is WordPress’s premium plan, which offers all the previous services mentioned along with 13 GB of storage, advanced design options and tools with CSS editing enabled, the ability to add your own ads to your site/blog and the added touch of being able to add audio and video files to the site.
Lastly, there is WordPress’s Business Plan that is priced at $25 a month. The business plan offers unlimited storage space, free high-quality templates for the website, support with Google Analytics and the option to remove WordPress branding from your site.
There is also the option of choosing a third-party hosting provider to host your WordPress site or blog. These options can be cheaper and faster, and sometimes offer additional services like a free domain name when purchasing a plan. Some popular third-party web hosting services for WordPress include:
- Bluehost – a good quality shared host for around $3p/m – (review)
- Inmotion Hosting – one of the biggest web hosting brands – (review)
- SiteGround – offer competitive options for fast WordPress hosting (review)
These three sites all offer load times below a second and up-times of 99.9%. Their cheapest plans usually only cost around $3 a month. They also offer much more storage space, typically 50GB or more, compared to WordPress’s $5 personal plan, which only offers 6GB. This can also allow users to add advertisements, videos and audio to their blogs and websites without any additional costs, whereas WordPress charges extra to allow users to implement advertising on a website.
Further Reading: WordPress.com vs WordPress.org
Other Costs Involved in Hosting a WordPress Website or Blog
Some website hosting services also offer other services or upgrades for additional costs that can do multiple things to enhance the privacy and quality of the site. One typical feature offered by website hosting services is domain privacy protection. This feature can be incredibly helpful as your name, phone number and address will be publicly displayed online when you purchase or register a domain name.
Domain privacy protection will replace your private information with the web hosting company’s name, address and phone number, so your personal info doesn’t end up becoming public to everyone on the internet. This service typically costs less then a dollar monthly or $12 annually, so it’s pretty cheap and can significantly help with protecting your privacy online.
Another feature that web hosting services will present is dedicated IP addresses. This service is offered because websites will typically share IPs with other sites that a web hosting service provider is hosting. This is an issue because this can slow down your site when your website hosting service is experiencing heavy traffic and, in rare cases, flag emails from that shared IP as spam since your IP may be shared with less reputable sites that spam people’s inboxes with annoying offers and junk mail. Using a shared IP isn’t really a big issue if you’re hosting a small and/or personal website/blog, but it’s heavily recommended to upgrade to a dedicated IP if your traffic increases, as slow speeds can deter potential viewers of the site. Website hosting service providers usually charge $5.99 a month for this service, but it can vary depending on the host.
Lastly, lots of WordPress hosting services will offer dedicated SSL certificates for your site, usually at a price of $4.17 a month. SSL is the service that securely transmits data from your website to the visitor’s computer, so if you want to protect the readers and viewers of your website, a dedicated SSL certificate is heavily recommended.
Google also favors sites that have a dedicated SSL certificate, so having this feature will allow your site to get more traffic by showing it above sites that don’t have it.
It is worth noting that a dedicated SSL certificate doesn’t necessarily add any features to your site, and is a simple added layer of credibility that shows users that your website or blog is credible. A shared SSL certificate is typically given to you at no extra cost when you purchase website hosting services, but a dedicated SSL certificate will show your business and/or name on the certificate instead. It is also important to recognize that you can’t have a dedicated SSL certificate if you don’t have a dedicated IP address, so if you plan to purchase this feature, make sure you get a dedicated IP before doing so. Again, this isn’t something that’s really necessary for smaller or personal sites, so don’t worry too much about it if you don’t plan on your website getting much traffic.
Deciding If You Want a Free Theme or If You Want to Pay for a Premium Theme
One of the key features that WordPress provides is its user-friendly themes that give a website or blog a sleek look without the typically long process of coding it in with HTML and CSS. Themes are basically templates that allow some customization and can be edited on the fly with no programming knowledge. Now, there are themes that WordPress offers for completely free, but they may be limited or plain in their appearance and make your website stand out significantly less. These free themes can work great if you aren’t concerned about aesthetics and you just need something simple to provide information about your business; They can also provide a basic lay-out for blogs and there is nothing wrong with using them. Paid themes on the other hand, can offer a much better look for your site, a simpler lay-out for users and a unique flair that other websites and blogs don’t have to offer. Themes usually start around $20, but the features involved and the fancy designs they offers can make this price highly vary. You could also choose to order a custom-designed theme, but those will come at a much higher price.
There is an absolute ton of WordPress themes, both for free and at a price, out there for WordPress website and blog creators. There isn’t a definite best that people gravitate towards, but there are some that are strongly recommended. One of the most popular free themes is the Fit Web Theme, which is typically used for sites focused on businesses. It offers a minimalist and simple-to-use design that can easily be used for a first website that just needs some basic business information. It’s really simple to use and you can easily drag and drop photos, add and remove text and change the website’s color scheme on the fly, making it very customizable. Fit web themes also offer quite a few pre-built themes that can match any person and any business. As an example, their restaurant theme shows a full menu for the restaurant and a customer review/testimonial section. All of their themes are also fully compatible with mobile devices, meaning there’s no need to worry about setting up mobile functionality.
Some examples of paid WordPress theme producers include Avada and Divi. Avada is the cheaper option with a $60 one-time fee, but it still offers a ton of features and different themes that can fit any blog or business. Some examples of the templates they provide include a gym-based theme, a church-based theme and a hotel-based theme. It also allows you to customize themes through their platform with an easy-to-use drag and drop interface for adding text, videos, fancy tables and more to your website. Divi is a bit more expensive, you can either pay $89 a year to use one of their themes or pay a one-time fee of $249. However, this price is quite justified, it features 20 pre-built designs that can fit almost any business or blogging website and has all of the features the aforementioned Avada provides. Divi’s themes can also be highly personalized, as it offers over 40 content modules that can be moved and changed to your liking. Some of these modules include custom backgrounds that can have images and even videos added to them to give your website a unique flair that competitors don’t have. You can also fully change the font, color, spacing and size of anything added with Divi, meaning your entire website can be customized to your liking without spending tons of time programming it in yourself.
There is one last option for choosing your WordPress theme and that is ordering a custom theme from a skilled designer. However, this is incredibly expensive, often having a minimum cost of anywhere between $2000 to $5000. This is only recommended if you have a highly-specific vision for your website or blog and want it to look absolutely perfect. Of course, a custom theme will also make your website completely unique, differentiating it from all of your competition in style. You can also add features that other websites and blogs lack to leave a long-lasting impression on your website’s visitors. Typically you will only need a custom theme if you plan to use WordPress for a large company or publication that will host tons of content that you want visitors to view as unique. Some examples of companies that utilize custom WordPress themes include The New Yorker and TechCrunch. This is really only an option in those situations where you want to expand an already huge brand though, as this costs thousands of dollars and low-cost and free themes can often provide you with everything you need without a hefty financial cost involved. If you’re dead-set on using a custom theme on your website though, there are hundreds of freelancers and companies online that offer this service and you can typically find them on sites like UpWork and Freelancer.
The Last Cost Involved in Setting up Your WordPress Website/Blog, Plug-Ins
Plug-ins are tools that can highly enhance the usability of your site by adding extra features to the site. To put it simply, plug-ins will add extra uses and/or services to your site that will greatly upgrade its usability for both you and your website’s visitors. These plug-ins are optional for you if you only plan to have a purely informational website or a personal blog through WordPress, but they can greatly help if you want to do more with your WordPress site.
Some plugins, like WooCommerce, turn your site from a simple informational website about your business to a fully-fledged online store where customers can purchase your products and/or services. WooCommerce is free and let’s you list as many products as you want on your site, but they do offer optional paid plans with many more features.
They also do not take a cut out of the price of any products sold through their platform. If you choose to upgrade to one of their paid plans, they can offer you a shipping calculator and a customer subscription system in their plug-in as well. Lastly, they are partnered with BlueHost and can offer bundled plans to you that will give you their plug-in, a theme based off of their plug-in, a dedicated SSL certificate and a dedicated IP, domain privacy, 100GB of storage, a call to help with the set-up of your website and $50 or more in marketing credits to help sell your products.
Another popular plug-in is Akismet, it is a spam blocker that costs $5 a month and filters each comment and email sent to you. This can save tons of your own time, because if you don’t have a spam blocker, you can end up wasting hours sifting through comments and e-mails that aren’t even from your website’s consumers or visitors. Akismet focuses on automating the filtering process by blocking certain keywords that are typically used in spam-y comments and emails as well as tracking IP addresses that other companies and individuals use to send spam out. They’re also constantly updating their plug-in to adapt to new spamming tactics, so you won’t have to worry about spam ever again. Their pricing does start at $5 a month for one site, but if you’re using multiple sites and you want to save money, you should consider their enterprise plan, priced at $50, that allows you to use their plugin on multiple sites.
They also offer a plan where you can name your own price, but it doesn’t come with customer support and statistics and can only be used on personal websites and blogs. They offer full customer support as well so you shouldn’t hesitate to contact them if any spam is leaking through their filters.
You Can Use WordPress for Free, but Paid Options Greatly Enhance Usability, Speed and Storage While Offering a Slew of Unique Features
In the end, you can use WordPress for free with little to no issue if you’re only planning on running a personal website or blog or a business website with bare-bones information. However, paying for hosting services, unique themes and helpful plug-ins can take your site to a new level and allow it to do more then just show information to its visitors.
Hosting services allow you to have a unique domain name, faster speeds and more storage. Web hosting services will also offer additional features like domain privacy protection, a dedicated IP address and a dedicated SSL certificate. You may or may not need these features depending on what you want to do with your blog, but these features can protect your privacy and boost your ranking in Google search results, securing potential new traffic.
Tons of themes are available for free, but you may need something with some extra “oomph” for your website that makes it stand out above its competitors. There are many amazing customizable themes you can pay for and if you really want to build your brand, you can order a completely custom theme from a freelancer or WordPress-design company. Lastly, plug-ins can add a ton to your website or blog and can do things like turning your website into a full-fledged e-commerce platform as well as filtering pesky spam. You should look into all of these services today if you want to start a WordPress blog or website, but depending on what you need, you may not purchase them.
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