One of many points of WordPress that may confuse folks is whether or not WordPress is free.

The reply may be difficult, which might be why folks get confused. A WordPress website may be free or can have some value hooked up to it. However the WordPress software program itself — known as WordPress core — is free and at all times can be. And this isn’t simply in regards to the monetary value of WordPress: it’s additionally free within the sense that you’re free to amend and lengthen it and to make use of it as you want.

On this submit, I’ll demystify these questions:

  • Is WordPress actually free?
  • Why is WordPress free?
  • Which points of WordPress aren’t free?

I’ll clarify the two senses of free that apply and I’ll determine the principle conditions by which you may get a WordPress website totally free, together with the precise points of WordPress which you could select to get totally free and people you would possibly pay for.

So, let’s get began!

  • The Two Meanings of Free Utilized to WordPress
  • How Is WordPress Funded?
  • Learn how to Get a WordPress Website for Free
  • What Points of WordPress are Free?
  • Points of WordPress That Aren’t Free

The Two Meanings of Free Utilized to WordPress

Earlier than we are able to have a look at whether or not WordPress is free, it helps to grasp the 2 senses of the phrase free.

These are generally known as “free as in beer” and “free as in speech”.

The primary sense most individuals are pondering of once they ask if WordPress is free is the financial sense: free as in beer. A beer may be free in financial phrases, which means it received’t value you a dime. It’ll by no means be free as in speech, although.

The second which means of free is the liberty of speech. In different phrases, if in case you have a replica of the WordPress software program, are you free to make use of it as you want to, with out restrictions? The reply to it is a particular “Sure!” as you’ll see in a minute.

So let’s look in additional depth on the methods by which WordPress is free.

Free as in Speech

The WordPress software program is free in each senses of the phrase. You may obtain a replica of WordPress totally free, and after getting it, it’s yours to make use of or amend as you want.

The software program is printed beneath the GNU Normal Public License (or GPL), which implies it’s free not solely to obtain however to edit, customise, and use. It’s a software program mannequin often known as open supply.

The principle options of this license may be summed up as follows:

  • You should utilize WordPress in no matter method you want with no restrictions.
  • You may customise, add, or take away something in WordPress with no restrictions.
  • You may repackage, rebrand, promote, and distribute WordPress with no restrictions besides that it is usually launched beneath the GPL license.

That third level is necessary. It means which you could take WordPress, alter it, repackage it, and promote it to different folks at a revenue, so long as you additionally apply the GPL license. In different phrases, your purchasers will pay for the code however it’s a must to give them entry to it to allow them to modify it themselves.

For folks used to coping with software program corporations that aren’t open supply, this may be mind-blowing, I do know. However it’s true!

So you can obtain WordPress and amend the code to make it work in another way. The truth is, WordPress began very like this, when in 2003 Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little took one other open supply running a blog system known as b2/cafelog and tailored it. What they constructed turned WordPress: initially one other running a blog platform, however over time it’s developed right into a Content material Administration System used for every kind of internet sites.

Even when you can edit the core code of WordPress, it’s not a good suggestion. If you wish to customise WordPress, finest practices inform you to “pack” your customizations in a brand new plugin or use one already accessible. Which means that whenever you replace your model of WordPress, your customizations received’t be misplaced as a result of they’re saved within the information in your plugin.

As we’ll see, some plugins are free as in beer, and others aren’t: however they’re all free as in speech.

Free As in Beer

WordPress is and continues to be free as a result of it’s not owned by an organization. As an alternative, it’s owned by the non-profit WordPress Basis, which was established “to make sure free entry, in perpetuity, to the software program initiatives we help”. Its mission is to offer a secure codebase for generations to return and to teach folks about WordPress and associated open supply software program. The WordPress basis doesn’t make any revenue from creating or distributing WordPress: it’s all voluntary work.

WordPress has hundreds of plugins, a few of that are free and a few it’s a must to pay for, however they’re all free as in speech. When you obtain or purchase a plugin, you’re free to change, adapt, and promote the code simply as you might be with WordPress core so long as you launch them beneath the GPL license. The easiest way to do that is by writing one other plugin that extends the unique plugin, however there are many examples of individuals taking a plugin and writing a brand new plugin that’s based mostly on it. Since that is open supply software program, that’s allowed.

GNU operating system

GNU working system

So right here’s the concept: WordPress, the plugins, and themes are all open supply and printed beneath the GPL license. You’re free to work with and adapt them. However in terms of the monetary points of your WordPress website, issues are a bit extra difficult.

The software program itself is free however if you wish to run an internet site, you’ll want server area on which to host it. Until you’ve your individual servers (and the abilities to make use of them to host an internet site), meaning paying for internet hosting. A internet hosting supplier like Kinsta will hire you area on their servers that you just use to host your WordPress website. They don’t personal your website: it’s nonetheless yours and you may edit it, customise it, or transfer it at any time.

Managing servers and offering internet hosting prices cash: there are bodily infrastructure and help necessities concerned. However it received’t value you a lot, although, actually not when in comparison with web site builders which give loads much less flexibility.

So How Is WordPress Funded?

Having realized that WordPress is run by a nonprofit basis and that lots of of builders contribute to its codebase totally free, you could be questioning the way it’s potential for this to occur.

In any case, it prices cash to host the WordPress.org website itself. It prices cash to run the infrastructure that permits giant groups to collaborate on WordPress. And it prices time for folks to get entangled.

The fact is that hundreds, if not thousands and thousands of corporations, builders, and fanatics profit from WordPress. They acknowledge that with out the help of individuals like themselves, WordPress wouldn’t exist and so they wouldn’t have this superior software program with which they earn a dwelling. That’s why they select to offer one thing again to the WordPress group: by contributing to the codebase, offering help by way of the WordPress help boards, or operating occasions like WordCamps and native WordPress meetups.

Learn how to Get a WordPress Website for Free

There’s one approach to get WordPress totally free, and that’s when you join a free WordPress.com plan. WordPress.com is owned by a personal firm, Automattic: they host thousands and thousands of websites on their very own servers, and when you join a free plan, you may get one totally free.



There are limitations, although. Your free WordPress.com website is free as in beer, but it surely isn’t free as in speech. You haven’t any entry to the code, you’re restricted with the themes you should use and you don’t have any entry to plugins. You received’t be capable of use your individual area title and there can be advertisements in your website over which you don’t have any management (which is without doubt one of the methods it’s funded).

For some customers, this isn’t an issue, and so they fortunately use WordPress.com to help a running a blog pastime or perhaps a portfolio website. However if you’d like an expert web site, you’ll want one thing extra.

Alternatively, you may join a premium WordPress.com plan: this provides you the flexibility to make use of your individual area title and additional options. You continue to received’t have entry to the code, although. When you join a WordPress.com plan, you’re getting a website that’s free in neither respect. You’re paying for it and also you don’t have a lot freedom to change it. It’s possible you’ll discover that your month-to-month charges are greater than you’d pay for internet hosting a self-hosted website.

That’s why I typically advocate getting a self-hosted WordPress website and paying for internet hosting individually.

Why It’s Value Paying for WordPress Internet hosting

When you determine to get your self a self-hosted WordPress website, or migrate out of your free WordPress.com plan to it, then there’s one key distinction.

As an alternative of the positioning being hosted on WordPress.com, you put in WordPress on server area that you just hire from a internet hosting firm. The principle distinction right here is that the positioning belongs to you (or certainly one of your purchasers). You get to determine what themes and plugins to run, you personal the positioning and the content material, and you may transfer it or change it everytime you need. You might be free to decide on how your website will run, what you’ll add to it, and the way it will function (throughout the limits of the regulation).

This offers you freedom within the “free speech” sense.

There’s a monetary value to self-hosted WordPress web sites however for anybody wanting a high quality web site, the advantages will simply outweigh any monetary outlay. Internet hosting isn’t costly when you think about the potential enterprise advantages of an expert web site. A free WordPress.com website received’t mirror nicely in your model or mean you can add the options it’s worthwhile to run an expert web site. It received’t provide the management you want.

You suppose {that a} free WordPress.com website can be sufficient for you proper now. However as your website grows and evolves over time, chances are high it received’t meet your long-term wants. The excellent news is that migrating from a WordPress.com website to a self-hosted website isn’t tough.

What Points of WordPress are Free?

Even when you don’t have a free WordPress website, there are different points of your WordPress set up that may be free. Some are at all times free, whereas with others equivalent to plugins or themes, you may select between free and premium choices.

Getting one thing totally free could sound too good to be true. And generally it may be. However the individuals who develop free themes and plugins for WordPress do it for legitimate causes: they both need to give one thing again to the group or they’ve a free model of a plugin which you could improve with a premium choice. On this case, the free model acts as a lead-in for the paid one.

That doesn’t imply there aren’t sources of free WordPress code which can be reliable. Right here I’ll have a look at the completely different points of WordPress that you just would possibly be capable of get totally free and aid you accomplish that with out compromising the safety or high quality of your website.

Points of self-hosted WordPress which can be (or may be) free are:

  • Core software program
  • Help
  • Themes
  • Plugins
  • Updates

Let’s check out every of those in flip.

Free Software program

WordPress itself is free. When you’re downloading WordPress, at all times accomplish that from the official WordPress obtain web page.

At Kinsta, we offer a device that you should use to put in WordPress with out having to obtain the code. An auto-installer like that is secure and dependable and can prevent effort and time.

Free Help

A high quality internet hosting supplier offers you help as a part of its internet hosting plan that can assist you along with your internet hosting, area administration, and WordPress set up.

When you need assistance with different points of WordPress, equivalent to studying easy methods to handle your website, writing your individual plugins, and fixing issues along with your themes or plugins, you’ll want to search out different sources of WordPress help.

One thing value repeating: free help is offered by volunteers, WordPress consultants who’re giving one thing again to the group or folks whose employers give them time to work within the help boards. As you aren’t paying for this help, it’s best to mood your expectations accordingly and never anticipate an instantaneous reply.

Free Themes

There are literally thousands of free themes accessible by way of the WordPress theme listing.

WordPress theme directory

WordPress theme listing

These are created by a wide range of builders, together with industrial theme builders, volunteers, and the WordPress.com group. All of them undergo rigorous testing earlier than they’re made accessible so that you may be assured they’re well-coded, dependable, and safe.

The WordPress theme listing is the one place the place you may safely obtain free themes. You may both obtain them immediately from there or set up them by way of the Themes web page in your website admin.

Don’t obtain free themes from different sources! If the theme is strong and safe, the developer ought to be distributing it by way of the official listing. If not, then you could be vulnerable to putting in a theme in your website that features spammy and even malicious code.

Free Plugins

As with themes, there are millions of free WordPress plugins accessible by way of the plugins listing. These vary from small plugins that add a few strains of code to your website or dashboard, to huge, complicated plugins equivalent to WooCommerce which provides a full-featured retailer to your website.

It’s possible you’ll be questioning why folks would spend time creating a plugin after which make it accessible totally free. And that’s an excellent query. Builders of free plugins usually come beneath certainly one of three headings:

  • They’re WordPress fanatics who need to share their code and provides one thing again to the group.
  • They’re companies which have constructed a plugin to be used with their purchasers and need different folks to learn from the code (in addition to perhaps getting a little bit of publicity).
  • They’re skilled plugin distributors who’ve constructed a free model of a plugin within the expectation {that a} proportion of individuals utilizing it should improve to the premium model or purchase add-ons.

Which means that folks create free plugins as a result of it may be worthwhile or it may be executed for extra altruistic causes. However as with themes, if a plugin is offered totally free, then its inclusion within the WordPress plugin listing will imply it’s been examined and can most probably be secure and dependable. You may’t assure this for all plugins the entire time as they might be affected by updates, however an excellent plugin developer will replace their plugin to make sure it’s appropriate with the newest WordPress model. If you set up a plugin, you’re instructed when it was final up to date and whether or not it’s appropriate along with your model of WordPress.

Plugin compatibility

Plugin compatibility

Free Updates

Updating WordPress core is free. Your admin screens embrace an replace display that you should use to replace the software program each time a brand new launch comes out.

It’s a good suggestion to run updates on a staging model of your website first. Kinsta internet hosting plans embrace a staging copy of your website that isn’t seen to the surface world. If the replace ought to trigger an issue (perhaps via incompatibility with certainly one of your plugins), you may select to not replace your stay website till the plugin has been up to date or deactivate that plugin.

Free updates will apply to WordPress core and to free themes and plugins. Whether or not you may replace a premium theme or plugin totally free will depend upon the charging mannequin. Some themes/plugins require you to pay an annual subscription and you may solely replace if that’s up-to-date. Others cost you as soon as for lifetime entry so you may maintain the theme/plugin up to date ceaselessly with out paying any extra.

Points of WordPress That Aren’t Free

There are many points of WordPress which can be free, which is without doubt one of the fantastic issues in regards to the platform. Newcomers to WordPress are sometimes puzzled by the truth that such a high-quality, helpful piece of software program may be free. And when you’re used to purchasing software program from corporations like Microsoft or Adobe, which may cost you a large number for updates or subscriptions, it could appear odd. However as open supply software program, WordPress core will at all times be free.

Nonetheless, that doesn’t imply that operating an expert WordPress website is free. How a lot it prices will depend upon the wants of your website and whether or not you’re comfortable paying for the comfort of a premium plugin, for instance, when a free one would possibly do the identical or an identical job with a little bit extra work.

Points of WordPress that you could be have to spend cash on are:

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  • Internet hosting
  • Premium help
  • Updates of premium plugins/themes
  • Premium themes
  • Premium plugins

As soon as once more, let’s check out every of those in flip.

Paying for Internet hosting

When you’re choosing a self-hosted WordPress website, which offers you extra flexibility and freedom than a WordPress.com one, you’ll have to pay for a internet hosting supplier.

In addition to making it potential so that you can even have a self-hosted website, an excellent internet hosting package deal offers you different advantages:

  • The flexibility to put in WordPress simply by way of your internet hosting dashboard.
  • Entry to DNS settings so you may configure your area title to level at your website.
  • 24/7 help.
  • Common backups.
  • A assure towards hacking and downtime.
  • Dedication to hurry, making certain your website is as quick as potential.

Earlier than selecting your internet hosting supplier, verify that they supply all of this stuff. It may be tempting to go for low cost internet hosting, solely to search out that your website runs slowly or that the help isn’t as useful as you anticipated. In order for you an expert website, it’s value paying additional for high quality.

Even when you’re on WordPress.com, when you improve from the free plan, you’ll find yourself paying to your internet hosting on the finish of the day.

When you ask me, paying for internet hosting and having the liberty of operating your individual website is a greater funding.

Paying for Help

Your internet hosting supplier ought to present help that can assist you with the points of your website that relate to internet hosting.

And when you want additional help and the free channels aren’t sufficient for you, then you should buy premium help. There’s a vary of suppliers which offers you help in return for a subscription.

Paying for Themes

When you can’t discover a free theme that meets your wants otherwise you desire a theme with a drag-and-drop interface (sometimes called a web page builder), then you should buy a premium WordPress theme.

There are three primary kinds of premium themes:

  • Themes designed for ease of use, such because the Astra theme.
  • Themes designed for extendability, such because the Divi web page builder theme.
  • Standalone themes offered by way of marketplaces equivalent to ThemeForest.

Earlier than you pay for a theme, take care to verify that it meets your wants and that it’s secure to put in in your website. Particularly:

  • Test its license: is it distributed beneath the GPL?
  • Ask different WordPress customers and builders.
  • Learn evaluations and articles that point out/evaluation it
  • Get private suggestions.
  • Test if there’s a free trial, a refund assure, or any cooling-off interval.

If the theme doesn’t meet your wants, you don’t need to waste your cash.

For extra on discovering high quality premium themes, see our information to free vs premium WordPress themes.

Paying for Plugins

Along with the free plugins you may set up from the plugin repository, you could end up needing to purchase premium plugins.

This is quite common: there are some issues that premium plugins merely do higher than their free counterparts.

Conditions whenever you would possibly have to pay for a premium plugin embrace:

  • If you’ve been utilizing the free model of a plugin and understand you want the additional options offered by the premium model.
  • When the free plugins don’t provide the performance or ease of use you want.
  • When it’s worthwhile to set up a lot of plugins all designed by the identical developer who supplies a subscription choice for full entry..
  • If you need to add additional options to a free plugin by shopping for premium add-ons, such because the add-ons you should buy for WooCommerce.

When you spend money on the best premium plugins, they will save numerous time and provides your website a big increase. If you determine to put in a premium plugin, try to be as cautious as you’d be with a premium theme. Subsequently it’s best to verify:

  • Whether or not the supplier additionally has plugins within the plugin listing (disreputable corporations received’t keep there for lengthy).
  • Critiques for the supplier and the plugin.
  • That the plugin is distributed beneath the GPL.
  • What kind of help can be offered that can assist you use the plugin and clear up any issues.
  • If there’s a money-back assure. It’s very irritating to put in a plugin, understand it doesn’t do what you want and have wasted your cash.

The perfect supply of details about premium plugins is at all times going to be private suggestions. Speak to different WordPress customers and builders, look on WordPress boards or Fb teams, and verify that different individuals are proud of the plugin before you purchase.

Paying for Updates

When you’ve put in a premium theme or plugin, you’ll usually get at the least a 12 months of free updates and help. As most premium plugins and themes work beneath a subscription mannequin, you’ll most likely need to pay once more to get the up to date model of the software program and nonetheless obtain lively help.

There are exceptions to this, although: some plugin suppliers solely require you to pay as soon as for lifetime entry.

I do know, it’s tempting to not renew your subscription: in any case, the plugin or theme works and also you received’t lose the code when you don’t purchase the newest launch. However what if the plugin or theme develops a safety drawback and a brand new replace is launched to repair that? What if a brand new model of WordPress is launched and your theme or plugin not works? Your website — or some performance of it — will break. And that’s one thing you don’t need to occur. Ever!

Paying for Improvement

When you can’t discover any of the free or premium themes/plugins capable of meet your wants, and also you don’t have the time or the abilities to code your individual, then an choice is to rent a developer.

This may vary from something to designing and creating your website, to writing a plugin, to customizing your theme. All the pieces relies on your particular wants, time, and finances.

WordPress is designed so that you just don’t want to rent an knowledgeable and pay additional to get your self a terrific web site. However when you’re making a extremely bespoke website otherwise you’re operating a enterprise and don’t have the time or expertise to do it in-house, then it may be an excellent funding.

Once more, that is non-obligatory. However for some WordPress customers, it’s one thing they select to pay for.


The WordPress core software program will at all times be free: free as in speech and free as in beer.

The software program is free to obtain and free to make use of in any method you need to. You may customise it, lengthen it, redistribute it, and even promote it so long as you employ the GPL license.

However if you’d like a kickass web site, there are issues you have to to pay for.

A self-hosted website means it’s a must to pay for internet hosting (notice: we provide free migrations when you’d like to alter your internet hosting supplier), just a few premium plugins and/or themes at the least, and help.

How a lot you get totally free and the way a lot you’ll find yourself paying for is as much as you. However provided that the software program itself is free, a WordPress web site nonetheless represents extraordinary worth for cash. And it’s nicely value paying a little bit additional for a high-performing, skilled web site.

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