The cost of a WordPress website is complex. The underlying software is open-source and completely free to anyone. Running a WordPress website is anything but free, though.
There are costs involved in running a WordPress website even if you do most of it yourself. There are things you simply can’t (or at least shouldn’t) do yourself such as hosting and the domain. That means you need to plan on expenses that continue past building your website.
Before we get into the costs, you need to first be aware of those who will sell you a WordPress website for a one-time fee. Runaway as fast as you can if they don’t even try to educate you on the realities of WordPress. They’re in it for a quick buck and will be long gone when you’re in trouble.
Stay Away From One-Offs
WordPress is anything but a one-off. You can’t pay someone to design a website once and be done with it all. There are always ongoing costs of running a WordPress website. That’s precisely the reason we include everything you need in a WordPress website in all our affordable website plans.
Stay away from one-offs unless you know and have a plan for ongoing maintenance of your WordPress website.
You’re likely to find all these items (and possibly more) when running a WordPress website the proper way.
I say the proper way because there are many who don’t do it the proper way. They won’t mention the ongoing costs and the potential hazards of not keeping up with ongoing tasks.
Here’s the list of what’s needed when running a WordPress website. I’ll break down each one and explain the costs in some different scenarios.
- Hosting ($25/month)
- Domain ($12/year)
- Core system updates (free)
- Plugin updates (free)
- Theme updates (free)
- Security (free-$99/year)
- Backups (~$2/month)
- Premium plugin licenses ($100-$1,000/year)
- Premium theme license ($47-$99/year)
Total cost: $582 to $1495+ per year.
Not all of these apply, but more often than not they do, especially if you have someone build a quality website for you. There are ways to cut out things like a premium plugin and theme licenses, but they’re often not worth cutting out. They can save your time and sanity further down the road.
The low end of the price spectrum is difficult to reach because you’ll likely need more than $100/year of plugins.
Now for the breakdown of each item on the list and why they’re important.
$25 per month.
Unless you’re going to spend the money and time to set up a server in your house (please don’t try this) then you have to pay for hosting. It’s an essential cost and high quality is essential.
Quality with hosting companies varies a lot.
While you can find hosting for less than $25/month, I don’t recommend that hosting for most websites. That’s because hosting is the foundation of your website and speed matters a lot. You’re likely going to pay around $30/month if you’re paying by the month but some hosting you can get down a bit cheaper if you sign up for more time (year in advance).
This isn’t the place to save money, either. Not to mention once you set things up on one host it’s not super simple to change them (though you can). Many hosts start you out with a discounted rate, but the next year it will be more expensive. I based the estimated per month cost on what you can expect to pay on renewal.
Choose your host wisely because they are the foundation for your website. It’s not something to take lightly. Nor do you want to go with a host because it’s the most popular, that’s a huge mistake (I’m looking at you Bluehost and GoDaddy).
$12 per year.
While you can get a domain for cheaper than $12 per year, that cost will nearly always go up after the first year. It’s a pain to move your domain so stick with a registrar like Google Domains from the start, you won’t regret it.
With Google Domains you get domain privacy included (invaluable service if you don’t like spam email and mail). Namecheap and GoDaddy will sell you a domain for cheap the first year, then increase the rate unreasonably.
Core System Updates
The core WordPress software is open source and completely free. That is WordPress.org rather than the commercial counterpart, WordPress.com. All updates for the software are likewise free.
While the updates are free, updating it carefully and the time it takes to update is not free. You will have to invest time in backing up your website and database before updating the core WordPress software and also check that your site still works the same. No, your website isn’t guaranteed to work the same after an update.
Any plugin updates for free WordPress plugins from the repository are free. You again just have to invest the time in backing up files and database, then make the updates and check that everything works afterwards.
Be sure that if you install a plugin that they’re from the official WordPress repository and never from a 3rd party website or discount website. Any plugin from another repository are often of lacking quality, or they’re a ripoff of official plugins laced with a nice quantity of malware and other issues for you. Not to mention you won’t get security updates if you buy official plugins from a 3rd party website.
Again, completely free, but you have to be sure you update your theme. Some are easier to update than others. Make sure you always back up your website, update the theme, and check your website when finished.
If your theme hasn’t had an update for a while (6 months or more) then you are likely using a theme that’s not maintained anymore. I recommend sticking with a theme that does require updates because that means you’re getting something that’s improving and becoming more secure over time.
Free to $99 per year.
You can download a security plugin for free (we recommend Wordfence) which will take care of your basic needs. It’s always recommended going a bit further, though, and pay for a subscription to Wordfence. That way, you are sure to be better protected than from just the free version.
Premium security is included on your website which is regularly updated, so there’s never a security worry for you.
~$2 per month.
Backups actually start out for free because nearly any good host includes backups. This isn’t a true backup, though, so don’t think you have backups taken care of because your host includes them. Host backups are often on the same server, which is absolutely not a backup. The server crashes, your site is gone, including all backups.
Real backups for your website start at around $2 per month. Your website will be backed up to a server external to where your website is actually hosted. That means if your website crashes there’s still a backup of your website, so it can be restored.
Premium Plugin Licenses
$100 to $1,000 per year.
The cost for plugin renewals varies depending on what you use. There are many free options for WordPress, but you’re not going to get the quality of plugins that you would with premium plugins. That doesn’t mean all premium plugins are good, though.
With a good selection of premium plugins, you can end up with an awesome website that’s fast and has tons of great features. That’s what we’ve taken care of for you. Over the years we’ve fine-tuned the plugins we use to be the best of the best.
You get all the license fees included, and we maintain them all for you. Any good website uses plugins that cost money each year to maintain licenses and get updates. You don’t have to worry about any of that with an affordable Loclweb website.
Premium Theme License
$47 to $99 pear year.
While it’s not always necessary to buy a premium license, you’ll still need to factor this in if you end up doing so. You may find that the free version of a theme doesn’t offer enough, and you need the premium version.
There are tons of free themes in the WordPress repository, but they aren’t always the best. In fact, many free themes are of very poor quality. That doesn’t mean premium themes are automatically good, though.
There are more bad themes out there than good, but it’s always nice to have a theme that is well maintained. It costs money to maintain a theme therefore you’re likely to pay a yearly renewal for updates.
Simplifying WordPress Costs
As you can see there’s a lot to account for on WordPress even though it’s free software. There’s an easier way to deal with it all without having to deal with it all.
You can not only get an affordable yet professionally built WordPress website, but you can also get everything we mentioned taken care of for you. Loclweb specializes in simplifying web design for local small businesses, so you can reach more local customers and get more from your website at an affordable rate.
Everything mentioned in this article is included on every affordable Loclweb website. We manage everything (including free unlimited minor updates!) for you so you can focus on your business.