Exploring WordPress Free Version: Is It Enough for Your Website in 2024?

Wordpress picture Stephen Phillips


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Starting a website can be an exciting journey, whether for a personal blog, a portfolio, or a business. One of the first decisions you’ll face is choosing the right platform, and WordPress is often at the top of the list. However, it can get confusing with two options – WordPress.org (the self-hosted version) and WordPress.com (the hosted service). Let’s get into whether the accessible version of WordPress is worth it.

Understanding WordPress.org and WordPress.com

WordPress is a website builder with two different versions: WordPress.org and WordPress.com. These two versions cater to various needs, but they must be clarified. 

WordPress.org is a self-hosted version that offers more customization options and allows full website ownership and control. It would help if you got your web hosting and domain name to use it.

On the other hand, WordPress.com is a hosted service that offers a more straightforward option for creating a website. It offers various plans, including a free option, but it comes with Automattic’s advertisements and branding. To access advanced features, such as starting an online store, you need to upgrade to a premium plan, which starts at $45 per month.

Pros of WordPress.org:

  • Complete Control: You can customize anything. Any theme, plugin, or tweak you want to make? Go for it.
  • Monetize Your Way: Add ads, affiliate links, or direct sales. There are no restrictions.
  • It’s Free: The software itself is free. You’ll pay for hosting and any premium themes or plugins you want, but you decide where to spend.

Cons of WordPress.org:

  • Setup Required: You must buy hosting, install WordPress, and set up your site. It’s not hard, but it takes a bit of learning.
  • You’re the Manager: Keeping your site updated, backed up, and secure is all on you.
  • Cost for Hosting: You’ll need to pay for web hosting, which is a recurring cost.

WordPress.com: The All-inclusive

WordPress.com has everything taken care of for you. It’s a service that hosts your website for you. You don’t have to worry about finding a web host, installing software, or managing a server. It’s a hassle-free option.

Pros of WordPress.com:

  • Easy to Start: Sign up, pick a plan, and go to the races. No technical setup is needed.
  • Maintenance-Free: WordPress.com handles updates, backups, and security for you.
  • Free Option Available: Start a primary blog or website without spending a dollar.

Cons of WordPress.com:

  • Less Control: You can only do certain things. Custom themes and plugins are available only if you pay for one of the higher plans.
  • Ads on Your Site: If you’re using the free plan, WordPress.com will display its ads.
  • Costs Can Add Up: While it starts free, costs can grow as you need more features or want to remove ads.

You can read more about the detailed differences between WordPress.org and WordPress.com, including the cost difference, maintenance difference, etc., on our blog: WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org explained.


What’s Included in the Free WordPress Plan?

The free plan on WordPress.com allows you to create a website using a WordPress.com subdomain (e.g., yoursite.wordpress.com). You’ll have access to a limited set of themes and basic customization options. It’s an excellent way to get started and experiment with WordPress, but you’ll quickly run into its limitations if you want to grow your site or monetize it.

Hidden Costs of Using WordPress

When creating a website using WordPress, knowing all the costs is essential. While the platform itself is free to use, there are several hidden costs that you’ll need to consider if you want your website to be accessible online.

First and foremost, the hidden costs of WordPress include web hosting and a domain name. These are essential if you want your website with them; your site can go live online. While some web hosting providers offer a free domain name or include it in their packages, most require purchasing one separately.

In addition to hosting and domain costs, you should also be aware that some premium plugins and themes for WordPress are available. While many free options are available, these can often be limited regarding features and support. Premium themes and plugins offer more advanced functionality and can provide better customer support, but they come at an additional cost.

It’s also worth noting that WordPress offers several different package plans, each with various features and pricing. Depending on your needs and budget, consider investing in a higher-tier package to gain access to more advanced features and support.

How to Start a WordPress Website for an Affordable Price

First, starting a website doesn’t have to drain your wallet. WordPress.org is a free, open-source software that’s incredibly flexible and powerful. However, you’ll need web hosting and a domain name to use it. This is where the costs start, but they can be very affordable. Web hosting can range from $5 to $10 per month, and a domain name usually costs around $10 to $15 per year. Companies like Hostinger offer competitive pricing and are a great place to start for those looking to keep costs low while still launching a professional website.

Our blog, Cost of Starting a Website in 2024: Budget-Friendly Guide, outlines the essential features and cost range for building a website at an affordable price. 

Other Recommendations

If you are planning to create a website, several platforms are available that can help you simplify the process. These platforms offer a variety of pricing plans, including free options or trials, and can be an excellent solution if you need help getting started with WordPress. If you’re looking to create a website without any coding knowledge, consider the empowering option of using a drag-and-drop builder, like Hostinger AI Builder, Wix, or Squarespace

To assist you in your journey, we have published a blog post that outlines various alternatives for web hosting or website builders. We have included the pros and cons of each platform and their price ranges so that you can make an informed decision based on your specific needs.

Two popular web hosting platforms that you can compare are Hostinger and Bluehost. Our detailed blog post, “Hostinger vs. Bluehost—Honest Comparison 2024,” thoroughly compares the two platforms’ features, pricing plans, and customer support, giving you the confidence to choose the right one for your needs.

Another platform that you can consider is Squarespace. Our blog post, “Squarespace Website Builder Review 2024: A Complete Review,” offers an in-depth and comprehensive analysis of Squarespace’s website builder. We cover the platform’s features, pricing plans, templates, and more, equipping you with the knowledge to choose your website.

In Conclusion

So, is the accessible version of WordPress worth it? The answer depends on your needs and goals. If you’re starting a blog or personal site and want to experiment, the free plan on WordPress.com can be a great starting point. However, you’ll likely need to invest in web hosting and a domain name with WordPress.org for more control and growth potential, or consider upgrading to a paid plan on WordPress.com.

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