5 Hidden WordPress Costs (& How Much You’ll Really Pay)
WordPress website software is free, but that doesn’t mean WordPress websites are. Just to get online, WordPress costs around $160 a year for a hosting plan and domain. You’ll also need to budget for a security plugin and theme, and additional costs if you want a no-code page builder, paid plugins, or professional help building your site—we explore the details of these hidden costs.
WordPress Costs at a Glance
$10 to $20
$3 to $160+
Monthly or annually
Free or ~$49+
One-time or annual
Free or $20,000+
Plugins & Add-ons
Free or paid, cost varies widely
One-time, monthly, or annually
*Many web hosting plans come with a free domain name for the first year.
The sections below offer more context around the hidden costs of using WordPress. Keep in mind as well that WordPress comes with a learning curve. If you’re not tech-savvy or don’t have time to learn it, consider using a WordPress alternative like Wix or Squarespace, or leave room in your budget to hire a professional web developer or agency.
1. Website Domain Cost
Cost: From $10 to $20 annually
Having a branded domain is key to building brand presence online. All business websites built with WordPress.org use a custom domain name (e.g., yourbusiness.com). If you don’t already have one, you can purchase one from a domain name registrar like Domain.com, IONOS, or Bluehost for around $10 to $17 per year.
Cost of .com Domain per Year
$1 first year
$17.99 on renewal
Free in Bundled Plans
Alternatively, you can get a free domain name through a web hosting plan through web hosting companies like Bluehost and DreamHost, or with email hosting through IONOS. You will likely need these services for your WordPress site to be available online. Learn more in the section below.
Need some extra help choosing which one to use? Learn more about the best domain name registrars.
Your site’s domain name is an essential decision since it reflects your brand and can impact search engine optimization. Learn what you need to know about choosing a domain name for your small business website.
2. WordPress Website Hosting
Cost: From $3 to $160 per month
To build a WordPress website, you need web hosting. WordPress hosting plans generally include a free domain the first year, a free Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate to encrypt site visitor data, email on your domain, and server or cloud-based hosting. Depending on the storage needs of your site, you could pay anywhere from $3 to $12 a month for the first year for shared web hosting space.
WordPress Hosting Type
Plans Usually Include
Businesses just starting out on a budget
Hosting, domain, SSL, email, and preinstalled or 1-click WordPress installation, cPanel
From $3 to $6 a month the first year, and $12 to $25 a month on renewal
Less tech-savvy professionals looking for additional help
Management of WordPress, themes, plugins, staging site, and daily backups
From $20 a month
Virtual Private (VPN/VPS)
Businesses wanting increased security, higher guaranteed uptime, and faster site speeds
Everything that comes in shared hosting, plus isolated resources for faster site speed, 24/7 malware, and threat monitoring, daily or more frequent backups, and additional tech support
From $25 a month
Businesses looking for the maximum site speed and security
Everything a shared or private user would have, but with fully dedicated servers
From $160 a month
The providers below show example WordPress costs representative of web hosting companies for the plan types listed above.
Hosting Type & Base Monthly Cost
*Cost/month the first year with annual billing, renews at a higher rate
**Month-to-month billing; save with any provider with a longer-term contract
There’s a lot to web hosting, and plans vary greatly in price, service, and quality. Make sure you choose dedicated WordPress hosting and take the time to understand what each provider has to offer by reading up on the best web hosting companies.
3. WordPress Themes
Cost: From free ($0) to $100 annually, or $200-plus lifetime
WordPress comes with the Gutenberg block-based builder, but it’s not intuitive. Customizing your site to look like you envision will be extremely difficult without a theme. So, to set up a WordPress website, you’ll need to choose a theme. Themes make it easy to customize your site, including things like colors, fonts, navigation menus, and page layouts.
The extent to which a theme allows you to customize elements varies widely from theme to theme, so take some time evaluating them before choosing one. We recommend you get a page builder theme. They make it easier to personalize your site and build pages with a built-in, drag-and-drop editor and premade widgets, content blocks, and tools.
This brings us to a non-monetary hidden cost of WordPress: time. You’ll spend quite a bit of time learning how to use WordPress, especially if you are a true beginner. In addition, you’ll have to spend time sourcing plugins, including themes, to find one that has the features and tools you need to build your site.
Representative WordPress costs for free, premium, and page builder themes:
What’s Usually Included
Basic WordPress theme with one or more premade templates and limited customizations
Robust customization vs free themes for site elements and page layouts, and more premade templates
~$50 per year
Premium + Page Builder
All the advantages of a premium theme, plus a drag-and-drop page builder and premade widgets
~$50-$100 per year
Keep in mind that you might also be able to start with a free theme and upgrade to a paid version. However, in most cases, opting for a paid theme is best for businesses, as free themes will often limit your ability to fully brand your website.
Because of the learning curve for using WordPress, we recommend investing in a WordPress page builder. We listed some examples below, including costs for WordPress, but you’re also encouraged to read our comparison of the best WordPress website builders to find the one best for you.
WordPress Page Builder Theme
Paid Plans From
$49 per year
$99 per year
$79 per year
Multi-site Licenses From
$99 per year
$199 per year
4. WordPress Website Design
Cost: From free ($0) for DIY or $400 to $20,000-plus outsourced
If you’re willing to invest the time, you can handle the design of your website yourself, at no additional cost. If not, you can outsource to a professional web designer or agency.
Do-it-yourself (DIY) site design is common—even for those with no technical knowledge—and is free. On the other hand, hiring a professional designer will ensure you’ll have a professional and attractive site, but it can cost you thousands of dollars.
Let’s look at WordPress web design costs by build type:
- Do it yourself (DIY): Typically, zero cost, but there may be expenses involved with building your own site, like a premium theme or page builder plugin.
- Hire a professional: Ranges widely—from $400 to $20,000-plus, depending on various factors, from who you hire to build it to your site requirements.
Design costs aren’t limited to the actual buildout of your site, either. You’ll also need to consider the cost of any artwork you need for your site. Commercially licensed artwork can cost hundreds or thousands, but there are many sites where you can get high-quality, royalty-free images for website design.
On the fence between doing it yourself and hiring a web designer? Check out our detailed breakdown on DIY vs professional website costs for small businesses.
5. WordPress Plugins
Cost: From free ($0) to $10 plus a month, or $50 to $300 annually (or more)
WordPress sites depend on plugins for nearly all functionality, from site security, search engine optimization (SEO), and analytics to ecommerce, webforms, and appointment booking. While many are free, advanced and niche features often require premium plugins ranging anywhere from $5 to $100 a month or more. Also, not all are on a monthly cost basis—some plugins require annual prepayment or a one-time licensing fee.
Here are some representative WordPress costs to expect with various types of plugins:
Free Version Inclusions
Cost of Paid Plans
Security, performance, and marketing tools
Basic site stats, high-speed content delivery network, downtime monitoring, brute force attack protection, social integrations
Backups, anti-spam, site scan, video hosting, scheduled social posts, site monetization, payment buttons
$20-$50 per month
Ecommerce and online stores
Basic ecommerce functionality for selling physical products via PayPal or API integration
Sell digital products, subscriptions, payment apps, social selling, and more
$49-$299 per year
Spam protection for web forms
Spam protection, unlimited sites, enhanced support, and increased API limits per plan
$10-$50 per month
Website optimization for search
SEO recommendations, analytics and tracking integrations, XML site map, and more
Yoast SEO Academy, keyword recommendations, content quality and link suggestions, broken link monitoring
$99 per year
Security and cyberthreat protection
Basic security and protection from attacks
Real-time firewall rules, malware signatures, country blocking, malicious IP blocking, and more
$119-$950 per year
Custom forms and workflows
From 1-3 sites, plus add-ons for HubSpot, Mailchimp, surveys, signatures, payments, coupons, honeypot spam detection, and more
$59-$259 per year
Online appointment booking
Basic one-time appointment booking with Google Calendar, and Stripe payments integrations
Unlimited services, classes and group bookings, custom forms, packages and bundles, confirmations, emails, and more
$25-$75 per month
If you’re starting to sense you will need multiple plugins to use WordPress—you’re 100% correct, and there are more than 55,000 to choose from. At a minimum, you will want to protect your website with a reputable security plugin and an anti-spam plugin like Akismet or Clean Talk. Learn more about the various plugins you might want to have in our list of the top WordPress tips and tricks.
WordPress Costs vs Site Builders
WordPress.org being free technically makes it a low-cost option. Plus, the versatility of all you can do with themes and plugins has established it as the world’s most popular content management system. However, this versatility makes it more difficult to use, increases data security risks and potential for downtime, and can make you dependent on third-party contractors to keep your small business website up to date.
WordPress alternatives like Wix and Shopify are gaining ground in terms of market share, so we thought you’d want to see how they stack up cost-wise against WordPress. Since drag-and-drop site building comes with site builders, we factored in the cost of a page builder for WordPress, as well as hosting and equivalent plugins, to come up with comparative costs.
Annual Cost of Using WordPress vs Popular Site Builders
Basic Ecommerce (Physical Goods)
Appointments + Payments
Membership + Recurring Payments
Ecommerce + Dropshipping
The example WordPress costs above were based on the assumption a user would purchase hosting, a domain, a page builder theme, and essential plugins. The plugins we believe every site needs are forms, anti-spam, and security. For each one, we took the minimum base pricing to calculate the total. Keep in mind that if your hosting company doesn’t provide backups, an additional plugin costing $240 a year could be required.
In addition to any monetary savings you can achieve with a site builder, they also save you a considerable amount of time, which is something to consider. They come with almost no learning curve, plugins are all pre-vetted, and themes, templates, and functionality are baked in. Get more info by reading up on the best WordPress alternatives.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How much does a WordPress site cost per year?
A basic WordPress website will cost just over $500 per year. This is inclusive of hosting, domain, and SSL, as well as a page builder theme, security plugin, anti-spam plugin, and a plugin for webforms. There’s no extra cost for basic ecommerce, but if you want appointments or membership features, expect to pay at least $700 to $800 each year.
Is WordPress free—can I use it without paying?
WordPress.org is free, open source software that can be installed in a web hosting package. While you won’t have to pay for WordPress, you will have to pay for hosting and a domain, which costs about $160 per year.
Is Wix better than WordPress?
Wix is better for beginners and less expensive, both for basic and ecommerce websites. However, WordPress allows for more customization and virtually endless functionality, so it’s better if you need niche features or don’t mind investing the time needed to learn how to use it. Read our Wix vs WordPress comparison to learn more.
The popular WordPress web content management system can be used for free, though you’ll need to pay for hosting and a domain. The cost of making a WordPress site could be anywhere from $3 a month to tens of thousands for design and development. Additional costs to factor in include premium themes and plugins, all of which contribute to how much you’ll spend to build a WordPress website for your small business.