WordPress Pricing 2020

6 Expenses to Budget For

There are two key things to mention about WordPress.org: it’s a Content Management System (CMS), and it’s free.

Yep, that’s right – WordPress.org software is completely free to download, and to use. But the story doesn’t end there – this post would be pretty short if it did!

Because while WordPress.org is technically free, you won’t be able to get a site live without forking over at least some of the six costs we’ll be covering in this article.

Good to know: WordPress.org and WordPress.com may sound similar, but they’re actually very different! WordPress.org is a popular Content Management System (CMS) – so popular, in fact, that it powers one third of the internet’s live websites. By contrast, WordPress.com is a website builder, created by WordPress to offer the less technically savvy an easier way to get online. Read our article on the difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com for more info!

We’ll be focusing mainly on the cost of WordPress.org in this article, but check out our WordPress.com review for details on the WordPress website builder, and how much it costs.

WordPress.org Pricing

The amount you’ll spend on getting your WordPress site up and running (and keeping it that way) will depend on several factors – namely how complicated your site is going to be, and how technically skilled you are.

As a complete minimum spend, you’re looking at around $11/month, but in reality it’s unlikely that many functioning websites will be this affordable. It’s much more likely that you’ll have a one-off cost of around $200, with a small ongoing monthly charge ($11 – $40/month). Note that this cost could quickly creep into the $1000+ mark if you need to get a web designer involved.


Domain Name ($12/year)

While most website builders include a domain name in their paid plans, when building a site with WordPress.org, you’ll need to buy one from a domain registrar such as Domain.com.

We’d suggest you go for a domain name that’s as similar to your business or site name as possible. It should be short and memorable!

Most domain names clock in at a very reasonable $11.99/year, but desirable ones have been known to creep into the thousands – or even millions!

The most popular and desirable domain name extension is ‘.com’, but check out our guide to domain names for some backup options if your dream .com domain is already taken!

Good to know: ‘Premium’ domain names are highly desirable domain names that have been snapped up by investors to resell to the general market at a profit. The initial price of these names could be in the thousands, but after the first year, it’ll renew at the standard $10 – $15/year rate.

Hosting ($3.95 – $34.95/month)

Aside from buying a domain name, hosting is pretty much the only unavoidable cost when setting up your website.

When you buy a hosting plan, you’re basically reserving a little bit of internet space for your website to sit in. No hosting, no website – it’s as simple as that.

Good to know: With a website builder, you pay a small monthly fee for an ‘all in’ service – hosting and domain name included

In terms of choosing a host, we’d recommend Bluehost for WordPress websites. It came out top in our research for WordPress hosting, and is recommended by WordPress itself – you can’t say fairer than that! Read our Bluehost review to find out why we were so impressed with its service. 

Bluehost WordPress hosting
Bluehost came out top in our research for WordPress-specific hosting

The good news is that in the grand scheme of things, hosting costs proportionately very little.

Hosting type Bluehost prices* (/month)
Shared hosting $2.95 - $13.95
VPS hosting $18.99 - $59.99
Dedicated hosting $79.99 - $119.99

*Please note some of these prices are promotional offers, and were true at the time of publishing. We will update them as often as possible, but please check the Bluehost website for the most up-to-date rates.

For a small or new site expecting relatively little traffic, shared hosting is a decent starting point. Bluehost’s cheapest shared plan costs just $3.95/month – little more than the cost of your morning coffee.

If traffic starts to pick up, you’ve got the option of the more flexible VPS or cloud hosting to accommodate spikes in traffic. Bluehost’s VPS plans start at just $18.99/month.

Once you’re hitting several thousand visits a month, you’ll want to move up to a dedicated hosting plan. With these plans, you have your own dedicated server, which means full control over the resources. Dedicated plans start at $79.99/month, so quite a large jump up from the VPS plans – but bear in mind that you have to be bringing in huge amounts of traffic to require these plans.

While it’s not necessary to have a WordPress hosting provider for your WordPress website, it’s something we’d definitely recommend because of all the WordPress-specific features they offer. You can install WordPress through your Bluehost dashboard with just one click, and it’ll take care of updates and backups automatically.

Check out our roundup of the best WordPress hosting providers to see who else fared well in our research.

bluehost hosting

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Pre-made Themes ($0 – $200 as a one-off charge)

Now we’ve got the boring admin costs out of the way, it’s time for something much more fun – themes!

So the great thing about buying a theme is… well, that you don’t actually have to buy a theme. There’s a whole selection of free ones in the WordPress library that you can demo and install at the click of a button. They will have been created and submitted by developers, and have passed through the watchful eyes of the Theme Review Team. Each one also has a user rating, which is a good way to make sure you don’t end up with a dud.

WordPress' extensive theme directory
There's a whole selection of free themes in the WordPress theme library, or you can pay $2-$200 for a premium theme from a third party site

Although there are plenty of free themes on offer, you can also pay for one via a third party site like Themeforest. The benefit of paying for a theme is that you’re likely to end up with something a little less generic, and a little more sleek. Plus, it’s a one-off payment – and once you’ve got a theme, you can use it for as many different sites as you like.

We’ve seen themes on offer from anywhere between $2 and $200, but we’d say the average is around $55.

Themeforest blog templates
We searched for a blog theme on Themeforest, asking for something 'clean' and 'responsive'

Make sure you always read user reviews where possible, and don’t be tempted by cheap, sketchy themes – you’ll only kick yourself once an update rolls around, your theme doesn’t get amended, and your site breaks as a result!  

And don’t worry if your theme doesn’t have every feature you need – you’ll be able to bulk it out with plugins (essentially ‘apps’ for your website). We’ll look at how much they’ll set you back next.


Plugins ($0 – $1,000; some one-off costs, some ongoing)

As we mentioned above, plugins are a way to add functionality to your theme – kind of like downloading apps to your phone or laptop.

There are loads of free plugins around, and loads of premium ones with free, pared back versions. For a simple, ‘personal project’ website, such as a blog, you could get away with spending little or nothing here – it’s when you want something more complex that the costs start to stack up.

wordpress plugins
You can browse thousands of plugins in the WordPress Plugin Directory.

Here are some of our favourite plugins:

  1. Yoast SEO – A must have tool for nailing your SEO (Search Engine Optimization), helping your site to rank well. There’s a free version available, or the premium one costs $69 (one-off).
  2. MonsterInsights – To take your analytics to the next level. Free version available, or premium versions from $99.50 – $399.50/year.
  3. MailChimp – Whatever your site’s purpose, the ability to capture addresses and send out emails is super handy, and nobody does it better than MailChimp. Free version available, or premium plans cost $59 – $149/year.
Good to know: It’s thought that as many as 60% of hacked WordPress sites are compromised through a theme or plugin. Choosing a cheap or free plugin over a reliable, well-reviewed one could cost you a lot more later down the line.

We’ve covered security-focused plugins in the next section.


Security ($50 – $550 as a one-off cost, $50+/year ongoing)

Security is another thing you could theoretically pay nothing for, as some pretty robust security measures are baked right into the WordPress software itself.

The core WordPress software, along with the plugins and themes, will regularly require updating. When an update is available, it’s crucial that you install it as soon as possible. Old software leaves you seriously vulnerable to hackers and viruses.

Top tip: Choose a WordPress hosting provider which includes automatic updates and backups as standard, such as Bluehost.

SSL Certificate

An SSL certificate, or ‘Secure Sockets Layer’ certificate, is a secure website essential. It’s the standard technology for keeping internet connections secure, and is behind the ‘s’ in ‘https’. It also gives your site that all important padlock in the search bar:

SSL padlock
Without an SSL certificate, your visitors might be warned that they’re entering an unsecure site, and their details will be at risk. Not good!

Website builders include SSL certificates as standard, but if you use a CMS system, you’ll have to arrange one yourself.

These cost around $50 a year for a basic one, but can creep up to $600 or more for the most high tech options.

Some hosting providers, including Bluehost, offer a free SSL certificate with at least some of their WordPress hosting plans.

Security is another thing you could theoretically pay nothing for, as some pretty robust security measures are baked right into the WordPress software itself.

The core WordPress software, along with the plugins and themes, will regularly require updating. When an update is available, it’s crucial that you install it as soon as possible. Old software leaves you seriously vulnerable to hackers and viruses.

bluehost hosting

Do You Want Free SSL Security?

Bluehost is one of the providers that includes SSL security on all its hosting plans, meaning you can get online with peace of mind.


Although WordPress has decent levels of built-in security, there are a number of plugins that can give you that valuable extra layer of protection. We love:

  1. UpdraftPlus for backups and restores (free plan available, premium plans cost $70 – £195 as a one-off cost)
  2. Sucuri for advanced protection and hack fixing ($199.99 – $499.99 as a one-off cost)

Developer Fees ($0 – $1,000 as a one-off cost)

And lastly, you may choose to hire a developer to build your WordPress website for you for one of the following reasons:

  • You’re short on time
  • You have a very specific design in mind, or you need advanced functionality that requires custom coding
  • You don’t feel confident with the process

It’s hard to put an exact figure on this cost because it’s so dependent on your needs. If you just need someone to set up a super basic site for you, this could cost as little as $100 – $200.

If you need something quite complex, you could easily spend over $1,000. But what makes a complex website? Say you’re starting a gym. You need a way for people to log in to their accounts, pay for memberships, and book classes, which you need to be able to schedule. You can see how extra functions can quickly stack up to something you can’t handle on your own!

If it’s a question of confidence, there are loads of resources online (both paid and free) to guide you through the process. We’ve published a guide to creating your WordPress website, as well as 15 tips for WordPress beginners.

The WordPress community is also a friendly one, not to mention large! If you have a specific query, you can bet that it has been answered online already, either in the WordPress forum or elsewhere. There are also a lot of free tutorial videos on YouTube, or you can think about trying some online courses from Lynda.com or similar.

WordPress.org Pricing: Summary

We’ve taken you through the key costs you’re likely to encounter when making a website through WordPress.org. As you can see, it’s hard to put an exact figure on how much it will cost – rather, there’s an associated base cost (hosting, domain and SSL certificate), with most people realistically needing to spend a bit more along the way:

What's the cost? How much is it? One-off, monthly or annual?
Domain Name $12 Annual
Hosting $3.95 – $34.95 Monthly
Pre-made Themes $0 – $200 One-off
Plugins $0 – $1,000 A mixture
Security $50 – $550 A mixture
Developer Fees $0 – $1,000 One-off
bluehost hosting

Ready to Get Started?

WordPress has recommended Bluehost since 2005, and we can see why. Find out if Bluehost is right for you by visiting its website!

What About WordPress.com?

As promised, this article has focused on the cost of building a website with WordPress.org, the free CMS. But it wouldn’t be right not to touch on its website builder version, WordPress.com, too.

With a website builder, you pay a small monthly fee for a site that’s basically ready to go, with domain and hosting included. You pick a theme, and customize it with your own content. If you’re not convinced you have enough time or technical know-how to tackle WordPress.org, a website builder could be a great option for you.

Here’s a quick look at the different WordPress.com plans:

As website builders go, WordPress.com is decent (you can read our WordPress.com review for all the pros and cons), but there are better ones out there. Check out our roundup of the best website builders, or take our short quiz to be matched with your ideal platform.

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About Hannah Whitfield

Hannah Whitfield

I’m Website Builder Chart’s Content Manager, which means I’m in charge of checking everything written for our site, as well as writing my own articles.

I started writing about the wonderful world of the web around two years ago, and haven’t looked back since. Put simply, there’s never been a more exciting time to get online. Having tested all of the best website builders and ecommerce platforms on the market, I’m in a great position to help you do just that!

I hope you find our articles helpful, and please feel free to pop me a message with anything else you’d like to see here on Website Builder Chart.

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