True WordPress Costs: What to Expect

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Before beginning to build your WordPress site, there are a few things you should probably know. And by a few things, we mean the extra costs associated with it.

Of course, you already know that downloading and using WordPress is free as it is open-source. Depending on what you need your website to do and how it should function, you could be looking at an extra $100 or an extra $3000. The size of this number depends on your needs.

Let’s hop right into it to see where the expenses come from and how much they can be!

Hosting the Party

Web hosting is basically a rental home for your site. You’re paying ‘rent’ to store all the files, images, videos, etc. Instead of an actual house, though, you’re computers, servers, and the host’s internet, so other people can access your site.

There are several routes to consider when choosing a host:

  • Shared Hosting- your website will be on the same server as hundreds to thousands of other websites. This is very low-cost but also can only handle low to moderate traffic.
    This is ideal for beginners because it is simple and does not require much hosting knowledge. The average cost will be around $10 at sign-up.
  • Virtual Private Server Hosting- similar to shared hosting in that your site will be stored on the same physical server as other websites. The difference is that the physical server is divided into multiple virtual servers. The user has better access to their own space and better security.
    Also ideal for people new to hosting as much technical knowledge isn’t required. The ability to handle high traffic levels can still be affected by other sites on the server, but not as severely as shared hosting. The normal cost is about $20-60 per month.
  • Dedicated Server Hosting- You rent the entire server–no other websites are stored on it. This allows for your site to best handle high levels of traffic. It’s also a bit more expensive. Opting for this type of hosting will run $80+ per month.
  • Cloud Hosting- A group of servers works together to host a group of websites, allowing them to handle high traffic levels. This type of hosting typically charges per-usage but expect to spend at least $30.

best domain name is no joke! There are all sorts of tips and tools out there to help you with your choice. Most domains cost as little as $6-25. Don’t let this number fool you, though. Domain names can cost well into hundreds of dollars. Unfortunately, many domain squatters can charge whatever they want for your domain name. If you’re willing to pay it, by all means, go ahead. If you’re not, find something similar to be happy with.

Making Your Site Pretty

Making your site aesthetically attractive is important, but equally important is making it user-friendly and functional. Several free WordPress plugins will allow for features like contact forms and photo galleries for a low-budget site. Also, numerous free optimizers can increase traffic, site speed, and security. These sites can run about $50-100 per year. More features can mean more money. When stepping up your website game, you will probably change hosts and maybe opt for premium WordPress templates. Because you’re stepping up your website, you might consider increasing your marketing or lead generation. Depending on your decisions and the number of features, your site’s stepped-up version can run $500-1000 per year.

feedback forms, marketing, and security.


Going the fully customized route is, without a doubt, the most expensive. It’s costly for a reason, though. Typically with a fully customized site, you will have to hire a developer and a designer for any specific tools or features and make the site user-friendly. You may opt for a managed WordPress hosting provider, which adds to the cost, and a standard custom WordPress theme can easily cost $5000. To have a completely customized WordPress website built, managed, and hosted, you can probably budget around $10000. However, for a larger company that needs more features and intricate design, that number can jump to $30000.

Words of Advice

Don’t let the last numbers make a lasting impression. If you need that type of site, go for it–but to get the best bang for your buck and not come away with sticker shock is to start small. It’s unlikely that you’ll need to start with all of the features you think you need. Sometimes less is more. Once your site has a significant following or you see a return on your investment, then you can consider growing or further customizing your WordPress site. You can always add plugins and extensions to your site, but it seems silly to pay for and add them before knowing if they will have any use or just be in the way. The point is this: start small, start basic. As your business grows, allow your website to increase with it. Your investment will be spread out, which will lessen some financial pain while allowing you to see your website’s returns.

About the author:

Dave Schneider is the founder of LessChurn, a churn reduction app. In 2012 he quit his job to travel the world and has visited over 65 countries. He writes about SaaS and business at in his spare time.

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