Is WordPress Free?

Is WordPress Free?

John Hewick

People are often quick to ask about the cost of WordPress. It’s great to be able to tell them it’s free – but this can be met with looks of suspicion. ‘Why is it free?’ they ask, ‘what’s wrong with it?’ We’ll discuss why WordPress is free and what the costs of running a WordPress site entail in this post.

WordPress is open source which means that it is free to use, to modify, and to build upon. You can even redistribute it as you see fit. However, this doesn’t mean that it is free for everything. So how does that work then? Often, free things are rubbish. It’s the tat they tack on to get people through the door. So how doesn’t WordPress fall into this category? If it’s so good, why isn’t the team behind it making money off it?

The answer is because WordPress is a community project – no one owns it. There are a team of developers that work on the core, but there’s a whole body of people that work on it around the world. Anyone can report bugs, build patches, or suggest and build features. The lead team changes regularly and features that are suggested and built by the community can become part of the core.

The open source software movement is based on the fact that software doesn’t have a cost to reproduce. Unlike a car, say, which is built of many parts which all have an individual cost, software can be reproduced without a cost to the producer. This means that the profit margin can be considered to be unfair by some groups. This was the thought behind the GNU’s Philosophy.

How do people make money with WordPress? By providing services and products based on the platform. These could include commercial plugins, themes, or hosting. Some companies you may have heard of that build themes include StudioPress, WooThemes, and iThemes. WPEngine is a hosting company ( is another option), and successful plugins have been built by companies including GravityForms. WordPress developers and consultants also make their living by building websites, apps and plugins for their clients.

Is WordPress copyright free?

Just because WordPress is free to copy doesn’t make it copyright free. It’s released under GNU General Public License. This means that the code is free to use, modify and redistribute. If you make any modifications then you have the copyright, although the licence means that the derivative work is also licensed under the same GPL which means that people can modify your code and redistribute it as well.

PHP and HTML parts of themes are included in this license according to a blog post from WordPress. However, not everyone in the industry agrees with that. For the most part, the majority of WordPress businesses stick to the guidelines.

How much does WordPress cost to run then?

WordPress software is free to download and use. You will need to get it hosted somewhere, either on your own server or in the cloud. Then there’s a domain name to think about. Additional costs can come from using premium themes and plugins but you don’t need to; there are thousands of free options for those. However, if you want a more individual design, companies often choose a paid-for theme.

John Hewick

Author John Hewick

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