Why is WordPress Free? What are the Costs? What is the Catch?

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One of the most often asked questions by our users is “Do I have to pay to use WordPress?”. We tell them that WordPress is free and open-source software, which is typically followed by, “Why is WordPress Free?”.

In this article, we will discuss why is WordPress free, what’s the cost of running a WordPress site, and what’s the catch?

WordPress is open-source software. It is free within the sense of freedom not within the sense of free beer. You may ask what’s the difference between these two?
Open-source software comes with the freedom for you to use, modify, rest on, and redistribute the software in any way you would like without paying any fees.


Why Don’t They Sell WordPress as a Software? Why is WordPress Free?

We often get asked, why don’t people and corporations behind WordPress sell it? If WordPress is nearly as good as everyone says, then they might obviously make tons extra money by selling it.
This statement would make sense if a single company or an individual owned WordPress.

WordPress is an open-source community project where tens of thousands of talented people have made contributions to form it into the good software that it’s today.
There is a core team of developers that lead the project development, but anyone can contribute patches, fix bugs, make features, suggest features, etc.

Furthermore, project leaders change from one version to a different one. If you get deeply involved within the community, then you’ll become a core contributor to WordPress also.

However, there might be costs involved in other areas. We will discuss the cost of using the open-source WordPress software later in this article.


The Philosophy behind Open Source Software

The philosophy behind the Open Source software movement is that software isn’t like other tangible products. Once the software is made, it is often copied repeatedly with little cost.

Let’s take the example of a toy factory. Each toy manufactured has different parts and every part features a cost. The manufacturing cost of those parts is often calculated by the factory to make a decision on an inexpensive margin of profit for the merchandise.

On the opposite hand, the value of making software and making copies of it’s not equivalent. Some groups believe that with each copy sold, the margin of profit of the software becomes more unfair.
To understand more about open source software ideals, inspect GNU’s Philosophy.


How Do People Make Money with WordPress?

The two main profitable parts of any open-source software are products and services based on the same open-source software.

People often confuse WordPress with WordPress.com, but they’re actually two different things. WordPress (often referred to self-hosted WordPress or WordPress.org) is a free blogging platform and website builder.

Matt Mullenweg, the co-founding developer of WordPress, launched a company called Automattic which provides a “restricted” free blog hosting service at WordPress.com, and you can pay/upgrade to unlock features and remove ads.

However, to unlock all the features of WordPress, you’d need to upgrade to a paid plan. For example, you can’t start an online store with WordPress.com unless you pay for the eCommerce plan which starts at $45 per month.

Automattic has raised over $600M in funding. (Source)

Other developers have also gone ahead to build successful multi-million dollar businesses around WordPress by creating commercial plugins, commercial themes, and even offering WordPress hosting.

Some examples of successful multi-million dollar WordPress companies are:

Related: See our list of 20 top WordPress companies.

Good WordPress developers and consultants also make a cushty full-time income by building custom websites, applications, and plugins around WordPress for his or her clients. A lot of them are making over six figures in annual earnings by themselves.


Is WordPress Copyright Free?

No, WordPress is not copyright-free. It is licensed in a way that permits everyone to use it, but each contribution made to the software is copyrighted.

It is released under GPL, so you’re liberal to use, modify, and redistribute the code. You will have the copyright to modifications you create to the software, not the whole code.

GPL requires that any derivative work you release or distribute should be licensed under GPL also. You may have the copyright to try to do anything you wish, your derivative work automatically inherits the GPL license, so others are liberal to use, modify, and redistribute your code in any way they choose.


The Content Published with WordPress also inherits GPL?

No, you are entitled to license your content any way you like. Unless the content you are publishing is actually a derivative work of WordPress or any other GPL licensed work.

For example, if you are sharing your articles, photos, or any other artwork on your blog, then you own full copyrights of it.

However, if you are writing a blog post showing people how to use a WordPress function with examples, then that particular blog post could be licensed differently. The code used in examples is actually derivative work and automatically inherits the GPL license.


The WordPress Trademark

The code of WordPress as a software is released under GPL but the words WordPress, WordCamp, and the WordPress logo are registered trademarks owned by the WordPress Foundation.

To distinguish between a site or resource that is official or community-run, the foundation asks folks to not use “WordPress” in their domain name.

This is the reason why our site is called WEhavedigital instead of WordPressBeginner. Any website, training course, or resource that you see has WordPress in its domain name is probably being run by someone who doesn’t know enough about WordPress. This means you probably shouldn’t pay them any of your money :)

Most legit businesses built around WordPress are aware of the trademark policies, and they respect the rules.


Cost of using WordPress

WordPress as a software is free for you to download and use. However, to use WordPress on the web, you will need WordPress Hosting.

You can use WordPress.com to create a free blog, but be aware that there are some differences. See our comparison of WordPress.com vs WordPress.org for more details.

The cost of using WordPress is relatively minimal and holds true for running any other type of website as well. The only real cost is web hosting ($7.99 per month) and domain name ($14 / year).

However, WEhavedigitaltool users can get a free domain name and 60% off web hosting from Bluehost which means you can start a website for as low as $2.75 per month. Bluehost is an officially recommended WordPress hosting provider.

Related: How to Start a WordPress Blog (Ultimate Guide)

Additional costs might be commercial WordPress themes also referred to as premium WordPress themes. However, you’re not required to use those because there are over 6000+ free WordPress themes that you simply can use.

People often use commercial plugins, but you are not required to use those as well because there are over 54,000+ free WordPress plugins available.

We have created an in-depth guide on what proportion does it really cost to create a WordPress website with instructions on the way to start an internet site on a budget and save money.

We hope that this text answered your questions on WordPress licensing, the prices of running a WordPress site, and therefore the business around WordPress. You may also want to ascertain our list of easy-to-start out online business ideas that really make money.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Instagram and Facebook.


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