The one feature that most of us associate with WordPress is that it’s ‘free’. It is also a major selling point that contributes to the popularity of this widely used platform. While the fact that WordPress is free to use is accurate to some extent, there are some major real costs that we ignore to take into account.
It is correct to the extent that the application files required for installing and running WordPress at your server are absolutely free and casual content creators can register on WordPress and run multiple websites without ever paying a penny for the basic features of the blogging platform. However, things aren’t all that simple for people who see WordPress as a critical, potent tool that can drive some substantial revenues.
Are you a casual content creator? If you’re reading this piece of article, you most likely are not. You use this platform to generate table, regular revenues. Moreover, you understand the true costs involved in running WordPress, which are anything but ‘free’.
What, really, is the true cost?
How can one minimize the costs of running WordPress while maximizing your revenues from your online content on your WordPress website?
Total Cost Of Ownership Analysis Of WordPress
The first step in building an online or an offline business using WordPress is to stop thinking of it as a free blogging tool and start thinking of it as a proper tool for business acquisition and generation of revenues, that comes with its own costs.
The IT industry, since its early days, has been making use of a time-tested model for assessing costs of business acquisitions, called the ‘Total Cost of Ownership Analysis’. Just like in any other industry, the IT industry’s total costs vary immensely from price to purchase.
While there are some pretty obvious expenditures like maintenance costs and purchase price to consider, the ‘’real costs’’ are the ones which frequently get neglected. It is important for business owners of every kind to understand that the real costs must be kept in mind while calculating costs since they often play a major role in influencing decisions to use and acquire products, divisions, companies etc.
The analysis of total cost starts with an important question: About how many actual expenditures are there? Well, a lot of them.
Here’s a list of some common hidden costs that come with effective WordPress management:
- Registering the domain: The first of the real cost, domain registration will require you to contact service providers, look for available domain names and pay for the one you want.
- Hosting the site: Web hosting involves costs to make your WordPress website available on the internet. You’ll need to pay web hosts that provide servers to connect your website to the world wide web.
- Premium theme: A revenue-generating website or blog needs features that set it apart from the rest. Therefore, the basic features of WordPress won’t do for your business.
- Developer compensation: Your website developer, if you hire one, is also going to charge you for their services.
- Security: Security services are another hidden cost of WordPress management. You always need protection against hacking and phishing attacks. Such protection often comes with a cost.
- Backup and storage: You’ll need to store your content and set a backup should you lose important content. Data recovery operations require you to have a reliable backup system.
- Opportunity cost/personal time: This is often the most overlooked cost of any activity or business. The opportunity cost entails time you could have spent on other, more profitable activities.
Apart from the listed hidden costs, there can be other, depending on individual circumstances, which we aren’t discussing here.
In what ways can you manage a WordPress-backed web page or website?
- Managed WordPress hosting
- Premium WordPress hosting
Website Hosting on WordPress.com
In case you use WordPress to run your website, you’re eligible to enjoy free shared hosting on a starting level. But, if you need a domain of your own, instead of something that looks like xyz.wordpress.com, it’s going to cost you $18-25 annually.
If you opt for any premium theme made available by WordPress, you’ll have to pay additionally for it. The cost would be near $70 and the theme won’t be transferable if you wish to host it yourself later on.
Automattic, the parent company of WordPress will take case of security issues so that’s a department you don’t have to worry about. In total, be ready to shell out around $95 for year one, of which the domain charges continue each year.
WordPress is usually considered an excellent option for casual content creators but the themes, configurations as well as other facets of management are severely limited, something which has the ability to impact your reach and connection with your target audience, your ability to commercialize your website and et the best of SEO benefits.
WordPress Self-Hosted Option
In case WordPress.com doesn’t appeal to you and you wish to self host your website, all you need to do is contact a hosting provider who can offer you affordable options like shared hosting, something that will cost you less than $5 per month. Though your website’s performance could suffer because of the huge shared server, the purpose will be served and your website would be live and operational.
Unlike the WordPress hosting option, self hosting gives you a great variety of options of theme. You could opt for a free theme from WordPress, go for a premium theme while creating your very own theme is also an option. Most serious professionals do not opt for the free themes due to various aesthetic and functional reasons. Also, they don’t have the required skills to create a theme on their own or the money to get a theme created from a professional developer. Thus, a premium theme makes for a great option in such cases.
What about the security part of self hosting?
Fortunately enough, numerous free options including Sucuri’s WordPress monitoring plug in exist for your benefit. But, if you aren’t spending bucks for a virtual private server, your website will have a server shared with numerous other websites. These sites pose a security risk for your server and ultimately, to you.
In case the server ever goes down or your website gets hacked, there could be major costs related with the down time, de-hacking procedure and the recovery of lost, deleted files. If you can’t perform these tasks by yourself, you’ll have to engage the help of a professional, which is going to add to the costs.
Storage and setting backups will also be your responsibility. In the event of a hacking attack or loss of data, your backup could prove to be a life saver. Again, this comes with a cost.
The minimum annual cost, including hosting and theme price, runs around $125. Security as well as the storage costs are additional. The minimum cost of hosting a legitimate WordPress blog will settle around $150, with still a lot of potential left. Needless to say, such a website or blog will not be a high performance one.
We, of course, haven’t included subtle costs like opportunity cost as well as composure.
“Regular” Managed WordPress Hosting
The option next, quite different from the self hosting option, is opting for a managed hosting service provider. Though it enables you to ‘’self host’’, it provides you with guidance and a great deal of help from experts on the areas you have difficulty with. For instance, web development guidance would be provided to those aren’t well versed with the techniques of the trade. In essence, help is given to you for you to be able to effectively administer your business.
The cost of this kind of hosting can vary depending on different locations and service providers, the most suitable option for small business owners is a WP optimized and managed plan that costs about $50 a month. Though your website will be working at a shared server, however it will be a secure, reliable shared environment that understands the protocol and importance of WordPress safety and abides by it to provide a safer hosting environment than a usual hosting provider.
If you wish to use a virtual private server or run a WordPress multi site, you’ll have to go for an advanced level plan which would cost you $125-150 each month.
What about the themes?
As far as themes are concerned, you’ll have to buy one, for around $80 each month.
All in all, the regular managed WordPress hosting will cost you around $680 the starting year, with a reduction in costs for subsequent years.
Premium Managed WordPress Hosting
Premium managed WordPress hosting comes with several benefits, one of them being right of use of Genesis framework.
The best part is, even the basic plan covers storage and security aspects which are delivered premium. Now that’s when the actual worth of premium level managed hosting comes into play.
Having the support of experts who have specialized servers to accommodate the needs and peculiarities of hosting a WordPress site is an extremely valuable proposition. It also gives you the benefit of having a group of worker who have the required skills for hosting, designing, marketing and promotion of your website.
While most generic and managed hosts are unable to answer intricate questions and issues about SEO and its impact, premium hosts put you in touch with the support staff that has answers to your questions. The staff consists of members who have expertise in the various fields and aspects related to WordPress website running, hosting and security issues.
Generic or even managed hosts are often unable to help you with diagnosing issues like a troublesome RSS feed. They often don’t give you the best recommendations on aspects like integrating a form to capture email customers. With a premium managing host, such issues are resolved owing to their experience and expertise.
They provide the best support and expert advice that comes from experience and skill. It ends up saving you a great deal of frustration, money and time. And as we know, time is the greatest cost in any business.
If you look for digits to validate an argument, here’s something for you. If you own only a single site and wish to host it, a premium hosting subscription will essentially cost half of that of a regular managed hosting subscription i.e. $324. Do you need more reasons to opt for a premium hosting now?
The Worth of Premium Level Managed WordPress Hosting
A systematic and formal Total Cost of Ownership study hasn’t yet been conducted for WordPress while the above information is anything but complete. It was purely intentional.
We have attempted to give you an approximate sense of the actual costs that come with owning, running and hosting a WordPress blog or website. The next action for you is to figure out the exact cost for your own time and devices.
For service providers, this process is convenient. For each and every 60 minutes they devote to fixing or de-hacking, they charge you between 75 US Dollar (developer) to a 400 US Dollar (attorney).
For business owners, this cost could be higher in qualitative terms. For every hour that your website remains down, slow, non operational or hacked, your reputation and ultimately your business suffers.
You could be an autonomous media creator or producer looking to generate greater revenues from your WordPress website. The time you waste fixing and maintaining your website for optimal performance is the time you could have spent with family, friends or doing a leisurely activity, time that is not going to come back.