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With a recent change to its pricing model, WordPress.com now offers just two plans: a free one, and the $15/month WordPress Pro plan. We are happy to report, that in a bid to make pricing clearer, it has removed its four previous paid plans and massively simplified the options on offer.
But is that necessarily a good thing for your specific requirements? Let’s find out in this WordPress.com pricing review.
WordPress is a massive player in the website space. With a market share of 65.3%, it's the most successful content management system that has ever existed.
Do keep in mind, though, that most of these users are on the open-source platform WordPress.org. The one you are looking at right now, WordPress.com, is a simpler version that comes with its own web hosting.
If you’re trying to choose between the free or paid plan, or determine whether the features of the paid plan are worth it compared to other WordPress hosting providers, our research will hopefully help to make things a little clearer!
How Much Does WordPress.com Cost?
The free WordPress.com plan won’t cost you a cent. Its features are limited, though. With just 1GB of storage and no access to plugins, support, or advanced SEO features, you’ll be able to do little more than publish a basic site or blog. You also won’t be able to use a custom domain, or remove the WordPress ads from your site.
The paid Pro plan costs $15 per month. This opens up the feature range to include extras such as 50GB of storage, access to premium themes, plugins, advanced SEO tools, plus the ability to sell products via the WooCommerce plugin.
Note that you’ll be billed yearly for the Pro plan - at the time of writing, there was no option to pay your subscription monthly.
Let’s take a closer look at the WordPress.com Free and Pro plans and see what is (and isn’t) included - and whether the paid plan is really worth it.
WordPress.com Full Pricing Comparison Table
|Monthly Price (billed yearly)||$0||$15|
|Best for||Testing the waters. Because of the ads and limited features, it’s not an ideal long-term solution for a website||Individuals, businesses, and online stores who need more control over templates, plugins, and SEO settings.|
|Drawbacks||Basic SEO options. No access to plugins or premium themes. Comes with ads and WordPress branding. No support.||Not ideal for very large sites due to 50GB storage limit.|
|SSL encryption||Included for free|
|Domain||No||Free custom domain name for one year, around $15 thereafter|
|Email account||No||Free for 3 months with custom domain|
|Email and Live Chat Support||No||Yes|
|WordPress Themes||Free Themes||Access to Premium Themes|
|Design customization options||Limited||Full|
|Accept recurring payments||No||Yes|
|Enable simple payments||No||Yes|
|Enable ad monetization||No||Yes|
|Jetpack Essentials (site optimization and anti-spam)||No||Yes|
|Social media tools||No||Yes|
|Advanced SEO Tools||No||Yes|
|Backup and Restore||No||Yes|
|Shipping and payment integration||No||Yes|
|More information||Start a free WordPress website|
Am I getting a better or worse deal than with the previous plans?
WordPress.com used to offer four paid plans (plus their free plan). Prices ranged between $4 to $45, and while this allowed for a greater deal of flexibility in some respects, it also resulted in paying a lot more for features that should have been standard.
For example, advanced SEO settings and backup & restore were only available on the two most expensive plans, which started at $25. The ability to have complete control over plugins and themes was also limited to higher-tier plans.
Now, the options have been simplified down to two choices: free, or $15 per month. If you choose the Free plan, you’ll have limited access to what’s on offer. However, if you pay, you’ll have access to all of WordPress.com’s premium features - there’s no need for you to pick between plans depending on the features you need, because they’re all included.
The main drawback we see with the new plans is that storage sizes have been reduced. The Free plan now only offers 1GB of storage (compared to the 3GB previously offered), while Pro offers 50GB (a massive downgrade from the 200GB provided on the previous Business plan).
For that reason, we see WordPress.com as being suitable for those who don’t plan to have a very large website or online store. A moderately-sized blog, portfolio, business site, or online store may be fine, but it’s just not built to support sites that need to host a huge amount of content (e.g. a news or media site).
What About Domain names and Email Accounts?
As mentioned above, the Pro plan comes with a free domain name for one year. It also comes with professional email addresses, powered by Titan, for 3 months - so just enough time to try it out. After that, each mailbox will be charged at around $3.50 USD/month (prices vary depending on your region).
For an alternative long-term solution, you can look at Google Workspace, which will let you create a professional email address using your domain name for around $70 a year. A free Google alternative is Zoho Workplace, which gives you up to five inboxes at no cost.
You could also use a domain registrar like Namecheap, which only costs around $20 a year for a custom domain and email address.
What Payment Methods Can I Use?
You can pay for your WordPress.com plan with a credit card (Visa, Mastercard, Amex, Discover) or PayPal.
Can I Pay Monthly For WordPress.com?
No - with the introduction of the new plans, this option is no longer available, and payments must be made yearly. However, you can get a refund within the 14-day refund period.
Are There Any Storage or Bandwidth Limits?
Plans have limits for the amount of storage on your site (actual files like text, video and images). There are no limits to the amount of bandwidth, so you could have millions of visitors on your site!
And What About SEO Options?
By default, WordPress.com is fairly SEO-friendly. The themes are optimized, you can edit meta titles and descriptions, and you get an XML map of your site automatically.
But you’ll need to subscribe to the Pro plan to get the whole gamut of advanced SEO tools, such as a front page meta description (for the whole site), custom title formats; and custom posts meta description. It’s also what you’ll need to install a SEO plugin like Yoast SEO, which is great for rating your optimization based on keywords.
I Thought WordPress Didn’t Have Support?
Once again, you’re thinking about WordPress.org. The WordPress.com Pro plan comes with good live chat and email support, which can be a strong enough incentive to choose it.
What’s the Difference Between WordPress Ads and WordPress Branding?
The Pro plan removes the occasional targeted WordPress ads, which look like this on the free plan:
Example of a WordPress.com ad
The branding (what WordPress calls the ‘footer credit’) is simply a link to WordPress in the website footer. It’s pretty unobtrusive, but you need the Pro plan to remove it. It looks like this:
What If I Want to Sell Online?
By doing away with its previous (expensive) eCommerce plan, WordPress.com makes it a lot more affordable to start using your site to sell online. However, you’ll need to add the WooCommerce plugin. Although you can add it for free, there may be additional costs associated with installing themes and extensions (payment processors, carrier shipping rates, etc).
We recommend you do the cost calculations all beforehand. If you find your costs quickly adding up, you might find another ecommerce solution to be a better solution. For example, the Shopify Basic plan starts at $26 a month.
Our Final Opinion: Is WordPress.com Worth It?
WordPress.com operates in a strange space compared to other website builders, and especially compared to self-hosted versions of WordPress.org. It used to be hard for us to recommend it over other alternatives, precisely because of the pricing.
But with the introduction of the new fully-featured Pro plan, it now holds up pretty well against website builders like Wix and Squarespace, whose plans start at similar price points.
It also brings it closer in line with the do-it-yourself option - that is, purchasing a domain and choosing an affordable WordPress web hosting provider yourself. As this option requires a bit of elbow grease, some might prefer to pay a little extra for the convenience of having the hosting taken care of.
The one case we’d say that WordPress.com isn’t really built for is ecommerce. To start selling, you’d need the WooCommerce plugin, and it would most likely work out cheaper to opt for a WordPress + WooCommerce package with a hosting provider like Bluehost or Siteground. At least for smaller stores that don’t attract thousands of daily visitors.
Other than that, our analysis shows that WordPress.com offers a very good deal for anyone looking to create a WordPress-built blog, portfolio, or business site. The fact that there is essentially no website traffic limitation, makes it especially attractive for larger projects.
Start creating a free WordPress.com website
14 Apr 2022 - Introduction of new ‘Pro’ plan and removal of previous paid plans
28 Feb 2022 - General updates (monthly prices) and revisions