WordPress is one of the most popular content management systems (CMS) in the world, powering over 40% of all websites on the internet.
It offers a wide range of features and benefits for users, including ease of use, basically unlimited customisation, and a huge community of developers making it more and more powerful every day.
So can you host on WordPress for free?
Good news, the short answer is yes, you can host on WordPress for free. Maybe you’re not sure whether you need a website or if it’s worth the effort, and you’re worried about making a poor investment of your time and money.
There are some catches though and it is worth noting that it comes with major limitations and drawbacks that may not be suitable for everyone.
In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of hosting on WordPress for free, as well as some paid alternatives like Bluehost, SiteGround, Kinsta, and Elementor Cloud, that offer additional benefits such as SEO, support, and scalability.
Hosting on WordPress for Free
WordPress.com offers a hosting plan that allows users to create a website for completely free. However, your website will not be YourBusinessNameHere.com, your website will be on a subdomain, e.g., YourBusinessNameHere.wordpress.com). So from the offset, it’s going to be very obvious to everyone that your website is on WordPress’ free hosting plan.
The free plan does however include basic features such as 3GB of storage space and access to free themes and plugins. However, there are some limitations to this plan that really aren’t great at all. For example:
- You cannot use custom domains (like YourBusinessNameHere.com),
- Limited access to themes and plugins (which is really what makes WordPress so good)
- You’re required to display ads on your site
- You get very limited customer support (which is really important if you’re a complete beginner and building your site yourself)
- No e-commerce capabilities
- No website membership capabilities
- No ability to add custom code to really personalise your site
- This may not seem like a big deal if you can’t write code but you’ll find as you look through support forums and guides, that a lot of code is out there for free for you to copy and paste, and with a free plan, you’ll not be able to use it.
Paid Hosting Options
There are many benefits to choosing a paid hosting option over the free WordPress plan, including better SEO (read more about SEO here), support, scalability, and customisation. All of the options below also allow for all of the list above.
You’ll get great plugin integration, custom domains, no ads, customer support, e-commerce, website memberships and as much custom code as you need.
Let’s look at some great affordable options –
Bluehost is one of the world’s most popular web hosting providers and they offer a range of hosting options, including WordPress hosting. Their plans start at less than the price of a coffee at £2.45 / $2.95 per month and include a free domain name (YourBusinessNameHere.com, woohoo!), free SSL certificate, and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
One of the main benefits of using Bluehost is its excellent customer support, which includes 24/7 phone and live chat support, as well as a comprehensive knowledge base and tutorials, which will be your saviour when you need it.
Bluehost also offers automatic WordPress updates, site backups, and security features to ensure your website stays safe and up-to-date.
SiteGround is another popular web hosting provider that offers specialised WordPress hosting plans. Their plans start at $14.99/£11.99 per month (currently only $1.99/£1.99!) and include all of the main features you need such as free SSL certificates, daily backups, and unlimited email accounts (like [email protected]).
SiteGround also offers advanced caching and optimisation features to improve website’s speed and performance, which can really help your site’s SEO. Their customer support is also top-notch, with 24/7 phone and live chat support, as well as loads of straightforward tutorials.
Kinsta is a premium managed WordPress hosting provider that offers high-performance hosting plans starting at between $29 – $35 per month (depending on whether you pay monthly or yearly).
Kinsta is really the Rolls-Royce of WordPress hosting and their plans include a range of advanced features such as daily backups, staging environments, and automatic scaling.
Two of the main benefits of using Kinsta is their advanced security features, which include hardware firewalls, malware scanning, and SSL support, as well as their lightning fast speeds, vital for good SEO.
Kinsta also offers some of the industry’s best customer support, with 24/7 live chat support and a comprehensive knowledge base.
Elementor Cloud is a relatively new kid on the block that has begun hosting websites off the back of their incredibly popular WordPress page builder, Elementor.
Their plans start at $9.99 per month and include all the usual suspects such as free SSL certificates, automatic backups, and global CDN support.
One of the main benefits of using Elementor Cloud is its seamless integration with the Elementor page builder, which, in our opinion, is the best page builder for WordPress, hands down.
Advantages of Paid Hosting over Free Hosting
While hosting on WordPress for free may be a viable option if you just want to dip your toe in the water, if you want to have a fully functional and professional website, you’re going to need to consider a paid hosting plan.
Starting at just the price of a coffee though, you’ve very little to risk.
Let’s summarise the advantages of a piad hosting plan:
- Search Engine Optimisation (SEO): Paid hosting providers offer advanced SEO features such as caching, fast pagespeeds and SSL support, which will massively improve your website search engine rankings.
- Support: Paid hosting providers offer more comprehensive customer support options, including phone and live chat support, as well as a knowledge base and tutorials, which you simply need to have if this is your first time building a website.
- Scalability: Paid hosting providers offer scalable hosting options that can accommodate the needs of growing websites, such as integrations with plugins and themes as well as e-commerce features and more.
- Customisation: Paid hosting providers offer greater customisation options, including custom domains, custom emails and all of the features in point 3.
While it is possible, and it may seem tempting, to host on WordPress for free, as discussed, there are some serious drawbacks.
Paid hosting providers such as Bluehost, SiteGround, Kinsta, and Elementor Cloud offer a range of benefits, including better SEO, support, scalability, and customisation options, making them a worthwhile investment for those looking to create a professional-looking website, without an overly huge investment at all.