Why WordPress isn’t actually free

WordPress should not be considered a free website solution.When I first started building websites, the iPhone had yet to be released, AppleTV was but a twinkle in Steve Jobs’ eye and no one’s parents were using Facebook. Clearly, it doesn’t take long for things to change when it comes to the web, and WordPress is no different. In that time, WordPress has gone from being used mostly for blogging into one of the most popular content management systems out there, with all manner of businesses built around the open-source, free core software. But as WordPress and the community around it has grown, so has its pricing structure—and for good reason.

Over the years WordPress has vastly improved its core features and the community has built bigger and better tools and products to go along with it. WordPress has grown up into a superior platform for content publishing, lead generation, and relationship building. However, as more features have been added, more plugins created, more themes designed, so too have more vulnerabilities cropped up for hackers and internet ne’er-do-wells. Now, keeping your WordPress site safe and running smoothly is no longer truly free, because the technology necessary to run your site and keep your information safe is more advanced than ever.

What is your time worth?

For example, I recently spent $29 for a plugin to help me better communicate to clients how BIPI’s WordPress Care Plan pricing structure works. The investment was worth it. For that nominal fee, I was able to integrate a valuable new feature into our site in less than 1/4 the time it would take me to develop a comparable feature on my own. Not only that, but I can rest assured that the new plugin is being kept up to date with WordPress’ current safety features by someone who knows it inside and out. I don’t have time to worry about that, but the plugin developer is making a living doing so.

This example plays out into every area of WordPress. The team developing the core software are keeping on top of the necessary safety features that will protect your site from most malicious attacks, but your site has to be up to date to take advantage of their vigilance. Then come the updates to the rest of the software running on your site – themes and plugins. Keeping those current should generally require annual licensing fees as well as regular manual updating. Even then, there is no way to be 100% insulated from hackers. Hacking happens and it happens fast.

Avoiding the high cost of hacking

What you can do is be 100% prepared for when — not if, when — it does. Preparedness begins with decent hosting for your site, which is usually at least $10 a month if not $30, includes paying for things like themes & plugins, and ends with keeping your software and site updated and backed up at all times. While the backup and update process is sinfully simple 95% of the time, the other 5% of the time it can be the stuff of nightmares. Like with the plugin I purchased, it is worth it to pay for the luxury of someone who knows the ins and outs of WordPress to stay familiar with your site and keep all its contents updated and backed up on your behalf.

An added bonus of having someone else care for your site is that you can also rest assured that your site is being regularly monitored. How often do you visit your own website? A site manager can monitor your site, keep it backed up and up-to-date, and monitor service so that any downtime can be caught and remedied in a timely manner.

BIPI has been providing these services for a few years now, but starting in September of 2015 we officially created a comprehensive, monthly WordPress management plan with three different options, depending on your needs. All plans include site monitoring, regular back-ups, and ongoing software licensing and upgrades for your website. Instead of spending your time running updates, troubleshooting and worrying about hackers, you can focus on your customers and fans.

Ultimately, whether you choose our services or not, the biggest takeaway from this is a two-parter: a) WordPress should not be considered “free” even though the core software technically is, and b) your site MUST be updated and monitored regularly to protect the investment of time and money you’ve sunk into creating your site. If you’ve got any questions, you can always contact us. We’re happy to talk your ear off about it.

by | Last Updated: Sep 20, 2015 | shop talk, WordPress website advice