Is WordPress Really Free?

Though once revered solely for its use as a quality blogging tool, WordPress has long since established itself as the go-to platform of choice for those looking  to create professional looking websites in a way that is simple, effective and affordable.

And they don’t come more affordable than WordPress, which, yes, really is completely free to use.

Surprised? You’re not the only one. After all, if WordPress really is as good as people say it is, why don’t its creators charge for it?

Why is WordPress Free?

The answer is that, unlike other privately-made platforms, there isn’t a single company or group of creators responsible for the development of WordPress.

Rather, it’s what we call an open-source platform, meaning anyone can get involved with adding to, modifying and general improving the software for the greater good of its users.

WordPress isn’t really owned by anybody, and yet in many ways is owned by everybody who uses to it and contributes to its development on an ongoing basis.

Since it has no one clear owner, no individual or organisation has the right to package the software as a product for sale.

What this means for you as a user, is that you can build your whole website around it, and only have to pay for things like web hosting and a domain name.

Who owns the WordPress copyright?

As a whole, WordPress is copyrighted under a General Public License, more commonly referred to as simply a GPL. As per the terms of that license, an individual may own the copyright to modifications they make to the software, but not to the software as a whole, since derivative works automatically come under the same GPL.

This means that you could greatly improve on the current platform, but would still have to release your version to the public for free, so that they could modify or add to it as they see fit.


One area where GPL does not apply is in relation to trademarks, where names like WordPress itself, Wordcamp, and all its associated logos are copyrighted to the WordPress Foundation, a non-profit organisation dedicated to the growth and sustainability of the open source software.

Can you make money from WordPress?

The short answer is yes you can, and many enterprising creative types have become pretty successful at making cash on the back of the platforms popularity. The long answer however, needs a little more explanation.

Whilst its not legal to package and sell WordPress as a platform in itself, entire industries have been built around enabling users to make the most out of it.

Along with those who promote themselves as web designers and earn a living building WordPress-hosted sites for clients, there’s also a good number of designers making a tidy sum just by designing and selling themes.

The more code-savvy entrepreneurs take home a good income by creating those awesome plugins we use to add extra functionality to our websites. Even the ones they give away for free normally come with premium upgrades, offering things like additional support and features.

So yes, there is a lot of ways to make money from WordPress, even though the software which holds all of the above together is completely free, and will always remain so.

So I can really build a WordPress website for free?

Using WordPress to build your own website is absolutely free, yes, though there are some costs involved. At the very least, you’ll want to invest in a domain name and a reliable hosting plan, at most, you could always spend additional money on a quality WordPress theme or premium plugins.