So you’ve decided to build your website on WordPress. You’re in good company. Because of how robust and easy to use it is, it powers over 34% of all the websites on the web. And as an added bonus, WordPress itself is entirely free.
But that doesn’t mean you can create a WordPress website without spending anything. You will still need to budget for some main expenses. Chief amongst them: WordPress hosting.
How Much Does WordPress Hosting Cost?
Most WordPress website owners can expect to spend in the range of $6 to $35 a month for WordPress hosting.
But the spectrum of WordPress hosting prices is much broader than that. On the low end, hosting for a WordPress website starts at around $3 a month for a basic shared hosting plan, and can go up to over $1,000 for dedicated WordPress hosting for enterprise businesses.
What is WordPress Hosting?
If you’re new to running a website, you may not understand why web hosting is important to invest in at all. But anyone figuring out their WordPress website pricing must treat the cost of web hosting as a non-negotiable expense. If you want your site to be published to the world-wide web and accessible to other people, it has to be hosted somewhere.
While any web hosting plan you consider should work for a site built on WordPress, WordPress hosting refers to a subset of web hosting plans specifically designed for WordPress sites. Typically that means they offer WordPress-friendly features such as:
- One-click WordPress installation
- Faster loading times because they’re configured for WordPress specifically
- Automatic WordPress updates
- WordPress-specific security features
- Customer support staff well versed in WordPress
If you’re building a basic hobbyist website on WordPress and just need the most affordable web hosting option you can find, a basic shared web hosting plan should work. But if you want a higher level of performance for your WordPress site, seeking out WordPress hosting specifically is typically worth it.
5 Factors That Influence the Cost of WordPress Hosting
With such a wide range in the pricing of WordPress hosting, you may wonder what accounts for so much variety—and what it means for what you can expect to pay. There are five main factors that affect what a website owner will spend on WordPress hosting.
1. The web hosting provider you choose
One of the first things you’ll notice when you start looking into WordPress hosting options is that you have a lot of choices. With how ubiquitous WordPress is, it’s not too surprising that a lot of different companies offer web hosting plans that are specifically optimized for WordPress.
Every web hosting provider sets their own prices, and most offer a number of different plans at different pricing levels. While the plans and features you see offered across web hosting companies may look similar, the company you choose will influence the experience you have with WordPress hosting.
In particular, your choice of web hosting provider matters when it comes to:
- Ease of use
- Customer support
We review each of these below.
Uptime is the term used to describe the percentage of time your website is up and accessible to other people. All web hosting servers occasionally have to undergo maintenance, which will cause downtime that takes your website offline. And any servers that aren’t well maintained or taken care of may experience additional periods of downtime when things break or don’t work at full capacity.
A reputable web hosting company should promise at least 99% uptime, but most go further with 99.99% uptime or more. Before committing to a web hosting provider, research both what they promise and what their reputation for uptime are. This matters for all websites, but is especially important if your WordPress website is for a business where website downtime costs you money and hurts your professional reputation.
Website speed plays a key role in how people experience your website. Think about it: when was the last time you patiently waited several seconds for a website to load? If you can remember a time, it must have been a web page you were really interested in. Otherwise, in the fast-moving world of the web, we’re all prone to click away if something doesn’t load fast.
Your website speed is directly related to your web hosting provider and plan. The provider you choose isn’t the only factor, but it’s a big one. If their servers are overloaded or not optimally functioning, it could slow your website down. And that will cost you visitors who don’t care enough to stick around if it means waiting.
Ease of use
Web hosting providers typically provide an interface you can use to manage important aspects of your web account. Most call this the cPanel (short for control panel). It’s where you’ll take care of your billing, domain name management, backups, and website files—just to name some of the main things.
A well designed cPanel will make taking care of your website much easier. Before choosing a web hosting platform, you can generally find support materials from the company with information about what the cPanel looks like and how to use it. Make sure it looks intuitive, so you won’t have to waste time learning how to complete basic tasks.
Even if the cPanel is easy to figure out and the company is great when it comes to uptime, you may hit up against issues managing your website. When that happens, you want to know there’s someone trustworthy and knowledgeable you can turn to.
A good web hosting provider will offer 24/7 customer support with live chat included for emergency situations. Make sure they provide support in the channels of your choice (e.g. phone or live chat), and that their representatives have a reputation for knowing their stuff. A good customer support team can make the difference between loving your web host and hating them.
The best WordPress web hosting providers aren’t necessarily the most expensive. This is one area of life where you can get quality without having to shell out an exorbitant amount. Don’t choose on price though, pay more attention to what you can learn about a hosting provider on their own website and via third-party sources like reviews and awards from fellow customers.
2. The level of storage and bandwidth you need
WordPress hosting companies typically offer a few different plans. While sometimes plans include different features, the main difference between the different payment levels is how much storage and bandwidth they provide.
A website that’s just a few pages that only gets a couple hundred visitors a month will take up much less space on a web hosting server than one that with thousands of pages, lots of rich multimedia, and thousands of regular visitors. Web hosting plans that work great for that first website will therefore be much cheaper than a web hosting plan good enough for the second.
Some of the common types of plans you’ll see are:
- WordPress cloud hosting – Cloud hosting is a good option for WordPress because it’s more flexible than the other plans. WordPress sites hosted on the cloud tend to load fast, and it’s possible to scale how much you use (and pay) as your needs change.
- WordPress shared hosting – Shared hosting is the best choice for smaller websites that don’t get a lot of visitors yet. You pay less in exchange for sharing a server with other websites as well. You don’t get as much bandwidth because of it, but many websites don’t need all that much bandwidth, particularly newer websites or those for small businesses.
- WordPress VPS hosting – For WordPress sites a bit too big and popular for shared hosting, WordPress VPS hosting is a step up. It costs more, but you share the server with fewer other websites and each one has a space that’s partitioned off, so there’s no chance of your website being affected by someone else’s traffic.
- WordPress dedicated hosting – Big businesses or popular media sites will require their own server to handle the amount of bandwidth large sites with a lot of traffic needs. Many web hosting companies offer plans where you get a dedicated server that’s still managed and maintained for you by the company.
The costs of dedicated hosting go up as your needs increase, but to make sure your website performs at the level your visitors expect, higher costs can be worth it.
3. The level of security
We live in an era of rampant data breaches and identity theft. eCommerce website owners have to treat security as a top priority. Even if you don’t sell products or collect any personal information through your site, you still need to be thinking about it. All websites run the risk of getting hacked.
Who you choose for WordPress hosting is only one factor in website security, but it matters. A legitimate web hosting provider will offer firewall protection for their servers, and include security features like the ability to control file permissions. In addition, you can usually get an SSL certificate either included in your web hosting plan or as an add-on, which adds an extra level of protection to your website.
4. Number of sites
Many basic WordPress hosting plans only allow hosting for one website on your account. But if you’re planning to build multiple, you can invest in a plan that allows for two, three, or more.
Plans that include more sites will also generally include more space and bandwidth to go with them, but be sure to confirm yours does. Running three sites on one web hosting account will require roughly three times as much space (depending on how big and popular each of the three are, of course). Having the ability to host more sites is only worth it if all of them still perform at the level you need.
5. The features and extras included in your plan
The other big factor in how much a web hosting plan costs is the specific set of features it includes. All WordPress hosting plans will come with some features included, and often you’ll have the option to add extra ones for an additional fee as needed.
Some of the common features you’ll see in WordPress hosting packages are:
- eCommerce features – Anyone building an eCommerce website with WordPress will want to make sure they have all the ecommerce features required. A lot of those can be obtained with WordPress plugins. But your hosting plan needs to include at least an SSL certificate to assure proper security and will need to be compatible with whatever ecommerce software you go with.
- Webmail options – Having email addresses from your domain name makes you look more professional and provides an additional branding option. Some web hosting plans put a limit on the email addresses you can create and manage with your account. Make sure the plan you choose lets you create as many branded email addresses as you need.
- Automated backups – Building and maintaining a website takes a lot of work. You could lose it all within a moment if you don’t keep your website backed up. Web hosting plans that offer automated website backups reduce your risk of losing everything, without the work of having to remember to perform manual backups.
- Security features – As already mentioned, web hosting plans will either come with an SSL certificate included or as an add-on for an extra fee. Some will also include additional security features such as security software, automatic WordPress updates, and automatic malware removal.
- Scalability – Some websites will see fairly consistent traffic. Others will see the number of visitors jump at certain times of year. A web hosting plan that offers scalability will make it easy to increase the amount of bandwidth you need in real time, so your website performance can match your needs even as they change.
There isn’t always a direct correlation between these features and higher prices. In some cases, an affordable web hosting plan will include features like an SSL certificate or unlimited email addresses for free. Just make sure you’re clear on what’s included in any WordPress hosting plan you consider before you sign up, so you know if you’ll have to pay extra for something you need.
WordPress Website Pricing: Other Costs to Consider
WordPress hosting isn’t the only cost you’ll have to consider when you choose WordPress. While the CMS offers a lot for free, you should anticipate a few other expenses when working on your website budget:
Your domain name—the main address you use on the web (the thing that usually starts with www and ends with something like .com)—is another required expense. Every website needs one if you want people to be able to find you. If you go with a domain name that’s available (in other words, if someone hasn’t already bought it), then you can expect the cost to register your domain to be somewhere in the range of $10-$20.
If you decide on a domain name that someone else already owns though, expect to pay a much higher price to buy it from them, if it’s even for sale. The amount will depend on how willing they are to part with it, and how valuable they consider the keywords included.
Domain privacy isn’t a required expense, but it’s one many website owners will prefer to invest in. When you register a domain, you’re expected to hand over personal details including your name, email address, and physical address. These get published to the ICANN WHOIS database where anyone can see them.
If you care about keeping those details private, either for security reasons or simply to protect yourself from spammers and scammers, you’ll need to pay for it. Many domain registrars offer domain privacy for a few bucks a year as an add-on when you register your domain name.
The main way to add functionality to your WordPress website is with plugins. Developers have created a lot of plugins that cover all sorts of features. Many of them are even free. But there’s a good chance you’ll find yourself needing to invest in one or more premium plugins in order to gain the full functionality you need for your WordPress site.
WordPress websites are most often built using a theme. You can find a number of free WordPress themes available. But a lot of website owners—especially those building professional or eCommerce websites—will benefit from investing in a premium theme that provides more extensive features.
One of the benefits of using a CMS like WordPress is that it’s much easier to design a website with it than working from scratch with a coding language like HTML. But that doesn’t mean that building a website with WordPress is something just anyone can do.
If you’re not particularly adept at web design, or if you have a specific vision in mind, you’ll probably need to hire someone to help you with the web design process. Or at the very least, you’ll want to invest in a website builder or a good theme that takes care of some of the design for you.
Sign Up for a WordPress Hosting Solution
Even with these various expenses, building a website with WordPress is a good deal. And by choosing the right WordPress hosting plan, all the benefits you get with WordPress—that it’s affordable, easy, and flexible—will extend to your web hosting as well.
HostGator offers WordPress hosting plans that promise easy installation, scalability, unlimited emails, and fast webpage loading speed. And all of it comes at affordable prices from one of the most respected names in web hosting.
Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based freelance content writer and lifelong learner with an ongoing curiosity to learn new things. She uses that curiosity, combined with her experience as a freelance business owner, to write about subjects valuable to small business owners on the HostGator blog. You can find her on Twitter at @atxcopywriter.