As you can see, even the priciest Bluehost hosting plan costs less than WordPress.com’s Business plan. Sure, WordPress.com has cheaper plans, but again, those don’t get you all of WordPress’s features. Even the cheapest hosting plan with WordPress.org gets you access to CSS (cascading style sheets), plugins, and SEO features.
The difference between the hosting plans mostly comes down to storage space (better plans have more storage space) and how many websites you can host. The basic plan lets you host one website with 25 subdomains; the more expensive plans let you host unlimited websites with unlimited subdomains. You also get automatic site backups with the Choice Plus plan.
Keep in mind that you can often find killer deals on hosting. For example, Bluehost currently offers new customers Choice Plus hosting for just $5.95 per month.
So you can get WordPress.org plus hosting for cheaper than you get WordPress.com’s Business plan. But WordPress.com does offer more convenience—you don’t have to find a host, you don’t have to wrangle with WordPress’s back end, and you get to have one login for your website. For some business owners, that convenience might be worth paying a little more.
With either WordPress, you should consider other costs, like the price of a domain or premium plugins.
Pretty much all small businesses should have a custom domain name. WordPress.com includes a free domain for one year when you sign up, and so does Bluehost. But after that free year, you’ll need to include the cost of a domain in your calculations. You can renew your domain through WordPress.com or your host, or you can transfer it to your favorite domain registrar.
A standard .com or .org domain can cost you as little as $12 a year—or less, if you get it on sale—though some popular domains can cost much more. A newer domain suffix like .design can cost $40 or more.
Likewise, you’ll probably want some plugins. While many popular plugins are free, some do cost money (or at least have paid upgrades). The cost of plugins varies wildly (from $1 to $1,000), so research your plugins ahead of time to estimate your cost.
Then you’ve got themes. While you’ll find plenty of free WordPress themes, you may find that premium themes are worth the cost. Paid themes often have layouts that are fine-tuned for certain types of businesses.
For example, if you’re showing off your photography portfolio, you’ll want an image-heavy theme. If you have a gaming blog and you intend to monetize your site with ads, you’ll want a blogging theme that’s built to incorporate advertising.
If you get WordPress.org with web hosting, you might also want to pay for some host-specific add-ons. Bluehost, for example, offers extras like additional site security (SiteLock for $29.99 a year), a dedicated IP address ($5.99 a month), and spam filtering (SpamExperts at $2.99 a month).
Wondering about dedicated hosting? As you might recall, we mentioned that one reason you might choose WordPress.org is to get dedicated hosting for your website. As you’d expect, that kind of privacy will cost you. Again, here’s Bluehost.
To be clear, you don’t need dedicated hosting for your four-page website about your brick-and-mortar store or for your church’s blog; only high-traffic websites need apply. And frankly, if you’re looking into dedicated hosting, you should also probably look into a web developer who can help you maximize the benefits of your hosting.
Since this guide is for business owners building their own sites, that’s all we’ll say about dedicated hosting.