Why "Free" Software Isn't Really Free

in Community Content Engine

We talk a lot about some of the flaws of WordPress that aren't always immediately apparent. Today we will be exploring some of the factors that make WordPress seem like a great FREE option but actually come with a steep hidden cost.

Let’s start with that word, FREE. I am capitalizing it for emphasis. WordPress is about as free as it would be if you got a free Big Mac. While technically, yes it’s free, you are going to pay for it later in ways you didn’t think about.

We have put together the graphic below comparing some of the seemingly “Free” parts about WordPress to features of our Community Content Engine for Local Publishers. The same graphic also applies to our Locable Marketing Platform software for local businesses. From the infographic, you can see how costs really start adding up for that “Free” WordPress site.

Installation: WordPress is a simple installation but it still takes time to learn how to install it. You must have a dedicated server set up or understand how to set it up on a hosting site. This can be a bit challenging if you have no idea how to host a website. This doesn’t necessarily take more money, but it takes time if you need to learn. Our CCE is ready to go and you don’t need to install anything or host it. You can start creating and adding content right from the start.

Setup: Here is when we start getting into “free” territory that free isn’t really free. Let’s start with themes. There are some themes available that are free. But if you want a high-quality theme that doesn’t look just generic you are going to pay for it. These can cost anywhere from $59-$500 or more for a high-quality theme. If you don’t have a great understanding of how to work with themes you will also have trouble creating a good design. At this

At this point, it could cost hours of time to learn how to best use a theme and you may still be stuck having to hire a designer at anywhere from $500-$5000 to create the look that works for you. Free isn’t looking so great at this point.

Plugins: Plugins are an extremely powerful part of WordPress and they are one of the big factors that can let you do what you want to do. Many plugins are free but many of the most useful ones with specialized features come at a monthly or a yearly cost. To get the most out of the plugins on your site like great contact forms, events, and good social sharing tools, it will start somewhere around $100 a year and possibly much more for more advanced features.

To get the most out of the plugins on your site like great contact forms, events, and good social sharing tools, it will start somewhere around $100 a year and possibly much more for more advanced features.

Maintenance: WordPress and plugin developers make constant updates to their software and when that happens you can have issues with those plugins breaking or potentially also lose functionality of your entire site. This can cost you hours of frustration trying to figure out what needs to be upgraded and you may be dealing with an entire site that is broken. At that point, you can go the developer route that can once again run you from few hundred to potentially thousands to get your site running properly. Ouch, always make sure to keep those backups up to date.

At that point, you can go the developer route that can once again run you from few hundred to potentially thousands to get your site running properly. Ouch, always make sure to keep those backups up to date.

Security: WordPress is one of the most popular website builders for setup process and free open source software. The problem with open source software though is that anyone has access to it. It has become a popular target of hackers and malicious code creators. While security might not be a top concern for you a problem could end up costing you hundreds to repair and possibly affect your entire database of contacts.

While security might not be a top concern for you a problem could end up costing you hundreds to repair and possibly affect your entire database of contacts.

Support: You are on your own. You can spend hours online researching why your site is having problems and potential fixes. There is a wealth of information about WordPress online, but again it takes time to sift through what you will need. There is also a ton of outdated information that may not work with newer versions. This leaves you another option; you guessed it, hire an expert (see the trend that is going on?).

Final thoughts on WordPress: Yes, it is an extremely powerful platform but to have a well designed, high-functioning website will cost you much more in the long run than you believe. Even if you are doing everything yourself you will likely end up spending at least a few hundred dollars for themes and the plugins you want, plus the countless hours learning the software. You also need to think about exactly how many hours you want to pour into learning and mastering some of the tasks that are necessary on WordPress.

How much do you value your time and can you really afford to spend that is necessary to create a great website?

How the CCE and Locable will make your life easier: We have created a comparably powerful platform that allows you to get up and running quickly, have a beautiful site, and begin posting content right away. It is SEO and Mobile optimized and you don’t have to worry about ongoing updates. We are also here and have your back for any support issues you may have.

This means you can use your website for what it is designed to do; tell your story, create prospects and help you make sales. Should you need any help, we have amazing resources and are available at any time. 


Ready to improve your online presence? Talk with us about our Community Content Engine.

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