What are the limitations of using the free version of WordPress.com?

Free WordPress.com

Should you use the free version of WordPress.com?

Free WordPress.com sites offer a user-friendly platform for users to create a simple website without any upfront costs.  As with just about anything, you get what you pay for though.  A free website plan comes with limitations designed to encourage upgrades to paid plans that include more features. Understanding these limitations is crucial for you to decide whether the free version of WordPress .com meets your needs or if you should investing money into your website.  For a small business owner that wants to build a website to help their business grow,  think twice before taking this approach.

Key Limitations of Free WordPress.com Sites

1. Advertisements

Free WordPress.com websites display ads that are controlled by WordPress.com, not the site owner. These ads can be removed only by upgrading to a paid plan.

2. Limited Storage Space

Free plans offer limited storage space, only 1 GB. This can be restrictive if you plan to upload a lot of media files or content.

3. Domain Name

With a free plan, you’ll get a subdomain that includes the WordPress.com branding (e.g., yoursite.wordpress.com). This can make your site appear less professional. A custom domain name requires a paid plan.

4. Design and Customization Limitations

Accounts have limited access to themes and cannot upload custom themes. They also have restricted customization options, meaning you can’t fully alter the design or functionality of your site to match your vision or brand.

5. Plugin Restrictions

You cannot upload custom plugins. This significantly limits the functionality you can add to your site, such as SEO tools, contact forms, or e-commerce capabilities.

6. SEO Tools

Access to advanced SEO tools, which can help improve your site’s visibility in search engine results, are only available on paid plans

7. E-commerce Capabilities

Basic ecommerce features are available, but with steep transaction fees of 10% of each sale. (Compare this to Stripe or PayPal at about 3%)

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8. Google Analytics Integration

Integration with Google Analytics for detailed website analytics and insights is not available, limiting your ability to analyze and understand your traffic.

9. Monetization

You cannot monetize your site with ads or affiliate marketing on the free plan. All revenue generated from ads placed by WordPress.com goes to them, not you.

10. Support

While WordPress.com offers support documentation for all users, direct email or live chat support is reserved for paid plans.

11. Scalability

Once you outgrow the storage space, and features offered, your only option is to upgrade in to paid options. Even with paid plans, there are limitations with what you can and can not do.  This is where the free open source, WordPress.org code comes out ahead.  You have full control over everything, from the design, features and functionality, and web hosting service.

12. You have to learn how to use  it.

Nothing is simple when it’s the first time you do it. Ride a bike, tie a shoe, build a website…  You need to be ready to invest some time and make an effort to learn how to use the website builder. If you decide to expand you site, you need to commit to learn how to integrate new features (like connecting a domain name for example) .

13. Can’t Migrate Your Entire Site, Only Your Content

With WordPress.com, if you decide that you want to move your website to a new host , you can not take all of the website code with you. This is a significant downfall of hosted website builders vs self hosted websites. The software resides on WordPress.com’s web servers. You can export your content to migrate it into a new website, but that’s all. So you essentially will have to rebuild your website if you decide WordPress.com is not right for your needs.  Migrating a website is not a DIY project, you need to have technical knowledge to accomplish this without any downtime, email issues and affecting your search engine rankings.  Consider hiring a WordPress migration expert for a smooth transition with no downtime.

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Benefits of using WordPress.com’s Free Plan

There are some benefits of using WordPress.com compared to a self hosted website.

1. It’s completely free.

2. Free WordPress hosting is included.

3. All security updates and code bugs are patched automatically. You don’t have to think about it.

4. It’s easy to build a basic website if you’ve never built one before.  It’s intended for beginners.

These benefits all are great, but do they outweigh the limitations noted above? That’s for you to decide.


So while, free WordPress.com sites may be a starting point for hobbyists, bloggers, and those new to web development and want to start to learn basic concepts of building a website, it comes with significant limitations.  I would only recommend using it as a “try it before you buy it” scenario to see if you are comfortable with the dashboard, features and access to documentation and support, with the understanding that a free website plan is not a solution if you want to build a website you intend to develop and grow.

It is intended to be a simple solution for beginners, not a robust platform to build a professional website.  If you are serious about building a website that will bring traffic, users, potential, clients, customers, buyers, followers… then you need to be prepared to invest money into the project.  As I said in the beginning,  you get what you pay for.  With a free website, you get very limited and basic features – not even a domain name.

At a minimum, upgrading to a paid plan should be considered, or better yet self hosted WordPress.org for full control and flexibility to meet your needs as your website evolves over time.


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