WordPress is free software, but from that point, you do have one decision to make regarding the expense of maintaining a small business website. If you want it to be totally free, you can elect to have a WordPress.com website setup, and your site will be hosted on their servers for free. Your other choice is to pay for your own hosting. Here is an analysis of the considerations for your decision.
OK, free is obviously nice. However, today's hosting providers will host a WordPress site for a very low cost. Often, if you pay for a year or longer in advance, you can get a small business site hosting package for as little as around $5 to $6 per month total cost. Providers with simple WordPress installation include:
• 1 & 1
• WP Engine
There are others, and your decision on which to use if you want to pay for hosting should be based on some research into services, support, and reviews. The point is that the cost of hosting is relatively low, especially considering the fact that you intend to generate new customers for your business.
Included Site Features and Power
If you choose to use free WordPress.com hosting, your ability to customize your site with plugins and other features will be severely limited. You get a specific set of features and administrative functions, and if you want others and they're available, you'll have to upgrade and pay for them. You'll see very quickly that if you want to improve your site with features for you and your visitors, the cost can rapidly escalate to more than paying for your own hosting.
Choosing paid hosting with one of the many providers available, you gain access to a huge pool of third-party developers who take advantage of the open source nature of WordPress to develop plugins, add-ons, and features that are free or available for a low monthly/one-time fee. As an example, at the WordPress.org support site, the current number of available plugins to extend the WordPress experience is showing more than 56,000. You can access many of them easily from the Admin panel in WordPress, searching by key phrase for what you want to accomplish.
Themes for Paid Hosting WordPress Sites
The free WordPress.com hosting package does offer dozens of themes for your basic site look and design. A theme determines colors, layouts, navigation, fonts, and other design items. If you go with paid hosting, thousands of themes become available, many customized for particular business types. Thousands of developers create themes, so the biggest challenge will be in choosing one from among the many options available.
The good news is that choosing a standard theme from almost any developer or WordPress.org isn't a decision set in stone. You can experiment with themes, changing them at will. When you choose another theme, you can preview how it will look with your content. Once you make a decision, one-click changes your entire website to the new look.
There's a Plugin for That
The power of plugins can't be overrated. You will almost always find multiple choices for plugins to create a certain look or add a certain background or visitor feature to your website. If you want a full-blown Internet store with product listings and an online purchase and credit card function, there's a plugin for that - its called plug&paid.
If you are a photographer, designer, or some other business heavily into images, there are many slideshow and gallery plugins to show off your images in various ways. There are plugins for lead generation, forms creation, embedding forms or documents (such as pdf docs), particularly useful for restaurants or similar businesses with menus or product options that change frequently. The most effective way to say it is that, whatever you want to do, there is almost certainly a plugin available that can do it.
There is nothing wrong with opting for a totally free site hosted by WordPress, but if you have goals for growing a site that will grow with your business and generate customers, and that is unique to your brand or business identity then definately consider that small monthly hosting cost which is well worth the expense.