In one of the biggest bits of news this month, WordPress.com made huge changes to its pricing plans – changes that might very well have an effect on the self-hosted WordPress ecosystem (read about the difference between WordPress.com and self-hosted here).
WordPress.com did this pretty much without any announcements, which caught a lot of people by surprise.
The high-level gist is that WordPress.com did two things:
- It radically simplified its pricing plans. There are now just two options – Free and Pro.
- It cut its prices for “full-featured” WordPress almost in half. This makes it cheaper than ever to use WordPress.com while still being able to install your own plugins and themes.
The new WordPress.com Pro plan will cost $15 per month (billed at $180 per year) and includes a lot of features that were previously reserved for the ~$25 per month Business plan, including the following:
- Install unlimited custom plugins and themes.
- Create WooCommerce stores.
- Collect payments using built-in tools (also available via Jetpack).
- SFTP and database access.
- Automatic backups.
At just $15 per month, this may attract people who value simplicity but might otherwise have gone with a budget WordPress host like Bluehost.
With that being said, while paying customers will probably be happy with WordPress.com’s pricing changes, one group of users was not happy – free plan users.
Free plan users got hit with much stricter storage limits initially, dropping from 3 GB down to just 500 MB. Additionally, there’s no longer a cheap option to just pay to connect a custom domain name. Before, that would have cost around $8 per month, but now you’d need to go all the way up to the $15 WordPress.com Pro plan.
There also seem to be monthly traffic limits on both plans – 10,000 on the Free plan and 100,000 on the Pro plan.
The new plans remove the traffic limits and also increase the storage on the free plan to 1 GB, though that’s still well under the original 3 GB.
Existing free plan users are supposed to be grandfathered into the old storage limits, though.
Additionally, WordPress.com has plans to offer some add-ons, such as a cheaper way to use a custom domain name.
WordPress.com will also soon adjust the prices based on geographic areas, which is something it did before. For example, users in India had access cheaper prices when paying in Rupee.
Overall, with a new cheaper price point for the full-featured Pro plan, WordPress.com is going to continue putting pressure on the self-hosted WordPress space, so it will be interesting to see the long-term effects of these changes.