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What is WordPress? Why is it Free and Should You Use WordPress?

WordPress, WordPress, WordPress. Who are you? What are you? And where did you come from? Why do all these people keep calling you Open Source? What’s your deal? I mean, why do so many people love you so much? Why are you so powerful and versatile and beautiful? What can/can’t you handle? What is WordPress (WP)?

What can I say? I love WordPress way too much, just like my coffee and stout beer. If you love yourself some WordPress, you’re in the right place. If WP is all new to you, don’t worry one bit as this article will shed light on the basic aspects of WordPress you should know from today going forward.

If you’re seated and have your coffee (or whatever drink) ready, let’s start with the most fundamental question: What’s WordPress?

What is WordPress?

Going straight to the point, WordPress is simply a content management system (CMS). This wasn’t the case though some ten (10) years ago when WordPress was just a blogging platform. Today, besides blogging, you can use WordPress to build and run powerful websites of all demeanor.

If you will allow me to play the tech card, WordPress is a software script built on PHP and MySQL. It’s a fork of the b2/cafelog blogging software. The hell is a fork?

A fork…

…happens when developers take a copy of source code from one software package and start independent development on it, creating a distinct and separate piece of software. – Wikipedia

Who gives a fork about that, how did it all start this WordPress thing? In the first quarter of 2003, Michel Valdrighi – the guy behind b2 – fell off the face of the earth, prompting Matt Mullenweg to fork b2 in a bid to update the software, and accommodate his blogging needs. After expressing his intentions on Ma.tt, he was thereafter joined by a Mike Little, and as they say, the rest is history.

Since then, WordPress has grown in leaps and bounds, and today, it’s the most loved and used blogging platform/CMS on over seventy (70) million sites. That’s a whooping 23% of the internet! Not to mention, some commercial CMS come and go.

And all this because WP is easy to use and learn, super powerful and full of options that endear it to beginners and pros alike.

WordPress embodies elegance, ease of use and the best web standards. Matt’s vision was to build a blogging platform, so simple it would eliminate challenges authors faced with web publishing.

Has WP lived up to this vision? You bet it has – ten times over just ten years later. In the process, it has earned great awards and made a number of people millions in profits. Still, the platform is growing better, bigger and stronger with every new update.

Contributors from all over the world continue building upon WordPress, so you can expect the platform to grow in functionality, utility and popularity. It’s not a prototype; it’s a stable product and it’s going nowhere, so jump on the bandwagon already.

But before you do that…is the ride gratis?

Why is WordPress “Free”?

A few months ago, I had the pleasure of working with a really generous client from the UK (poker face). After consulting and writing him reviews for their service, I earned meself a hosting package. For a while I had no idea what to do with the package, and boy, did it come with awesome features.

After wracking my brains for a week or so, I decided to go into business offering WordPress hosting to a few of my cronies. I set up a great WordPress website and posted a few ads on Facebook among other places. I would charge for hosting among other administrative tasks. I would make a killing; oh you know the excitement.

After a day or two, one of my ads got a response. It went something like this:

Stop conning people, WordPress is free and people should not pay…blah blah…[plus so many other words.]

I can’t remember most of the response or even the exact words but you get the point. The most surprising part is even after explaining I wasn’t selling WordPress but charging for hosting (+ admin tasks such as setting up, installing themes etc), she made it look like I wasn’t getting through to her.

Perhaps my marketing sucked big time, because the few people who made contact didn’t understand why I would charge for an “open source software”.

WordPress is free dude. Free, free and free, stop trying to take our money.” Haha.

I have since put that project on the back burner, well, because I sold the hosting package for rent money, and there’s just too much you can handle at any given time. What? It’s life.

Another example:

Just the other day, a friend, who happens to be a web designer, set up a WP website for the first time. He went all out – got his own personal domain and the works. He picked one of the free themes at the WordPress repository, but the features just didn’t cut it.

So he combed the web, found a second theme that was ok and sent me the link. Suffice to say, it was a premium WordPress theme. Long story short, I had to explain why we couldn’t use that specific theme without paying for it first.

“It’s a WordPress theme. Shouldn’t it be free?”

Take note, I’m not complaining but somebody gotta shine some light on this animal called Open Source, or free software.

WordPress is free, firstly, in terms of freedom, and secondly, you don’t pay a cent to download the WordPress script.

What the hell do you mean?

You can download WP right this minute and install it on your personal computer. You can build your website and even add posts, but the world will never see the site since it’s on your computer, not on the web. To put your website out there, you need to buy a web server (expensive) or rent server space (cheap). You will also need a domain name, something like www.wpkube.com.

In terms of freedom, you’re free to run, distribute, copy, change and/or improve WordPress without first seeking permission from any authority. It’s an open source project. It’s free software built by a community.

Confusing much? Let me simplify:

Much better, right?

So again class, why is WordPress free?

It’s the combined work of thousands of contributors (developers, bloggers and everyone in between) from across the globe. As such, WordPress is not owned by one person or company. Check out What is free software at GNU to learn more.

“WordPress is not owned by one person or company?”

“So, what is with the WordPress.com and WordPress.org?”

WordPress.com versus WordPress.org

Quick fix: WordPress.org is the site where you can download WordPress, and a slew of free themes and plugins. You can learn more about the WordPress project and keep up with the grapevine on the many mini-sites.

On the other hand, WordPress.com is a service that gets you started with a free WordPress-based blog in no time. Yes, you get a free blog but the features are relatively limited and less flexible than what you’d get with the flavor of WordPress at WordPress.org.

WordPress.com will offer you a .wordpress.com subdomain (e.g. wpkube.wordpress.com) but you have to pay for a personalized domain (e.g. www.wpkube.com) should you need one. The WordPress you install yourself grants you all the awesome WP features but, as we’ve already mentioned, you’ll need to purchase your own domain name and web hosting.

I’m a bit worried I might not be getting through to you, so please feel free to ask your question(s) in the comment section at the end of this post 🙂

If you’re looking to start a business website the smart way, you want to go with WordPress.org as opposed to WordPress.com. Of course, you can choose the latter if you’re ready to cough up about $3k a month.

Most web hosts provide one-click WordPress installs, so you just need to purchase a web hosting package, and a domain name. You can always get the domain name from the same web host as well. It’s all easy, easy, eaaasy. And you can always find a ton of WordPress tutorials and how it works on the web.

You should also see our post on WordPress examples post, to see how popular brands are using WordPress.

Would you like to play around with WordPress on your computer? Check out these WordPress tutorials:

Want a free WordPress-based blog with limited features to pen down your random thoughts? Go to WordPress.com. Want to start a WordPress-based online business in a few minutes? Start your journey the right way at Bluehost, Siteground or WPEngine. We are offering you, my dear reader, free WordPress blog setup as well, so nothing is to stop you.

Unless, of course, you really don’t know why you should use WordPress over the myriad other CMS out there.

Why Use WordPress

While I have already peppered this post with the many reasons why others like you love and use the CMS, it’s only appropriate to expound and let you know exactly why you need to join the WP family.

WordPress is Easy to Use & Learn

The first time I heard of and saw WordPress, I had no idea what I was looking at. I was greenhorn proper and couldn’t for the life of me find my way around WordPress, or even a typical web server.

“Download and then install WordPress on a web server? How do you do that? “

“And why is everybody running around saying all these things about WordPress, and I’m over here not getting it?”

I was completely lost I nearly gave up on WordPress for good.

Today I’m glad I never took that route, because at a moment’s notice, I can have a WordPress blog up and running. Make that two. I have many of these installations running everywhere; on my computer, on subdomains and multiple domains. It’s crazy how fast I went from complete noob to addiction.

Now, I even make some bucks blogging about WordPress while offering technical support, so yeah, I’m glad I never gave up on WordPress.

There is no easier CMS to use than WordPress. It is free, a one click install, and offers a massive collection of themes and design to choose from to get your new website online in minutes. – Nick Anderson.

WordPress might look intimidating at first, but once you’re through the door, you will quickly notice how easy it is to use and learn. You will be able to bend the platform to do your bidding whenever and from wherever.

From setting up WordPress to installing themes, plugins and the works, WordPress really puts the ease into web publishing. Creating posts and pages is as easy as ABC. Uploading images and other files is just a click away. Even updating the platform is a matter of point and click.

WordPress is Easily Extensible

With thousands of free and premium themes, plugins, addons and widgets at your disposal, there’s nothing stopping you from building a website straight out of your dreams. Like that movie Inception.

For instance, using plugins such as BuddyPress, you can create a powerful social network on WP in no time. With ecommerce plugins such as Woocommerce and Cart66 Cloud among others, you can launch an online store in the time it takes to chomp on a sandwich.

That’s not the end of it. You can build blog networks, news sites, magazines, arcades, review sites and so much more. And since WordPress is free software, you can modify the source code to build any web application you wish.

“It’s bendable Korra. I tell you, WordPress is bendable. “

“I can’t even bend air, and now this!”

WordPress is Search Engine Friendly

WP is built with the best web standards. The source code is clean and valid HTML, meaning search engines will pine for your site Romeo-Juliet style. Other than that, WP supports meta data, tags, categories, SEO-friendly URLs, and so much more including SEO plugins.

WordPress is Fast & Secure

While hackers will always to find loopholes to exploit, WP makes their job the harder. The CMS is built with the best code standards to make it fast and impregnable in terms of security.

The platform receives regular updates aimed at improving the code as well as seal security holes.

Furthermore, you can bolster the security of your WordPress site easily using services such as blogVault and plugins such as iThemes Security.

WordPress comes with the best spam protection as well. Akismet is a leader in this area.

WordPress is Scalable

What can’t you possibly throw at good ol’ WP? You can build a simple blog for ze family, launch a multi-million dollar e-store, create a news site such as the Time or build a popular social network, and WordPress won’t give in. Even if your website grows ten times, a hundred times more!

I’m yet to encounter a single person who dropped WordPress because scalability became an issue. WordPress is highly flexible and scalable, and don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.

Your web server might have limitations, so ensure you have a great host before you think of throwing out WordPress. After all, it has minimal requirements.

A Great Community

Each new day, more people congregate around the WordPress project. From lead developers, basic users, bloggers and other contributors, WordPress is home to all and sundry. With time, the project has attracted a huge community of like-minded people.

For this very reason, WP receives a good share of features, bug fixes, regular updates, and awesome support. At the WordPress support forums, you can ask a single question and get more answers that you’ll ever need.

WordPressers across the globe organize WordCamps and Meetups. These hangouts are great places to go and meet experts and other enthusiasts. If you’re really good at what you do, you can speak at some of these meetups and score a few professional points. Get on that grind or something.

But all these and other reasons have nothing on this one reason, or rather fact: You can make money with WordPress.

How to Make Money with WordPress

When it started as a simple blogging platform, it was difficult to imagine you could make money with WordPress.

Things are totally different now. If you’re looking to make money with WordPress, there are several avenues open to you. I won’t go into details, because Joe Fylan has already published a great post on Proven Ways to Make Money from Your WordPress Website.

Here’s a quick list all the same:

You will be in the company of the greats. That’s how good WordPress is.

Who Uses WordPress

WordPress is not the preserve of any special group of people. From bloggers to web developers, small businesses, celebrities and multinational companies, all off them seem to have eaten the WordPress candy. And got hooked. Hooked baaad.

For a glimpse of the big brands that use WordPress, check out the WordPress Site Showcase or 15 Big Name Brands That Use WordPress (and why).

We can hook you up as well. It’s easy.

How to Get Started with WordPress

Are you rallied up already? Want to join the ever-growing WordPress community? Getting started with WordPress is as easy as pie.

There are three options available to you:

  1. You can head over to WordPress.com right this minute and create a free blog. You get a WordPress-based blog in no time but the features are limited (and in some case, non-existent until you upgrade to their VIP program that goes for $2.5k a month). I’m not kidding.
  2. You can download WordPress from WordPress.org, install it on your PC, and test the waters.
  3. You can acquire a web hosting account from any of our recommended web hosts i.e. Bluehost, SiteGround or WPEngine. Any of the three will give you a generous discount when you sign up using any of our links. On top of that, we will set up your WordPress at absolutely no cost to you! No strings attached – just get your web hosting package via any of these links: Bluehost, Siteground, or WPEngine. Bluehost and Siteground offer one-click WordPress installs so you are in safe hands. WPEngine is a leading managed WordPress host. Their service is dedicated to WordPress entirely, so you ought to be in good hands as well.

Now You…

Are you using WordPress already or are you yet to join us? If you aren’t using WP, what’s stopping you? You’re missing out on a lot and we hope you can make the switch soon. That aside, let us know your thoughts in the comments below. Cheers!