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How Does WordPress Make Money?

Updated on February 2, 2023
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Melanie is a gaming and tech YouTuber who loves social media and is an expert on gaming and internet culture.

WordPress gives away swag at conventions - pins and stickers
WordPress gives away swag at conventions - pins and stickers

When I was at BlogHer a few years ago, I came across the WordPress booth and I just loved their bubble gum machines that gave out free pins. There were free stickers on shelves up for grabs and they had a slew of other fun promotional items. In fact, this was probably one of my favorite booths at the conference.

One thing I thought the very second I came across the booth is: How can the folks at Automattic (the company behind WordPress) afford this? How to do they afford to keep making updates on their amazing free and open source software and do publicity events? How does WordPress make money?

I had to know, so I did a little research (I dug into the guts of the WordPress site) and found out that WordPress earns revenue in many ways that add up to, well, a large amount of money.

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How WordPress Makes Money

AdSense Ads – AdSense ads appear on blogs (note that these are blogs hosted by WordPress and thus differ from blogs.) If you’re logged out of your WordPress account and are reading a blog, you may see ads served up fresh by Google.


You may be familiar with the Kismet plug-in. This comes prepackaged with every WordPress installation like a prize in a cereal box and is extremely helpful for busting comment spam (why do spammers even bother anymore?) When you activate the plug-in, you’re asked how much it’s worth to you and you pay that amount. Pretty nifty, right?

WordPress VIP Cloud Hosting

At prices starting at $5000 per month (oh, is that all?) brands like UPS, Dow Jones, TED, CNN, and Time can get some pretty powerful hosting which includes full support, maintenance, awesome uptime, and bandwidth that could definitely handle your 15 minutes of Reddit-fame.

There's no need to fear, WordPress is here!
There's no need to fear, WordPress is here!

WordPress Support

Want the amazing support that comes with the VIP hosting package without actually having the VIP hosting package? For mere *cough* $1,250 a month, WordPress will have their team optimize your site (that’s code for ‘make it awesome’) and offer support for any problems on your site.

At $1,250 a month, do you think they would dispense relationship advice? I didn’t think so. Sounds like a fabulous deal, but I think I’ll just stick to paying my rent.

The WordPress Themes Directory

Who knew Automattic was bringing in a profit from the premium themes listed in the WordPress themes directory? I thought they were all third-party. Oh wait, they are. Commission. I always forget about the idea of a commission. WordPress gets a kickback from the sales of themes in their directory.

Guided Transfers

Need help moving your blog from to self-hosted It can be a bit tricky on your own, but WordPress will save the day for $129. They’ll set up your blog with your new host (one of their three recommended hosts.) and have you ready to roll in your brand new space in no time.

I could see this being a really useful service. It can be a real pain and really time-consuming moving from to (even though the move is totally worthwhile.) A service that nice and neatly does the whole thing for you... yeah, it's kinda' worth it!

Hosting Referrals

Remember what I said about the folks at WordPress helping you move your blog to one of their three recommended hosts? WordPress gets a kickback every time they refer someone to any one of these hosts. I think that’s a really fair deal. I bet these hosting companies rake in some serious dough just from WordPress saying they’re kosher.

Increased Storage

Have a account and have run out of space and self-hosting isn’t an option? For $20 a year, you can be a data pack rat like me! (That’s Ms. Self-hosted Data Pack Rat to you.)

Custom Domains

For $13 a year, you can drop the from your URL and get your very own domain. At this point, I highly recommend going self-hosted. You'll pay a little bit more due to the hosting, but once you get to the point to where you want your own domain name, it's time to leave the little leagues.


This is a plug-in that will allow you to host videos with WordPress and use it on your site. VideoPress will allow you to upload crystal clear video… even from your phone. And the playback is ad-free which will make your users love your videos (they will have no choice, VideoPress will seriously force them.)

Kick the Ads

If you don’t want WordPress to show ads on your site, $30 per year will take care of that problem. Just purchase the option to remove ads and they'll be gone, you don’t need to change any settings.


If something should go terribly wrong with your blog and you’re a VaultPress user, you’ll be fine. With plans starting at $5 a month, VaultPress will automatically backup your WordPress site and check your blog for security risks. I’m sure you’ve heard horror stories from bloggers who have had malware installed on their blog or who lost everything in an update. Don’t be that blogger.

Full Site Redirect

The number one reason that bloggers lose traffic after moving a site to a new domain is the lack of 301 redirects. 301 redirects bring traffic from the old location to the new one. It’s a postal forwarding service for the Internet. Don’t leave your readers behind in the move, have WordPress take care of all your redirects for $13 a year.


In love with Polldaddy? Get a range of extra options for your Polldaddy account (such as access to survey CSS, the ability to add custom messages, and printable PDF versions) starting at $29 a month.

As it happens, WordPress is an amazing blogging software that’s available for free and the company behind this amazing product, Automattic, is doing swimmingly. (They're making a fortune.)

Personally, many of these services are too rich for my blood or there are free (or cheaper) ways to get the same thing done. That said, there are a few really valuable services that help out if you're a huge company, not tech-savvy, or just don't have the extra DIY time. Nevertheless, Automattic can definitely afford to give out swag at BlogHer.

© 2015 Melanie Palen


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