How do WordPress and its developers make money?

WordPress is a free website builder software. Despite being a free product, its owner Automattic Inc reported a revenue of more than 150 million USD last year. How is this possible? How does WP make money for the firm? How do developers of themes and plugins make their living from WP? These are the strategies, services, and products from which Automattic Inc makes its revenue:

Open-source WP is not the only product owned by Automattic Inc. The company has introduced many related freemium products and a hosting service. WP is a high-traffic website. The more traffic the website gets, the more money it can make for its owner.

WordPress .com is one of the leading free blogging platforms. What is the difference between and .com? If you use the .com variant of the website builder, you won’t have to install WP manually on the server, nor do you have to purchase a domain. Your web portal will be accessible on the subdomain and will be hosted on the WP servers. is free but is ad supported. You’ll find ads on the pages of your free website. also lets you buy domains. The domains are a bit costlier compared to GoDaddy or Namecheap but managing it would be easy as you won’t have to open any other website to do so.

If you’re manually hosting WP on a server (or installing it via a one-click installer of shared hosting companies), you can modify WP core files. doesn’t let you mess with the critical files of the builder. It offers four packages for users looking for an all-in-one solution i.e. a builder + hosting + domain. The plans are Personal, Premium, Business, and eCommerce.

VIP Hosting

This is a hosting service through which Automatitc Inc makes money. What is WP VIP? WordPress founders have launched some special hosting plans for high-traffic websites. WP VIP is a secure platform. Some of the customers of WP VIP hosting service are Facebook, Slack, etc.

Sponsorship/affiliate marketing

This is another way WordPress makes money for Automattic Inc. The WP website has a “recommended hosting” section where they’ve recommended three hosting companies – Bluehost, Siteground, and Dreamhost. These three companies might be paying a commission to Automattic Inc for every lead the page generates, or they may be paying a fee to be listed on this page.


Automattic Inc has launched some freemium plugins for WP users. Some of the plugins are as follows:

JetPack: JetPack is one of the most downloaded plugins of Automattic Inc. Its free edition is feature-rich and ships with some paid features. To use the paid features on your site, you need to purchase one of its paid plans. Jetpack has launched four subscription plans for their plugin – Backup, security, complete, anti-spam, site scan, and search. Some of these ssubscriptions hip with the premium edition of Akismet.

Akismet: Akismet is a popular antispam extension. It is free to use on websites that don’t run ads. Users who own a website monetized with ad networks such as AdSense or Ezoic will have to purchase a paid subscription for the plugin to use it on their portals. Akismet offers three paid plans – Enterprise Plus, Enterprise, and Plus.

WooCommerce: WooCommerce is an extension that adds eCommerce capabilities to a WordPress website. Like Akismet and Jetpack, it is a freemium plugin. WooCommerce ships with free add-ons and also has paid locked add-ons. The user must buy the paid add-ons to use them on their web portals.

How do WP developers make money?

Affiliate programs: If the developer isn’t selling a paid version of their product, they’ll add affiliate links to the theme/extensions settings page. If you buy an item from the page that the browser opens after you click the affiliate link, the developer earns a commission. The more popular the plugin or theme is, the more people access its settings page every day/week/month. When people see the link, they may click on it.

Selling premium version of their product: Most of the themes and extensions in the WP repository have advertisements/locked features. If you want to enable/activate the locked feature, you’ll have to purchase a subscription plan for the theme/plugin. The developers usually diversify their portfolios to make more cash.

Let’s take an example of GeneratePress or Kadence themes. These two templates are available for download in the WP repository. After installing any of the two themes and opening the live customizer, you’ll find quite a few locked features. When you click the locked feature, the browser will open the official website of the theme, where you will find a pricing table, details of the theme, and a button to purchase the premium version of the theme.

These are the services, products, and strategies that make money for Automattic Inc from the WP website builder.


Pramod is the founder of wptls. He has been using WordPress for more than nine years. He builds web applications, and writes about his experiences with various WP products on this site.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *