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Don’t Buy WordPress – It’s Free

No BS Launch Pad brought to my attention a WordPress “cheat” you need to be aware of.

They promise many things it seems, but I really want to attack:

….they offer are very, very basic things like themes. Note that you can get all of the same themes here for FREE…

…Wordpress is a free blog software, and it’s a good one…

…Do you really need to pay $147 to save time?

What is getting our ire is Power Your WordPress, a “commercial” packaging of WordPress called “WordPress Elite”, available to help solve all your blogging ills for only USD $147.00.

I checked the “recommendations” and they lead to sites that are inactive or the late-night-TV-marketing ploys designed by the same folks (recommending themselves, so not very original). Unfortunately, the site mentions two top bloggers, Darren Rowse and Jason Calacanis, making it look like they are using their product. I searched and they both make no mention of “WordPress Elite”. Both are using WordPress, but it is the free version, just like most of the rest of the world.

I’d like to clear up some myths about what they are selling and what is available, and hopefully help you avoid WordPress scams in the future.

WordPress is FREE.

Lead developer and master WordPress chef, Matt Mullenweg, has said repeatedly that as long as he lives, will be free. Currently, , driven by WordPressMU, is a free hosted blogging service, but this could possibly change in the future. Today, it’s free and everyone participating is part of a 250,000+ force of alpha and beta testers for WordPress and related products and services. For now, WordPress and are free. Got it?

WordPress Themes are FREE.

While it’s true that there are some WordPress Themes that can be purchased, and limited rights on usage for other WordPress Themes, and professional and serious amateurs who will accept money for WordPress Theme development and design, the majority of WordPress Themes available are free. Free for the using, free for the tweaking, free for the twisting and tugging. If in doubt, check the license and copyright policy of the Theme where you found it and within the code.

WordPress Plugins are FREE.

For the majority of all WordPress Plugins, they are free. Yes, there are WordPress Plugins that are available for a price, but you have to agree to pay before you can play. There are also many WordPress Plugin authors, especially those offering continuing top-notch support and upgrades, who do request donations to help keep their efforts going and to offset costs associated with such support. I think they deserve it, don’t you? Even without the funding, their passion for their “product” goes on and they continue to support and develop their WordPress Plugins. Even so, most WordPress Plugins are free to use, tweak, and rip apart, developed by fans of WordPress as their way of giving back to the WordPress Community, helping to keep WordPress free.

WordPress Support is FREE.

Access to the and is free. But don’t expect “free” cheap help. In these forums you will find the best WordPress experts offering quality customer support, all for free and all as volunteers. They are awesome, giving of their time to help fellow fans of WordPress use and abuse WordPress and blog better. All they ask is that you say “thanks” once in a while. I’d call that a cheap price to pay for such awesome support, wouldn’t you?

WordPress Themes, Plugins, Tips, and Techniques Are Hard to Find.

If there is one thing that makes this $147 “WordPress Elite” package look good, it’s getting all the parts and pieces in one place.

This is something that the volunteers and developers behind WordPress have been battling with since day one. Everyone wanted to volunteer to be “the resource” for their own lists of Themes, Plugins, and other WordPress resources. At one point, there were so many people with their own listing of WordPress Themes, you didn’t know which way to turn to find which Themes where. WordPress Plugins are also spread across the web as many don’t know that there are lists and directories on the WordPress Codex and that they need to get their WordPress Plugins in so people can find them from these main catalogs.

Over the past two years, I and others have worked hard to bring all WordPress resources under one roof, so to speak. Or at least a few roofs. Working with enthusiastic volunteers who are so giving of their time, energy, determination, and bandwidth, it’s hard to say “we really appreciate it, but can you help us keep it all in one place?”

So yes, this package deal is nice because you don’t have to look all over the place for WordPress Themes and Plugins. But, new Themes and Plugins come out every day, and some are really awesome and helpful. So how will this help you find those? You still have to do it the old fashioned way – hunt like the rest of us.

Saves Time and Money!

Okay, this is partially a true claim. It honestly takes about 5 minutes to install WordPress, if you follow the simple instructions step-by-step. Volunteers on the Codex and Support Forums have worked long and hard to make sure the instructions are as simple and helpful as possible, covering just about every possible installation type.

Still, it does take hours to dig around the net and look for a WordPress Theme that suits your mood and blogging style, and then research and find WordPress Plugins that will help you do what you want, and then tweak around with the Theme and Plugins…it can take a lot of time.

WordPress works great out of the box. You have two core Themes to choose from so you can start blogging immediately. But if you want a little more customized look, you have to take time to put it together. You have to click through tens or hundreds of WordPress Themes until your eyes cross and blur trying to find the “right” WordPress Theme for your new blog. If you want to do-it-yourself, it takes some knowledge, some expertise, and a lot of experimenting. And a lot of time. Some like this, and some are overwhelmed by this. But spending money won’t speed up the process…much.

Even if you spend $147, you will still have to spend the time it takes to figure out which Theme to use and which Plugins serve your needs. You just don’t have to search the Internet to find them, as they are all in one place. But…

All WordPress Tools in One Place. Cool. But What About Upgrades and Bug Fixes?

WordPress is a living, evolving, and developing piece of software, as are many WordPress Themes and Plugins. Security problems are found and patched, bugs are found and fixed, and the software is still improving. Will you get unlimited free access to WordPress, WordPress Themes, and WordPress Plugins upgrades? The site says as an “additional bonus”, you will get free WordPress upgrades “for life”. Well, WordPress upgrades are free. They get them from the same place you would. They don’t cost you anything. So you are getting another “free” bonus for your money.

Even if you buy this packaged version of WordPress, I recommend that you immediately look for patches and updates of WordPress, and the WordPress Themes and Plugins that interest you. Since few offer “patches”, you will be downloading and installing the full version again, so why waste time. Do it right and get the latest version in the first place. For free.

But It Includes Free Books and CDs!

Okay, for $147, what are you really getting for your free WordPress blogging tool? You get the FREE WordPress plus a collection of free Themes and Plugins so you don’t have to download them. That’s a time saver, even if all of these are free. You get some books, CDs, and other sales-pitching add-ons to help push the sale through so you feel like you are getting your money’s worth. This information is also available, for free, on the web and even on this blog, right here.

WordPress is FREE, so what you are paying $147 for is the time and effort it took them to burn the CDs, make the packaging, print the books, and do the rest of their advertising, marketing and gizmos. You are paying for that and not WordPress.

No money goes to WordPress, as far as I’ve been able to learn. WordPress does not benefit from the sale of this product. If you want the rest of the stuff, then pay the money and you will get it, but remember, WordPress is free, so why pay for it if that is all you want?

If you are willing to hand over money for something you can get for free, consider giving money to the authors and designers of your WordPress Themes and Plugins, or to WordPress itself to help it survive. Money is always appreciated in a volunteer-driven organization.

Gee, if you’re giving money away for free stuff, send some my way. I could definitely use it. 😉

Report WordPress Scams

It’s important to let us know if you run across any WordPress scams. There aren’t enough volunteers to go after every scammer, and some are just a waste of everyone’s time, but Matt and the WordPress volunteers still need to be aware of what is going on and how WordPress may be being abused. So if you find abuse, let them know.

And if you want to help, please volunteer and help WordPress grow. We need your help.

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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, member of the 9Rules Network

Member of the 9Rules Blogging Network


  1. Posted July 1, 2006 at 3:23 am | Permalink

    Nicely said there!

  2. Posted July 1, 2006 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    Well done Lorelle. Unfortunately as more and more people here about blogs being hot, infomercials will feast on these poor folks. An article like this needs to get in the mainstream media to really be effective. I’ll link to it! Thanks for sharing the truth.

  3. Posted July 1, 2006 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    What would we do witout you, St. Lorelle ?

  4. Posted July 1, 2006 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    Well done, Lorelle. Everyone who wants to write a blog needs to read this article.

    I’m proud to be powered by WordPress as well 😉

  5. Posted July 4, 2006 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

    Great article. I’ve been noticing the rise of scams like this and related ones. One note, Jason Calacanis is apparently using Blogsmith for his blog which I believed was developed specifically for Weblogs, Inc.

  6. Posted July 4, 2006 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

    Ok, I take back some of what I wrote above about this guy being a scammer. I took the time to go back and read every word on his page and I find that you’ve somewhat misrepresented what he’s offering. He does make it clear to his potential customers what is free which is WordPress, themes and plug-ins. And he does offer a path for upgrading to newer versions of WordPress. However, he’s way over-priced for his ‘assistance’. $49.95 would be much better.

  7. Jaisne Blue Sexton
    Posted July 4, 2006 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

    and then there is this guy: “Sherman Hu, Head Blogging Instructor at WordPressTutorials” – $299 for him to tell you how to use WordPress.

  8. david
    Posted July 7, 2006 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    WordPress Elite is a definete SCAM!

    As a developer who needs to create blog site quickly without searching all over the web, I purchased the wordpress elite product when it first came out. initially it was great for me because the HOSTED-ONLY version allowed me to create a basic blog site in about 3 hours. Which was excellent because at times I have 5-6 different projects going on at the same time. When Gary Huynh (WordPress Elite’s Original Creator) came out with the standalone version, I thought “great! it I can add as many themes and plugins as I want!” But that product sucked and never really worked. And now it is even worse – Joe Cooper the new owner, doesnt answer any emails, there is no support and it barely (by barely, I mean 10% of the time) works with wp 1.5, which doesnt work for me because the latest version of wordpress is way better. So now I am stuck with a product that only worked for about 2 months, and it was buggy to begin with.

  9. Posted July 7, 2006 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    Wow, David, this is amazing information. Thank you.

    And I’m curious. How is/was the Elite version different than the free versions? Does it install differently, have a different set of Administration Panels? Or what? Was it even convenient to have all the Themes and Plugins there for easy access? What didn’t work?

    And now how do you handle WordPress that is different from working with Elite?

    Thank you again for your honesty.

  10. Posted July 11, 2006 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    well, David – sounds like he’s expecting his customers to rely on the generosity of the WordPress community for assistance. since he’s bundling it as a package, he should provide support. the original idea sounds neat, in terms of convenience, but clearly it has not worked out in practice and is just one big money grab. i wonder how much money has been made off the back of WordPress with this buggy over-priced product?

  11. Posted October 21, 2006 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for your article.
    The comments, especially the one from david, were also helpful.

    But (as far as I understand) you have misunderstood something:

    WordPress Elite is not being marketed a a paid version of WordPress.
    There is no “paid version” and “free version”.

    WordPress was and is free.

    Elite is an additional software that adds funcionality to WordPress by allowing you to manage several WP blogs at once. For people running more than a dozen blogs this might seem a viable tool.

    Anyway, from david’s response, I’m abstaining from purchase – as apparentl it is an unsupported -and likely obsolete- tool.


  12. Andrew
    Posted March 3, 2007 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    With all due respect, I don’t think you know what you are talking about…

    WordPress Elite is not an upgrade of a wordpress software at all… it’s not claiming to be a better version of wordpress or any such thing.

    It is a control panel from which you can easily manage the installation and setup of hundreds of WordPress blogs across hundreds of domain names..

    It’s not for the every day blogger, in fact such a blogger would definitely not want to pay money for it… it should have been clear from the sales letter that this isn’t what it’s meant for. It’s for web marketers who profit from making large numbers of content blogs on different topics – For THOSE people, it’s invaluable.

    WordPress elite is a fantastic piece of software for the purpose it is designed. Check your facts before you make such a vitriolic post on your blog.


  13. Joe
    Posted August 16, 2007 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the info. I’ve been looking for a link like this one. However, WHERE do you get this FREE WordPress software? Someone told me that you have to BUY it. I’d like to know, because I want to learn how to customize the css in my own blog and learn how to create them for other people. THX.

  14. Posted August 16, 2007 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    Please, tell me you are kidding or that you just didn’t read the article?

    For the FREE full version of WordPress to run on your paid host server (can’t help you there) go to WordPress.

    For the FREE hosted version of WordPress, which has a few limitations but the more than 1.4 million users don’t seem to mind, sign up for a free WordPress blog at

    For the rest, read the article on where to find FREE help and support.

  15. Joni Mueller
    Posted September 1, 2007 at 11:20 pm | Permalink

    Oh, I found out about this guy when I was Googling for some of our themes. More theme authors whose themes are bundled with his package should be annoyed than are. He’s got four of our themes bundled with his product for sale. We’ve sent him a C&D letter and his choice is to stop bundling our themes with his paid package or pay us a royalty fee. (Heh, everything has a price, right?) As much as copyright notations are plastered all over that web site surely they appreciate the irony of what they’ve done. Gah. But.. as long as there is someone out there willing to shell out nearly $150 for this stuff..

  16. Posted September 1, 2007 at 11:25 pm | Permalink


    It’s for web marketers who profit from making large numbers of content blogs on different topics – For THOSE people, it’s invaluable.

    Good to hear it. Then Huynh or Cooper won’t mind ponying up our very modest license fees. And while we’re at it, Andrew, why don’t we call a splog a splog, hmm?

  17. andycostelic
    Posted December 27, 2013 at 2:36 am | Permalink

    Good post, thanks for that!
    You are absolutely right, there is so many themes that you can get for free that you shouldn’t really pay for it.
    Of course I’m talking about free (LEGAL) Themes, that are not stallen from anywhere. When downloading always make sure you get a licence free theme from legitimate source.
    Cheers, Andrew

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