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WordPress vs. HubSpot CMS Hub: Unpacking the True Costs

by Article by Dan Moyle Dan Moyle | June 8, 2020 at 9:30 AM

Remember the good old days when WordPress was simply a great way to use open-source tools to build a personal blog? It was free or nearly free and everyone started building more complex sites. It didn’t take long for marketers (and businesses) to see the value.  

It quickly grew into a platform for a lot of brands. Benefits like its inexpensive options enticed a lot of marketing managers to build their business websites in this tool. 

Fast forward to the modern world of websites, and you have choices for your CMS like WordPress, Squarespace and HubSpot among many, many others. The list feels endless.

A lot of people still throw the term free around when talking about WordPress. Or you might hear that it’s very inexpensive and affordable. 

When you compare WordPress to a paid tool like HubSpot CMS Hub, fans of WordPress will tell you it’s much cheaper. “HubSpot is just too expensive,” they’ll say.

Is that really the case? We don’t think so. 

We’ve worked in both worlds, as well as in many other solutions, and continue to serve clients with many different website platforms. 

We see a real cost to tools like WordPress that many agencies or independent web designers don’t want to talk about. 

website building - WordPress Versus HubSpot CMS Hub Unpacking the True Costs

In this post we’re breaking down the true costs of hosting your website in WordPress versus HubSpot CMS Hub. Here’s a preview of what we’ll cover.

Want to skip ahead to see the comparison table? Here you go.

Domain Registration

The first step to setting up your website is of course domain registration. Most likely you already have that handled. However, it’s still a cost to consider.

In general you’re probably paying between $10-$20 per year for your domain. We can call that cost an average of $15 a year.

You can register a domain directly in WordPress and spin up a site within minutes. 

With HubSpot, you have to buy your domain through a third-party like GoDaddy, then connect your domain to HubSpot

Hosting

wordpress hostingYou have a few options when managing a WordPress website. 

  • WordPress.com
  • Self-Hosting
  • Managed WordPress Hosting
  • Premium Managed WordPress Hosting

What does this look like for you? 

Hosting on WordPress.com

If you build and host your site on WordPress.com, you can actually get a basic level of shared hosting for free. However, if you want to have your own domain (yoursite.com versus yoursite.wordpress.com) you’ll need at least the Personal plan, which is $4 per month.

You’ll also have to upgrade if you want more than a basic design. We’ll cover more of that below, but essentially you’ll choose between Personal ($4), Premium ($8), Business ($25) and eCommerce ($45). 

Self-Hosting

If you want to host your site yourself, rather than on WordPress.com, you can go to a generic hosting provider and get very “affordable” shared hosting for as low as around $5 per month (that’s the current price of basic hosting at HostGator). This route is most often followed from the WordPress.org open-source sites.

This puts your site on a massive shared server, which a lot of web designers caution against because it could affect your page load speed and up-time.

Self-hosting gives you unlimited theme options. You can choose a free one from the WordPress themes repository, purchase a premium theme, or develop your own.

Regular Managed WordPress Hosting

One step up from self-hosting is a managed hosting provider. This allows you to self-host, but with assistance and guidance from people who should be able to help you manage the stuff you know nothing about so that you can manage your business.

Price will vary, but most small businesses can get a WordPress-optimized managed plan for somewhere around $30 per month. Yes, this will still put you on a shared server, but with more attention and expertise. 

If you want to be on a dedicated server, basic plans will usually not cover you, so you’ll have to choose a next-level plan that can run between $100 and $250 per month.

Premium Managed WordPress Hosting

The final WordPress hosting option is considered the best by many. With premium managed WordPress hosting, you get more flexibility to install more tools for your site—forums, membership, courses—along with security, storage, and support that are included and delivered at top-of-the-line levels.

One example for premium hosting is Synthesis. Hosting is $47 per month for the lower package. The Advanced plan will cost you $147 per month. 

With a premium hosted solution you get a dedicated hosting environment, rather than a shared one. 

They’ll also often throw in extras like plugins for improving your website’s SEO.

Now, when you build your site on the HubSpot CMS Hub, you simply host it in HubSpot. Cost ranges from $240-$900 per month. This sounds like a huge jump from a WordPress site, which is where many marketers get hung up. 

Hosting with HubSpot CMS Hub includes many add-ons you’d have to buy with WordPress. For instance, HubSpot comes with a drag-and-drop editor and a variety of customizable themes (premium themes can cost extra). You also get dynamic content options with HubDB, SEO recommendations, A/B testing, conversational bots and more baked in automatically. There’s also security built-in, which we’ll cover below.

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Design

Your website needs design. Whether you use a theme or a template, or you build it from scratch, you want to have it look good, right? 

When you build in WordPress, you’ll have choices of themes from basic to premium, with costs from free to hundreds of dollars. Most of the themes still require plug-ins, which can also be free (WordPress is an open-source world so a lot of developers offer free code—you just have to know how to install and edit) or cost around $500-$1,000 per year (according to WP Beginner).

With the HubSpot CMS Hub, you’ll have access to the simple drag-and-drop editor so you can create your own website with a WYSIWYG feel, coupled with templates in the HubSpot ecosystem.

Much of what you get is included and easy to use without coding. You can also upgrade your templates to more premium levels for a cost. That could vary from $50 to $500 (or more) depending on the depth and design.

Plugins/Modules

wordpress versus hubspot cms hub hubspot templatesA basic WordPress site is just that: basic. While that’s fine for beginners or personal websites, a business needs more. 

Forms, landing pages, SEO tools and other needs will mean you’ll have to add plugins to your WordPress site. A ton of plugins are free since it’s an open source community. But the more plugins you add, the more it takes to run your site. 

WordPress sites with tons of plugins take longer to load, a known red flag for search engines. We don’t want to wait for pages to load, so we as users bounce. That hurts SEO. 

It also means you have to update plugins while ensuring the updates don’t break other parts of your website. WordPress maintenance adds up through internal HR hours or through outside contractor hours. 

On the flipside, HubSpot has built a community around its Hubs where you can connect tools like Salesforce, Zapier, Stripe and about 10,000 other integrations. But your site is your site and it comes with the tools you need. 

You can build landing pages with forms, you can optimize as you create pages and you can do it all in one tool without adding plugins. 

Developer Fees 

From designing templates to fixing code to updating plugins, Wordpress developer time can add up quickly for a ‘free website.” WordPress developer fees can run from $75-$400 per hour depending on their skill and experience level. 

On the flipside, HubSpot doesn’t need plugin maintenance and the marketplace for website templates, which is growing all the time, includes many drag and drop solutions which need no developers. 

When you do need a developer, prices can vary like Wordpress developers. At impulse Creative we help clients with developer needs and HubSpot API integrations. We charge around $200 per hour as a reference for developer time.

Security

With WordPress, your security options depend on how you host. If you’re hosting directly in WordPress.com, you won’t have to worry about any additional security costs because the company behind WordPress.com will manage it for you.

However if you’re self-hosting you’ll have to take care of it yourself. While you can find plenty of free options out there for security plugins, you install them at your own risk. 

And unless you pay to host your site on a virtual private server (VPS), your site will be on a shared server with scores of others. Each of these sites is a potential security risk to the server, and therefore, to you.

If you get hacked or the server goes down, there will be costs associated with downtime, the de-hacking process, and recovering lost files. If you are not well-versed in these processes, you’ll have to hire someone to help you.

You’ll also be responsible for storing your own backups. In the case of a catastrophic hacking or data loss event, these are essential to have. There is, of course, a cost associated with it though.

The HubSpot CMS Hub is built and hosted in the HubSpot ecosystem with what the company boasts is top-tier security. The HubSpot CMS Hub landing page says 24/7 security monitoring & threat detection: Our security team is dedicated to ensuring the safety of your site with automated and manual checks for attacks, potential abuse, or other anomalies.

Additionally, CMS Hub offers content delivery network & Custom CDN configuration. This means your website remains active and your visitors never experience downtime through their  global CDN, built to handle high levels of traffic. 

Storage and Backups

Depending on your WordPress hosting and configuration, you may need to pay à la carte for storage. That kind of feature could cost hundreds of dollars each year, again adding a lot to what many businesses think will be a free or inexpensive website solution. 

Some premium managed WordPress hosting comes with baked-in storage and backup options, but that gets back to getting what you pay for. 

In addition to files, your backup needs a place. You’ll have to find a WordPress hosting provider that includes backups. Not all of them do. 

HubSpot’s file manager can handle images, fonts, audio, PDFs and more without limits. Plus your site is backed up on HubSpot’s servers without any additional costs.

Customer Support

Don’t underestimate or take for granted the value of good support. There’s huge value in having the backing of experts.

With WordPress, support depends on your path. The dot-com or the self-hosted route will dictate the kind of support and its quality. 

For instance, a generic host, and even some managed hosts, may not understand strategy and be able to answer an intricate question about how adding a thousand 301 redirects will impact SEO. They might not be able to help out in diagnosing a problematic RSS feed or give recommendations on the best way to integrate a form for capturing email subscribers.

On the other hand, HubSpot Support is available and has been noted for their expertise over the years. The level of HubSpot you’re on will determine the level of support available.

For instance, if you’re a sales team on CRM Free, you can use HubSpot Community for help. But if you’re in a Starter account, you can get in touch with HubSpot Support through email and chat. And Professional or Enterprise also include phone support. 

There’s also a huge community and tons of resources outside of Support like HubSpot Knowledge Base, HubSpot Academy, Sprocket Talk and more. 

Costs of WordPress Versus HubSpot Broken Down

 

WordPress

HubSpot

Domain Registration

$15/year

$15/year

Hosting

$30 - 290/month

$240-$900/month

Theme Editor

$49 / year

$0

Template / Design*

$60 - $1,000+

$0 - $500+

Developer Fees

$165/hour

$165 when needed

Security Maintenance / Plugin Management

$99/year + $75 / hour plugin management @ 1.5 hours / month ($110/month)

Included

Storage and Backups

Included in premium offerings

Included

Customer Support

Additional: $75 - 165 per hour

Free: Phone, chat, email

Estimated Total per Year

$1829

$2895

* Templates also available for free in both platforms. Not recommended for Wordpress as it can be a security risk.

As you can see, the time of a “free website” built on WordPress has passed us. While it can technically be done for very little, as a business it stands to reason that you’ll want to invest in the thing that leads to customers. 

Your website is a valuable asset to your business and your brand. This doesn’t automatically mean that HubSpot is your answer. Maybe Wordpress is still your CMS of choice. Just be sure you know what you’re looking at for eventual costs and what you’re getting. 

For instance, if you need one extra support hour call per month they actually even out to about the same price. Know what you’re buying.

HubSpot CMS Hub helps a business connect marketing, sales, service, customer experience, technology and humans for a Revenue Operations strategy we’ve seen work for serious, sustained growth.

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