WordPress Plan Changes Concerning

Surprise! In a non-telegraphed move, WordPress launched a new plan pricing paradigm recently. Brought to my attention by fellow blogger Aywren Sojourner, I looked at the plan tier updates to see what’s up. As things now stand, I don’t like what I see. In fact, this sudden and unwelcome plan pivot moved me to begin checking out other options in the greater blogging space. While I don’t wish to leave years of investment in WordPress behind and start over elsewhere, deciding such a move will come down to features and costs.

Blogging is a hobby of mine that I’ve enjoyed for years; I pay money to do it and don’t make a penny back. I’ve subscribed (been a paying customer) to different WordPress tiers for the past five years. There has been a wide range of plans and price points to choose from. As of last count, there were five, from “Free” all the way up to “eCommerce.”

Now there’s just two. Free or Pro.

Old plans.
New plans.

Surely there will also be at least one nice middle tier, right? Don’t get me wrong, I like simplicity and minimalism (I could always use more of less, heh), but offering only two plans is a bit, uh, sparse. Imagine going to your favorite retailer to buy a pair of jeans and all they have is small and large; neither fit. What happens? You go shopping at another store.

More news will likely come. There has been additional info on the updated plans…in the forums. And while that’s definitely helpful and somewhat relieving, I don’t understand why the plan changes were not officially announced in a blog post or similar. By the way, one of the plan changes — a substantial storage reduction — inadvertently caused upset with several bloggers as a code bug misled them to believe their media stores were suddenly removed or in jeopardy. That’s unfortunate, and though mistakes happen, it’s like adding insult to injury amidst the surprise price changes.

Suddenly, my paid plan is labeled “legacy.”

I trust WordPress will be more forthcoming in the near future. Meanwhile, I’ve made one move already; I transferred my jasonjournals.com domain from WordPress to my preferred independent registrar at Hover.com (they’ve been great for many years). And let me say, the transfer process was very easy and fast! I started and completed in less than an hour.

Domain transfer.
Domain transfer success.
Domain connected/pointed to WordPress moments after transferring it to Hover. It was almost entirely automatic.

I’ve also started looking at other publishing platforms like Wix, Squarespace, Blogger, Weebly, Medium, and others. So far, I must admit, the competition isn’t much better in terms of pricing. I suspect that general economic inflation is one factor causing higher than expected prices. Many WordPress alternatives do not offer any low-cost plans. Like past days of Netflix only asking for $7 or $8 per month, gone are the days of sub-$10 tier options in the content management space. This seems to match another price hike recently announced when Amazon increased the annual cost of Prime membership quite a bit.

Once the dust settles on WordPress plan changes, I’ll finish reevaluating my blogging life and decide how to move forward. Change, especially when unexpected or unwelcome, is hard. But change is often for the best, so call me cautiously optimistic.

What do you think of the new plans?

46 thoughts on “WordPress Plan Changes Concerning

  1. Glad to see more folks spreading this news. Like you, I register all my domains at a registrar and never put it in the hands of a host. I want complete control over where my domain points to at all times – though it’s easier to let someone else handle your domains, if you have the know-how, it’s smarter not to.

    I’ve looked a bit at Dreamhost’s WordPress packages. They are affordable with no bandwidth limitations and a pretty high storage cap. They also pre-install a WordPress for you and say they can do a full migration of your blog. So I’m interested in testing those waters to see if they really can stand up to the test of fully migrating a blog that’s as robust as mine.

    You can also choose a monthly package there, so for $2-$3 I can test the migration and see if it works. They say it’s money-back if you aren’t happy. Also, they allow for you to point an existing domain at their nameservers, so for folks like you and I, that’s a nice thing.

    I’m not sure what their stance is on installing themes and outside plugins though. Not that it bothers me that much seeing I’ve done without those things on my current blog for years.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good info. Hope you share more once you test the waters.
      Yeah, I’ve used Hover for years with my other domains. I don’t recall why I ended up letting WP handle my current blog one – likely ease of use.
      When I transferred back to Hover, I didn’t even need to redo name servers or anything. Now I have more direct control over my domain and am able to point it anywhere I need to. Hopefully I’ll stay on WP.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for the info Jason! I did not know about this. I have three sites hosted at WordPress.com and have been happy with the price and features. But at $15 per month each, there’s no way I’m going to do that. So far it seems (from reading the forums) as if we’ll be able to keep our “legacy” plans. I wonder how long that will last. Perhaps it’s time for me to also be looking at what else is out there. Good point about moving the domain back to a registrar. I used to have all mine with GoDaddy, but moved to WordPress for simplicity. Maybe it’s time to rethink that. Thanks again!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ooh! I didn’t know any of this. I’m really worried about the idea of having to move my site or whatever as I know absolutely nothing about how to do it, but if it’ll end up costing $15/month I will have to change something. My annual subscription to the personal plan renewed on April 1st so presumably I get to keep the functionality for the next year at least so I’ll have time to learn about the other options!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, you got renewed just in time! I’m lucky too; my annual renewal was the first week of March. So at least we both have plenty of time to consider options before possibly moving on.

      The one ray of hope/comfort/relief we may have is this staff statement on the forum I linked to (in my post), “Previous plan offerings are no longer available for new purchases, however if you already have a Personal plan or higher, you can continue to renew it at its usual cost and are not obliged to upgrade to the Pro plan.”

      We’ll see…

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I know Blogger is super simple, which can be both a strength and a weakness. Another platform I failed to mention is Ghost, which focuses on publishing, but I wonder if anyone else can talk about it as I have zero exp. with it.

      Like

      1. Yeah, to my knowledge, I think with Blogger you just pay for a domain name and there’s no monthly fee for hosting. It could be different now. But, the thing with Blogger is that is just seems so simple. I love simple. It’s the main reason I went from WordPress.org to WordPress.com.

        It’ll be interesting to see what happens at WP.com. With the raise in rates I wonder if it will deter new people from signing up.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I also learned of this change only recently through another blogger and confirmed it with wordpress by logging a case. I agree that having only one paid option is unfortunate, and I wish they would have communicated this change better. It appears that when your current plan expires you have to choose between free or pro, and free is much more limited in media storage. I’m also looking into other platforms but changing would be an even bigger hassle.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One staff comment on the forum said, ““Previous plan offerings are no longer available for new purchases, however if you already have a Personal plan or higher, you can continue to renew it at its usual cost and are not obliged to upgrade to the Pro plan.”

      So, maybe those who already have a paid plan can keep it/renew it annually. Like, we can stay “grandfathered” in perpetuity, but as soon as we change off what we currently have, we can only choose whatever new options are now, or soon to be, available.

      I suspect there’s a lower cost tier in the middle waiting to be offered. I hope.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I think you’re right. I logged a case with WP, and they indicated I would be able renew my ‘legacy’ plan in July. I hope that’s true, otherwise my bill will almost double.

        And thanks for all the good info in your post. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        1. That’s good to know/confirm that legacy plans can continue. I still hope WP offers a middle plan at least.

          The simplicity of only a free and a pro plan is reflected in Flickr, which for a long time has only had a free and a pro tier. Pay nothing or pay something.

          It’s similar to an approach that has a free service and a members service where members get extra perks…

          I’ve been wondering if WP is becoming more website-builder than publishing platform…kinda seems like it with the proliferation of blocks forming every aspect of WP sites now, even themes.

          I’m testing Blogger.com again… The potential of change for the better may be worth considering, so I am.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. The community aspect is one area of Blogger I’m concerned about and checking into. Outside of old school Blogrolls (link lists)(which I like) and a “Followers” widget, I don’t see a clear networking paradigm like WP has through its Reader feature. But I’m still very tempted to make a jump to my old blogging grounds…

            Liked by 1 person

          2. Also, yes, it’s so simple yet, for personal hobby blogging, it’s all I really need. For example, instead of WP “Categories” and “Tags,” Blogger only has “Labels.” They’re case sensitive too, it seems, so I think one could have capital Labels serve as categories and lower case Labels serve as tags if desired. For me, just Labels is good enough.

            Liked by 1 person

          3. Caveat: I’ve always been fond of Blogger. And having a fresh look again creates novelty for me. So factoring novelty and nostalgia out, trying to be objective, the simplicity, flexibility, accessibility, and affordability of Blogger make it a favorable alternative to WP in my mind, but I want to take more time to be sure.

            Liked by 1 person

          4. I’ve seen some pretty great blogs from Blogger over the years. I’ll be searching for something and find an article from a very professional looking (but still simpole looking) blog and find out later it was from Blogger.

            Liked by 1 person

  5. Another area: Media manager.
    Blogger lacks a direct Media storage hub like WP. But it does have a media storage system, it’s just a bit indirect or obscure to find. I found my old images stored from my old blogs from over a decade ago!

    Google Photos is of course tied to image insertion within the post editor. Nice.

    Aside: I plan to investigate AdSense, which is free…

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, I never liked Google Sites. I think Blogger has more users than Sites but I don’t know.

        A big Blogger hesitation is the “Will Google kill it?” question. Honestly, if it was going to kill it, I think Google would have done so years ago. So the fact it lives on makes me think it will continue. My guess: the effort/resources to kill Blogger outweigh such to keep it going. I bet it’s easy enough for Google to simply let Blogger exist with minimal overhead. Then consider there are apparently millions of blogger users (India and Brazil especially), Google lets it live on.

        Like

  6. Thanks Jason, I saw your comments on the forum and followed up to read this. I can’t believe that WP are really happy to lose millions of personal hobby bloggers, paying a fairly modest sub (because that’s all they need), but it seems that’s where we are. As it stands, there are now many more previously happy subscribers, writers (and WP customers) suddenly contemplating either moving or giving it all up entirely because of this. Can they possibly think they can make all this up with new Pro level business subs?
    Like you, I’m hoping their so far mysterious ‘a la carte’ options provide some sort of relief when they come, but I know it’ll probably mean more money than the old Personal plan used to be to get the same thing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, thanks for commenting.
      I know some hobby bloggers like me, though invested in WP, are able to migrate away without too much hardship. But I also know some other hobby bloggers are too invested to break up with WP and have two options now: keep their current plan forever, no changes allowed. Or hope the free plan a la carte options are within budget and reason.

      In my case, I pay the $4/mo Personal plan basically to get two features: custom domain and no ads. I also like the extra storage and ability to accept payments. What I’d add to that, or the new free plan, a la carte is theme customization and site monetization.

      Hmm…in order of preference, I think my a la carte add-ons would be:

      1. custom domain
      2. no ads
      3. theme customization
      4. more storage
      5. site monetization
      6. accept payments

      Let’s say each one is $1/mo. I’d go from $4/mo to the new free plan with $6/mo add-ons. To me, that’d be worth sticking around.
      Note, now with Full Site Editing, I don’t think theme customization is needed anymore. So maybe I’d pay $5/mo?

      But if each add-on is $2/mo, I’d pay from $10-$12/mo, which is still too much for me, so I’d have to drop some add-ons. But if I thought I could stretch close to $12/mo, then I might as well stretch to the Pro plan at $15/mo. See what I did there?

      So I bet WP makes a la carte add-ons such that customers baby-step their way closer to the Pro plan, much like traditional marketing has products at each price segment, enticing consumers to step up a little more, so a “small” user would bump up to “medium” and a “medium” user would nudge up to “large.”

      This is why I strongly suggested to WP in the forum that they have three plans, one at each end of the cost spectrum and one right in the middle. That way things are very structured, clearly segmented, but there are only 3 plans, not four or five. Neither too simple nor too complex.

      Again, thanks for visiting and commenting, take care 🙂

      Like

      1. Yeah, I wrote a post that points out replacing four paid plans with only one sounds simpler… but then if you have ‘free’ plan bloggers choosing any mix of however many preferred add-ons at a cost, surely there are going to be a myriad more options and subscription levels, as everyone will have their own add-on preferences… and if Pro has similar add-ons as well, then I’m not thinking that’s ‘simpler’ than the previous clear account levels!
        Ah well, easy for me just to swap platforms anyway, I was only three or four starter posts in before this hit us…

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I only noticed the changes when I was checking through my plan options only to find that there was a notification that the plan i have been using for the past five years is now a legacy plan… they moved sneakily could have communicated better instead of this predatory foolishness.
    I still have a year on my plan so will use this time to figure out if I even want to keep subscribing to my legacy plan or move to self-hosted entirely
    ~B

    Like

  8. I am still in shock
    I only noticed the changes when I was checking through my plan options only to find that there was a notification that the plan i have been using for the past five years is now a legacy plan… they moved sneakily could have communicated better instead of this predatory foolishness.
    I still have a year on my plan so will use this time to figure out if I even want to keep subscribing to my legacy plan or move to self-hosted entirely
    ~B

    Like

    1. Thanks, Beaton. There are many in the same position who feel likewise. I’m not sure how WordPress didn’t see this outcome beforehand. No matter how it settles (a la carte options still pending), the disruption and shaken trust has caused some to leave WP and many to contemplate leaving.

      Like

  9. Just found out about this today, and I am baffled.

    The introduction of the new plans mean that for a new user to launch a website with a custom domain, it will cost them a whopping £180 upfront for the year.
    The following year would be the same price again + the cost of the domain (£15ish).

    On the previous plans which were available a couple of months ago, doing this would have cost just £36 for the first year.

    The new plan system is wildly inappropriate for someone looking to launch a blog or website.
    Many new starters just want to get going with their own website & address to begin with.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s