WordPress.com starts to monetize
The excellent free blog hosting service WordPress.com has been free from the start. Somewhere it has to make money though, and now I think we’€™re seeing what’€™s in store for this service and its users.
Upgrades are bought in your WordPress.com blog’€™s dashboard, under the Upgrades menu. You use credits to buy upgrades for your blog here, paying with Paypal and cashing up $1 for 1 credit. The first upgrade available is Custom CSS, a way for users who doesn’€™t like the available themes and would like to edit them. A nice and nifty feature I’€™m sure, and I guess weighing in at 15 credits (that’€™s $15, mates) isn’€™t all that horrible since the service overall is so great.
Upgrades are a great idea, and perhaps not so unexpected either. WordPress.com is a way better choice than Blogger in my opinion, and it needs to stay alive for the community. Therefor, adding premium services like this is a great way to give users that are willing to pay a bit more freedom, while others can keep using the free version and be happy with it. The userbase of 288 000 blogs or so will doubtless generate a fair amount of money for Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com, but overall I think that the Custom CSS upgrade maybe isn’€™t the best choice as a fist release. Granted, it’€™s a wanted feature, but the same people who can hack CSS probably can install WordPress at a cheap web hotel as well. Then again, they still need to keep it upgraded and so on, so sure, it’€™ll prove a good deal.
The price point is interesting by the way. $15 (sorry, 15 credits) isn’€™t aimed at ‘€œas many users as possible’€? ‘€“ it’€™s an amount that really feels premium. Good choice in my opinion, and I’€™m looking forward to see what upgrades in the future will cost, and what they’€™ll be about. If Matt & Co. can find a nifty little widget or something that’€™ll cost 5 credits ‘€“ and still being something that everybody want ‘€“ then WordPress.com will be around for quite some time.
Then again, it probably will either way. Good work guys!
Thord Daniel Hedengren is a designer, writer, and blogger, and also the former editor of The Blog Herald. He used to be a hotshot in the gaming industry in Sweden, but sold everything and went International. Most recently he wrote a book called Smashing WordPress: Beyond the Blog, and does loads of kickass design.
Although I hear a lot of praises about Word Press, I am not that much impressed by the “upgrading” feature. There are a lot of other places that allow you to customize your site (with or without html skill) for free (such as ModBlog.com).
One reason I like blogger and think its better (IMHO) is that they allow you to customize it for free, and their are similiar services like them in existance that do not charge users for template customization.
Word Press may have to find another way (long term wise) to bring in funds as they may not be able to compete against more “liberal” services.
“The first upgrade available is Custom CSS, a way for users who doesnâ€™t like the available themes and would like to edit them.”
As a long time WP user, 3 years and counting, I think it’s the best system out there. I have two blogs hosted on a pay service and love its adaptability via CSS. I also have a single blog hosted by the .com side of the WP house.
While I would love to be able to customize the .com blog I feel no great need to shell out even the small 15 bucks a year to do it.
Why? There are to many other services, blogger is one and there are many that use the mu version of WP that allow CSS customization without the cost. WP has maintained all along CSS editing would open the service to possible security breaches.
So now they allow it for a fee but fail to note what has been changed internally to plug the security breaches they claimed were existent.
Something doesn’t smell right with the whole episode. And I ain’t buying their story, or their CSS ploy for cash.
Is the upgrade cost $15 per month or per year ?