WordPress, Joomla, Facebook – Free Websites.. Right?!

Posted on by todd

For the last few years we have been focusing on developing more and more in the open source platforms like WordPress and Joomla.  We have also been developing tools and customizing pages for Facebook.

There is a huge misconception regarding both open source platforms and Facebook and that is they allow anyone to build a free website.  Our customers are shocked when they hear that we are using a free content management system or Facebook’s interface but they still have to pay for it.  I’d like to take a few minutes of your time and walk you through the anatomy of creating a FREE website.  A friend of mine just did this so I will use him as a case study.  Let me start off by saying Mr. P. is one of the most curious, tenacious and intelligent people I know and all of the time below is conservative estimates from recollection.

Mr. P. owns a small business.  He wanted to create a free website using WordPress.  The first thing he did was download the WordPress installation file.  He spent the next 4 hours trying to figure out how to setup a hosting account and get the program installed.  After a few calls to me and his hosting companies tech support he had the site up and running.

Mr. P. then got out his WordPress for dummies book and started going over how to configure the site and make it do what he wanted (5 hours).  After spending 2 or 3 hours searching for the right “Free” template he fell in love with a template from a 3rd party that cost $150.  He then researched and added a few plugins that he wanted (4 hours) and got them configured.

He wanted a quick way to replicate his main site so he could easily create sites for his remote offices.  He purchased a plugin ($59) that would allow him to duplicate a configured website ad nauseum.  After spending 4 hours testing it out and trying to make it work he found an “Expert” that agreed to do the replication for $1500.  On the initial attempts the “expert” determined that the hosting platform did not offer the features required so Mr. P had to start over with a new hosting company.  He was much faster at it since he had been through it before so there was only 3 hours spent on it.  He tried to migrate all of the content but eventually ended up having to re-key it all (6hrs)

Mr. P. then started adding content to his site.  Once he had his content in the “expert” replicated several times.  What he didn’t realize was there was a code vulnerability in his template that allowed a third party to inject code into the site.  This code takes over the users browser and redirects them to nasty websites.

Mr. P called me up and between me and Joey (WP wizard and all around web Guru) fixed the vulnerability and patched the code (8 hrs).

The last portion was figuring out how to re-point the DNS to the new site and making it “live” (2 hours)

So let’s recap the free website:

Setup hosting:

  • 4 hours (first time)
  • 3 hours (second time)


  • WordPress for dummies $21
  • 5 hours research
  • 3 hours searching for templates
  • $150 for the template he liked
  • $59 replication software
  • 4 hours for testing the plugin
  • $1500 for the “Expert”
  • re key/re configure all content 6 hours


  • trying to diagnose vulnerability – 3 hours
  • removal of infected files and patching – 8 hours

Launch – 2 hours

Now let’s assign a value to the time. $90/hr

Total soft costs (we’ll throw our time in here too at the same rate): $3420
Total oops: $1730

So Mr. P’s completely free open source website cost him $5150 (plus he bought me dinner!).  This was for a design that he settled on and nothing being customized (all components were out of the box).  More importantly, because Mr. P. is running a business at the same time the, entire process was spread out over 6 months.


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