WordPress.com gets more expensive

Ever since I learned about WordPress, I thought it was the coolest blogging platform, and the more I found out about the WordPress.com network, the more I liked the options they offered their users. To this day, I regret not having started to publish directly on WordPress.com instead of doing it on my own with a self-install of WordPress, but each path has its pros and cons. Incidentally, I discussed them (the pros and cons) at length with WordPress staff recently, and may put together a guide to switching from WP.com to WP.org and vice-versa, at some point.

One of the things I really liked about WordPress.com was the 5GB space upgrade, which, among other things allowed me to upload videos that would be transcoded and played directly inside the blog. For $20/year, it was a great deal. I never got to use it on my own blogs, which were and still are self-hosted, but I recommended it to clients and friends. I liked it because the video player was and still is integrated into the blogging platform. This saves the user the hassle of uploading it to a different video sharing site, then putting the right embed code into the blog post.

Now, sadly, that option is gone. I received an email from WordPress today which announced the arrival of a formal video upgrade option, called VideoPress, at a cost of $60/year. Like other video upgrades on the market (such as Vimeo’s own Plus program), VideoPress allows the upload and streaming of SD and HD video. The price is also the same.

wordpress-upgrades

I can understand this change though. According to WordPress, allowing people to upload videos under the regular 5GB space upgrade was a testing ground which allowed them to figure out what they needed to charge long-term. After all, HD video eats up a lot of space and requires a lot of processing power to compress, not to mention the bandwidth needed to stream it. Here’s what Matt Mullenweg, WP’s founder, says in a response to a question about the price tag:

“We try to run every part of our business in a way that’s sustainable and supportable for the long-term. By charging a fair amount for a superior service we can continue to invest in expanding the feature to be a great option for high-end video, just like WordPress is a fantastic option for high-end blogging. (And you wouldn’t believe how expensive it is to host and stream video, which is part of the reason we’ve waited to launch this until now, we’ve been working at getting the costs down.” [source]

Now when you realize that both WordPress and Vimeo charge $60/year for HD video uploads, think about YouTube, and the astronomical expenses it has to eat up every year because it doesn’t charge its users anything to upload gobs and gobs of video.

I looked at the specs for the video sizes of the new WordPress Video Player, and there are three of them: 400px (SD), 640px (DVD) and 1280px (HD). That’s plenty for live streaming. I do wish there was an option that would let the video authors allow downloads of the original video files, like Vimeo does it.

The upper limit on a single video file is 1GB, although it’s not hard-capped like at Vimeo. WordPress will let you upload 1.5-2GB files, although they say results may vary and uploads may die out if your connection is slow.

One thing I’m not clear on is the space allowed for the uploaded videos. Is there a weekly cap, like Vimeo’s 5GB/week limit, or can we upload as many videos as we want? And if so, what’s the total space limit allotted to us when we purchase the upgrade? Is there a special cap, separate from the standard space of 3 GB per blog? Or does each video count against the total space allotted to the blog? Because if that’s the case, that would mean VideoPress is going to be more expensive than Vimeo Plus, since users will need to purchase space upgrades for their videos in addition to VideoPress.

For example, a user would shell out $60 for VideoPress, then soon find out they’ve filled up their 3GB quota, and need to purchase a space upgrade. It’s not hard to imagine one would need about 15GB or more per year with HD video, and that would mean an additional $50 on top of the initial $60, bringing the price tag to $110. This point definitely needs clarification, because it just wouldn’t be fun to get taxed twice for it.

I do like the nice gesture on WordPress’ part, where they gave existing users of the space upgrade and the video player a free VideoPress upgrade for a year. Had they not done that, the transition would have been too jarring for them, so kudos to WordPress for putting money aside and thinking about the user experience.


11 thoughts on “WordPress.com gets more expensive

  1. I just want to say I WISH WINDOWS LIVE SPACE WAS NEVER SOLD TO WORDPRESS! Everything changed after March. You have to pay AND learn CSS HTML to make any modifications to your own blog. This my friend does not please me. *sigh*

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  2. Hi Raoul!

    I just ran into this article because I’m also thinking about the Videopress option. I was looking into some other options and at the moment I’m having my clips over on Vimeo. Somehow though with the free version the quality especially with for example slideshows is often less than flattering, on Vimeo that is.

    As the costs of Vimeo and Videopress are similar I think I will opt for Videopress as I somehow like to have everything under one roof. But that’s sure my own thing, but I still have to think about that a little more.

    Reading from this post I also noticed that you have moved your content over. I myself have done the same just recently. There’s still some work behind the scenes to do, with fixing some older links.

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    1. Hey Sven, I love WP.com, but I think the VideoPress option is still too expensive for my wallet. At $60/year plus the cost of the extra space upgrade to host the videos, it could go up to $350/year with the 100 GB of extra storage. That’s a lot of money just to have video, when YouTube costs nothing and Vimeo is $60/year, period, with no additional costs. I think over time, WP’s cost for video hosting will come down, or who knows, perhaps the others will start charging more, but at least for now, I’m sticking with YouTube, and the occasional clip posted to Vimeo.

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      1. I agree with you. If one has a lot of videos this will get definitely expensive. For the time being I do not have much so that will do fine. Additionally I do some sort of live blogging and having the option to post a quick clip to the blog via email, without having to upload the clip somewhere else first makes things a little easier.
        But then again.. I’m still thinking about it 😉

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  3. @Raoul

    Thanks for writing this post.
    This is a very interesting post for me in 2 aspects.

    First, the actual cost of using VideoPress !!
    ( $60/year plus $50/year to get the 15GB space.)

    Second, there is a person who moved from a self-hosted WP to the WP.com managed.

    I am on a shared host, so I know that sometimes it can give u headache,
    and I completely agree on the reason that made you decided to move to WP.com
    ( so that you can concentrate on just the content ) but as for the price to pay…

    How much one will have to pay to get a WP.com website with all the things needed
    to get a complete control of a site like seft-hosted one ?

    1. VideoPress service = $60/year
    2. 15GB space = $50/year
    3. CSS customization = ?
    4. Domain Mapping =?

    and is there an option to implement a customized theme or it got to be only existing themes ?

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    1. Yes, it does cost a little more, but you don’t have to use VideoPress if you don’t want to. You can always use YouTube, which works just great for most people. VideoPress will tend to get quite expensive if you upload a lot of HD movies. Should you get the 15 GB space upgrade, as you pointed out, you’ll run out of space after you upload just 15 average-length video clips, and if I understand the terms correctly, you’ll need to keep paying $110/year to keep hosting those videos, then pay for an additional space upgrade if you want to upload more movies. Let’s just say VideoPress is not the solution for me, either, unless they change their terms.

      For example, when I made the switch to WP.com, I didn’t choose VideoPress. I went with the 5GB space upgrade, which is plenty for me as I upload mostly photos, then I chose domain mapping at $10/year. I think it costs me something like $30/year in the end, which really isn’t bad at all, considering my website is now on the WP server network and no amount of traffic can bring it down.

      I may choose the CSS upgrade at some point, but I didn’t want to get into that whole messing about with code again. I just wanted to write and publish.

      If you switch, you’ll have to use existing themes, but you’ll be able to customize them if you go for the CSS upgrade.

      There is a VIP hosting option at $500/month, but that’s for the sites with a ton of traffic. What that gives you is complete control over everything, just like with self-hosting, but they’ll host the site for you, will upgrade and patch the servers for you, and of course, they’ll ensure your site never goes down, even if you get millions of page views per day and huge spikes in traffic. And you’ll get personal, live support to help you customize your site and work on your code, should you need it. That’s really cool. If I were at those traffic levels, that would be my hosting plan of choice.

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      1. You really summed up everything there.

        The actual price of using VideoPress still amazes me.

        I run a site that has video content quite a bit and not pleased with youtube length limit,
        so I picked vimeo which has been working great for me for sometimes now.

        Then, comes the VideoPress.
        Upon searching the info – I found your post here, and glad I did.

        I agree on your 2nd paragraph, $30/year is a very good price considering the stability
        and basic functionality of a website.

        My only wish is that WP.com allows using VideoPress for free ( it’s just a plugin anyway )
        and give the space upgrade more reasonable price.

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  4. Interested to know why you wish you never would have started on a self hosted wordpress.org blog from the get go. What are the advantages of going with wordpress.com first?

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      1. Ah, I see. Server issues. I’ve been self-hosting my own WP site for a while (three different domains) and like it. But wondered what would push someone to go w/ WP.com. Thanks for the insight. I’ll be looking around from time to time as well.

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