I used Wordpress and Woocommerce for many years before finally giving up on Wordpress and moving to Kajabi.
In another Kajabi review, I talked about all the Wordpress plugins I had to run my site AND the actual costs of doing that. In this post, I'm going to talk about the true costs of Wordpress hosting when you’re running a membership site.
If part of your business plan is to have online courses and/or paid membership offerings, you need to understand the real costs of trying to do that on Wordpress now.
This article will save you at least several thousand dollars in the long run and an incredible number of headaches. I promise.
More savings = more better
When you first get started with Wordpress, you can start off cheap. Wordpress is free. You can use a free or paid template that won’t cost you that much.
And you can use “shared hosting” which costs you between $5-$10 a month depending on the host you choose.
There are tons of cheap web hosting options out there. When I first got started, I was using Dreamhost (affiliate link). (I actually still use Dreamhost for some small sites I run).
But after a while, I started to notice my main site was running slowly. And some days REALLY slowly. And that’s when I learned the real cost of cheap “shared hosting.”
Shared hosting basically means your site is stored on and managed by one computer - alongside a bunch of other sites. And when someone else’s site is super popular and/or poorly built, it can slow down the computer on which YOUR site sits…which makes YOUR site slow.
That’s fine when you have a site with a small audience and no membership site plugins…
But once you need to use membership plugins, EVERYTHING changes. And that’s when the real cost comparison between Kajabi and Wordpress makes sense.
It's no contest. Kajabi's costs beat Wordpress easily.
If you want to run a Wordpress membership site, you need to have a solid, reliable web host. A host’s job is to make sure all the data that makes up your website makes it to people who want to see it.
To do this reliably requires a lot of technical know-how (and black magic, as near as I can tell). Premium Wordpress hosting usually bills you based on the number of visits you get every month.
The more visits your site gets, the more you pay.
I personally used several hosts of the years. The top tier ones I used were WPEngine and Kinsta (affiliate link). You can see their pricing plans are no joke once you get into the 100,000+ visits a month tier where I was.
Unfortunately, that’s not the full picture.
Put simply, the computer that runs your site has to do more processing to manage the content your members can access.
If you have a new user come to your site, he isn't allowed to see your paid content. Okay. Simple. Duh. How much processing does that take?
So simple a 30 year old machine can handle that calculation...
But if you have a member come to your site, the machine serving your site has to determine WHO that member is AND what content that member has access to. Member needs to login….password check…okay…send him to his user dashboard...
And every time that member tries to access some membership content, the machine needs to do some quick permissions checks for that member. Did this member pay for access to Tier A or Tier B? Did they pay for Access to Course X and Course Y or just Course Y?
No big deal, right?
That’s what I thought too....
Wait, what? I need to do what to my Wordpress site to handle a membership site?
But it becomes a big deal. All those extra logins, permissions checks, etc. etc. mean the machine hosting your site is doing a bunch more work than a plain old blog.
To handle all that work, your machine has something called “PHP workers.” If you want to actually know what the heck PHP workers are, you can read about it here in gory detail from Kinsta.
TL;DR: YOU AREN’T STARTING A MEMBERSHIP WEBSITE SO THAT YOU CAN BECOME KNOWLEDGEABLE ABOUT WEB HOSTING REQUIREMENTS, OBJECT-CACHING, PAGE CACHING, AND SOMETHING CALLED 'PHP WORKERS.’
So the more active members you have, the more bogged down your Wordpress membership site gets, and the more PHP workers you need. More PHP workers cost money. MUCH more money.
And if you are running multiple plugins (like email marketing, Woocommerce automations, WYSIWYG editors, etc. etc.) you could need more PHP workers.
And, even worse, I ran into some bizarre incompatibility with two plugins at one point that sent my PHP worker need through the roof...
Which brings me to the next section.
A chart like this is only good if it's your profits...It's horrible when it represents your hosting costs.
For a while, I was paying $200/month for up to 100,000 visits a month. And then it got bumped to $300/month as traffic approached 200,000 a month.
Everything was humming along. And then suddenly I got notified by Kinsta that something was amiss.
I needed more PHP workers. The site was bogging down. People were getting random errors when logging in and trying to access courses.
The cost jumped to $400/month… I knew I needed to get off Wordpress pronto.
Especially since that didn’t even fix the problem!
Further testing showed we needed to have at least 10 PHP workers…which was going to cost $900/month!!
Nine. Hundred. Dollars. For hosting alone.
I liked Kinsta. I did. The service and support was really good. But I did not want to shell out $900 a month to keep the site limping along, plugins breaking the site randomly, and constantly feeling like I was about to get slapped in the face but some random Wordpress issue...
Nobody warned me about this back when I started on Wordpress. I didn’t know the right questions to ask. And no developer I'd ever talked to bothered to mention this…
This is Wordpress with a friendly SMACK to remind you that something else is going to cost you more money.
The math on this is easy. What does Kajabi cost per month? What does hosting a Wordpress site cost?
If you plan on having an active membership site, you’re going to need to have premium Wordpress hosting. That is going to cost you dearly.
You might be able to find “deals,” on cheaper hosting, but then you’ll sacrifice support quality AND SPEED. Believe me, I tried that route.
Once your site is making you money, messing with “cheap” hosting with crappy support costs you money and negates any cost savings very quickly.
With a small membership site, I’d say you’re going to pay around $100/month. But if you start generating more traffic and have more active users, you’re going to run into your PHP worker limits quickly… And then the numbers balloon.
To recap: my site was going to require $900/month to continue on premium Wordpress hosting.
It now runs on Kajabi’s top tier Pro plan for $319/month with ZERO issues and fabulous site speed and reliability.
I could be running on Kajabi’s mid-tier Growth plan for $159/month, but there are some specific bells and whistles I wanted with the Pro plan.
The cost savings on either Kajabi versus hosting for a Wordpress membership site are HUGE.
At $159/month, Kajabi is an absolute no-brainer for a membership site. And as an inveterate cheapskate, I don’t say that lightly.
Using Kajabi means you don’t have to mess with Wordpress plugin Hell (and all its costs). You don’t have to get a separate email marketing system (and all its costs). And, yes, Kajabi’s email marketing actually works quite well. You can read more about that here.
When you add up all the costs of plugins, hosting, and email marketing, Kajabi’s prices are an absolute bargain.
Kajabi just works in a user-friendly and generally intuitive way. And I am glad I made the switch off Wordpress to Kajabi. It’s made my life a lot easier in countless ways and given me more free time to spend with family or come up with more business ideas!
If you found this article helpful, please consider using my link for a free trial of Kajabi! I’m sure you’ll enjoy Kajabi a lot more than the Wordpress plugin Hell you’re trying to get out of! 🙂
Look at this article to see the real costs of Kajabi vs. Wordpress membership plugins.
And check out this article on Kajabi email marketing versus Mailchimp.