Who’s Cashing In On the WordPress Economy?

Disclosure: Your support helps keep the site running! We earn a referral fee for some of the services we recommend on this page. Learn more

Since its launch in 2003, WordPress has become the most popular content management system (CMS) on the web. It's running millions of websites: over 20% of every websites on the entire Internet, and almost half of all websites that use a CMS.

With all that success, you'd think that Automattic, the company behind WordPress, would be raking in the dough. But founder Matt Mullenweg is no billionaire. In fact, one big reason for WordPress' ubiquity is that it's free to use.

But even though WordPress itself is free, the economy that's arisen around WordPress has grown just as fast as the software's popularity, bringing in millions of dollars every year.

WordPress theme design, plugin development, consulting, hosting, site maintenance, and blogging are just a few of the services that have developed around WordPress. The WordPress economy is even booming offline, with over a thousand book published on the topic. Thousands of people around the world earn a living with work exclusively related to WordPress.

In this booming WordPress economy, it may seem that there's no room for more people to cash in. Today, for instance, the WordPress theme shop market is competitive and hard to break into, unlike a few years ago when you could expect to see success immediately.

Still, the industry is expected to continue its growth, and with it the demand for services. The latest version of WordPress, 3.9, has already been downloaded over 40 million times since its release in April 2014, and thousands of new WordPress websites are being launched every day.

In such a booming economy, there's also a growing demand for services. Though generalists will find it hard to stand out and differentiate themselves from competitors, choosing a niche to specialize in is a good way to stand out and offer unique value.

Check out the stats below to see how the economy surrounding WordPress has been growing the past few years, and who has been the most successful in this booming market.

Just How Big is the WordPress Economy

Just How Big is the WordPress Economy?

More than 74,103,000 websites on the Internet today are powered by WordPress.That makes for a lot of hungry customers looking for themes, plugins, hosting, experts, and consultants. The WordPress economy is much larger than one may realize.

WordPress vs. the Internet

WordPress is used by 59.6% of websites running a CMS.

WordPress usage accounts for 20.8% of all websites on the Internet.

By that estimate, roughly 363,820,000 websites are on the Internet today.

  • That's 1 in every 5 websites online!
  • At least 100,000 more new ones come online every day.

WordPress Themes

The official theme library has 2,189 free themes, and the number continues to grow.

ThemeForest.net: 3,724 themes

Top Selling Themes Week of 12/30/13:

  • Avada Responsive Theme: $55: 661 sales
    • Lifetime sales: 50,448 total sales
  • Enfold Responsive Theme: $55: 350 sales
    • Lifetime sales: 17,889 total sales
  • X: The Ultimate WordPress Theme: $60: 323 sales
    • Lifetime sales: 1,217 total sales
  • Salient Response Theme: $55: 261 sales
    • Lifetime sales: 9,677 total sales
  • The7 Responsive Theme: $55: 230 sales
    • Lifetime sales: 5,426 total sales

Top Selling Designers in December 2013:

  • ThemeFusion: 3,290 sales, 1 portfolio item
    • Avada Theme: 50,448 total sales
  • Kriesi: 2,136 sales, 39 portfolio items
    • Enfold: 17,889 total sales
    • Display 3-in-1: 5,235 total sales
    • Flashlight: 4,280 total sales
    • Newscast 4-in-1: 4,055 total sales
    • Angular: 3,705 total sales
  • Dream-Theme: 1,492 sales, 36 portfolio items
    • The7: 5,427 total sales
    • Chocolate: 5,370 total sales
    • Nimble: 3,522 total sales
    • Slash WP: 3,340 total sales
    • Crea WP: 1,405 total sales

The Plugin Library

The official plugin library offers 28,164 free plugins to extend the core functionality.

CodeCanyon.net is a popular premium plugin repository with 2,060 WordPress plugins.

Top Selling Plugins Week of 12/30/13:

  • Slider Revolution: $16: 315 sales
    • Lifetime Sales: 18,453 total sales
  • Visual Composer: $25: 290 sales
    • Lifetime Sales: 15,475 total sales
  • UberMenu: $16: 197 sales
    • Lifetime Sales: 25,919 total sales
  • Layer Slider: $15: 156 sales
    • Lifetime Sales: 14,242 total sales
  • Royal Slider: $20: 108 sales
    • Lifetime Sales: 17,393 total sales

Top Selling Developers in December 2013:

  • ThemePunch: 2,389 sales, 12 portfolio items
    • Slider Revolution: 18,453 total sales
    • Showbiz Pro Responsive Teaser: 1,711 total sales
    • KenBurner Slider: 586 sales
  • SevenSpark: 1,637 sales, 7 portfolio items
    • UberMenu: 25,919 total sales
  • Mixey: 1,533 sales, 3 portfolio items
    • Visual Composer: Page Builder for WordPress: 15,475 total sales
  • Semenov: 1,253 sales, 4 items
    • Royal Slider: 17,393 sales

WordPress Hosting

WordPress has spawned the creation of hosting companies dedicated to providing services for WordPress sites, known as "managed hosting."

  • These services will:
    • Back up your website
    • Install updates
    • Offer more security compared to most other hosting providers
  • WP Engine
    • Plans range from $29 to $249/month.
    • Offers a hacked guarantee: if your site gets hacked, they'll fix it.
    • Approximately 5,551 websites use this hosting company.
  • Page.ly
    • Offers plans ranging from $24/month to $149/month
    • Hosts big names such as:
      • Vonage
      • Publisher's Clearinghouse
      • Yammer
    • Synthesis by StudioPress/Copyblogger Media
      • Plans range from $27 to $300/month
      • Offers one to five or more dedicated WordPress installs, depending on plan
      • Approximately 1,952 websites use this web hosting company.

Publishing: Books about WordPress

Amazon shows 1,377 results for books about WordPress.

WordPress for Dummies was released in 2007.

  • Now in its 4th edition, it has sold more than 85,000 copies.

Countless other eBooks about WordPress exist

  • WordPress to Go
  • WordPress for Beginners
  • WordPress Websites, Step-by-Step
  • SEO for WordPress

State of the WordPress Economy

According to a global survey of more than 18,000 individuals conducted by WordPress in 2012:

  • 53% of respondents called themselves WordPress developers.
  • 36% of respondents called themselves self-employed WordPress developers.
  • Respondents reported receiving anywhere from $5 to $2,000 an hour for their work with WordPress.
    • The average hourly rate is $58.
    • The median hourly rate is $50.
  • 2,800 respondents say WordPress is their main source of income.

A quick search of LinkedIn reveals:

  • 775,189 people around the world mention WordPress somewhere in their profile.
    • 335,482 people in the United States mention WordPress somewhere in their profile.
    • 53,293 people in the United Kingdom mention WordPress somewhere in their profile.
  • 15,078 global companies mentioning WordPress
    • 3,610 in the United States
    • 912 in the United Kingdom


KeriLynn Engel

About KeriLynn Engel

KeriLynn has worked as a freelance writer for various websites. She is an advocate for domestic abuse victims and has way too many hobbies.


Thanks for your comment. It will show here once it has been approved.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Alex – Arvixe

September 5, 2014

Very nice info graphic but I figured I would add the fact that WordPress hosting doesn’t have to be on an expensive host as that is what the 3 listed providers are, more costly that the rest.

Our packages start at ~$4 per month and we host thousands and thousands of WordPress sites without any issues. We also include extra freebies such as a free domain name unlike most providers.