If you’re reading this, chances are you already answered the question, “Do I need a website?”. So the next most relevant question is: ‘What’s this going to cost me?’. And you’re not alone, that’s why we’ve created this straightforward, beginner-friendly guide. We’ll lay out the expenses tied to setting up and maintaining a website, covering everything from domains and hosting to design and content. With this guide, you’ll be better equipped to plan your budget and make an informed decision about how you want to.
The Basics: Domains and hosting
What is a domain name?
Just as businesses have a physical (mailing) address, websites have a digital one: a domain name. Domain names typically cost between $10-$20 per year for the most common extensions like .com or .net, but can jump into the hundreds or even thousands per year for more specialized domains like .ai or .app.
What is web hosting?
Website hosting is where all of the files that make up your website are stored and served. Think of it as a sort of digital office building your website operates out of. And like an office building, the cost can vary substantially depending on the quality of materials used, square footage, utilities, other amenities, and so on. Website Hosting can range from $5 monthly for shared hosting to hundreds or even thousands of dollars per month for dedicated servers.
Design: Building your website
Template vs. custom design
Templates are like cookie-cutter houses—functional but similar to others. A custom design is like having an architect design your home specifically for you. Templates can cost anywhere from free to a few hundred dollars, while custom designs usually start around $1,000.
The importance of responsive design
Your website needs to look good not just on a computer but also on tablets and smartphones. Responsive design ensures that your site adjusts to fit any screen size. Most templates should already be mobile-friendly, but some designers might charge extra.
Content: What goes on your website
Text, images, and videos
Content is king. You’ll need text descriptions, images, and maybe even videos. If you write these yourself, it’s basically free but time-consuming. Hiring a professional writer can cost from $50 to $500 per piece, depending on the complexity.
Extras: Additional features & functionality
What’s a Plugin?
Plugins are like apps for your website, allowing you to add extra features like contact forms or SEO tools. Free options are available, but premium plugins can cost between $20 to $200 per year.
Ecommerce: Want to accept payments?
If you plan to sell products, you’ll need an e-commerce feature, which can add significant cost and complexity to your website. Payment processing alone will typically cost around
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is, collectively, designing your website so people can find it easily on Google and other search engines. Basic SEO is usually part of the website setup, but advanced SEO is typically ongoing and can host up to hundreds or thousands of dollars per month.
Ongoing Costs: Keeping Your Website Up and Running
Unfortunately, you can’t just set up a website and forget it. You’ll need to update it regularly, ensure it’s secure, and occasionally add new features or content. Depending on your needs, these ongoing costs can range from $50 to $300 per month. Alternatively, you can avoid recurring hosting fees by purchasing your own server. The downside: now you’re a network administrator technician…?
Setting up a basic ‘bare bones’ website can cost as little as a few hundred dollars. But the price can quickly skyrocket if you require custom designs, special features, and ongoing maintenance. However, the investment is often worth it. A well-designed, functional website can be a game-changer for new businesses.
Other things to consider:
Is a free website good enough?
- Free websites have limitations, like less control over your domain, limited customization options, and little or no support. If your goal is to simply have a website, with no expectation of capturing leads or engaging with customers,
How much should I budget for a website?
- Budgeting varies widely, but a safe estimate for a basic business website is between $500 and $5,000 for the first year.
Can I build a website myself?
- Yes. Many user-friendly ‘visual’ website builders are available – like GoDaddy, Wix, and Squarespace, to name a few. However, a professionally designed website typically provides a better first impression.