Setting a Budget
Like any form of marketing, you get what you pay for with a website. There are many ways to get a website up and running, from one of the one-stop shops mentioned (Shopify, Wix, etc.) or by doing your own thing.
The latter is probably the best way to go, given that you have complete control of the process. Someone won’t be trying to sell you a lot of bells and whistles you don’t need and will never use. Hopefully, by the time you’re through with all the lessons here, you will know what you want your website to do, understand how to negotiate the best fixed-cost deal and know the recurring costs needed to keep your website working.
Let’s start with the most significant cost: the design and production of your website. The actual price will vary greatly, depending on whether you’re doing it yourself, using one of the online one-stop shops, or hiring a freelancer or design firm.
A do-it-yourself site like Wix will run you anywhere from $16 to $150 a month, depending on the plan you choose and the features you want for your site.
If you choose to have someone else do it for you, a basic website can run you anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000. If you want to add e-commerce, it could increase the cost by another $1,000 to $2,000, depending on how much work you’re willing to do entering product photos and descriptions.
A Square or Wix site may seem cheaper, but the monthly fee can really add up over the years and you still don’t own your website.
If you decide to do it yourself or have a freelancer or design firm do the work for you, these are some of the recurring costs you will need to factor into your budget.
You don’t need a dedicated server. A shared server, which hosts your site and others, will be just fine and save you a significant amount of money since a dedicated server rental starts at about $100 per month.
Domain Name Renewal
$2 to $20/year
If you buy a package from a server host, your domain name is usually free for the first year; then, it is renewed annually at a higher cost. If you get one of the newer domain extensions, like .restaurant, the annual renewal may be higher.
Free to $200/yr.
Most plug-ins are free, at least for the basic version. Some offer additional features for added cost. Many of the more expensive plug-ins perform essential duties, such as monitoring your site’s security, blocking hackers and regularly backing up your site so that if everything goes wrong and your site crashes, you can use a backup copy to restore it.
Free to $249 (one-time)
Some really great themes are free for you to use. One of the cool things about them is you can choose one you think you’ll like, and if it doesn’t end up working for you, you can change the look of your site simply by uploading and activating a new theme. Themes like Divi do cost more, but they also allow you to customize your site as much as you want, and you’ll never outgrow it. They also offer a yearly option that includes their artificial intelligence capabilities, which will help you create a stellar site almost automatically.
$0 to $2,400+/yr.
You can’t build a website and leave it alone. First, the features under the hood (your CMS, plug-ins, themes, etc.) need to be updated to keep up with new features and fixes. You want to leave this to an expert who understands the workflow to do the updates.
The other side of maintenance is keeping the content on your site fresh. This can significantly affect the cost of maintaining the site. If you have a basic site and are a reasonably good writer, then you can do many updates yourself, especially minor ones. As you gain more experience in a CMS like WordPress, you can even add pages, move content or change the navigation on the site since this is all drag and drop. If you have e-commerce, you may be at the top end of this estimate since you’ll need to change products, descriptions, prices, availability and shipping costs. If you need someone to do this for you, it’s highly recommended that you ask your freelancer or design firm to provide you with a fixed-cost retainer to make budgeting simpler.