by Sharon Mendelaoui | Featured Contributor
In my life as a graphic and web designer, I have a lot of consultations with clients who are completely unaware of the actual cost of owning a website before I even do any design work or before they add any content to it. Owning a website today is a priority for any business. If you have a company or want to start a business, you have to factor in the actual costs of owning a website.
Understanding Your Fixed Website Costs
For this article, I will be referring to a self-hosted WordPress website (explained below). I will also be relating to costs in your second year or the renewal costs vs the first year costs. It is important to note that Registrars and hosting companies love the bait and switch. In the first year you will find the prices reduced at times by more than 50% so before you buy, be sure to look at what the cost will be for the renewal of the service.
Whether you are starting your blog or setting up a website for your business, each site will have these elements.
- Web Domain Address
- Web Hosting
- Hosting Add-ons
Web Domain Address Costs
The domain address is the www.yourcompanyname.com for your company. You cannot have a website without one. They are simple and relatively inexpensive to own and can be purchased through online registrars like GoDaddy or Bluehost.
Average cost is approximately $15/year.
Hosting is the actual location of the files of your website. The domain name points to these files for your website to run. There are two types of hosting you can consider self-hosted or hosted. Hosted sites examples include blogger.com and wordpress.com. In this case, they handle the hosting. However, you are limited in design options, themes and other features you may want to add. Self-hosting allows you full control of your website and the features you want to add but is more costly. In my opinion, it is the cost of doing business. You want full control of your site and what you can and can’t do to it.
Average costs are approximately $8-11/month.
When shopping for a host keep an eye out for add-ons which they may or may not include in their basic hosting packages. The two I recommend my clients purchase right out of the gate are SSL security certificates and daily backups. The security certificates are the little lock that appears in your web address. Google has stated they are prioritising search ranking to those sites that have them. Backups are vital these days, and anyone who has lost their website data or had a hacker destroy their work will tell you how devastating it is not to have a backup of their site to get back online quickly.
Average costs are approximately $100-200/year.
WordPress sites need themes or templates which determine how your site looks. The theme dictates where elements like posts, sidebars and ads appear. There are numerous site templates to choose from, including some free options. I highly recommend not using the free versions as often developers offer free themes to showcase their talents but eventually stop updating them, which causes severe security vulnerabilities. You can also have a WordPress developer create a custom site design for you. However every time you need an update or fix you are at the mercy of your developer. I recommend using themes and customizing them to keep your costs low. When starting your site pick a theme that is regularly updated, has good reviews and helps you set up your site the way you want it to look.
Average costs can be $60/month, or you may find options to buy lifetime ownership for $250.
Plugins add extra functionality to your site when the theme doesn’t go over that option. To start you can get away from spending money on plugins, however, there are a few plugins which you may want to consider at the start. Without going into too much detail here, Yoast SEO pro will submit sitemaps to Google, keep track of site redirects and offer assistance in SEO best practices as you are writing the content for your site. A must for those planning to blog or add regular releases to their sites. Jetpack has several pro packages which include things like back-ups, social sharing and scheduling tools.
Average costs are between $30-90/year for each plugin.
Total Cost of Owning a Website
When you factor in the above, you are looking at a base cost of $200 + Extras each year for your site. Having a graphic designer set up the site, customize the theme etc. will be in addition to these start-up costs. Don’t be overwhelmed by it all, a consultation with a graphic designer who has been there and will help you find the right solutions for your business will help you consider these base costs. What I tell all my clients is let’s get you online with a great site that you can grow later when you have more marketing dollars to spend!
Have any web site questions for me? Let me know in the comments below.