I get asked this question a lot as a website professional. The simple answer, it depends.
Not what you were looking for huh? I get it. There’s SO many factors that go into a website’s expenses that it’s difficult to make the end all, be all cost for having a website. Hence, it depends on a lot of factors.
Just like buying a car can have an array of features, quality of materials, and the build of the car, so do websites. Let’s break down the nitty gritty of what to expect for expenses by having a website,
Website starts with its domain name (~$10 or higher per year)
To get to a website, you have to enter its domain name, that www.catchydomain.com, into a browser. It’s the first investment that your website relies on. A domain name is the “google.com” or, like mine, “maryjostaebler.com”. Domain names are registered with a domain registrar and when you purchase, aka register, the domain, you are temporarily own that domain. Temporary? Yes, it’s a yearly investment because you’re really renting it.
Domain names can start out being cheap like a couple bucks to thousands of dollars in the beginning. The cost depends if someone was using it before or if it’s really catchy. The domain could have some great SEO cred (Search Engine Bucks) from someone else using it with their website. The domain could be great for keywords and SEO like “websitedesigner.com”. The domain could be associated with a valuable brand like “google.com”.
In the end, expect to have an initial registration cost be super cheap as no one has every registered it or costly because someone great did use it.
Website requires a host provider (~$5 or higher per month)
A website requires a home to hold all its files, images, and software. This home is called a host provider. This host provider understands how to take the files, images, and software and sends out to clients to the whole internet in milliseconds!
In other words, when a customer requests a page of a website, a combination of the website’s files and images gets sent by the host provider to their browser and the browser displays them in a visual way.
Will any home do? Nope. The host provider has to have the right software for what the website requires and has to be quick to respond. If the website is slow, cumbersome to navigate, or has little to no content, customers and search engines will be unhappy; not great for getting returning customers or attract new ones.
Going back to the home analogy. Each host provider has their own types of plans just like all homes come in all types, features, and sizes. Want a fast, reliable website with someone taking care of the site for you? Might cost more like $30 or more per month. Looking for just the bare minimum? Host plans where you share space with others or where your website speed is so-so, those are on the cheaper end, like $5 per month. How many files, how many websites, does it require special software… there’s a lot to consider when it comes to hosting.
You can get a deal by paying for your website hosting in advanced for a year or three. However, this means you may be locked in with them and cost more if they become unreliable.
In the end, you get what you pay for. If you have a website with lots of features (ecommerce, membership, etc), you’ll want to splurge for a higher plan. If you are doing a simple brochure site, a cheaper plan is a great start and you can upgrade to a better plan as time moves on.
Website requires a bit of love (~$30 or higher per month)
Host providers have a variety of other features as well that can be helpful such as disaster recovery, built-in software updates, reliable customer support, and easy to use, configurable account capabilities. All necessary to cover your bases by protecting your investment in a website.
Most host provider provider the bare minimum to watch over your website in their lower plans. No business wants to invest time and money into a site and especially one that generates sales and leads suddenly be gone.
Hackers, software glitches, one misstep in changing/adding features, or a host provider issue could easily take out a site.
Having a backup plan, website security, and someone watching the site easily pays for itself if someone or something broke the website.
So what does a website cost?
At a minimum, you could get away with a website costing a minimum of $50 per year. Now, this minimum would be a subpar host provider, a slow page speed, and barely any fail safe features. Don’t forget to add your time and efforts to upkeep a site, dealing with support, and generally learning how to take care of the website.
A good expectation of how much a website would cost to run $1000 per year. Does this sounds crazy given how websites are “easy”? It’s the common marketing message pushed out by some host providers and website builder software. Sure, it’s easy to sign up for an account somewhere to build the site. The kicker is the reliability, security, and other factors they don’t mention.
If you’re serious about using your website as a lead generating and sales building machine, recognize the yearly investment into your budget.
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