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Most new bloggers or solo-entrepreneurs don’t know or plan for all the costs they will face when starting a blog or website. If you’re blogging for fun that’s totally different than blogging with the purpose of earning a living online. That’s why estimating and budgeting for what you think your small business website will cost is pretty darn important. How much a website costs shouldn’t be so much you don’t have anything left over to advertise with. It bugs me to see all this stuff on websites everywhere telling folks that all they need to start a blog is $3.95/month. Come on folks, let’s be real. I can’t even buy a Happy Meal for that price, why would I think I could have an online business for that amount.
People believe it because it sounds so good. Almost too good, right?
Website Cost Estimation Planning
So here is the reality check. I rain on your parade but if you plan on being in this for real then get your head out of the clouds. Sit down with paper and pen. Take time to estimate a budget based on the average website design costs, website maintenance and any supporting online services you need. That’s going to be more realistic than the $5/month you see promoted online.
I like WordPress websites; anyone can have one and maintain it with a little bit of knowledge. Some folks aren’t comfortable with any technical maintenance or “computer stuff” they would have to do. However, if you go with a monthly subscription service that provides pre-canned drag-n-drop templates plus email integration you’re starting at $97/month, and that doesn’t actually cover the cost of the email service. It just means that there’s some easy integration with email.
Too much of pre-canned services at $29, $49 or $99/month will add up fast. I know; I use to use a few of those and my costs were eating me alive. While drag-n-drop landing page services like Clickfunnels or Leadpages are handy, you better have deep pockets or something so amazing to sell that cost isn’t a factor. The reality is that there are other low-cost alternatives but they require more effort.
The other option is to use Wix, Squarespace or some other website hosting plan with a drag n drop builder built-in. Those are cheaper than Clickfunnels and do make amazing websites. However, I started on WordPress, painfully migrated to Squarespace and gave up after about 6 months and migrated back. My bad. I lost the flexibility of WordPress when I tried Squarespace. I won’t go into the details here but suffice to say that WordPress is now my choice. I won’t knock Squarespace; it makes beautiful websites but it’s not flexible and simply doesn’t have some features I deem critical for my online business.
If you’ve done google searches on the subject of website cost, then you’ve seen lots of comments that it takes $3-4 /month to get started with a WordPress site or blog. Yes, for a basic hosting plan, that’s technically true. I’m talking about all the costs you will face to make this a real online business.
Let’s cover details and set realistic expectations. How much does it cost to start a blog or website ? Let’s look at average website design and maintenance costs by essentials versus extras.
Website Design Cost, Maintenance Cost, And 3rd Party Support Services
Here’s the honest truth. It’s more than a $3-4 /month hosting fee. Good website design includes great content in addition to how it looks and performs. A good website is connected to email services and content delivery. A good website includes security. Anyone who tells you that you can do all of that for $3-4/month is skipping details.
WordPress powers much of today’s websites, but unless you code it from scratch and I don’t recommend that, you’ll need a “theme”, a couple of robust well-supported plugins and a bit of elbow grease. The theme is the foundation; it’s what your entire site uses as part of a content management system to hold the important content and images.
So a good theme is essential. Many folks who go with free. I pay a nominal fee for an awesome theme that is versatile and just makes my life so much easier. Plus, I get support and that’s worth it when I run into issues or questions. Good support is not free; you can get support through forums on many generic WordPress issues. Post a question; wait for a response. But when it’s critical and affecting your online business, paid support is priceless. And believe me, I’ve been there. Odds are at some point, you’ll run into an issue. That’s why support for a theme makes sense. So in my humble opinion, paying $40 – 60 for a theme is not a lot to ask.
Prioritizing Website Budgets Vs Website 3rd Party Services
Be choosy about what you use. Once in place it is hard to replace it. I’ve done had to a couple of times when I’ve run into situations where the fix was to change software or services that integrated better, had support or provided the right feature. It takes time away from providing content and growing your business so it’s not done without some fore-thought.
I’m pretty picky about what I use and what I’m willing to pay for. I’ve tested a tried a lot of plugins and a few themes, page builders etc. Getting a theme you can use with a flexible page builder will make it ten times easier than adding a bunch of free plugins that sort of integrate and kind of do the job. Think about your goals; don’t go so cheap you’ll end up having to retro fit down the road or so expensive you can’t afford it if you don’t immediately start bringing in cash. If you’re serious about building an online business here’s what you need.
Big 3 Website Costs – Web Hosting, Themes & Email
1- Real-World Web Hosting Cost
Yes, the basic web hosting cost for service plans is $3-5/month. Can you afford to pay more? If so, I’d bump that up to a slightly better plan with whoever you end up hosting with. Why? Simply for performance.
Here’s a real-world story: My first website was on a well know hosting company at the cheapest plan I could find. I used a free theme and my home page loaded in about 45 seconds. That’s no lie. I’d go to get coffee and it would still be loading. I laugh about it looking back, but seriously you don’t want that.
2- WordPress Website Theme Costs: Buy it.
A great theme will run $39 to $59 or more. You shouldn’t have to go up to $100 or over; I’ve done than and don’t recommend it. No theme is worth that. A great theme is: flexible, easy to use and has responsive support.
Email: For me this is a love / hate thing. Email is essential if you have a blog; not so much if you’re just doing affiliate marketing. But email services should be in your budget because email is how you reach out to subscribers. Email costs go up when you subscriber list grows. There are a few well known email providers that are free but as you grow thats going to at least be $30 to $50/month.
3- Buy A Good Page Builder. Less Headaches More Time
I can’t stress this enough. You’d need this to create a nice home page, email form, sales landing page. What you buy here will replace that ridiculously priced landing page service and possibly the money you’d spend having a web developer code your site. A good page builder you’re comfortable makes building your WordPress site fun. It’s about a thousand times easier than if you don’t have one. Again, I know because I’ve done it both ways. If you’re looking for ideas, check out the resource page here.
4- Other WordPress Website Costs You Absolutely Need
A) Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and performance plugins are important for getting traffic.
B) In this day of Internet breaches, even little “guys” need security,
C) Backups will save you if you need them and hopefully, you’ll never need them.
When you get beyond these essentials and I do mean essentials, you’ll find other features you might want. Things like image compression, surveys, link cloaking, affiliate ad creation and more. I use all those features on my sites and every one of them is tremendously useful. Depending on what your blog or website is about, you’ll locate other plugins and services that add cool features. Many of those will be free; not everything you use will cost although you may find one or two you end up purchasing.
My point? Expect to spend a little more than that $3-4/month hosting fee.
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