You browse around the internet for a company to build your business a website. You find solutions for a complete website for one-time fees of anywhere between $500 and $5,000. But there’s something they’re not telling you…
…it’s going to cost you more; oftentimes a lot more!
The thing is – one-time pricing is never really “one-time”. There are always recurring costs to maintain a website, regardless of the size or type.
Owning a Website is Like Owning a House
When you purchase a house, you set a budget for extra expenses like insurance, taxes, utilities, maintenance, and the unexpected repair. These costs can quickly add up and can even be higher than your mortgage payment. A website works the same way. If you don’t budget for domain name registration, web hosting, themes, plug-ins, periodic updates, content changes, and unexpected bug fixes, you may be in for a surprise later on.
Just like a house, it’s also cheaper to keep up with regular maintenance instead of waiting for your website to break. If you’re tech savvy, it’s possible to manage certain parts of the website on your own. However, your time is valuable and you can’t be certain things are done correctly 100% of the time.
So, How Much Does It Cost to Maintain a Website?
Below are the five typical recurring expense categories for website ownership. Annual cost estimate ranges are included for each category.
Registrations & Certificates
$10 to $100 annually
Your domain name must be registered annually for a fee of around 10 dollars. It is also important to have an SSL security certificate for your website. Although technically optional, SSL provides security and is preferred among search engines like Google, enhancing your search results score.
Software Plugins & Themes
$250 to $1,000 annually
Many companies and freelance web designers use WordPress software plugins for advanced development functionality and themes to design your website. These are often made by third-parties and require annual subscription fees. Sometimes when you pay a company a “one-time” fee to build your website, they’ll include the first year of payment for these plugins and themes. After the first year, you’ll receive renewal bills from these third-party companies. Depending on the type of theme used and number of plugins, it may cost more than you realize.
Hosting & Security
$150 to $500 annually
Web hosting is necessary for visitors to connect to and load your website. There are many different price points for web hosting, however the lower you pay, the more you’ll need to do on your own. If you go with $5 a month budget hosting, you’ll want to invest in a security plugin for advanced security measures and you’ll be on your own for software updates. For advanced hosting, you’ll pay closer to $30 a month but it will include enhanced security and software updates, along with better support.
Content & Design Updates
$200 to $1,000 annually
Throughout the course of owning your website there may be times you need to change information. Did your business move, change hours, or update services? Do you want to be able to add monthly specials? If you’re tech savvy, you may be able to update these things on your own. With design changes, you’ll almost always need the help of an expert. Most companies bill out at a high hourly rate for any updates made to your site.
Even if you don’t think you’ll need content or design changes, it is always good practice to be making regular updates to your website. Visitors and search engines like seeing updated content. If you set it and forget it, you’re never going to get a good return on your investment.
Marketing Strategy & Analytics
There will always be things that can be improved on your website. It’s best to consult with a marketing expert to find gaps and make improvements to acquire more customers. By using analytics software, data can be gathered about your visitors to help make informed decisions. Utilization of analytics has a difficult learning curve and having a marketing expert by your side can make a large difference.
Knowledge is the Key to Website Happiness
When purchasing website services, making informed decisions will set you up for long term success. Try not to be caught off guard by expenses after your website launches. Some recurring expenses are mandatory, while others are optional. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about long terms costs associated with a website prior to hiring a company. “One-time” pricing isn’t necessarily a bad thing as long as you don’t expect it to really be one time.
Through our many years of experience, we’ve discovered a majority of small businesses are better served with a flat monthly rate. Monthly pricing allows us to bundle all recurring costs into one affordable, predictable monthly payment. No surprise bills, unexpected fees, or startup costs. We build and manage everything for you and you’ll never have to worry about support.
Whether you choose a website design company with “one-time” pricing or monthly pricing, knowing the extra expenses involved in website ownership will put you a step ahead during the sales process.