So, how much does it cost to build a website—the one you’re thinking about creating for your business? The answer is it depends on a few things. And in this article, we’ll go through exactly how much you’ll need and should spend when building your website.
Now, could you build a website for free? Technically, yes you could. But as I’ve said many times over the years, I absolutely don’t recommend it. Free websites usually either contain ads or other unwanted links on your pages. And, you won’t have nearly the control you should have over how your site is maintained. Think of the money you’ll spend as an investment that will pay off many times over when you’ve built the right kind of website on a platform you have control over.
What is the Cost of a Domain Name?
You can actually get a free domain with some web hosting plans. However, in many cases, it’s better to have your domain separate from you web hosting. It makes things easier if you want to move your website somewhere else later. In either case, having your own domain gives your website (and your business) a more professional look and you can also create email addresses using this domain.
Personally, I buy my domains from GoDaddy. They not only are the largest domain name registrar, but they also run many sales and have a great selection of domain name services. Namecheap is another domain registrar that offers low cost domain names.
Currently, at GoDaddy you can get a domain for 2 years for about $20. Namecheap is currently selling .com domains for $5.98 yr. Click the links below to verify the most current prices.
For our example purposes here, we’ll say a domain cost about $10 yr.—at least for your initial costs. Your renewal rates may be higher.
What is the Cost to Host a Website?
Now, let’s move on to your all-important web hosting. As I mentioned earlier, I would highly recommend against using any “free” hosting service for a number of reasons. While your web hosting may be your biggest website expense, the amount can really vary. You can get a web hosting plan for as little as $1.99 mo. all the way up to over $30 per month—depending on what type of hosting you need.
The answer to this question really depends on what type of website you’ll create. For example, if you want a personal blog, then one of the less expensive hosting plans is certainly good enough. However, if you’re creating an E-commerce or some other mission-critical site for your business, then you’ll want a more premium or managed hosting plan.
For a personal website, let’s say your expense will be $1.99 mo. For a business website, expect to pay about $5 mo. And, for an E-commerce or mission critical website, figure about $25 mo.
Remember, as I mentioned earlier, you could get a web hosting plan that includes a free domain (at least for the first year). So, if you’re looking for the lowest possible cost, you might opt for one of these hosting plans—just keep in mind that you may have less flexibility in the future.
For this example, again we’ll go in the middle and say your web hosting cost will be $5 per month.
Do You Have to Pay for Your Website Software?
Now that you have your domain name and web hosting, you’re ready to build your website. Years ago, software cost were a big concern, but the good news is that these days there are many excellent software platforms that you can use for free! WordPress is the best example.
No longer just a blogging tool, WordPress accounts for about half of all the websites on the internet these days. Besides being a great open-source software platform, WordPress can be used to create just about any type of website you need. I use WordPress exclusively for my websites.
Besides WordPress, there are plenty of other free software tools you can get access to with your web hosting plan. For example, cPanel usually comes with over 400 free applications.
Now, there may be some premium plugins or specific software tools that will cost additional money—I’ll address those in a bit. For now though, we’ll say that we’re going to use WordPress or another free software platform for our website and we have zero additional costs here.
Is It Cheaper to Use a Website Builder Service?
At this point, you might be wondering if it’s cheaper and makes more sense to use a website builder service (Wix, SquareSpace, etc.) instead of traditional web hosting. In most cases, my answer to both questions would be No.
For most websites, using web hosting instead of a website builder service will save you money. I’ve found that the basic website builder plans don’t include the features I need. And, their premium plans are much more expensive than what I pay for my web hosting. Also, with traditional web hosting, you have more freedom and control to move your website later on if needed—unlike being locked into a Wix or SquareSpace ecosystem.
The advantage of the website builder companies used to be the convenience and simplicity in creating a site. However, many traditional web hosting companies now include their own website builders (even for WordPress) that also speed up and simplify the website creation process.
Related Website Expenses
Initially, there really aren’t any other expenses you have to incur when creating your website. However, as you continue to grow and develop your website, there may be instances where you’ll want to purchase a premium or paid version of software.
Because you want to start growing and monetizing your audience as soon as possible, one of the features I recommend you add to your website from the beginning is email marketing. By capturing your website visitor’s information, you can then communicate and market to them as they will be your best traffic source.
In order to let people sign up to your list, you’ll need to add an email marketing component such as AWeber, Constant Contact, or GetResponse to your website. Again, the good news is that you won’t have to shell out additional money right away. AWeber actually has a free plan you can use when getting started. So initially, you won’t have to spend additional money. As your list grows and your marketing needs increase, you’ll probably want to upgrade to a paid plan.
For our example here, we’ll use free email marketing for now for zero cost. Later, we can upgrade for about $19 mo.
Now, let me briefly go back to our discussion on additional software. Previously, I had mentioned that down the line you may need a premium software tool or paid plugin. For example, you may want a premium WordPress theme or a plugin that performs a service such as data backup or user review tracking. Since the cost will vary widely, there isn’t a precise way to determine the numbers here. For now, just keep in mind that as your site grows, you may want to invest some more money into it.
Are There Website Maintenance Costs?
One other question you might have is that after your website is up and running, are there any maintenance expenses? In most cases, I would say no. Your web hosting company should be able to assist you in keeping your website online. And, using a platform such as WordPress, most website owners are able to make changes and updates to their sites without assistance.
If you do feel that you’ll need more help, you have a couple of options. First, you can opt for a managed hosting plan that will take care of a lot of your maintenance tasks. See above for more on the cost of managed web hosting. The other option is to hire someone to assist you in running your site. Here again, the cost will vary greatly. You could find help using Fiverr or Upwork, or hire someone local to you. Because each situation is different, and because new websites usually don’t need the maintenance that established ones might, for our example here we’ll omit this category.
What is the Total Cost of a Website?
So, wrapping things up here, what is the total cost of building a website? I’ve divided it up into three possible scenarios.
For personal websites and blogs, expect to pay about $36 per year to start. For small business websites, the cost will be around $70 yr. And, for mission-critical websites needing managed hosting, your cost will be around $300 yr. Keep in mind that prices are constantly changing, and your hosting renewal rates in future years may increase. However, you can use these amounts as your guide to how much you have to budget for to build that new website.
Cost to Build a Website Summary
|Web Hosting Plan with Free Domain: $36||Domain Name: $10||Domain Name: $10|
|Business Web Hosting Plan: $60||Managed Hosting: $276|
|Email Marketing: $19|
|TOTAL: $36||TOTAL: $70||TOTAL: $305|