One of the questions frequently asked is “How much does a website cost?” and the simple answer is that there really is no simple answer.  It boils down to what you need in a website, how much time it will take to build it, the level of complexity, and the writing of your content.

There are two primary phases of owning/managing a website.  Phase One is Building and Phase Two is Marketing.  Both are critical and neither should be neglected.  Here are some industry standard costs for building a website.  You’ll find some variance among companies, but this is an accurate guideline:

Domain Name:  You’ll need to purchase a domain name and you can do this with dozens of different domain registration companies.  Cost will typically range from $10-30/yr depending on where you register it.  Click this link if you’d like to see where I buy domain names relatively cheap.

Hosting:  A hosting account is similar to renting space on the internet.  Your cost will largely depend on your need.  If your website is small and you don’t expect tons of traffic, then $10/month for shared server space will probably work for you.  However, if you looking to build a larger site (100+ pages) and attract thousands of daily or weekly visitors, then you may need dedicated server space which could run $125/month.

Theme:  Every website has a theme.  It’s what determines aspects such as colors, font, layout, menu bars, side bars (content seen on the left or right hand side of each page), and overall style.  You can buy a theme for as little as $20 or you can have a web programmer create one for you for $2000-3000.  The difference is that the theme you buy for $20 is also going to be sold to thousands of other website owners while the programmer can create something unique.  A simple website can usually survive well with a less expensive theme, but if you are looking to provide a more powerful user experience, you may need something custom designed.  You have to determine what is most important to you-  low cost or one-of-a-kind customization.

Programming:  Once the theme is in place, does your site require any other advanced programming?  Motion graphics, membership or user logins, social media integrations, opt-in boxes, and other factors that make you say “Wow!” when you see a website require advanced programming skills.  The time involved to do this could run and additional $1000-3000 depending upon what you want and need.

eCommerce:  Do you need to sell your products or services through your website?  Do customers need to be able to complete a transaction online?  If so, not only will your site require integration with a shopping cart, but it will also require extra levels of security since you are collecting credit card information.  Plan on spending an additional $1500-2000 for this feature.

Content:  Every page of your website needs text.  You want to make sure that your users have a positive experience, but your content also has to be written well to capture the attention of the search engines.  This is referred to as “optimized content”.  Most web programmers are not writers, nor are they web marketers.  You will need someone specifically trained in writing optimized content if you want your site to be user friendly and search engine friendly.  Your content plays a major role in your marketing and the ability of your website to gain traffic and then convert that traffic into paying customers.  Therefore, do not take this step lightly as your content will determine if your website ultimately makes you money or just costs you money.   A good content writer will usually charge $80-125 per page.

Photos:  If you don’t already have the needed photos for your site, you may find yourself buying the rights to stock photos.  Cost is roughly $10 per photo.

Custom Header:  You’ll see that most websites have a custom header image that appears at the top of every page.  This needs to be created and sized properly, usually by a graphic artist.  Cost $250-500.

Updates:  Even after your site is built, it will require regular software and content updates.  Think of it like a car- if you want it to perform well, you need to maintain it regularly.  Your website is no different.  If you ignore it, it will rarely generate you much business.  You should budget $250-500 per month to have a knowledgeable expert update and add content regularly as well as keep your software current.

Your Website Marketing Plan…

As I’ve mentioned in my book, having a website only guarantees you will spend money, not make money.

Whether or not your site ever becomes profitable is a result of the marketing you do after it is built.  To market the site well, you must plan on spending more time, effort, and money than you did in the building phase.  Some companies invest thousands of dollars each month on their online marketing efforts and what you’ll need to lay out depends on your goals, your time and knowledge, and your competition.  Competitive industries will require a larger commitment for success.  I’ll talk about this more in future posts, but it wouldn’t be fair for me to lead you to believe that once your site is built, your costs are over.

By the way, the best time to put together your online marketing plan? Before you start building your website!

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