How Much Does It Cost To Maintain A Website? The Honest Truth About Site Pricing
Whenever you’re considering acquiring a website for your business, probably the very first thing you’ll ask yourself is, “How much is this going to cost me?” And not only how much does it cost to BUILD a website, but how much does it cost to maintain a website?
With the ever-evolving organism of website building and development, it’s pretty clear that you can’t just build a website, set it up to function, and then forget that it’s there. Having a website takes maintenance, time, energy, innovative thinking, and, yes, money.
We are here to break down some of the costs you may encounter when building your website, and answer some of your questions about how much it will cost to maintain that site once it’s built.
To begin with, the question of “how much does it cost to maintain a website” is one of the most popular questions we get on a daily basis. Whenever we begin a conversation with a prospective client, they want to know, “how much does it cost to build a website?” followed quickly by the question, “how much does it cost to maintain a website?”
We get it. You’ve got an incredible idea for a business that you’re really passionate about. You have been researching and planning and preparing. But when it comes down to it, cost matters. And you probably already have a general idea of how much you’re able and willing to spend on building and maintaining your website.
Breaking It Down
The difficulty is that narrowing down a website to a single price-point is virtually impossible. Building and maintaining a website is much like building and maintaining a house or a car.
The options are endless, and they all depend on your product or service, your needs, vision and goals. This can make it tough to truly know the price of a website.
The short answer is, because of all the variables involved, a website can cost anywhere from $0 for a personal website you build and manage yourself, to $100,000+ for a customized enterprise website like Amazon.com.
Still, we are going to do our best to give you an accurate price range in order to answer your question, “How Much Does It Cost To Build A Website?” and, “How Much Does It Cost To Maintain A Website?”
Have A Marketing Plan In Place
We’re not going to any further until we’ve talked about your marketing plan.
This is going to make a huge difference in truthfully answering your question of how much does it cost to maintain a website.
You can have the best website in the entire world, the best business model, the greatest product… but it won’t help you if you’re not prepared to market your new website.
Inbound marketing is considered by many to be the marketing of the future. It started gaining traction just a few years ago, so if you’re unfamiliar with inbound marketing practices, relax. You’re not alone.
The basic principle of inbound marketing is that you’re pulling audiences in to your website, instead of going out get prospects’ attention.
Traditional marketing has become less effective in this digital age. We love this list from SEOPressor that details all the traditional marketing methods, and why they’re no longer working well for businesses, eCommerce and brick-and-mortar alike:
With all of these traditional methods of marketing, businesses just like yours were going out to where their customers were, trying to reach them through means like door-to-door salesmen and cold calling.
But as the industry progresses, we are getting smarter about our marketing practices. The best, and most effective, part of inbound marketing is that it doesn’t reach out to a customer that may or may not be looking for what you’re selling.
But rather it focuses on reaching a desired demographic, or target audience, that is already searching for the product or service you are offering. Inbound marketing attracts desired visitors, increases your brand exposure, and creates brand authority through the creation of valuable content.
Some examples of inbound marketing techniques are:
1. Search Engine Optimization: Increasing the visibility of a website by generating quality content that allows a website to rank higher in web search engines queries
2. Content Marketing: Creating, publishing, and distributing quality, keyword-rich content for a targeted online audience
3. Social Media Marketing: marketing technique of producing content that other users will share on with their social network to help a company increase brand exposure and broaden their customer reach
4. Influencer Marketing: a form of social media marketing in which an influencer (a person or organization who has established credibility in a specific industry) partners with a business to promote and endorse a product or service
5. Paid Advertising: any kind of advertising you have to pay for, including pay-per click ads, pay-per-impression ads, and display ads.
6. Affiliate Marketing: a marketing arrangement where an online retailer pays a commission to an external website for traffic or sales generated from its referrals
7. Email Marketing: marketing through the use of targeted emails with commercial messages, updates, promotions, and sales content
Search Engine Optimization
When you’re asking yourself “How Much Does It Cost To Maintain A Website?” the best possible answer would be FREE, right? Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is the process of getting free, organic website traffic through search engines.
The goal of SEO is to rank as high as you possibly can, in order to appear on the first one or two spots of the first of search engine results.
One of the reasons SEO can be so effective is because it works toward not only attracting your desired visitors, and increasing your brand exposure, but most importantly it establishes trust with you and your brand because you’re creating and distributing content that is relevant to your target audience.
Now, just because it’s free doesn’t mean SEO won’t take time and energy. You will have to be producing valuable content to your ideal audience, and studies have shown that it helps to produce this content as many as 4 times a week.
Truthfully, many of the above mentioned marketing methods could fall under the umbrella of SEO marketing, including social media marketing, influencer marketing, and content marketing (such as blogging and video production).
Email marketing and paid advertisements are some forms of outbound marketing that are still seeing lots of success, even in today’s marketing industry.
If you want to keep learning more about SEO, check out Neil Patel’s website, or watch this quick video on SEO basics!
How Much Does It Cost To Build And Maintain A Website?
Now to get down to the nitty gritty of why we’re here: How much does it cost to build a website, and how much does it cost to maintain a website?
We have all been there: you’re a startup. You’ve poured most of your finances into just getting your business off the ground. The most important thing to do at this point is to determine what your budget and goals are. Knowing your budget and what your ideal outcome for your online business is will help you determine what type of website platform will work best for you and your business going forward.
Some questions you can ask yourself before you start making your decision are:
1. What do I want my website to do?
2. What website features are important to my business?
3. Am I an eCommerce business (a platform where you sell products, whether digital or physical)or a non eCommerce (a platform where you inform about the products or services you offer in a brick-and-mortar store) business?
4. What are some featured sections/pages that I need and want on my website?
5. What are my growth options?
Make sure you answer these questions thoroughly, and as you research different website platforms, make sure that they align with your answers.
There is nothing worse than pouring time and energy into building a website, only to realize halfway through that it’s not compatible with the merchant processing platform you want to use, or the layouts and designs don’t mesh with the aesthetic you want to promote.
How Much Does It Cost To Maintain A Website at Entry Level?
If you’ve determined that your needs are best suited to a less expensive, self-managed website platform, there are a lot of options out there.
Some of the most common entry-level website building platforms are Wix.com, Weebly.com, and One.com, where you can build and host your website for as little as $2.45 a month. Many of these websites combine clean and professional design with ease of use, which are a great combination for someone just starting out in the world of online business.
Other than cost, there are some great benefits to using one of these entry-level websites. They specialize in helping people who are brand new to the web-building community, and so they offer a lot of help for people who are just getting started.
Perks Of An Entry Level Website Builder
Pre-made templates enable you to have that great looking website that you’ve always dreamed about to feature your products or services.
These templates are often customizable as well, so you can still personalize them to your brand and aesthetic. Using a website building template will save you lots of time and confusion if you’re not familiar with the process of building a website.
Many website builders that offer templates also give you access to a host of stock images to use for your website.
Having access to a whole database of images could save you even more money.
Instead of having to subscribe to an independent stock image service, or hiring a photographer to take photos for you, you can access a vast variety of different images to use for social media posts, blog posts, and other content marketing.
No Experience Needed
Anyone can get onto Wix.com and create a great looking website.
You don’t need to know about coding, and you don’t have to have a degree in graphic design.
As long as you have a product or service that you’re excited about, and $5 a month for your hosting fee, you could be a working online business in as little as one day!
So, for an entry-level website, such as One.com, if you were to ask, “How much does it cost to maintain a website?” the answer could be an astonishing $2.45 a month!
But there are some other factors you should consider before you decide to go with the cheapest website building/hosting platform.
Potential Downsides Of An Entry Level Website Builder
Not Optimized For SEO
One negative of using a web building service such as Weebly.com or Wix.com is that they hide the complexities of web building.
That may seem like a benefit, but in actuality Google not only analyzes a website for its’ content, but also its’ framework.
Did you know you could actually be losing out on search engine optimization because you’re using a pre-made website template that isn’t optimized for SEO?
A well-built website that has been framed, developed, and tested by an actual web developer will almost always outperform a mass-produced website built from a template, because it hasn’t been built with the essential online business principle of SEO in mind.
Losing business because your website wasn’t built with SEO in mind can be frustrating and debilitating to your business.
Make sure you’re considering what those kind of losses could do to your company in the long run.
Difficult Data Transfer
Another downside to using a platform like Wix is that you cannot transfer your data easily.
Let’s say you outgrow your Wix platform: your online enterprise is a success, financially your business is doing well, and you’d like to add a few more features and plugins for your customers.
Or maybe you just want to completely overhaul and rebrand your business.
The process of moving your data from Wix to another platform that supports the features you want can be painstaking and time consuming.
It may also feel like a huge up front cost to invest in a quality web developer. But you may cost you a fortune (in money and time) in the future when you have to transfer all your content from Wix to another, more functional platform.
When you’re starting out, it can be difficult to see your future business needs. But save your future self a lot of money, time and energy by making an informed decision about your long-term website needs up front.
So, how much does it cost to maintain a website at entry level? Somewhere around $5-$20 per month + time. Don’t forget to calculate future costs, in case you run into any of the problems we talked about earlier.
How Much Does It Cost To Maintain A Website at Mid-Level?
If you’re wanting to take a look at a website that performs at a cut above entry level, but is still cost effective, you’re stepping into the mid-range website territory.
A mid-level website is going to offer you a few more perks, such as creative freedom, more apps and plugins, and greater range of capabilities. Two website platforms that dominate the mid-range industry are Squarespace.com and WordPress.org, so we will spend most of our time discussing the perks and potential downsides of using these two platforms.
Although Squarespace is a templated, pre-designed web builder like those in the entry-level category, it is a bit more complex in creative design and capability.
This means you have more options, but it also means that learning curve is a little steeper, and it may take more time to become comfortable with the user interface and tools. It also means a bit of a higher price tag for the monthly hosting fee.
If you don’t feel confident in building your website, but you feel capable of handling the monthly hosting, updates, and upkeep of your site, a great option for you could be to hire an independent web developer. Usually you can find someone to build you a great looking site for a flat fee of somewhere around $500-$800 (cost will increase, the more pages and features you need).
If you’re willing to spend the time and energy into website upkeep, but just need help getting your site off the ground, this could be the perfect option for you.
Perks Of A Mid-Level Website Builder
Great Customization Capabilities
Squarespace and WordPress are truly website builders for the creatively inclined.
If you’re an artist, or someone looking to create a really stunning visual website, these platforms might be the perfect fit for you.
They offer all kinds of templates ranging from sophisticated to modern, and there are a lot more options for customization.
The monthly cost of Squarespace starts at $12, but depending on what options, plugins, and features you need it can end up costing $40 a month.
While WordPress.org is a free web building platform, but you will still need to purchase a domain name, as well as pay a monthly web hosting fee, which will cost somewhere around $14.99/year and $7.99/month, respectively.
Squarespace and WordPress.org are not the only mid-level website builders. There are a lot of wonderful mid-level cost options out there, and if you’re willing to pay a bit more than the entry-level cost, you can end up with a lot of awesome features. You may find better stock photo options, more professional themes and templates, and a lot more variety of supported features and plugins that you can add on to your site for a better customer experience.
Take Your Data With You
One of the incredible pros of using a WordPress.org website, is, of course, the price tag, but also the potential for expansion.
If you think your business is set to expand and grow in the future, beginning on a WordPress platform enables you to move to a WordPress.com website with ease.
If you’re looking to the future of your business, and you’re expecting to see growth in your business, and you have the time to invest in beating the learning curve, WordPress.org is probably a great fit for your online business needs.
Potential Downsides Of A Mid-Level Website Builder
A Little More Complex
While platforms like Squarespace and WordPress.org are often more visually appealing, and have a higher level of customization, you may struggle if you’re a website building beginner.
The more options you have, the more difficult the building process becomes, and the mid-level builders are not nearly as user friendly as her entry-level counterparts.
Since they are a bit more complicated, building a website with these platforms won’t be as quick as building a website on a platform like Wix or Weebly. And it still has the same downsides of the entry-level website builders, in that it is pre-made and not framed for search engine optimization, and data transfer can be difficult and time consuming.
So, how much does it cost to maintain a website at mid level? Somewhere around $15-$50 per month + time.
How Much Does It Cost To Maintain A Website At An Elite Level?
When a business is first starting out in the building phase, many online business owners have time, but no money. As your business grows, develops, evolves, and advances it is a common phenomenon that online business owners now have more money, and no time.
That’s when you enter into the sector of the elite, customized, professionally-built website.
What many new online business owners don’t realize, is that a website can look great and still not function correctly.
You can have a pretty site, but if it lacks the essentials, like conversion rate optimization and search engine optimization, it won’t generate any leads or sales.
Hiring a professional web-developer to build you a custom website, and make sure your website is optimized for SEO and CRO practices, is the best way to ensure that your website is a success and make you money in your new venture.
Perks Of An Elite Website
The best part about having a custom built website is the freedom.
If you’ve hired a web developer to code and design a website from scratch, your options are virtually endless.
You and your web developer can work together to construct a website that meets all of your visual expectations, while still being optimized for all the important web principles we will discuss in a minute.
You can choose your aesthetic, the features and add-ons you need and want, and you won’t be limited to using pre-made templates that don’t fit all of our needs.
Optimized For SEO
As we mentioned before, one of the downsides of using a popular and inexpensive web-building/web-hosting company is that those websites are not necessarily framed with SEO principles in mind.
SEO conscious website design can include drop down menu design, using well researched keywords strategically throughout your website text, submitting a sitemap to Google, including meta and title tags with images, implementing link-building into the website design, and much more.
All of these principles work together to help optimize the very framework of your website to rank higher in search engine results, and generate more traffic and sales for your business.
If you’re willing to spend money on a great website, it’s important to not just hire any web-developer, but someone who is an expert at search engine optimization.
Optimized For CRO
Another key component to the success of a website is conversion rate optimization, or CRO. The basic principle of CRO is that visual is good, functional is better.
When Google is crawling a website, it doesn’t take into account the pretty design, it looks for functionality. Again, you could have the prettiest site in the world, but if it isn’t optimized for search engines or conversions, your new online business will struggle to succeed.
Conversion rate optimization is all about establishing credibility with your target audience. A great web developer will build your website with the key CRO principles in mind.
Some factors that can help build your credibility and greatly increase your CRO are things that build trust.
If you think about your experiences when searching the internet for a product or service, what are some things that you count on to build trust with that brand? Is it a secured and trusted website? Do you like to see testimonials and reviews? What about quality product images with thorough descriptions? Do you like to see easily accessible contact information, such as an address or phone number? How about a team page with photos and bios of the staff?
These are trust signals that help site visitors know that they are working with real people, who are trustworthy, and are willing to stand by the product or service that they sell.
Another key component of CRO that any good web-developer will help you with is website speed.
One of the biggest factors that Google looks for when crawling a website is site speed. A web developer will know exactly how to increase your site speed to make your website appear fast, professional, and rank higher for CRO and SEO.
By implementing conversion rate optimization and search engine optimization, you’re not only building a website that is beautiful, but is functional. It is designed to help online traffic find you and make more sales! Building a website with these principles in mind from the beginning can propel your business years ahead, and bring you more success as you begin your online business journey.
Potential Downsides Of An Elite Level Website
High Risk, High Reward
The downside of an elite, custom website will always be cost.
But consider the cost carefully.
Websites that implement principles like SEO and CRO see exponentially more growth and sales than websites that do not. Over 50% of traffic around the web entered websites by clicking on them in the organic search results.
That means that websites that invest in SEO are getting over 50% of the total traffic across the internet. If you’re losing out on 50% of your potential traffic, how much are you losing in revenue each year?
Another factor to consider is If you start out hosting your own less expensive website now, will you have to pay (in time or money!) to transfer all your data over to another platform in the future?
So, how much does it cost to maintain a website at an elite level? Anywhere upwards of $50 per month. The sky is the limit for an elite website, it all depends on your desired features, add-ons, and services.
All of these prices and numbers are very general, and as you can see they vary greatly.
But we hope this article has helped you get a better feel of an answer for those crucial questions: “How much does it cost to build a website?” or “How much does it cost to maintain a website?”
We know these are big questions to consider, and we hope the information we’ve provided can be useful in some way.
Ultimately, only you can decide what’s best for your business and for you. Would you rather spend a little more, for the ease and flexibility of having someone else design and host your website? Would you rather put in the effort yourself, and save money on developing costs? At this stage in your journey, look to your goals and vision and let them lead you to the right fit for you and your business.
Are You Stuck?
We’ve just handed you a ton of information. I mean, a TON.
If you’re still feeling lost or overwhelmed, we are always happy to get you an actual price for your specific website needs.
Contact us today! We can offer you a free quote, or we can spend some time helping you strategize a plan for your online business moving forward.
We love to see new and innovative entrepreneurs enter the field, and we can’t wait to help you get a jump start on building the online business of your dreams!