All too often, much to their inevitable detriment, those new to websites often make choices based on price. I get that. Most are not aware of what things should cost to determine if something costs too much.
You have a budget so if you can cut corners why not? I get that too, however, to automatically gravitate to the least expensive is not always wise.
When it comes to online success, with free you get what you pay for.
Most free services offer little to no support. Well, at least not the fast reliable support you can depend on if need be. There are a few exceptions, but I can count those on one hand. Believe me, I've learned the hard way too! That is because before I can recommend anything to any of my clients, I use it for my websites first. Talk about taking risks and baptism by fire!
Some of my product choices were epic fails. I used them on my own sites only to regret doing so in the end. The good news is that by going thru that process I can then confidentially tell clients what services are worth what they charge. And, more importantly why.
So what should a new WordPress website cost?
Depends on what you want to do and how much of that you want to do yourself. It really is that simple. Do you want customized features, layouts, functionality? How many professionals will you need to rely on? Are you doing eCommerce or not?
Most new business owners have no problem planning for the staples of phone, business cards, internet, utilities, supplies and inventory. It's all the new online related expenses that many are not aware of that many times take them by surprise. In some cases it is those costs that they jump to get for free. Others throw money at services they really don't need which can add up over time.
Beware of little expenses: a small leak can sink a great ship.
To help you out I'll cover the info you need to consider and be aware of before you spend single penny of your hard earned dollars. We'll get a handle on the fees and expenses that will go along with your new website project.
A Great Domain Name
You want a dot com if possible. That is what is seared in onliners brains. I know there are all those other very cool extensions now available but.... If you buy less popular top-level domain and someone else owns the .com you risk potential visitors inadvertently remembering/reverting to the .com version and going to a potential competitor’s site! For this reason you want to avoid using a .net, .org, .biz, .info or other top level domain unless you can also own the dot com.
Using any other domain extension means you'll have to work all that much harder to makes sure you're dot whatever is where people will know to go. Here are some domain registration tips for your consideration.
Get creative, use your personality, be memorable! If you can't get the domain you want, and it is not currently live on a website, maybe you can make an offer to purchase it from the current owner. But be prepared -- good domains do not come cheap!
BUDGET: Starting at $9.00/annually to purchase an unregistered domain.
You want to be sure to host with a company that will accommodate you as your site grows. Regardless of price support is crucial! What happens if your site or server is throwing errors? Do you have to be on hold for an hour? When you do get a support tech, are they courteous and knowledgeable? Believe it or not that isn't a given!
Is there live chat available? What about support tickets? Do you get templated responses or responses to your specific concerns? That is when/if you ever do get a response!
When investigating website hosts, this is one area where you do should not make your decision on price alone. Instead, take the time to review the product offerings and online reviews to make sure that you will have access to the features that you need. Don't know what you need? Partner with a professional to guide you.
Be leery of review websites! Many of these so-called review sites are simply affiliate sites that make money when you click through. They have no motive to give you the truth and many times have never even used the products they are "reviewing".
If you use WordPress, you'll want to host on some level of Managed WordPress hosting. Managed WordPress hosting offers the configuration, resources and security having a WordPress website requires. A little more costly but well worth it – especially if you are not a techie. [Here's who I use and recommend. <=Aff Link and my Affiliate Statement] Did I mention support is crucial?
BUDGET: Starting $35.00 and up/month. With many hosting companies you can get a special intro price or couple months free by paying annually.
Security: SSL Certificates
SSL Encryption (https) is now standard and customary. With the fear of identify theft and hacking in the news every other day it behooves you to have SSL. This will protect the data between your visitors browser and your website. SSL will provide that all important green lock icon many visitors are now looking for.
As a bonus, if everything is equal, your https site may even get a boost in search engine results. In addition, many payment providers are also requiring https connections to use their services. This means that whether you are doing eCom or not you'll need to get an SSL Certificate in place and include that in your budget.
The website hosting market is evolving rapidly towards SSL becoming an included feature of website hosting at no extra cost. Many hosts are already including basic domain level SSLs which is all most sites need, while others still charge a fee.
There are several levels of SSL depending on how many domains you want to secure as well as what level of enhanced trust in your security, identity and warranty that you want to provide.
BUDGET: Included in Hosting to $650/annually
Premium WordPress Themes
Choosing the platform for your site is a personal choice based on your experience and technical ability. Are you a DIYer or more comfortable with a developer creating and maintaining your site? The former is much less expensive than the latter. The beauty of software like WordPress is you really no longer need a custom design and the cost that goes with it to have a professional and polished presentation.
Based on your platform of choice, mine being WordPress, you can choose from tons of premium themes. Themes are established designs that you pretty much just have to fill in with your logo and your content. You can layout your information based on established spaces -- or widgets. You can see the premium theme companies I choose to work with here.
Yes, there are free visually appealing themes available. But back to that support question... What happens when WordPress updates? Does the theme owner jump on that if need be to make their theme compatible? What about a year from now? You've got your site exactly they way you want it and technology evolves and your theme doesn't? While getting a new look every year so is not a bad idea to keep up with current trends, believe me you'd rather do so on your own terms instead of having to replace a broken theme in a panic.
WordPress is popular because it provides the ability to manage your site content and layout without having to be tied to or rely a programmer/developer. If you decide on WordPress, you can purchase a quality premium theme for much less than what a custom website design would cost.
The key is knowing how you want your website to look as well as how you want to prioritize your content. Here's my article on what to consider when choosing a premium WordPress theme. Themes offer live demos that you can go through page by page so you can envision how your content will display before you make the purchase. Take the time to go through theme demos carefully before making your decision. It is time well spent!
The demo will show you what goes where. You'll need to provide graphics/photos in the designated sizes and the content to fill your site. Once you start customizing an established theme that requires a programmer and can get expensive fast! So taking the time to make the right choice will save you time and money.
BUDGET: $20-$150 per theme. Some theme companies offer support for a limited period of time after purchase. When that time frame expires you will have to subscribe to get additional support. Check out available support and/or membership packages before making your purchase so you know if you need to include extended support in your budget.
Custom Development / Coding / Coaching
Maybe you want someone to do all the initial setup for you and then you take it form there. Or, there may be times where you need a professional developer or coder to tweak or add features to your site. Maybe you just need a little help learning how to integrate a plugin, feature or strategy. This is where a WordPress coach would be a benefit. When hiring additional professionals make sure you detail what you need and that the terms of your partnership are clear and provided to you in writing.
Check out my free WordPress website estimator application to get an idea of what your project will cost.
Security, Optimization and Maintenance
Having a WordPress website mandates that you keep the site secure, backed-up and updated as required. Not doing so opens your site up to malware and hacking. Check out my White Glove Support Plans to get an idea of what is involved in after-launch requirements.
BUDGET: $99 and up/hour
Content Delivery Network (CDN)
Does your startup need a Content Delivery Network? Probably not right out of the gate but as your traffic grows and increases, you may want to plan on adding a CDN service for “next level” optimization. Especially if you are doing business globally.
CDNs cache your site and then serve it up through the node on the network closest to the visitor to your site. Cost is dependent on the amount of traffic your website receives as well as any additional features you may need (SSL, region reach, security, mobile). Some hosts even include CDN service in their packages. Just make sure that your host makes integrating a CDN easy to do and an available option.
BUDGET: Included in Hosting to $300/month
You want, no you need, to use your domain name for email ([email protected]) so that you can brand your new enterprise with every single email that you send. Some hosting services include domain email hosting while others do not. If your hosting provider does not offer email hosting, (I actually prefer keeping things separate) there are several service providers to choose from.
I'm of the camp that I don't want all my eggs in one basket. If your website server is down, so is your email. If you have a separate email service and there are hosting problems you are still able to communicate with customers and important contacts. That is why it is best to keep the two services separate for this reason alone!
BUDGET: $4.95 and up/month
Email Marketing Services
Collecting email addresses, managing subscriptions and unsubscribe requests while creating great looking newsletters can be tedious and time consuming. Not to mention making sure you are in compliance with applicable laws and regulations. Third party services will not only help you with your email marketing efforts; you'll look professional in the process!
There are providers that offer free accounts but are limited in features, support and number of subscribers and emails you can send. So read the fine print!
BUDGET: Free to $200/month
An eCommerce shop can be easily added to your WordPress website by purchasing separate plugins and extensions. I use WooCommerce which currently has 3,000,000+ active installs. There are plugins or extensions to use in concert with Woo for pretty much anything you want to do.
Detailed planning in regard to how you want your shop to operate is imperative. I work on many WooCommerce WordPress sites and it is not uncommon to have anywhere from 5 to 15 plugins related to eCommerce.
Examples where you may want to add a plugin or extension:
- payment gateway integration
- add a points and rewards program
- customer management
- order status management
- newsletter integration
- shipment tracking
- product add-ons/variable integration
You can checkout the WordPress Plugin Repository for all the available plugins. Some are free, while others are what is called "freemium". Freemium plugins offer more functionality and support for a an upgraded license fee. Review each plugin carefully to determine if the free plugin is enough. Then you can budget accordingly for the "pro" version upgrade.
BUDGET: Free to $249/annually
Credit Card Processing
Payment processors charge monthly and per transaction fees. Fees vary greatly across providers and you have to do your due diligence to determine what company works best for you. Do the math.
BUDGET: Average 2.9% plus .30 cents per transaction. 3.9% International payments. $5-30/monthly
Marketing and Networking
The reality is your new website will not rank on search engines for some time. Actually it will be pretty much invisible without your aggressive efforts to get it "out there"! Many sites will not ever make it to the coveted top page. Besides utilizing social media and word of mouth, the fastest way to get exposure is to purchase advertising on sites like Google, Bing and Facebook.
But that can get expensive fast!
The amount you will pay per click is based on how competitive the term(s) are. The more competitive the higher the cost. Some as high as $55 per click – for the term “insurance”! (Forget about ever ranking for one word terms.)
Pay Per Click advertising allows you to set your monthly budget. When your ad budget is used, the ads stop until your next billing date.
BUDGET: $100-200/month to start.
Social Media Management
After you get all your social media header and profile graphics in place to ensure a consistent brand image, there are a bunch of social media management tools to choose from. Each will offer a package based on number of administrators and the tasks you want to track and automate. Cost is determined by number of social accounts, users and features.
BUDGET: Graphic Creation: $200-500, Software: $10 - $200/month
This is a summary of what you will need to budget for to get your online start-up website launched. Your mileage will vary based on your products, the competitiveness of your market and the services and providers you choose. What you can count on is that getting your budget in place for your new business venture before you dive in helps to increase your potential for success!
A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.
~ Dave Ramsey
At your service,