When people find out that I design websites, their first question is: How much does a website cost?
The best answer I can give is that the cost of your website is like the cost of buying a new car. For example, your basic Toyota Prius starts at $25,000. But you never buy just the basic model – there are extra options, customizations, maybe even extended warranties. So the real price of your new Pruis is much closer to $30,000 or $35,000.
The same is true of your website. A basic starter website will cost you around $150. But if you don’t want to do all the work yourself, want a cool customized design, or an email sign-up form, the real cost is closer to $750 or $1500.
Why are these customizations important?
The truth is, you and your clients will be spending a lot of time on your site. It has to be right the first time around – the right design, the right “feel”, the right first impression on potential clients. After all, your website is your online home base, so it has to look and feel great.
Unfortunately, some people focus on what’s “budget-friendly” and forget that their website is the focal point of their online marketing presence. Their attitude is the equivalent of selling high-end Rolodexes by inviting potential clients over to a cheap, ugly mobile home. By focusing on what’s cheapest, these people sacrifice quality, maintenance, and aesthetics in order to save a few bucks.
Lucky for us, there are ways to be budget-friendly and still get an awesome site that looks great and is easy to maintain.
Starter Website Costs – $110/year
There are two basic costs to starting any website: hosting and a domain name. Your domain name buys your online address (like www.felicityfields.com), and your hosting package buys you a place to build your website.
Your domain name should cost no more than $10 per year, and your website hosting should cost no more than $100 a year. I recommend purchasing your domain name and website hosting through Host Gator. Their prices are beginner-budget friendly, and their awesome customer service is available 24/7.
Note that there are both less and more expensive options out there for hosting. The less expensive options are a waste of money – you typically only save $40 or so a year, and the differences is customizability, maintenance, and how awesome your site looks are worth way more than that $40. And, unless you’re processing credit cards directly on your website, you don’t need the more expensive hosting options.
Cost of Website Software – Free!
So now that you have an address and a place to build your website, you need to lay your foundation. That’s where WordPress comes in! WordPress is free software that can be downloaded and installed on your website, and it will provide the basic structure for your site design.
Aside from being free (always a plus!), WordPress allows you to build and update your website with minimal technical skills. If you can type up a Word document and insert pictures, you can use WordPress to build and update your site! Plus, if you get stuck, there are a ton of free resources online to teach you how to use it.
Best of all, WordPress comes with a couple of default designs, called themes. And there are dozens of free themes out there to choose from. Not all of them will be the right fit for you, but if you’re just looking to set up a website to launch your business, a free theme can be a great way to go.
Starter Package vs. Options
So now you know now know exactly what a website starter package looks like: hosting, domain name, and WordPress, all for $110 a year. It’s totally possible to build and maintain your site using these three elements. But just like the basic Prius doesn’t come with all the options you want, neither does the starter package.
For one thing, it’s a generic package, and your website will have a generic feel to it. For another, I’m betting that you have absolutely no interest in learning how to build your website from scratch. And third, your starter site doesn’t have links to your Facebook page or Twitter account, or an email sign-up form.
So let’s talk about the options that you can add to that starter package. These are the most common:
- Customized design
- Pages created for you, so all you have to do is provide the text!
- Maximize the odds that your website will be found on Google
- Email sign-up forms
- Links to your Facebook, Twitter, and other social media profiles
- Live streams of your latest Facebook or Twitter posts
- Registration or buy now forms for your products and services
- Free plug-ins that back up your website, prevent spam, and do other cool admin stuff
Not every website needs all of these options. Some options, like email forms and links to social media, can wait until your business is up and running. Others, like being found on Google and having a unique design, are immediately necessary to create your awesome online home base.
Which Options Are Right for Me?
Honestly, your best options depend on where you are in your business. Nearly everyone starts with a website that describes their business, service or product, and provides some contact information. As their business grows, people will add an email sign up form or links to Facebook. And finally, they’ll add a way for people to purchase or register for workshops directly from their website.
How Much Do These Options Cost?
Before I dive into what I charge for these options, remember that off-loading this work to someone else gives you more free time to pursue what you’re best at: finding clients and building your business. In other words, it’s not just about the dollar price tag – it’s about the awesome things you’ll accomplish for your business with the time you would otherwise have spent building your website.
Website Design Package – $750.00
This package is designed for someone who likes the idea of the starter package, but doesn’t want to do the work themselves. I’ll handle all the techie stuff: setting up your domain name and hosting, installing WordPress, customizing a pre-built design specifically for you, and making sure your website has every chance of showing up on Google.
All you need to do is provide the text for your pages, any images you want to use, and of course provide direction on how you want your website to look.
In other words, you provide the stuff that makes your clients love you (logo, page text & images, and a product), and I will build you a classy, fun, easy-to-update site that will rock your business and wow your clients.
Email Sign-Up Form & List Creation – $350
Email marketing is the heart of your small business. Through your email list, you can keep your audience updated on upcoming events, products, or services, your latest blogs, and other useful content. And, from a financial standpoint, going with a free service like MailChimp is as easy as it gets!
I’ll work with you one on one to set up your free MailChimp account, add a sign-up form to your list, create your standard email template, and format the automated “welcome to my list” emails. Then, I’ll teach you what you need to know to keep sending emails to your list!
Social Media Integration – $350
Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter are great ways to connect with your current and future clients. But unless your potential clients know that you’re on Facebook, they’re going to have a hard time connecting with you!
That’s why having links to your social media sites on your website are so important. There are a few ways to add links to your site, and together we’ll figure out what works best for you. You could have a “Join Me On” section in your sidebar, with links to your social media profiles. You could have a live stream of your latest Facebook or Twitter updates on your sidebar. You could even add a sidebar to your blog page, so that your readers can easily like and share your posts on social media!
PayPal Integration – $500
“How do I get paid?” is probably the most confusing question when it comes to setting up your website to accept client payments. That’s why this package includes a license for Gravity Forms, an awesome piece of software that creates easy-to use check-out forms that are then linked directly to PayPal. PayPal handles all the credit card processing and then deposits the payment in your PayPal account. What could be simpler?
I’ll work with you to install Gravity Forms on your WordPress website and create awesome check-out forms. I’ll link those forms to your PayPal account, making it super easy for your clients to purchase your product or service. And, if you don’t have a PayPal account, I’ll even help you set one up!
The Value of Your Website
Your website is the single greatest online marketing tool you have. It’s where your potential clients will “meet” you for the first time. They’ll read about you, your services or products, maybe even read a blog post or two. They may join your email list or become a Facebook fan. Whatever action your potential clients take, it’s essential that your website represents you and your business in the best light, right from the get-go.
So whether you go with the $110 starter package and build it yourself, or whether you hire some expert help, keep this in mind: make your website awesome right from the start. It will save you hours of regret and headache in the long run.
Do you have a website horror story? Tell me about it in the comments below! And, if you still have questions about website costs, ask me in the comments – I’ll be happy to help!
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