I want to start by saying if you want to build your own website then this is a great place to start. In this post I’m going to cover a lot. How to buy a .com domain. What hosting to use. What is the best platform to build your own website and much more!
Why am I writing this?
Well, to be honest, the story starts about 9 years ago. I met an older gentleman who ran a nonprofit and was charged $5,000 for his website to be designed and was being charged $200 a month for his hosting. I worked with him, but not as my first actual paying client. Not to get his money but to try and educate him that he should have spent no more than $2500 for the website and no more than $20 per month for hosting.
So basically put, I just want to help you understand this part of your business so that you won’t be scammed like the gentleman I mentioned. So that being said let’s go ahead and get started.
What You Need to Know About Websites
As a small business owner, you understand how important it is to have a business website. However, the type of site design that you choose is key. You need a website that not only makes a great first impression on online users but also allows for high levels of online visibility. A responsive WordPress website is a solution you have been looking for to all of your website design problems. This makes your website “change” depending on how the person is looking at it. For example, it will change if you pull this site up on a phone compared to a tablet or a computer. This is the easiest and most cost-effective way to create a website for your small business that helps you increase relevancy and visibility.
Here are a few things that a responsive WordPress website offers that every small business owner needs access to in order to increase profits:
- Search Engine Optimized Site Design
Having a website offers no benefits if it is not recognized by search engines and seen by online users. A good responsive WordPress website is already designed with SEO in mind. This means that the overall look of the site will help you to rank higher in search engines. This will make it so much easier for you to use your website as a marketing tool for your small business. SEO principles are infused into the design of WordPress websites so if you decide to use it when creating your site, you are already ahead of the game.
- Social Integration Made Easy
Not only is having a website key, but you need a site that makes social integration easy. Social media sites including Twitter and Facebook are growing in popularity by the day. Promoting your social media accounts for your small business on your website will allow you to help make your business more relevant online. WordPress along with the available themes and plugins is specifically designed to make social integration simplified.
- Content is King
While WordPress can make SEO and social integration more manageable, you still need to make quality content the priority. The content that you display on your site needs to be seen as valuable to your target market and created with their needs and concerns in mind. You need quality content to be added to your website regularly that is infused with keywords, but also completely unique. SEO methods and promoting your site on social media can be effective forms of marketing for small business owners, but the quality of the content on your site always needs to be maintained.
I know starting a business is not always the easiest thing to do. Neither is finding the funds to pay a design or marketing firm to build your website. So let’s look at 3 different ways to get your website live.
3 Ways to Get a Website
This first way you can get a website is a WYSIWYG site generator. Otherwise known as “What You See Is What You Get” and these are great for a hobby. Unfortunately, when people use these they put time and money into getting them looking and performing properly, yet, in the end, they don’t “own” the site. The WYSIWYG platforms (Wix, Weebly, WordPress.com, etc) have full control over the website. Downside? If they go belly-up and close … You no longer have a website.
The second way you can get a website is by paying a developer (like myself) to build one for you. But, you have to go through the risk that they don’t know as much as they claim. Is the website 100% responsive? Will they have your best interest in mind? How much will they charge? That is a completely different topic and we’ll look at that in a second.
Before we look at how much you should pay to have a professional build you a website, we’ll cover the last way you can get a website. Do it yourself!
There are hundreds of free and affordable tools that will help when designing a website for your business. The downside is making sure you are using the right tools and understand the process so that you see results from your website.
Since I’ve been building websites since the late 90’s I’ve seen trends come and go. But, responsive website design is here to stay. Now let’s back up a little bit and see what costs are involved in having a website.
How Much Should a Website Cost?
Determining the cost of a website is not the easiest thing. Not to mention, it is a very touchy subject for web designers. There is no secret formula to decide what a new website or a redesign should cost. You could call and ask multiple freelancers/marketing firms. But, the prices will vary.
You get what you pay for … sometimes.
Unfortunately the old phrase, “you get what you pay for”, doesn’t really fit the website design space. I have been building websites since the late 90’s and have found that the prices for websites are based on “what the market will bear”. But, there is a lot of gray space in that phrase.
Basic Website Design Cost
When building a website you will have a few costs that are the same regardless of the site.
The first thing you will have to pay for is a domain (.com, .net, .org, etc.) which will cost around $10-25 per year. This is what people type into the “address bar” to go to your website. Think of this as your online “street address”. There are many different companies that offer domain registration but, I recommend Host Yak. (Just don’t go yet, I have something special for you… keep reading!)
The second thing you will need to buy is hosting. Web hosting service allows individuals and organizations to make their website accessible online. Web hosts are companies that provide space on a server owned or leased for use by clients. Basically put, it is where the files for your website are stored online. This will cost around $8-15 per month.
As I write this I am currently in the middle of combining all of my accounts (GoDaddy, HostYak & HostGator) to InMotion Hosting.
Other Costs Associated with Website Design
Depending on if you are in the hunt for a “Make My Own Website” tutorial or you are paying a designer to do it for you there are a few platforms you should know about.
HTML Websites – Custom coded websites are great when they are designed. The problem is HTML website design is a dated method and normally costs more money than it’s worth ($5,000+)
Content Management System Platforms – Joomla, Drupal, and Others. These platforms are easy to use but if you are wanting to stay in the loop we recommend you use WordPress.
WordPress is a free “blogging” platform you can use and install on your hosting account to build a website. Just to be clear, I am not talking about WordPress.com which is a standalone blogging platform. WordPress.org is the self-hosted platform that I personally use for ALL of my websites. According to managewp.com, there are over 70 million WordPress websites published. Out of those, about 50% use the self-hosted WordPress.org platform.
Now that you understand the platforms, we’re going to get into the cost of a WordPress website.
Cost #1 WordPress Themes
This is in a way a lot like, the old school “templates” but rather more of a guideline for the way your website will look. Some designers do create custom WordPress themes but the price is a lot higher (approx. $2500 – $5,000)
If you are ok without having a custom theme you can get a theme that will allow you (or the designer) to customize your website in ways most custom themes will for a fraction of the cost (approx. $60). I have found that Salient is the best theme for about 99% of small business website needs.
Yes, there are free WordPress themes. Which ones are the best? None of them. If you are building a website for a business or something that you want to look professional then I’d recommend a premier WordPress theme like the one mentioned above.
Cost #2 The Designer
This is a touchy subject. I can’t say what designers will charge you for a website but I can say what I charge along with what I have found other designers charge.
For the first 2-3 years, I was building websites for small businesses my price range was from $500 – $1,250. After years of charging the same rates, I increased my prices from $1,250 – $2,500 but the finished product was drastically different between the first few years and the later years.
When it comes to other designers and marketing firms I have found that I am on the lower end of the scale. I have networked with designers all over the map & after many conversations, I have found that the basic website will cost $2,500 – $5,000 depending on the features included with the website design package.
Some provide content for your pages including text & images. Some will include Search Engine Optimization which will increase the cost of your website a lot if they truly know what they are doing.
The Verdict is Out
Want to know how much a website should cost? Here we go …
The upfront cost for a website includes 4 different things. Please keep in mind these prices are average based on what I’ve seen and the knowledge I’ve gained over a very long career.
- Domain (up to $15/year)
- Hosting (up to $20/month)
- Theme (up to $60 – One Time)
- Designer (approx. $2500-$3500)
The Total? If you work on a 5-year plan you should be looking to pay just under $4,000. That will cover the design cost of the website, theme, along with your domain & hosting, for all 5 years.
I know as an entrepreneur this could be a high ticket for a new business. If you do not have the money for it and would like to build your own website, I have put together a video and am continuing to record tutorials to help you with that question that every budget friendly entrepreneur asks “How do I make my own website”
So check this video out and watch me make the Lions Order website.
There is not a video installing WordPress or signing up with InMotion but like I said I’m moving over currently so there will be soon :)
Stay tuned as I continue to update this guide as well as all the other “Ultimate Guides” as technology changes. :)