Websites aren’t a one-and-done expense.
A lot of factors contribute to your overall website expenses other than the cost to build the actual website. You can expect to pay for several annual expenses once your website is up and running.
The ongoing costs of owning a website can vary greatly depending on the complexity of your website and your willingness to DIY. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it does cover the basic expenses associated with owning a website.
Your domain is the URL (like amandaschoedel.com) that people use to find you on the internet.
Depending on what company you register with, a .com domain will cost about $10-15 per year.
There are a ton of other domain extensions as well: .org, .net, .co, .us, .info, .online. The list goes on, and new extensions are being added all the time. These extensions may cost more or less than a typical .com domain. I’ve seen prices run anywhere from $4-40 per year.
I usually register domains with GoDaddy. Their domain search tool makes it really easy to research available domains. If your desired domain is already taken, they will suggest similar domains and different domain extensions that might work instead.
Pro Tip: Once you’ve registered your domain, you can set up auto-renew. This automatically charges the $12 fee each year so you never risk losing your domain because you let it expire.
Minimum Cost: $10 per year
Typical Cost: $12 per year
Your web host is the place where you store all the files that make up your website.
There are a lot of different types of hosting accounts with a lot of different features, and this means that hosting costs vary. A lot. I’ve seen hosting as low as $3 per month and as expensive as $250 per month.
Because most small business don’t get a heavy amount of traffic, their hosting needs are fairly basic and they can get by with a low level hosting plan. I often recommend Bluehost for their affordable shared hosting packages, which start as low as $3.5+ per month. Shared hosting means that your website shares space on a server with lots of other websites.
As your business grows and website traffic increases, you may need more resources than shared hosting can provide. When you find yourself in need of an upgrade, VPS or managed WordPress hosting may be the best solution. You can expect to pay $25-50 per month for these types of plans.
Pro Tip: Choose a longer plan duration to save money. With Bluehost, your monthly cost goes down when you sign up for a 24 or 36 month plan (instead of the standard 12 month plan). Don’t worry about long term obligations, either. If you decide to switch plans half-way through, they’ll credit the unused portion to your new plan. If you decide to cancel, they’ll refund the remain credit back to your card.
Minimum Cost: $42 per year
Typical Cost: $120 per year
Security & Maintenance
Even the best made websites require regular attention if you want them to last.
There is a laundry list of regular maintenance tasks that are crucial to the health of your WordPress website:
- WordPress Core Updates — WordPress usually releases major updates once or twice a year and minor updates as needed. Leaving your WordPress version outdated poses a potential security threat.
- Plugin and Theme Updates — Plugins and themes tend to release updates sporadically. Staying up to date on these ensures that they are working properly with the latest version of WordPress and keeps your site secure.
- Added Security — One of the downsides to WordPress’s popularity is that it is a prime target for hackers. You need an extra layer of protection on your website. The right measures will increase the security on all site files, scan for malware, monitor popular blacklists, and log website activity.
- Backups — You need regularly scheduled backups, just in case. Websites with a blog should update daily or weekly. Websites will less frequent updates should back up at least once per month.
If you’re brave (and technical), you can skip the professional and figure out how to tackle WordPress maintenance yourself. If you don’t mind spending a few hours each month doing some tedious tinkering, you can save some money in this area. Just be cautious and make backups before doing any updates. It’s not difficult to accidentally crash your site.
For those who would rather play it safe, you can hire a professional to handle these tasks for you for a monthly fee. Whatever you choose, do not skimp on security and maintenance. Security issues are costly, damaging, and incredibly stressful. Trust me, it’s worth it to spend a few dollars or hours each month for the peace of mind that your website is safe.
Pro tip: Amanda Schoedel Creative offers WordPress security and maintenance packages. My basic package manages your security, updates, and backups for $40/month.
Minimum cost: $0 per year
Typical cost: $480 per year
No matter how much you love your website now, you’re going to want to make changes at some point in the future. Whether you want to switch up the fonts, add a contact form, or add a blog, the time will come where you want something new.
If you spend the time to become fluent in WordPress, you’ll be able to make some improvements yourself. Still, it’s smart to budget for at least a few hours of work with your web designer/developer each year to cover the changes you can’t handle yourself. The hourly rate for freelance designers typically falls between $50-100 per hour. For larger changes, they may give you a quote upfront.
Pro tip: If you find yourself needing regular improvements, a monthly plan can save you money. I offer professional and premier maintenance packages that bundle discounted hourly work with the security and maintenance services above.
Minimum cost: $0
Typical cost: $375 per year
The Grand Total
As with all things website related, the amount you’ll spend to run your website is largely dependent on the amount of work you’re willing to do yourself. If you don’t mind rolling up your sleeves and learning how to do the dirty work yourself, you can run a website for around $50 per year. You have to be willing to put in the time, though. People who don’t have the time or don’t feel comfortable DIYing, can expect higher annual costs.
Minimum annual cost: $52 per year
Typical annual cost: $987 per year
Where do you fall on the spectrum? Are you willing to spend time learning in order pay less? Or would you rather pay a professional to do the hard stuff for you?
Great share, Amanda! It messes with my mind that your comment system won’t allow capital letters, though! LOL.
Sometimes these costs are the hardest to explain to newbs looking to get a site set-up, and you’ve detailed all of the specifics really well. Will definitely be sharing this.
Thanks, Mallie! The the thing I have the hardest time with is getting clients to understand the difference between domain and hosting and why they have to buy both. It’s a weird concept if you’ve never worked with websites before.
Totally didn’t realize my comments were doing that, by the way. Thanks for the heads up! I’m fixing that now so you won’t go crazy on your next visit. 🙂