5 Website Costs You Need to Budget for When Building Your Website
As a small business, the idea of building a website might seem intimidating. You aren’t a programmer and wouldn’t know HTML if your life depended on it. And the cost — you don’t have thousands of dollars to invest in a professional designer and maintenance once everything is in place. You know you need a website, but it’s something that you are simply dreading.
There is no need to stress about building your own website. In fact, you might be surprised at how easy it is to use a DIY website builder to create your own site — no coding knowledge needed — and get it up and running quickly. And the cost of building and maintaining a site is significantly less than it used to be as well.
That doesn’t mean that your website is free, though. If your business website is going to be a cornerstone of your marketing, you will need to invest some money to make it look great while keeping it functional and secure. If you budget for the following expenses early on, you won’t be caught unaware down the road.
1. Hosting Fees
As a serious business, you need to invest in reliable hosting for your site. Costs vary, but for a secure, reliable host, you can expect to pay less than $150 per year. If you opt for a virtual private server or dedicated hosting, plan on spending upwards of $1,000 per year.
Why is this important? When you pay for hosting, you enjoy several advantages. For starters, you are more likely to have acceptable uptime rates (higher than 99.9% uptime) and you’ll be able to customize your domain name (i.e., yourbusiness.com vs webhost/yourbusiness.com). Your URL makes a significant difference when it comes to your branding and customer perception of your business.
Paid hosting also offers more support than free hosting services. Depending on the provider and the package you select, you generally have access to dedicated support when you need it. As a new website owner, this service can prove invaluable when you’re trying to get up and running and keep your site operating. You can always consider cheap web hosting if you are just starting out with a limited budget.
Keeping your website secure is a top concern. A hack or data breach can prove devastating, so plan for security from the very start and budget for tools and services to keep your site secure.
Most hosting providers do include security tools as part of their packages, but you will want to go beyond the default security options provided by your host to ensure that your site is as secure as possible. Expect to spend about $100 per year for a third-party security solution that will back up your site on a daily basis and help block any malware and viruses from infiltrating.
3. Content Development
Once your site’s built, you want to drive traffic to it, which requires content. Content development doesn’t have to be costly, but you do need to consider the investment of time and money that may be necessary to keep your site up-to-date and engaging. Ask yourself who will write blog posts, add new content to the site, or create other content (such as infographics and videos). Do you want to hire freelancers? Work with a content agency? Handle it yourself? Consider these questions while you’re in the site development stage so that your content strategy can be integrated into the design, and you can develop a plan and a budget.
4. Copyright Costs
Using copyrighted material without permission can cost you — even if you do it by accident. Photos, blogs, videos, anything that you didn’t create yourself needs to be posted with credit on your site, and you may need to pay for the privilege of using it. Quality stock photos are less than a few dollars apiece, which is much less than you’ll pay in fines if you just lift images from any source online. If you plan to use material on your website that isn’t your own creation, budget some funds to pay for the rights, or face bigger fees down the road.
Finally, while great content, email marketing, and social media can drive traffic, you will most likely want to advertise your new site to drive traffic. Pay-per-click marketing on search engines or social media is an effective strategy for site advertising, but can easily run into the thousands of dollars. Do your homework before you set up a campaign to avoid spending more than you can afford — paying more for a top-ranked keyword may not always be the best strategy, instead look for more targeted keywords that have lower competition.
Getting your website up and running doesn’t have to be expensive, but you will need to invest some cash to get the most from it. Don’t let the potential costs scare you, but prepare for them and avoid unpleasant surprises.