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Nick Schäferhoff
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The Ultimate Guide to Website Costs

Creating a simple blog, a website for your business, or an online store is easy.

But what about the website costs?

You can do nearly everything yourself with the tools available today. However, if you don’t want to get stuck with limited features and 3rd-party ads running on your site, then there are some costs that you need to consider.

Your budget for a site depends on your primary goal that your website will serve and the additional features you need. You can get away with spending less than $20 a year, and you can also raise your costs to 4-digits, or even 5-digits. Of course, it all depends on the size and complexity of your planned site.

We can roughly divide the costs into two groups – guaranteed and optional costs.

  • Guaranteed expenses are the ones that you need to spend to keep your site operational.
  • Optional costs are mostly for visual appearance upgrades, specific functions, or additional features for your website.

Or if you don’t want to build the website yourself, we have also covered the costs of hiring an agency or a freelancer.

We’ve divided this post down into three different kinds of websites. A blog, a small business website and an online store.

If you don’t feel like reading the whole guide, here’s a summary:

  • A blog from $18.86 to $1,000+ a year
  • A small business website from $32.78 to $1,000+ a year
  • An online store from $68.06 to $5,000+ a year
  • A freelance web developer average cost per hour from $10 to $90/hr

All Costs Associated with Building a Blog

All Costs Associated with Building a Blog

Sharing your ideas through a blog is a great way to collect a following of likeminded people. Several platforms allow you to write a blog for free, but you will have costs down the line for a more professional approach.

There’s also nothing wrong with starting on a free platform and going for a paid option later. However, choosing a domain name and hosting it on your own from the start has significant benefits. You won’t have to deal with migrating your blog, can establish your brand from the beginning, and have much more freedom when scaling your blog.

Guaranteed Recurring Costs

Expenses for a domain name and hosting your website are the bare minimum costs for starting a blog. The rest is up to your experience as a web developer. However, for a beginner, we recommend starting your blog on a popular platform called WordPress.

You can find a ton of resources on the Internet that help you set up your blog with or without WordPress. For example, you can start with our guide on How to Start a Blog. If you’re on a tight budget, you can leverage the cheapest hosting plans and get your hands dirty for a while.

Hosting Costs

A starting blog doesn’t require many resources in terms of server capabilities. So, getting the cheapest shared hosting deal is good enough to get you started and keep costs down. Once you start seeing some more traffic and feel that you need more power and features, most service providers are happy to upgrade.

Here are some example price ranges for Shared Hosting options:

Domain Name Costs

Think of the domain name as the brand for your blog. Depending on the type of blog you’re building, the domain name can be your name or a reference to an industry you’re writing about. A typical domain name consists of at least two parts; the top-level domain (.com, .net, .blog) and at least one second-level domain (WebsiteSetup, JohnDoe, ThoughtsAboutBooks).

Getting a personal domain name helps your blog stand out and build a brand right from the start. Once you’ve purchased your domain name combination, you have the ownership until you regularly pay the registrar fees.

Here are some example prices for a domain name from a few cheap registrars:

Website Builders

There’s also an option for an all-in-one service that takes care of hosting and has a built-in website builder. These website builders are the easiest to get started with, as everything you need for building a blog is under one roof. You also benefit from many features that you might need to buy extra when going with a hosting service and a domain name combo.

However, since the fees for a website builder are slightly higher, you might not need it for a simple starting blog, especially if you want to keep your costs down. Still, they are a reliable option for building a blog if you want a smooth experience.

Take a look at some example prices for website builder providers:

WordPress Themes

If you’re building a blog using a WordPress platform, then you need a WordPress theme to go with it. Think of the theme as a layout for your blog and the back-end where you can customize your site’s different aspects.

Once you choose a theme, you can then go and customize it to your liking. However, you can’t customize everything, so make sure the template you want serves your purpose. You can try out most of the WordPress themes free-of-charge and continue using them for free with the downside of limited features.

Depending on your budget, you can get the most popular themes as a full version quite cheaply. Considering the added benefit and the ease of use, it’s the cost that’s worth the investment.

Let’s take a look at some examples of the most popular WordPress themes and their costs:

  • Hello Elementor: Free – $49.20/year
    Elementor is a WordPress theme with drag and drop functionality. It acts as a website builder rather than a regular WordPress theme – the easiest theme for building a blog.
  • Neve: Free – $49/year
    Highly customizable WordPress theme. It also has a built-in blog booster with the full paid version.
  • Astra: Free – $44/year
    It’s a lightweight WordPress theme perfect for starting a blog in any industry. It’s fast to get started and easy to manage.

Plugins

Plugins are the most optional parts of building a blog. Yet, these can be something that either makes or breaks your site’s success.

There are a ton of different options out there, from an SEO bundle package to specific functions that let you create forms or integrate your social media accounts. However, you don’t need any of them to make your blog work. As your site grows, you can always gradually add more features.

We recommend looking at the plugins that are specifically designed for blogs or getting websites noticed. A word of caution: while some plugins might be free, you can only access their full set of features with a paid version – and these costs can ramp up rather quickly.

Let’s look at some of the most useful plugins for bloggers and their full version prices:

  • WPForms: Free – $39.50/year
    This plugin lets you create contact forms, email subscription forms, online order forms, payment forms, and more.
  • Akismet: Free – $60/year
    This plugin filters out spam comments. If you start getting many comments, this tool will save you some time.
  • Smash Balloon: $49/year – $299/year
    Smash Balloon is a social media feed plugin that integrates real content from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube to your blog.
  • Yoast SEO: Free – $89/year
    If you plan to become relevant in the search engine results, then using Yoast SEO is a must. It helps you by giving suggestions and prompts on things you can improve on your webpage in terms of SEO.

Other Tools

Apart from the plugins, you can use several tools as a blogger to make your professional life more manageable. These 3rd party tools mostly aim for automation that saves you lots of time – meaning you can spend more time writing.

Depending on your budget, they can be instrumental or break your bank when adding everything together.

Take a look at some of the tools suitable for bloggers:

  • Wordable: Free 3-day trial – $228/year
    If you like writing in Google Docs, Wordable lets you move your posts from there to WordPress very easily.
  • Grammarly: Free – $139.92/year
    It’s a spell-checking and correct grammar tool that works in your browser. It alerts you about any issues while you’re writing and offers corrections on the go.
  • Hemingway: Free – $19.99/lifetime
    This tool takes your blogging further by identifying wordy and complicated sentences, passive voice, adverbs, and synonyms for difficult words.

TOTAL COST

The total cost starts from $18.86 a year ($1.57 a month) for the bare minimum. You can also spend over $1,000+ a year depending on all the extras that you want to get.

However, it’s not about either the cheapest or the most expensive. Building a blog gives you much flexibility in terms of extra costs, and you can scale it based on your available budget. You don’t need the fanciest upgrades and plugins from day one, even though some can help you grow faster.

You can also try many plugins and upgrades out for free to see if they work for you. We recommend giving them a shot before spending money or neglecting them completely.

If you want to learn more, check out our guide on How to Start a Blog.

All Costs Associated with Building a Small Business Website

All Costs Associated with Building a Small Business Website

Creating a website is a great way to put your business on the map. Your potential clients could get all the essential information from one location. It also saves you a lot of time and effort that you otherwise have to spend reaching out to customers one-by-one. Almost every respectable business has a website today.

Building a website for your business is very easy. You don’t even need a sophisticated navigation system and can create a single landing page with all the vital information. However, you can go further from there and build an interactive site to support your sales or collect leads.

Let’s look at some of the costs you will have for building a small business website.

Guaranteed Recurring Costs

Like building a blog, the bare minimum expenses for a small business website are the domain name and hosting service costs. You can again use the popular WordPress platform to build your website easily and quickly.

Hosting Costs

A basic small business website, similar to a blog, doesn’t require much server performance. However, one of the critical factors you should look for is the hosting service’s uptime and speed. Nobody wants to lose a sale because their website was down or loads too slowly.

You can get your website started with the cheapest shared hosting options out there. However, we recommend getting a managed WordPress hosting plan, which is designed for WordPress users. It’s not the cheapest option but doesn’t break your bank either. However, be wary about the higher renewal prices after the first term.

You can build your website using the cheapest WordPress hosting and upgrade from there if you need more resources or features.

Here are some of the cheapest WordPress hosting costs:

Domain Name Costs

The domain name is one of the most important aspects of building a small business website. Usually, the name is chosen based on the business’s name or the brand name that you want to create.

You can purchase an available domain name combination from a domain name registrar. A typical domain name consists of a top-level domain (.com, .net, .business) and at least one second-level domain (WebsiteSetup, LocalStandUp, TheFenceBuildingCompany).

Here are some example prices for a domain name from a few cheap registrars:

Website Builders

Website builders are easy alternatives to hosting and domain name combinations because everything you need to build a website is under one roof. These website builders let you use a modern drag-and-drop method or give you a simple modular setup for creating your site. You also get some additional features that can work well with your small business website.

However, if you’re looking to create only a few pages for your small business site, using a website builder might be too costly. If you plan on developing your site over time, then using a website builder is a great time saver.

Take a look at some example prices for website builder providers:

WordPress Themes

Building a website on WordPress is quite easy and cost-efficient. It’s a platform we also recommend based on functionality and ease of use.

Similar to a blog, if you’re building a website using a WordPress platform, then you need a WordPress theme to go with it. You can also get some themes for free if you’re not interested in additional functionalities. However, consider the full versions when you want to keep developing your site.

Take a look at some examples of the most popular WordPress themes for websites:

  • Hello Elementor: Free – $49.20/year
    Elementor is a WordPress theme that acts as a website builder. It has an intuitive drag and drop functionality and is easy to use.
  • OceanWP: Free – $29/year
    One of the most popular themes on WordPress. It’s also highly customizable.
  • Divi by Elegant Themes: $89/year
    This WordPress theme is an alternative drag and drop website builder for the Hello Elementor. It has useful pre-made designs for websites and is highly customizable.

Plugins

Plugins for websites are somewhat optional, but give you more functionality for your website. There’s a large selection of different options out there, from SEO features to live chat functionality. Choosing the ones that are right for your website depends mostly on what functionalities you’re looking for and the budget you have.

However, we have some recommendations for website plugins that add the most benefit. Some of them have a free version available with limited functionality to try them out before making a decision.

Here are some useful plugins for a website:

  • Yoast SEO: Free – $89/year
    Yoast SEO is a great tool to make sure that your website content is SEO friendly. It gives suggestions and prompts your page drafts if you should improve anything in terms of SEO.
  • W3 Total Cache: Free – $99/year
    It’s a caching plugin which makes your website run faster and smoother.
  • WP Smush: Free – $84/year
    This plugin works as an image compressor, so a website with a lot of pictures can load faster for the visitor. It also comes with a lazy load feature that doesn’t load offscreen images for the viewer.
  • LiveChat: Free 14-day trial – $192/year
    This plugin adds a live chat feature to your website so your visitors can instantly get in touch.
  • WPML: $29/year – $79/year
    This plugin allows you to build a multilingual website easily to widen your small business’s reach.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is one of the most cost-efficient marketing areas out there. As a small business, you can use emails to get more work or promote your brand efficiently.

You can manually create and send emails to your customers and collect email addresses. But as your business grows, dealing with emails personally becomes very inefficient. That’s where email marketing software comes to your rescue.

Here are some of the most popular email marketing solutions for small businesses:

  • Constant Contact: 30-day free trial – $240/year
    Constant Contact offers an excellent toolset for email marketing. It’s also packed with other useful marketing features that support your email marketing.
  • MailChimp: Free – $119.88/year
    This platform allows you to collect visitors’ emails, send automated emails, and customize templates allowing for a more personal touch with your subscribers.
  • Sender: Free – $120/year
    This tool lets you easily create email newsletters for your subscribers and an automated email sequence.

Security

Keeping your website secure against potential attacks is essential as your business grows. You might not need the additional security features from the start, but we recommend you to think about down the line. It’s also useful to remember that protecting your site against attacks is much cheaper than dealing with the consequences.

Here are a few security options for websites:

  • WordFence: $99/year
    WordFence is WordPress’s real-time endpoint protection. It features IP blacklists, a firewall, security scans for malware, and many security features more.
  • Cerber Security & Anti-Spam: Free – $99/year
    This tool provides security for WordPress based websites. It blocks malicious activity, has anti-spam features, and scans and removes any malware from your website.

Other Tools

You can also use additional 3rd party tools that make your site’s development more straightforward. For a website, we recommend tools for understanding your visitors to make your website better.

Take a look at a few tools suitable for websites and their price ranges:

  • Google Analytics: Free
    You get your basic website analytics from conversion tracking to unique visitors, and more.
  • Crazy Egg: 30-day free trial – $288/year
    This tool provides heat map reports of your visitors’ activity on your website. You can then use this data to improve your conversion rates by placing information on the hotspots.

TOTAL COST

The main differences in cost come down to the features you want for your website. Compared with the costs for a blog, you have additional expenses for email marketing and security, which are optional but highly recommended.

The total cost starts from as little as $32.78 a year (~$2.73 a month) for the cheapest website building option with WordPress hosting. Adding together all the additional plugins, tools, and security measures, you could be spending well over $1,000+ a year.

If you want to learn more, check out our guide on How to Create a Website.

All Costs Associated with Building an Online Store/eCommerce Website

All Costs Associated with Building an Online Store/eCommerce Website

Compared with brick and mortar shops, online stores are getting more popular by the day.

Online stores are a perfect place for unique products that you want to sell directly to customers. Building an online shop is quite straightforward but requires specific functionalities that make them a bit more expensive than regular websites.

Like with blogs and small business websites, the budget depends on your online store’s size and the functionalities that you want to have. Let’s take a look at a potential cost-breakdown for building an eCommerce website.

Guaranteed Recurring Costs

Similar to blogs and websites, building an online store has guaranteed costs for hosting and a domain name. However, these costs don’t make up the bare minimum, and you need to spend extra for an eCommerce functionality.

Hosting Costs

You can start an online store with cheap shared hosting plans. However, you can expect to outgrow the performance needs rather quickly and might want to upgrade your online store’s security. The hosting providers are quite flexible and can help you with upgrading your server needs within their offers.

We suggest thinking about advanced hosting solutions ahead of time. Shared hosting is the cheapest hosting solution, but more power, higher security, and freedom come with a significantly higher cost.

Here are some examples of price ranges for different hosting types:

Domain Name Costs

The domain name is especially crucial for online stores. Since your customers are doing transactions on your page, they need to feel that it’s legit and safe. A great domain name helps your sales as well as developing your eCommerce brand.

Your online store’s domain name consists of at least two parts; a top-level domain (.com, .net, .store) and at least one second-level domain (Amazon, KidsClothes, DebbysFurniture). You can search and purchase available domain name combinations from a domain name registrar.

Take a look at some of the cheapest domain name registrars:

Online Store Builders

Online stores need additional features for payments, shipping, and stock management. You can make use of eCommerce platforms to easily add online store functionality to your site.

These builders work similarly to website builders but are specially designed to accommodate online stores. The modern versions are equipped with drag and drop features and loads of useful add-ons that you can use, such as social media integrations and payment gateways.

If you add payment options to your online store, then expect to pay a transaction fee to the payment platform provider. Be wary that some of the eCommerce builder providers charge you extra fees for integrating with 3rd party payment gateways. Take this cost into account when choosing the platform to build your online store.

Here you can find the most popular online store platforms:

  • Shopify.com starting from $29/month or $348/year
    Transaction fees start from 2.9% + $0.30 and 2% if using other payment providers.
  • Squarespace.com starting from $18/month or $216/year
    3% transaction fee only with the cheapest plan; higher-tier plans have 0% transaction fees
  • WooCommerce.com free to start*
    No default transaction fees and no additional transaction fees for integrating 3rd party payment providers.
    *additional costs for WordPress themes, plugins, and development.

WordPress Themes

Building an online store on WordPress requires a WooCommerce compatible theme and the WooCommerce eCommerce platform plugin. This combination adds online store features to your WordPress’s interface.

Once you choose a theme, you can customize it like any other WordPress theme and add online store features. Unlike free templates for websites and blogs, the additional online store features usually come with the paid full version of these themes.

Here are some of the best WordPress themes with WooCommerce compatibility:

  • Hello Elementor starting from $49.20/year
    Easy to use, and you can drag and drop elements around. The free version doesn’t support online store features.
  • Divi by Elegant Themes: $89/year
    This WordPress theme is an alternative drag and drop website builder for the Hello Elementor. It has useful pre-made designs for websites and is highly customizable.
  • Jevelin: $59/year
    One of the more popular themes for online stores on WooCommerce’s platform. It features a drag and drop builder and has many templates for various product types.

Plugins

Some of the eCommerce platforms have built-in useful online store plugins. However, you can benefit from some added plugins that help you grow your customer base and reach more effectively.

Similar to websites and blogs, there are a lot of different plugin options available. You can also build your online store without using any additional plugins, but that could make your shop look basic and inferior to some modern ones. At the very least, we recommend giving their free versions a try, so you can see if they add some benefit to your online store.

We listed some of the most useful plugins for online stores:

  • Yoast SEO: Free – $89/year
    Yoast SEO is a great tool if you plan to add content marketing to your online store. It gives suggestions and prompts your page drafts if anything could be improved in terms of SEO.
  • WPForms: Free – $39.50/year
    This plugin lets you create contact forms, email subscription forms, online order forms, payment forms, and more.
  • W3 Total Cache: Free – $99/year
    W3 Total Cache is a caching plugin which makes your website run faster and smoother.
  • WP Smush: Free – $84/year
    This plugin works as an image compressor, so a website with a lot of pictures can load faster for the visitor. It also comes with a lazy load feature that doesn’t load offscreen images for the viewer.
  • MonsterInsights: $99.50/year
    It’s a WordPress analytics plugin that integrates with Google Analytics and gives you a wide array of reports. It also has tracking features so you can better understand your visitors’ behavior on your site.
  • LiveChat: Free 14-day trial – $192/year
    This plugin adds a live chat feature to your website so your visitors can instantly get in touch.
  • OptinMonster: $108/year – $588/year
    This plugin lets you set up a prompt asking for an email subscription when your visitor is about to leave your site. You can customize the prompts based on your online store’s niche.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is highly useful for online stores to capture loyal customers and remind visitors about their abandoned carts. It’s a cost-effective way of doing marketing with the added benefit of automation that saves a lot of time.

Many email marketing providers also let you use their platforms for free until your business has grown to sustain the costs. You can use this to build a marketing plan covering the marketing tools’ fees, and then some.

Take a look at our most recommended email marketing providers for online shops:

  • Constant Contact: 30-day free trial – $240/year
    Constant Contact offers an excellent toolset for email marketing. It’s also packed with other useful marketing features that support your email marketing.
  • MailChimp: Free – $119.88/year
    This platform allows you to collect visitors’ emails, send automated emails, and customize templates allowing for a more personal touch with your subscribers.
  • HubSpot: Free – $480/year
    Besides email marketing, HubSpot provides a complete CRM for your online store. Their free plan is also impressive, with many useful functions across marketing efforts.

Security

Website security is critical when it comes to online stores and visitors’ trust. Nobody wants to enter their sensitive information to a site when they don’t feel safe about sharing it.

According to Safety Detectives, over 70% of businesses are unprepared to mitigate even the basic security breaches. This number alone makes us recommend getting additional security features for your online store as the costs for dealing with a security breach can be times higher.

We recommend the following security options for your online store:

  • WordFence: $99/year
    WordFence is WordPress’s real-time endpoint protection. It features IP blacklists, a firewall, security scans for malware, and many security features more.
  • Cloudflare: Free – $240/year
    Cloudflare gives you protection against DDoS attacks and has a built-in firewall. It also comes with a CDN network for website caching.
  • Sucuri starting from $199.99/year
    WordPress security plugin against malware, DDoS attacks, and blacklist removal.

Other Tools

Online stores primarily benefit from tools that you use for websites and blogs. However, some tools are specifically designed for eCommerce websites, which give them additional functionality.

Here are a couple of tools that we think can benefit an online store the most:

  • Stripe: Fees only from transactions; 2.9% + $0.30/per transaction
    It’s a third-party payments processor for accepting online payments and managing transactions. It supports major credit cards and some digital wallets.
  • Easy FAQs: Free – $99/year
    Instead of having a separate page for your online store’s FAQ, you can add the FAQ section to the sidebar for your visitors to access. It’s mostly useful for frequently asked questions about payment, shipping, and returns to increase trust.

TOTAL COST

Online stores are more costly to build than small business websites or blogs. The main cost difference comes from the added eCommerce functionality. You can also choose to build your store without any online store functionalities, but it makes purchases difficult for your customers, which leads to a loss in sales.

As your business grows, you need higher security and more power in your servers to facilitate the growing demand. Generally, better server performance leads to higher costs for hosting services and increases your overall budget.

WordPress Based Online Store

The total cost varies from $68.06/year for the bare minimum and way up to more than $5,000/year, depending on the plugins, security features, and marketing tools that you’re going to use.

3rd Party eCommerce Platform

Going with a platform designed specifically for an online store starts from $234.86/year (~$19.57/month) with Squarespace. Again, depending on your choice of plugins, additional features, security, and other tools, the total cost can be more than $5,000/year.

To learn more about building an online store, check out our guide on How to Start an Online Store.

Hiring a Freelancer

Hiring a Freelancer

Working with a freelancer is a flexible way of developing your site. You can hire them to create your website entirely, or have them develop specific functionalities or add-ons.

Make sure you pick someone who develops your site in your preferred platform. You can find a freelancer who develops WordPress, WooCommerce, Wix, Squarespace, Shopify, and custom code websites.

Pricing

The pricing for freelancers is also flexible and depends on the platform you are using. You can get a flat fee or an hourly based pricing. The pricing is very dependent on the skills of the developer and the location. Also, when getting a flat fee rate, make sure the offer consists of all the features and functionality you need.

When looking at a popular hourly based platform People Per Hour, you can expect to pay an hourly fee from $10/hr to $90/hr to hire a web developer.

For a flat fee for building your site, you can find help from a popular platform Fiverr. You can expect to pay around $90 for a basic website, up to an average of $330 for a basic eCommerce site.

Working with an Agency

Working with an Agency

Finding a great agency to build your website, blog platform, or an online store is a convenient but expensive service. Yet, it comes with its benefits that usually justify the additional costs.

The agency takes care of all your development needs based on your input. Therefore, they save you a great deal of time that you can commit elsewhere while your site is being built.

Pricing

The cost of creating a site depends on the agency and the amount of work that’s needed. In broad terms, you can expect to pay an agency:

  • Blog: $220 – $16,000, with an average cost of ~$3000
  • Websites: $220 – $50,000, with an average cost of ~$3700
  • Online-store: $400 – $150,000, with an average cost of ~$13,700

Conclusion

You can build a basic site for a blog or a small business for less than $20 a year. The additional costs depend on the added functionality that you want your website to have. While the add-ons and plugins are optional, we recommend giving a thought about getting tools for security, additional marketing, and automation.

Building an online store is a bit more expensive because of the added eCommerce functionality. You can create an online shop for less than $70/year, but the costs for additional security and functionality can easily land you over $5,000+/year in terms of costs.

All in all, we recommend you to plan out your costs ahead of time. You can also start with the bare minimum and add additional functionalities as your site grows.

Let us know if there are any other plugins or tools necessary for a blog, website, or an online store to work.