How much does a website cost to make? Can you figure up the cost of a website before you build it? Should I hire an agency, starting a WordPress site, or use a site builder like Wix or Weebly?
These are probably just some of the questions coming to your head when you start thinking about creating a website. The hard part about answer those questions is that every site on the internet is different, so we need to decide which one is best for you because what is great for you probably isn't great for someone else.
Remember though the price of every website is different. The goal of this article is to give you the best guide possible when figuring up the budget for your website, so you know what to expect on the front-end without running into any extra unexpected costs.
We will be covering:
- The different options that you have available to you when starting your website.
- Outline how each option affects the price in will cost to start a website. In order to help you decide the best option for knowledge, time, and money you have available.
- Give our estimated totals for starting a website using each of the options available to take the guessing games out of coming up with a budget for your website.
What Goes Into Figuring Out How Much It Cost To Start a Website?
Before we get into specifics, we need to look at all of the potential costs you could have for your website. Some of these like a domain name and a place to host your site, you will have no matter what. Other costs like content writing and design may not apply to you if you plan to write your own content and design your own site. I'll make sure that you know what costs are set in stone for every website and what costs are variable for every website.
The Potential Costs of Starting A Website
- Determining Your End Goal: Before we can talk about costs, you need to determine your end goal. For example, a personal blog with just blog posts is going to be a lot easier to build than a custom e-commerce store. On the flip side, an e-commerce store from someone like Shopify is going to costs a lot less than a completely custom site from an agency.
- Finding Your Domain Name: Finding an available domain is one of the most difficult parts about starting a website, but it is something you must have and put time into choosing as it is going to make up your entire online presence. There are many different places to purchase domains and many hosting accounts come with one included. (More on that later.)
- Choosing Your Platform: Before we can get into hosting though, you will need to choose the platform for your website. Whether this is a site builder like Wix, a WordPress hosting company like Bluehost, or a place where you can easily build out your own HTML/custom site like SiteGround, you need to know what platform you are going with before you decide on which web hosting company you should use.
- Picking A Hosting Company: This is the biggest expense of many websites and depending on the type of site you are wanting, your hosting provider will vary. With that, the cost will change. We will give you a few different options no matter what kind of site you are looking to create to narrow things down and make sure you are getting a great price with a reputable web hosting company.
- Setting Up & Design Your Website: You've got the basics of your website down, but you still need to put everything together in an appealing style in order to make your site unique and make the experience of people using your site easy and friendly. On top of that, you need to add functionality like comments on a blog or a payment processor on an e-commerce site. This will change your cost.
- Creating Content on Your Website: After your site is set up and looking beautiful, you need to fill it out with content, whether it is blog posts, pages about your business, or product pages, this will cost money if you aren't doing it yourself. Depending on your site, it may be a good idea to hire a copyrighter as well to make sure your marketing and sales copy is top notch and ready to convert.
- Marketing Your Website: If a website is created and no one finds it, does it even exist? In order to grow your website, you will need to do some marketing. From SEO (search engine optimization) to Facebook ads to search engine advertising, any marketing is going to cost time or money. This is also a place where hiring a professional can be a great idea and have huge benefits.
- Maintaining Your Website Over Time: The maintenance cost of every website is going to be different, but as you want to roll out new features, tackle bugs, or do general design changes, it will cost you some money. You will also need to pay for your host and domain on a yearly or monthly basis, so you'll want to include these costs here as well.
Now you may have noticed that most of the things on this list aside from determining your end goal, finding your domain, and picking a hosting company can either be done yourself or by someone else. The cost of your website will change drastically if you have the time to learn how to do many of the things yourself instead of hiring someone to do it for you. Let's go ahead and look at a few different scenarios and the costs associated with each.
Scenario #1: Doing Everything Yourself (About $70/Year)
This may seem overwhelming if you've never started a website before, but before you skip ahead, know that you can build a website without knowing any code, and actually without even seeing a line of code.
How is this done? Well, it really depends on the type of website you are looking to start, so I'm going to be going over setting up a blog, a small business website, and an e-commerce store all without writing a line of code yourself. If the kind of website you are looking for isn't mentioned in here, by the way, comment at the bottom of the article, and I will add it in!
If you are looking to start a blog, WordPress is the best place to do it. They have a super friendly post management system, and setup is really easy too.
All you need to is to purchase a hosting account, I recommend Bluehost as WordPress is automatically installed on every hosting account that is purchased, and it comes with free SSL and a free domain when you sign up. This only costs $71.40 for one year of hosting, and if you stretch your term out, you can purchase three years of hosting for just $48 per year.
After you've got your hosting and domain with Bluehost, you need to get your WordPress site looking good. This is actually really easy as well. Just find a theme you like. There are tons of free WordPress themes out there, but if you want something that is easier to set up and allows you to get quick developer support, I would recommend purchasing a theme from a place like ThemeForest. Once you've found your theme, it's incredibly easy to install, design, and write your first blog post. So easy actually, we have a video show you how to do just that in less than five minutes! Check it out!
Creating A Website For Your Small Business (Wix)
What if you are looking to start a website for your business though? Is WordPress still a good idea? Well, most likely not. For many small businesses, WordPress would require too much custom work to get a website started for their business. Luckily, that's where Wix comes in. You can get started with Wix for as little as $5 per month + $10 per year for a custom domain. That comes out to around $70 per year to get a beautiful website for your small business.
And setting up a site with Wix is super easy. Just choose your free template, sign up for your account, and start editing. Wix is a simple drag and drop site builder meaning that you don't need to know any code whatsoever to build a site with Wix. Just click on the item you want to change, and you can change it. This is the easiest way to start a website without knowing any code whatsoever, and if you purchase your domain name through Wix, it will link to your website automatically!
We actually have an in-depth video on how to start a website for your business with Wix. We go over everything from selecting your theme to making your site live for the world to view. You can watch it here.
Building Your E-Commerce Store (Shopify or WooCommerce + Bluehost)
E-commerce stores are a bit different. There are many different ways to set them up, but the easiest is definitely Shopify. It allows you to quickly and easily set up an e-commerce store without having to know any code, or really even do any designing. After you set up your account, all you need to do is select a theme, add or remove modules from your homepage using a very simple drag and drop style system, and then, add in your products. After that, your store will be ready to start selling!
Now, there is one downside to Shopify, and that is the price. Shopify costs $29/month for a total of $348 if you are looking at the cost on a yearly basis. You will also need to add $10 to that for a custom domain. Thus, to run a Shopify store, you are looking at around $360 per year, and that doesn't include any paid plugins you decide to use as most plugins, or apps as they call them, in Shopify are paid.
What if you don't want to spend that much on an e-commerce store though? There has to be a cheaper alternative right? Well, you are in luck! Instead of using Shopify, you can create your e-commerce store with WordPress using a plugin called WooCommerce. This would be hosted on Bluehost, which gives you a free domain, free SSL, which is needed for an e-commerce store, and WordPress is automatically installed on all new Bluehost accounts. To get everything set up with Bluehost, it will cost you $71.40 every year. You will also need to buy a WooCommerce enabled theme from somewhere like ThemeForest. That'll cost around $50.
After you have purchased your hosting and picked your domain with Bluehost, WordPress will be automatically installed. Now, you just need to install your theme and setup WooCommerce. From there, you will be able to start selling. WooCommerce also gives you a lot more control when it comes to customization letting you change a lot more about your store to make sure it is perfect for you and your product. All of this for a fifth of the price of Shopify. This is why I always use Bluehost with WordPress and WooCommerce over Shopify.
Scenario #2: Hiring Someone To Build Your Site
So what if you don't have the time to build a website yourself? Well, in this case, you can hire someone to do it for you. There are tons of freelance web developers out there, and you can find them on places like Freelancer.com and UpWork. Pricing will differ depending on the skill level of the freelancer you want and the type of website you are looking to get.
There are two different pricing methods for freelance website work – hourly and per project. Each of these has upsides and downsides. For hourly work, changes are easy to have done as it just adds into the hourly bill. The downside here is if your site ends up taking longer than was expected, you are on the hook to pay for this delay.
With per project pricing, you will know exactly how much your site will cost up front. Some changes will be included in this price usually, but anything outside the original scope of the project will be an additional upcharge. You are also stuck with the freelancer you choose when it comes to per project pricing as switching mid-project would be extremely difficult. This isn't as big of an issue with hourly as any changes just result in you being billed for more hours.
So what is the price we are looking at? Well, that is again going to depend on the website you are looking to build. I'll list the per project and hourly rates for all of the website types we outlined above. This is an estimate though as every website will be different, and price will depend on the experience of the freelancer you hire.
Starting A Blog – $25 per hour/$500 per site
This is one of the easier websites to have built for you. It's most likely going to be based on WordPress, and as long as you don't use a custom theme, it will most likely be a lot cheaper to go hourly as setting up an existing WordPress theme even with some custom code shouldn't take more than 5 hours. You will also need to add in $71 for your hosting with someone like Bluehost, so all in all an hourly site build with a freelancer would cost around $200.
Now, that is assuming you don't want a custom theme for your blog. If you do, that'll cost you an additional $2,500 on the low end. Some custom WordPress themes can cost up to $10,000 with freelancers. This is why I would recommend getting a prebuilt theme for $60 from ThemeForest and hiring a freelancer to get things set up. No one will notice, and you will save a lot of money in the process!
Getting A Website For Your Small Business – $50 per hour/$1,500 per site
When it comes to bringing your business online, it may make sense to hire a professional. Doing so will give you someone to contact if you have any issues, and many freelancers will setup longer-term contracts in order to keep your site maintained. This can include hosting and domain costs if you wish. I would, however, suggest getting your own hosting as it'll save you some money.
A small business site built with a freelancer will most likely be built on WordPress, but it will take a lot more custom work than a blog. For example, this will be set up with a homepage, about page, FAQ page, and possibly even a blog. A small business site will have a lot more features and pages than a simple blog, and because of this, it'll cost you $1,500 if you pay for just your site. The hourly rate for a small business site I'm estimating at $50 per hour. This will get you an experienced freelancer to put things together for you in a professional manner.
Building An E-Commerce Store – $150 per hour/$3,000 per site
E-Commerce stores are the most complex on our list, and because of that, they are the most expensive. There are many different platforms a freelancer could use to build your e-commerce store. From Shopify to WordPress to even custom building it. I am going to assume, however, that the freelancer you hire will be using WordPress with WooCommerce.
This is going to take just as much set up as a small business site, but you need to add in the cost/time it will take to get WooCommerce up and running, get your products added, and make things secure. I wouldn't honestly only recommend getting an e-commerce store from a freelancer if you are getting a custom theme. This will up your cost from the $3,000 mentioned above to around $6,000, but that cost is worth it if you want your own unique and optimized e-commerce site.
With that being said, you are going to need a more experienced freelancer that knows how to set up stores with WooCommerce. This isn't very difficult, but a freelancer will charge a premium for it getting you up to $150 per hour or $3,000 for the entire site charged as a whole. When it comes to e-commerce setting up your own site with Shopify or WooCommerce and Bluehost is a much cheaper alternative.
Scenario #3: Getting An Agency To Manage Everything
Hiring agency is going to cost you a premium amount. You should, however, get premium service with this premium price. Every agency price is going to be different, but this will usually start around $7,500, and depending on the project and contract that you work out can stretch to $10,000 plus.
Working with an agency usually gets you something completely custom though, and it typically comes with a six-month plan to get your site of the ground including content, marketing, and general growth and SEO strategies. As you can see, all of this can quickly make the big price worth it.
Agencies take control of every step of getting your business online, creating your blog, or building your e-commerce store, and they do it for you. If you don't have the time to handle any of this yourself, an agency is your best bet. Otherwise, I'd suggest saving the cash, and doing it yourself. Maybe you could spend those extra savings on marketing. Speaking of, marketing is a huge cost when starting a website, and we haven't covered it yet! Let's fix that.
Marketing Your Website
After your site is live, you need to get it in front of people. As I said earlier if a website is created and no one finds it, does it even exist? My answer is no because it may as well have not been made in the first place. There is something interesting here though as well.
Just like with getting your site online, you can either spend time learning how to market your website or money having someone else market your site for you. Now, if you're running ads, there will be some costs there even if you do it yourself, but you can actually grow a website without spending any money on marketing. Just time on search engine optimization, growing your social profiles and creating incredible shareable content. Thus there are really three main ways to grow your website, paid advertising, search engine optimization, and social media marketing. Let's dig into the cost of marketing your website with each of these methods.
When people think of growing your site online, most people jump to this method. It is the easiest, but it also is going to cost you the most. There are many different types of paid advertising online. From search engine advertising to social media advertising to video advertising and tons of stuff in between. The different options for paid advertising available online are endless. Because of this, I would suggest focusing in on one method at first, get yourself profitable using that method, and then add another. This will allow you to scale up over time. What does paid advertising actually cost you each month though? Well, that depends, as usual, if you are hiring someone to run ads for you or if you're doing it yourself. Let's go over both options.
Running Ads Yourself ($300 per month + $500 one time course)
If you're going to be doing paid advertising yourself, it is going to be very variable. I would recommend starting with at least $300 per month no matter what kind of online advertising you are doing. This won't get you crazy results, but starting with a small, $5 per day budget will allow you to test two different ads at a time with this budget allowing you to learn about ad optimization. Speaking of learning, I wouldn't suggest going into online advertising blind. You are putting money on the line here, and if you don't have some kind of guide, you will just be blowing money with no end results whatsoever.
Thus, I'd recommend taking a course on the kind of advertising that appeals to you the most. For example, if you want to do Facebook advertising, take a course on that. If search engine advertising interests you, take a course on that. I have included a $500 one time course budget in this in order to help you get the training you need. In many cases, it won't even cost you that much. For example, you can sign up for SkillShare and pay $15 per month to get access to hundreds of courses on all kinds of online advertising. These courses will get you started on the right foot, and let you start advertising online profitably.
Hiring Someone To Do Your Paid Advertising ($1,000 + $1,000 Ad Budget – $2,000 per month total)
But let's say you don't have the time or even want to learn how to advertise your business online yourself. Well, the good news is that there are hundreds of businesses out there who specialize in online advertising. I wouldn't just go out and hire anyone though. You need to make sure that you are getting your money's worth, and the best way to do that is to ask for their past results. Results speak a lot louder than anything else when it comes to online advertising, so when you're looking to hire a company, agency, or person to do your online advertising, ask to see their results. If they are good at what they do, they will have no issues showing them to you. If not, move on!
After you've found the perfect freelancer or company to run your online advertising, you need to know how much you should expect to pay them. Well, a good social media or search engine marketer will cost you around $1,000 per month. This will put them on retainer for their services. On top of that, you will need to work with them to set an ad budget. For this, I would suggest at least $1,000 per month, but some agencies may push for a $2,000 per month ad budget. In total, you should be looking to spend around $2,000 per month to hire someone to manage your online advertising for you. This may seem like a lot, but as long as you have hired the right person, this money will come back to you with a very nice profit.
Search Engine Optimization
You know how I said that you could build your web presence online, and it could be done 100% free? This is what I was talking about. Search engine optimization is basically defined as optimizing your website to rank as high as possible on Google and Bing for keywords that relate to your business. You do this by creating high-quality, keyword focused content all relating back to your primary business in order to attract customers, generate leads from them, and sell them your products or services. It's a pretty simple formula, and it's one we've used time and time again with great success even here on our website. As with everything on this list though, you've got some options. You can either learn how to SEO sites yourself, or you can hire someone to do it for you. Let's look at which option is best for you.
Learning To Do SEO Yourself (Free)
The great thing about SEO is that by design it is free today. You can't pay Google to naturally rank you higher in search. Sure, you could buy advertising using the methods above, but most of us skip right past search ads anyway! The number one spot on any search results is always much more valuable than having the primary ad spot on that search results. So, how do you get that first search ranking? Well, there are many factors that go into it, but here is a simple outline. First and foremost, you want to pick a keyword that has traffic but doesn't have a ton of competition. The most important part about SEO is choosing the right keyword to talk about. Here is an in-depth article from Moz on how to do keyword research for search engine optimization.
After you have the perfect keyword, you want to create the best piece of content around that topic. This is going to usually be a super post for most higher traffic, valuable keywords. Make sure that you include every piece of knowledge and answer every question that someone could ask when they search for the topic you are covering. Google likes relevant content that covers everything, so you need to be that resource. Answer questions for your readers that they didn't know they even had, and you will start to become the website they trust in your industry.
After you have written the best possible article, use a plugin like Yoast SEO to make sure you have all of your site's structural data like headings, keyword density, images, links, etc. all in order. Yoast really simplifies the SEO process. We actually have a video on setting it up here. You can also learn more about optimizing your site for search engines by taking a course on SkillShare, but it really isn't required. Once you've got your keyword, written your article, and used Yoast to get all of the metadata right, it's time to publish it and see if Google likes it. SEO is very rarely a home run right away. Revisit your articles every 30 days to make tweaks to improve it's search rankings until you've hit that coveted number one ranking on Google.
Hiring A SEO Consultant to SEO Your Site For You ($200 per hour or $2,000 per month)
With that being said, you may be thinking, “It seems like search engine optimization takes a TON of time.” You would be correct on that. From keyword research to content production to optimization plus future management, SEO is time-consuming, so it may be better for you to hire someone to optimize your site for you. With this, I am going to assume they are also creating the content for your site, and that they will be producing two fully SEO'd blog articles each and every month. Over the course of a year, this will allow you to make a big impression on your industry and really start bringing in traffic from search engines.
Be careful when hiring someone to do your search engine optimization for you though. There are tons of people out there who call themselves ‘SEO experts' when in fact they have very little real-world experience. Ask for examples, references, and make sure they have real results, not just fancy words that make them sound like they know something. Another good way to make sure you get a real SEO expert is to pay the premium price for them. Good search engine marketers will charge around $200 per hour or $3,000 per month for two articles each month. This is a high cost, but it is worth it if you are wanting to build a long lasting business online.
Something else worth mention here is that if you are producing the content, hiring someone to then come in and optimize that content for search engines is a lot more affordable. You will still need to pick the right keywords though, and working with them to do that is a great idea. This would cut your costs down to around $400 per article as it would take a good SEO expert around 2 hours to SEO a prewritten article. I would also account for about 15 minutes per month for each article as they go back and make the tweaks necessary to get to Google's first page for your keyword.
Social Media Marketing
You can't mention growing a website without at least talking about social media marketing. With this, we are going to be talking about growing your social media platform naturally and getting followers. Social media advertising is a different beast, and that is included above in our ‘paid advertising' section. With that being said, there are tons of social media platforms out there from Facebook and Instagram to Twitter and YouTube, all of these can be great ways to drive traffic to your website. You can build huge communities around the entire globe using social media, but how much does it cost to grow our website this way? Well, there are, as usual, two ways to manage your social media. You can either do it yourself or hire someone to do it for you.
Growing Your Social Accounts Yourself (Free to $65 per month)
Most business will start by doing their social media themselves. In some cases, this can be a really good thing. You know your customers and market better than anyone else. Because of this, you can attract followers and like-minded people who are going to interested in your business. In other cases, however, it doesn't turn out that great. To do social media correctly, you need to interact with people, build relationships, and spend a lot of time doing it. Most business owners have to worry about running their business, and because of this, there is no time to spend hours upon hours per day running and managing social media accounts.
There are tools that can help make social media management easier for you though. Buffer Publish can help schedule your posts ahead of time, and Buffer Reply will help you engage with your community. These tools can seriously help you reduce the time you use every day to manage your social media. I would suggest, however, still going out an following, engaging and interacting with people on the platform of your choice in order to gain more relationships in your industry. The cost of Buffer Publish and Buffer Reply comes out to a combined $65 per month. Not too bad to build your social following online!
Hiring A Social Media Manager To Grow Your Social For You ($500-$1,000 per month)
What if you don't have the time to do any social media management yourself though? Well, then there are plenty of companies and freelancers out there that can run your social media presence. Some of these are better than others, so it is super important to pick a company or individual that you have a connection with. Interview people, ask for companies they are currently working with, look at those companies pages, and see if you can reach other to that business' owner. Ask them if they like the social media manager they are using. This will ensure that you get good quality service from someone who is dedicated to helping you grow your business through social.
As far as price goes, a team of people will usually charge you more than a freelancer. With that being said, teams can offer more even sometimes reply to comments, and reaching out to other people in your industry for you. So with a team, you are going to be paying at least $1,000 per month. You could end up paying a lot more. I know some high-end social media agencies that offer high-end results who charge $5,000 per month for social media management. With that being said, a freelancer who manages 10 accounts is going to charge around $500 per month. With this, you won't get as much personal attention, but they will take care of most aspects of your social media presence while you can focus on running the day-to-day of your business.
So How Much Does Building A Website Actually Cost?
You now know all of the potential costs that a website can have, but what does it actually cost all totaled up and added together? Well, that is a bit subjective depending on a lot of factors, specifically marketing, so I'm going to let you add that to your total. I'm focusing on getting your site online here. What will it cost to get your website on the internet for people to see it? Let's break it down.
The Costs of Building Your Website Yourself
So as you can see the cheapest way to get online is with WordPress and Bluehost while the easiest way is to use a what you see is what you get editor such as Wix. WooCommerce paired with WordPress and Bluehost is the cheapest way to start an online e-commerce store with the easier but more expensive option being Shopify. Obviously, your marketing costs will need to be added to the above costs. Remember, you can market your site for free using social media marketing and search engine optimization!
The Costs of Hiring Someone To Build Your Website
The key takeaway from this, in my opinion, is that you can save a decent amount of money by hiring a freelancer on a per-project basis. This is because the freelancer typically won't have a team they need to pay like an agency will, and the freelancer will most likely want to do a per project payment system is that gives them more guaranteed income than working hourly does. With that being said, you can get much more custom work done at an agency, and they are more likely to be a one-stop-shop helping you with marketing on top of building your site. Depending on your budget, an agency may end up being the better choice.
Which Options Are Best For You?
All of the costs you will incur when starting a website have now been covered. All of your options have been broken down, and now, it's time to decide what method you will use to start your blog, bring your business online, or build your e-commerce store. Throughout this article, we have presented two main options for building a website – doing it yourself or hiring someone to do it for you, so let's figure out which option is best for you!
Build your website yourself if
- you have the time to build a website. (Around 5 total hours for a WordPress site if this is your first time building a site. Around 2 hours if you are building a site with Wix.)
- you want to learn how to build websites.
- you want 100% creative control over your site.
- you don't need tons of custom features such a user login area with custom modules and content.
Hire someone to build your website if
- you don't have the time to build a site yourself.
- you have no desire to learn how to build a website.
- you want a custom site built just for you with custom features.
- you want a one-stop-shop for everything from getting your site online to marketing and advertising.
And with that, you should have a good idea as to what category you fall into. From here, it is either off to purchase web hosting for your WordPress site, we recommend Bluehost, signup for your account at Wix, setup your Shopify store, or hire a freelancer over at UpWork. No matter what choice you choose, it will be perfect for your situation. Enjoy your brand new website!