The True Cost of Building & Running a Website

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Ever wondered how much building and running a website costs? In this article, I will be running you through how much building and running a website will roughly cost.

But before that, disclaimer: I build websites for small businesses, so what I say may be a bit biased. So read on with that in mind.

But I would like to say that as a business owner, you should not be cheapening out on your own website. Why? Because it will be one of the very first things your customer sees whenever they will be interacting with your business. It is also very important in your sales and marketing strategy because it will tie into the customer buying journey, too.

One big reason to have a proper website is getting the customer over the “trust hump” before making a purchsae. It is proven through a GE shopper research study that 81% of online consumers research online before making a purchase. It may not be apparent now, but you may be leaking sales just by not having a website online for your customers to read about you & trust you before buying from you.

The next big reason to have one is to help the “silent majority” interact with your business. A proper website should be able to constantly generate leads, as well as have a way for this silent majority to interact directly with them to either make a purchase or stay in the loop with the business (which will allow them to be sold to down the line).

So how much does it REALLY take to build a website?

The Raw Materials

So how much does a PROPER web design project cost? Well, it’s not a simple question to answer. Let’s start with the “raw materials” needed.

The Website Itself

WordPress ($3.50-$10.75)

When we talk about WordPress, there are 2 arms under it: WordPress.com & WordPress.org. WordPress.com is the commercial arm of WordPress, complete with hosting, domain name, & support; however, it’s a closed ecosystem where a lot of plugins standard for WordPress.org are restricted & can’t be easily used. WordPress.org is the open-source arm of WordPress, a content management system (CMS) not chained under any closed ecosystem & free for everyone to modify & extend its functionalities, according to their will. From this point on, we focus on WordPress.org every time we mention “WordPress”, since this is my (most of the people in the web) specialty.

WordPress is my go-to tool for building websites, & this post will focus on it. Why? Before the likes of Wix & Squarespace, WordPress has had enough time to develop in the online that it’s market share on the web is at 40% and still counting to this very day! It’s open-source & in the game for a LOT longer than anyone else, with a very passionate community. It is also uncontested when it comes to SEO functionality & usage, helping you rank for all those high-intent keywords on Google!

WordPress is also flexible. If you’re not techy, it can still work flawlessly. If you’re a dev, you can extend its functionality MUCH further.

Since WordPress is open-source, WordPress itself is FREE. You just have to pay for other matters like hosting & a domain name, then set everything up yourself.

If you are on the market for budget hosting, there are players like GoDaddy & HostGator, & prices are very cheap if your website doesn’t get that much traffic. These are perfect if you’re just setting up a website just as a hobby.

GoDaddy Hosting Price 2022
GoDaddy Hosting Pricing 2022
HostGator Hosting Pricing 2022
HostGator Hosting Pricing 2022

If you ask me what’s my go-to hosting setup, it’s neither of the 2 above. For serious businesses, I usually recommend Cloudways. Other hosting providers struggle to keep your website fast if you get spikes in traffic (from ads & SEO), but Cloudways is more flexible because you can scale your server up & down based on traffic spikes under your control. Plus, there’s more advanced tech that can be leveraged like server-side caching, & you can actually host more than 1 website per server to save on server costs for more than 1 website (though it’s recommended to host your main website separately if you’re getting a lot of website visitors to it). This is my main recommendation to my clients.

Cloudways Hosting Pricing 2022
Cloudways Hosting Prices as of May 2, 2022

If you’re using WordPress, you will also have to get a domain name yourself, which is very easy once you know what you should do. My go-to is Namecheap, because their domain names are just so cheap (pun intended). Do note prices can rise based on how broad the domain name is (for example: crochet.com will DEFINITELY cost more than lucyscrochet.com).

Namecheap Domain Name Price
Namecheap Domain Name Price

Themes ($49-69/yr)

When building a website, you will come across themes. Themes are basically what will control the styling of your website & what others will see when they come to your website. Some really good examples for WordPress themes are Astra & Neve. While there are other good themes out there, these are so far one of the most downloaded & supported themes in the WordPress space. These themes have an excellent free tier, but for regular businesses, you will want to pay for the Pro version to ensure support for it, as well as the additional features it offers to run business easier. Prices range from $49-69/ yr.

Astra Price
Astra Theme Pricing
Neve Pricing
Neve Theme Pricing

Plugins & Extra Functionality (Free – $634/yr.)

This is where WordPress shines. Because of it’s open-source nature, not limited to an enclosed system, & its wide adaptation in the web, so much plugins & apps just integrate with, & it would be stupid of them not to because they would be missing out on an entire market of websites.

When building a WordPress website, here are some popular plugins to make a WordPress website work, with their pricing for 1 pro website license:

  • Gravity Forms (Free – $59/yr.) – To add customer inquiries, feedback, & other sophisticated web forms
  • Elementor (Free – $49/yr.) – For advanced website design layouts.
  • WP Mail SMTP (Free – $49/yr.) – improves email deliverability and fixes WordPress not sending email issue.
  • Uncanny Automator ($149/yr.) – WordPress automation plugin that helps you connect your website with popular tools for process automation
  • MailChimp (Free – $11/yr.) – email marketing service
  • MonsterInsights (Free – $99/yr.) – Google Analytics integration
  • RankMath (Free – $59/yr.) – Improve your SEO ranking.
  • HubSpot (Free – $18/user/mo. but many different pricing packages) – all-in-one CRM, live chat, email marketing, and sales tools.
  • UpdraftPlus (Free – $42/yr.) – Automatic WordPress backups
  • WordFence (Free – $99/yr.) – WordPress website security plugin

The beauty of the WordPress ecosystem is that there are a lot of plugins & app integrations with a very generous free tier. Keep in mind these plugins listed have very good free tiers, but more often than not, a serious business would be paying for most, if not all, of this to get a leg up in the competition online. That would be around free up to ~$634.00/yr. in plugin costs.

The Intangibles: Strategy

On top knowing how to code and how to design a website, a good web designer should know how to think like and talk like a business owner, meaning he should not just be deep into the web design process. It’s no longer enough for a web designer to just know about coding & leaving the business with a website that may or may not work. This is the intangible factor businesses would need to consider when hiring someone to build their website.

Business Acumen (Priceless)

A good web designer should also be able to put on his business hat, empathize how the business owner would think, and find ways on how to solve the business owner’s problems with his craft. Let me share with you some examples of strategy that is being implemented in a website.

A good example is Sellmon PH sell salmon directly to customers. He is someone running an online business who is active in social media marketing. He posts on Facebook and Instagram everyday, and he even puts up stories in the respective social medias to interact with his customer base directly. When he approached me to do a website, I recommended him to setup a customer acquisition system designed to hook in new customers with a 5% discount. Now ever since his website is now live, he still does the same amount of work, but he is seeing an additional 5% or 10-20 kg in additional sales, without putting in more work in his business, just from having a website. That is an example of adding a strategy to a website: designing a new customer acquisition system to reach out to more customers.

Another good example is Gutter Guru who does rain gutter cleaning in upscale neighborhoods. He is someone who is always hard at work, and he himself is the one going to houses and doing the dirty work, taking the gunk out of rain gutters with his own hands. So, you can imagine that all his time is either spent on: driving to his job and him doing the actual job. Not much time left in between. His main way of getting new clients is through Yelp reviews and ads, and his target customers are older upscale homeowners who don’t use the internet often. So when he approached me to have a website done, we identified that we can partly automate his client acquisition system by designing a website for people coming from Yelp, and we designed it so that his customers can send a response or call his number straight from his home page. Now, he passively gets an additional 3-5 home service jobs per week without any additional work. That is another example of adding strategy to a website: tailor fitting it for a traffic source and a specific customer base.

These are just some examples of exercising business acumen, but other examples can include: planning your website around high-margin items; planning your upsells, cross-sells, & backend products; formulating creative offers to sell easier; etc. Usually, this is priceless because people who think like these either work in big MNCs with big salaries (think ~₱60,000.00/month) or start their own businesses (unlimited upside).

Marketing Mindset (~₱41,541/ mo. – Priceless)

The days of a web designer just being a coder/ builder are gone; websites are now a crucial part of a business that it will also need some form of marketing in it to convince your website visitors to choose you over your competition.

There are numerous ways to add strategy to a website for a business: automating client acquisition & nurturing if the business has an organic or paid advertising system in place, creating a promo to entice new customers to try your product, having a lead collection system and saving it in a customer database for easy email or SMS blast marketing, structuring it so that it becomes a sales tool your salespeople can use in their presentations, saving time from answering repetitive questions with an FAQ section, and many more. The goal is this: having a website should generate an immediate return for businesses, whether it be in helping them collect more warm leads, generate more sales, generate sales faster, or saving them time from repetitive customer inquiries.

A good example would be how I helped HoliQuip reposition his gym equipment business to speak more to people setting up a home gym. Before then, most gym equipment sellers would just mention the features of the equipment, but no one positioned it as “saving money by setting up a home gym”. That helped us sell ~₱184,000.00 worth of gym equipment. Now, most of the players sell it like that, but before it was a boon to target the customer’s needs on saving money while becoming healthier.

Having a web designer knowledgeable in marketing & copywriting principles is very invaluable when building a website. According to Indeed, usually a marketing associate is paid ₱18,151.00/mo., & that’s just someone new to the job without experience. If you want someone more experienced, a marketing manager is usually paid ₱41,541.00/ mo.

Problem Solving Mindset (Priceless)

Another very underrated aspect of bringing someone to build a website would be to let the web designer have a problem solving mindset. He should be able to listen to your business problems, think like a marketer as to how to sell more from the website, & finally identify other problems that can be tied to the website to make it an invaluable asset to the business.

Apart from solving problems, what only matters in business is making more money (with marketing & sales, as mentioned above), saving money, & saving time. Having a web designer always buzz with ideas to also save money & time will pay dividends to the business.

A good example would be how I helped HoliFit save more time & operational resources. When I worked with them, I identified that they have a blog content marketing person & am looking to drive more traffic to the website, while spending less time on marketing. I developed an automation where every new blog post will be posted in Facebook, Twitter, & LinkedIn. The content is repurposed in 3 different social media, leading to more website visitors to increase the chances of generating more leads, & ultimately reduced manpower in marketing to focus on something else.

This is one example of showcasing a problem solving mindset whenever tackling a website design build.

Maintenance (~₱28,000.00/mo.)

Of course, all lead gen mechanisms & tech need maintenance, regardless of using whatever website builder platform (yes, even when using Wix or Squarespace or even Shopify) or methodology. If the business owner is not a website designer or techy at all, they will need all the help they can get to manage their website, & ultimately, their online presence.

What ends up usually happening is they will hire a full-time web designer. A typical web designer salary in the Philippines is ₱27,596/ month, according to a study in Indeed. They will handle the occasional firefighting, custom code to fix & standardize things on occassion, website security checker, & backing up the website.

Adding It All Up

A full WordPress website that will help facilitate a business’s processes, as well as drive business decisions with data, will cost from $10/mo. from hosting & ~$9/yr. in a domain name. But if we are talking about plugins & extensions for WordPress, we are looking at an additional $634.00/yr.!! That’s a total of $653/yr. in a full functional WordPress site with all the bells & whistles needed to give the business what it needs to drive digital decisions.

Add on top of all these costs the salary of a web designer to manage a website full-time. You’re looking at an additional ~₱28,000.00/month or ~$533/mo. So just managing a full-fledged website for a serious business would cost you $634/yr. + ~₱28,000.00/month (₱336,000/yr.) or ~$533/mo. ($6,396/yr.). If the web designer also has business acumen, a marketing mindset, & a problem solving mindset, that is priceless, on top of all these costs.

Conclusion: How to Save On These Fees

If you are looking to save on all these fees, then first of all, you should hire a competent web designer. The web designer should know:

  • How to build a website according to your taste
  • How to think like a businessman
  • How to think like a marketer
  • How to think like a problem solver

A web designer who encompasses all of these traits will save you on so much headache, because he will have taken into account numerous scenarios & business cases for your website & online presence, so you will have to re-do a lot of your website fewer times to maximize as much revenue as you can get from it.

If you haven’t noticed already, I have showcased all of these traits. I can uniquely think like a business owner, a persuasive marketer, & a problem solver, all in one. I have showcased some good case studies that I hope you were able to find interesting (I have more of them in my portfolio).

Looking to save on $634/yr. on plugins & extensions? I am also the man for the job. Apart from clients having to buy their own hosting & domain name (otherwise you won’t own your own name online), I also have “agency” licenses for most, if not all, of these plugins & extensions (some best tools change & will have to change them every now & then). For just the fraction of a monthly salary of a web designer, you can hire me to manage & maintain your website’s plugin updates, security, & backups after you have your website built.

Looking to consult with me on how to properly manage & operationalize your website management & maintenance? You can pay me hourly for a consult, or you can email me directly at noah@policarpiodigital.com to discuss if you want one of your websites managed.

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