The True Cost of Building & Running a Website

The True Cost of Building & Running a Website

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. Unless you completely know the strategy and tactics in creating a website and don’t have the time to build one yourself, you should not skimp on a website.

So how much does it take to build a website? Well, lucky for you, I have the secret to finding labor for cheap! And I also will share to you another strategy, should you want to invest a bit more into your website.

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The Secret to Building Websites for Cheap

Here’s the good news: you can get a website done for cheap. You want to know how? If you only want this one and only thing done: a website. You can find cheap labor in Upwork and Fiverr. Yes, even as a Philippine business owner, if you don’t mind cheap labor, you can always hire labor from these freelance websites dedicated specifically for first-world countries. If you have the persistence and diligence to look around, you can easily find labor for as low as $5.00/hour (or Php 250.00/ hour). Besides, there are also Filipinos in the website who are freelancing for international clients for some side income. However, this assumes that you have set the project outline requirements and deliverables clearly, and you know how to monitor a project closely. Another downside of going this path is that hourly pricing doesn’t incentivize mastery and prompt project delivery.

If that is out of the question, you can always find someone to do your website here in the country. In fact, I will share you the secret of finding how to get a website done for cheap. It boils down to:

  • Creating a website without any input or strategy from the web designer on how it can seamlessly integrate to your sales & marketing
  • Hire someone who is new to web design without any experience or does not know how to generate results

So long as you can frame your web design project along these lines, it won’t be hard to find cheap labor for your project. A good example would be to hire your niece or nephew and take on your website as a summer project, and you can pay them an allowance to do it. Another good example would be to hire students who are learning computer science or web design in colleges. A simple website, devoid of any strategy and also of experience in the craft, can easily net you Php 15,000.00 – Php 20,000.00 for a simple 5 page web design job.

However, I will guarantee you that if that is the way you will be making a website, you will be sorely disappointed with what you will get. Let me be real with you: a website is just a waste of money if it does not serve the business in any shape or form. For businesses, you are always fighting a battle everyday to ensure that you stay alive in the ever-changing and competitive marketplace. A battle of ensuring you stay profitable to sustain operations and to generate a profit. And any expense you incur should ALWAYS have a return of investment. If a website is just sitting pretty in your business, it’s as good as scratch paper.

The Cost of Building a PROPER Website

So how much does a PROPER web design project cost? Well, it’s not a simple question to answer. As we stated above, you can easily find cheap labor to do your website, but how about a website that really performs and is an asset to your business?

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. He 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 one of my clients that import and 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 another client of mine 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.

There are numerous ways to add strategy to a website for a business: automating client acquisition if the business has a 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 Google Sheet 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.

Customization

Some websites will be fine with a brochure type of website: just simply stating their services and their business hours. And that is fine for a lot of simple businesses. But there will be some that would require custom functionality to help in their customer acquisition strategy. What do I mean by that?

A good example would be in the real estate industry. You will be catering to a lot of upscale customer base with money to burn, so money is no objection. What matters to them is if they can find a way to invest in a property at the right price, so that any cashflow they generate from it will result in a net positive cashflow. So a good idea (but not a necessary feature) for some real estate agents to have in their website is having a mortgage calculator in it. A customer will place the value of his property, how many months/ years he plans on paying off for the property, and at what interest rate he will be paying at. This will require custom coding a calculator in a website for this application. In this case, the price of a website will definitely go up.

Another good example is for vacation rental homes. If you are doing your marketing correctly, you will be having online traffic who is interested in renting a place for their vacation in your website. You can just leave your contact information and have them ask you directly if a certain date is free. Not the best solution. What you can have is a website that has a built-in booking feature that instantly tells them if a certain date is free for rent or not, and it should allow them to book for a date and time on the spot. This will require custom coding a booking system, and again, the price of a website will go up.

So, any custom functionality will definitely drive the price of a website up.

Adding It All Up

As you can see, knowing how much a website should cost is not a simple answer. There are so many ways to have a web design project done, and there are also a number of ways to add value to a website project that makes it go beyond the standard market asking rate.

Though if you really want a rough idea of how much a website should cost, a simple 5-page website with a proper strategy that generates results should roughly cost about Php 25,000.00. Anything beyond 10 pages with a proper strategy can go for Php 30,000.00 – Php 50,000.00, and anything with custom coded functionality can go above Php 75,000.00 – Php 100,000.00+.

However, don’t be surprised if you will see someone quoting higher prices that I mention here. Maybe the website is designed to attract a specific clientele to a business; maybe it shortens the sales cycle of a product whose customer journey takes very long; maybe the website is done in multiple languages. Whatever the price is, talk it over with your web designer, and as a business onwer, you should be able to see a return that makes sense before you invest.

The Cost of Running a Website

When the website is done and is handed over, you no longer have to pay for anything else, right? I would like to say you’re correct, but that is not the reality. Keeping a website up and running has its own running costs. Here are some examples.

Obviously, the first example that comes to mind for recurring expenses is web hosting. Good web hosting has variable costs, but I suggest decent web hosting should start at around $6-10.00/ month or Php 300-500.00/ month. If you see someone pitching your for hosting that is below $3.00/ month or Php150.00/ month, I highly suggest you stay away from such hosting, whether it be local (someone pitched to me Php50.00/ month hosting but with great limitations) or international (it is common for these hosting companies to lock you in to 3 year contracts for the best price, but you will quickly find out that just a slight influx of traffic will make your website return errors because of insufficient recources). When you are either running an advanced website like an e-commerce store or run paid ads as you scale your business, your hosting should be scalable upwards and down to accomodate for lean and peak seasons. In such cases, hosting fees can reach beyond Php 1,000.00/ month, depending on how much of a power user your business is.

Another unforeseen expense in running your website is maintaining it. By maintaining, I mean keeping an eye on it to make sure your platform and plugins stay up to date for speed and security. The internet is an ever-changing landscape:

  • updating your website makes it more secure; there are always malicious personalities wanting to hack into your business for your treasure trove of data and financial information.
  • updating your website also makes it faster due to updated code; Google is always pushing for better user experience. How fast your website loads is one factor, and Google rewards you for it.

Updating your website is one part of the work in maintaining it. Another would be regularly backing it up, in the moment that there is a malicious attack on your business website and you need it back up and running ASAP due to, for example, a seasonal promo you are running. If your website is your main sales channel, then this is definitely a must for you. If you or someone will be backing up your website, make sure that you don’t only have local backups in your web hosting server; make sure you have your website backups in a separate location, too.

Doing all this work is very mundane, and it should not be the task of the business owner to oversee it. Usually, they will be hiring a dedicated web guy to ensure everything is running smooth and is up to date for the web. And it is not cheap. When you look at Indeed to hire a web designer, you are looking at hiring someone from Php 18,000.00 (and this is entry level, meaning you still need to train and provide training for him) up to Php 50,000.00. The same goes if you want to hire a web developer for the job. You are looking at Php 15,000.00 (again entry-level, you need to provide training) up to Php 60,000.00. Not to mention, technical Filipino labor is widely known to look for greener pastures abroad the moment you are able to train them competently in-house. Web professionals in the U.S. can command $80,000.00/ year, and it can easily go to 6-figures. This is because there is a shortage of web professionals in the Western World, too. So as a Philippine business owner, you are fighting an uphill battle here.

Conclusion

Designing a website can be cheap, but more often than not, it is in your best interest not to skimp on it. It is one of the 1st things a customer interested in your business will see when they look you up, and they should be left with a good first impression whenever that happens.

There are many factors than come to play when paying for a website. Is it a simple website? What kind of strategies are in place? Is there any custom requirements for it? As we have stated, cheap websites for local Philippine businesses can start at Php 20,000.00 for a website without any strategy. Anything with strategy can cost from Php 25,000.00 – Php 50,000.00, and any additional custom requirments can go for Php 75,000.00 – Php 100,000.00+.

Not only that, there are recurring expenses, too. Decent hosting can cost Php 500.00/ month, but it can go higher the more advanced and resource hungry your website becomes. Not to mention, it should be maintained and upgraded to keep up with the ever-changing internet landscape, and regular backups should be performed. Hiring a dedicated web guy can cost from Php 15,000.00 – Php 60,000.00/ month.

However, if you are in need of a basic 5-page website, I have a special offer for you during the COVID-19 season. You don’t need to pay a web designer to create your website for you. I offer web design for FREE; all you need to do is pay for web hosting and maintenance. I explain more details about my offer here.

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