10 Common Website Maintenance Costs
If you’re building a website, it’s best to do it right from the outset. Not only does that ensure security and compliance with industry or government regulations, it will save you money on maintenance.
Before embarking on your web building activities, we want to ease your mind by providing an overview of cost by website type and individual components that come with web development.
How the Type of Website Affects Costs
Not all content is created equally. Some websites are heavy with media content like images and video, which use a lot of resources and can affect speed.
Other types of content, like blogs, are rather static and use fewer resources. There are also differences in resource usage, maintenance, and storage requirements if you’re creating a personal website as opposed to a large, active eCommerce platform.
Expenses vary by hosting plan and platform, and it will cost more if you’re using a professional development company rather than going the DIY route. For example WordPress is free, but you’ll have to pay for your domain and hosting. Website builders like Wix are all-inclusive. The most expensive build is an organic website with custom coding that’s built by a professional developer, but that can lead to “bloated” and complicated code.
These are general figures for each of the five most common types of website.
- Hobby websites: Hobby websites are personal sites that you create to share an interest with others. Since you probably won’t need a lot of storage or resources for a static website, and you can get away with a shared hosting plan, the cost is about $3 – $25 per month for domain name registration and hosting.
- Personal websites: Personal websites are similar to hobby sites. This is the type of platform you would use to create a family newsletter or post photos of your vacation. You’ll also need to budget about $3 – $25 per month for domain registration and hosting.
- Business websites: The cost of a business is broad and depends on the size and nature of your business. A sole practitioner or small business could pay as little as $225 per month for domain registration, hosting, graphic design, and marketing. The monthly expense for a larger company could be as high as $2750 monthly. There may also be yearly licensing fees. This cost includes the same features as for a smaller business website, plus extra expenses for email marketing, maintenance, and updates.
- eCommerce platforms: Where many business websites are promotional, eCommerce platforms need to be functional and dynamic. This type of website needs more functionality and features like shopping cart apps. Depending on the size and expected traffic, expect to pay between $450 and $6,000 or more. This price includes professional graphic design, tracking and analytics, tech support, and security in addition to the standard requirements.
- Enterprise websites: Major corporations with a large customer base and those with special requirements would choose this level of service. The cost runs between $5,150 and close to $10,000 per month, which includes advanced security, multiple domains, extended storage, and unlimited resources.
What You Need to Build Your Website and Associated Costs
One you’ve decided the purpose of your website, there are expenses that you’ll incur during production and after you go live. This is in addition to the bare-bones costs outlined above.
In this section, we’ll dive a little deeper into the expenses and why they’re necessary.
Domain Name Selection and Registration
You need a unique domain name, which means you’ll have to pay a registrar to reserve and register your domain. The price varies by registrar.
- $10 – $20
Your hosting platform is where your website will live. The cost will depend upon what features you need, the type of hosting, and resources like processing power and storage. Be aware that performance tests by web hosting experts HostingCanada.org indicate that discount hosting companies performed twice as slow as regular hosts.
- Small-to-medium blog: $2 – $20 per month
- Medium-to-large blog: $25 – $100 per month
- Small-to-medium eCommerce website: $25 – $100 per month
- Medium-to-large eCommerce website: $100 – $500 per month
Some security is included with your hosting plan, but you might pay extra for antivirus, spam blockers, and backup/restore systems. Other countries may have additional security requirements.
- $0 – $100 monthly
Unless you’re a professional writer or have a lot of time to generate fresh, unique content, you’ll want to outsource this job to a professional. The cost will depend on whether your content is limited to basic services and homepages, product descriptions, or a full blog with regular posts.
- Expect to pay $0.15 per word for a reliable, professional content writer
Marketing Your Website
Marketing and promotion may well be your biggest expense, but you’ll get a nice ROI. This cost includes email campaigns and paid ads on Facebook or Google.
- $0 – $1,000 per month
The cost of tech support depends on your website, the degree of technical complexity, and your own skill level; absolute novices will need extra help.
- $0 – $300 per month, or $60 per hour for an independent technician
The cost of this element depends on whether your hosting plan offers custom email addresses as part of their basic service or as a premium feature.
- * $0 – $5 per user each month
Updating Your Website
This includes all of the back-end and technical function of your website rather than the cosmetic bits like layout and general design. You’ll have to keep your software, apps, and plugins up-to-date, and make sure you’re using the latest version of WordPress or another content management system (CMS). Many people hire a content manager or select a managed hosting plan to take care of these things and extras like content updates/editing and product updates.
- $0 – $190 per month
You want to make sure that your website always looks fresh and modern. That means paying for design updates from a professional graphic designer.
- $0 – $1,600 per month, depending on the complexity of the design
Analytics, Tracking, and Reporting
You can use Google’s very good free analytics, but you could incorporate additional tracking and reporting mechanisms for deeper insight or special analysis.
- $0 – $300 per month
How it Looks When You Put it All Together
The above figures provide an abstract depictions, but that doesn’t really put the whole website building process into context. Here’s a realistic picture of a expenses for a basic, low-cost website for a small business.
You’re going to want a secure platform, which will cost about $14 per year, which breaks down to $1.167 per month and includes privacy protection. For a hosting service that includes a custom email address that’s tied to your domain will add about $2.75 per month to the cost.
Next, you’ll need to account for updates and maintenance, which you can do yourself if you have a smaller website with an average amount of traffic. Add about $50 – $75 per month to cover an average cost for four hours to cover graphic and design updates.
The typical small business website won’t require much tech support. A simple brochure website with maybe a few service pages will cost about $60 per year if you handle routine maintenance and upgrades yourself.
Many plans include web security as part of the service plans, and that includes extra spam protection for your comments section and contact forms. Email services like MailChimp will allow you to take advantage of free email newsletters for subscriber lists of 2,000 or less. That’s it.
You can get a fairly functional basic small business website for around $81 per month. The price goes up when you include marketing through email or paid ads on Google and social media platforms like Facebook. Those could run as high as $1,000 per month.
Here’s how it breaks down, starting with the freebies:
- Email: Free with hosting
- General updates: Free, DIY
- Site updates and maintenance: Free, DIY
- Security: Free with hosting, but only for spam protection; antivirus and other security will cost extra, or you can use free security plugins if you have WordPress
- Analytics and tracking: Free, via Google Analytics
- Email newsletter: Free with MailChimp for up to 2,000 subscribers; it will cost $10 per month for up to $50,000 subscribers
- Domain registration: $14 per year, includes privacy protection
- Design and graphics updates: $67 per month
- Tech support: $10 per month
- Hosting: $2.75 per month
- Total expenses before marketing: $81 per month
Web building isn’t a one-and-done proposition. Not only are there up-front expenses, you’ll also have to be diligent about maintenance and upgrades. Some expenses are yearly, while others can be paid month-to-month.
Not maintaining your website or taking care of incidentals like secure hosting and updates will leave your website looking and performing badly. That makes you look unprofessional. It also means a less than stellar user experience (UX) and low ranking in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
There are many ways to promote your business like using a webinar software that could help you draw in new visitors and customers. But that won’t be enough if your website is not functional.