Building a website is a key step for e-commerce vendors, bloggers, content creators, and anyone else who wants to connect with an online audience. However, setting up and running a website can take a significant amount of time and money, and it’s important to consider those costs before getting started.
In this article, we’ll walk through some of the main expenses associated with website building and help you budget for your new website. After reading, you’ll know more about these common concerns:
- How much does it cost to get a website up and running?
- How much does it cost to keep a website online?
- Should you use a website builder or pay for custom development?
How Much Does a Website Cost Using a Website Builder?
Website builders offer simple website editing tools that come with little to no need for coding.
While they’re typically the easiest option to use, they don’t offer the same opportunities for customization that you’ll get with custom web development.
How much you spend on a website builder and all related costs depend on the platform you use and your plans for the site.
How Much Do the Cheapest Website Builders Cost?
There are several different website builders that target creators with small budgets. You can even build a website for free with some providers, but these services generally come with significant limitations. For example, you might have to include the website builder’s branding in your site design.
Here are a few of the cheapest website builders.
Weebly is a website builder from Square with both free and low-cost plans. Even though Weebly is a budget option, it can work well for e-commerce businesses.
Free Weebly sites come with Weebly branding as well as a weebly.com domain, which limits their appeal to creators who are looking for a more professional design.
The Personal Weebly subscription runs $9 per month or $6 per month, paid annually. While both free and premium Weebly sites come with hosting, you need to acquire your own domain name as a Personal subscriber.
Meanwhile, both Professional ($16 per month/$12 per month, paid annually) and Performance ($29 per month/$26 per month, paid annually) include a free domain with their annual plans.
Professional also comes with unlimited storage, advanced site stats, and phone support while Performance adds in abandoned cart emails, product reviews, PayPal payments, and other helpful e-commerce features.
Wix is another platform with a streamlined website builder. Like Weebly, its free plan includes Wix branding and a Wix domain.
Paid plans for personal use run from $14 to $39 per month depending on your needs. However, Wix also offers business subscriptions for $23 to $49 per month, plus custom enterprise plans for clients that require a more scalable solution.
Squarespace is a cheap website builder that focuses on e-commerce stores for digital businesses.
While Squarespace currently offers a free trial, a premium plan is required to maintain access.
Subscriptions start at $16 per month ($12 per month, paid annually) for Personal and go up to $54 per month ($40 per month, paid annually) for the Commerce tier.
Plans at and above the Business tier ($26 per month/$18 per month, paid annually) come with fully integrated e-commerce for online product sales.
How Much Do the Best Website Builders Cost?
The cheapest website builders are relatively robust when it comes to most features, but the best website builders naturally tend to cost a little more money.
Even if you start with a low-cost plan, you’ll also be able to upgrade your subscription later on while sticking with the same provider.
The cost of a more powerful website builder depends on the tools you need. Shopify, for example, is a good option for e-commerce brands that want to sell products and services online.
Shopify plans start at $29 per month for Basic, which comes with a limited range of features and support for two staff accounts.
The standard Shopify tier runs $79 per month while Advanced comes with 15 staff accounts plus additional features like calculated shipping rates and custom pricing for different markets at $299 per month.
Meanwhile, Leadpages is another premium website builder that focuses on optimizing conversions through landing pages, customizable pop-ups, and other elements paired with detailed reporting and analytics.
Leadpages costs $37 per month, paid annually for Standard or $74 per month, paid annually for Pro.
Most providers offer custom solutions for larger clients, so there’s truly no upper limit to how much you can spend on a website builder.
With so many options out there, your goal should be to find a provider that meets your needs without overcharging for unnecessary features.
Are Website Builders Worth the Money?
Ultimately, whether a website builder is worth the costs depends on what you’re looking to do with your site.
WordPress could be a better option for bloggers and other content creators. Furthermore, WordPress users can add e-commerce functionality to their sites through WooCommerce.
On the other hand, WordPress can be more complex to learn than a basic website builder and could also end up being more costly compared to something like Wix or Squarespace.
Custom web development gives you the greatest flexibility but is also the most technically demanding. You could easily spend thousands of dollars on web development alone, so this is a better choice for sites that expect to generate substantial revenue through sales and/or ad revenue.
What Costs Are Involved If You Use a Website Builder?
If you use a website builder, the main cost for your site is the website builder subscription itself.
Basic paid plans run between about $5 and $15 per month from the leading providers.
Depending on the platform that you’re using and your specific subscription tier, you may also need to pay for web hosting or a premium domain name. Fortunately, these are included with many paid website builders, and you should also get a free SSL certificate to secure your site.
Other costs could include paid extensions to add functionality to your site, payment processing (for e-commerce vendors), and promoting your site on Google Ads or other platforms.
How Much Does a Website Cost Using WordPress?
WordPress is an alternative to conventional website builders. Since WordPress is a content management system (CMS), it’s often associated with blogs and other content-heavy sites.
While content development is one of the biggest strengths of WordPress, you can create almost any kind of site through WordPress and its deep library of extensions and add-ons. Let’s take a closer look at how WordPress compares to other business website solutions.
Using a WordPress Hosting Provider
We suggest using a web host that offers specific features for hosting WordPress websites. They’ll handle site maintenance and other issue so you can focus on your site and your business.
What Are the Best WordPress Hosting Providers?
Every WordPress host is different, so it’s impossible to recommend a specific solution for every single user. With that being said, these are some of the best WordPress hosting providers to consider if you’re looking for a new hosting arrangement:
- WP Engine
- A2 Hosting
- InMotion Hosting
How Much Does the Best WordPress Hosting Cost?
The cost of WordPress hosting depends on your site’s unique needs. Virtual private server (VPS) and cloud hosting each makes sense for different businesses and pricing vary widely between those solutions.
Which Type of WordPress Hosting Should You Choose?
WordPress hosting solutions are available in many different forms. The right one for you depends on the scale of your site and what you’re planning to use it for.
While basic hosting is included with WordPress subscriptions through WordPress.com, you may be interested in third-party hosting. Each provider comes with unique pros and cons, but there are four main types of WordPress hosting currently available: shared, dedicated, VPS, and cloud hosting.
Shared WordPress Hosting
As the name implies, shared hosting involves splitting hosting resources with other websites. Since providers can support many different clients on the same server, they’re usually able to provide this service at a much lower cost compared to VPS, cloud, or dedicated hosting. Reliable shared hosting plans are currently available for as little as a few dollars per month.
However, sharing hosting resources also means that your performance may be affected by other users. If one of the other websites on your server suddenly experiences a spike in traffic, your audience may have trouble accessing your site. With that in mind, shared hosting is typically a starter solution that vendors move on from after their hosting budget increases.
Dedicated WordPress Hosting
In contrast, dedicated hosting plans give users access to a server of their own. Naturally, this leads to a significant increase in prices. Even relatively affordable dedicated hosting solutions typically cost $100 or more, making them less practical for small businesses.
If you have room in your budget, dedicated hosting can be a good investment due to its more reliable performance compared to shared hosting services. Since dedicated hosting users have an entire server to themselves, dedicated hosting also tends to come with more customization.
VPS WordPress Hosting
VPS hosting is often considered a kind of middle ground between shared and dedicated hosting solutions. While VPS hosting providers split a single physical server between multiple users, each user has control over a virtualized server instance. VPS hosting plans are also at an intermediate point with respect to price, generally running about $20 per month for basic solutions.
Virtualized servers aren’t quite as flexible or scalable as dedicated physical servers, but they can still be highly effective when it comes to optimizing performance. Each user’s virtualized server is split off from the rest, so fluctuations in traffic on one website shouldn’t have the same effect on other websites.
Cloud WordPress Hosting
Finally, cloud hosting is an increasingly popular option that operates outside the traditional categories of shared, dedicated, and VPS hosting solutions. Instead of being locked into a particular physical server, cloud hosting subscribers can access scalable resources across multiple servers.
One benefit of cloud hosting is that it avoids some of the pitfalls of physical servers. For example, a hard drive crash could be catastrophic for a business that relies on a single server, but it has little to no impact on a site whose data is distributed in the cloud. Additionally, cloud hosting is often more flexible than other hosting plans since resources don’t need to be distributed in advance.
Some cloud hosting services are similar to shared hosting in price, particularly for plans with significant limitations. However, you may also end up paying more for cloud hosting if you need a more robust solution.
What Costs Are Involved If You Use WordPress?
The first cost involved with WordPress is the monthly or annual fee for your WordPress subscription. You can technically create a WordPress site for free, but free sites come with WordPress branding and are heavily limited when it comes to features.
Premium WordPress plans go from $4 per month, paid annually for the Personal plan to $45 per month, paid annually for the eCommerce subscription. While the Personal tier is a decent option for portfolio sites and other personal projects, eCommerce comes with critical features for online businesses including shipping integrations and international payment processing.
These WordPress subscriptions are usually the best option for vendors that need a ready-made solution, but you can also use the open-source WordPress software to set up a website yourself. In that case, you’ll be responsible for more of the details of your configuration including hosting, security, and backups.
On top of the WordPress plan, you may also need to pay for third-party extensions and add-ons to get the most out of WordPress. These plug-ins cover virtually any kind of feature and function you can imagine. Depending on your site’s scale and design, you could end up spending nothing on plug-ins — or spending hundreds of dollars per month.
Jetpack, for example, is one of the most popular WordPress add-ons. It comes with a variety of helpful tools like cloud backups and storage, activity logging, malware scanning, spam protection, and site search. Subscriptions run from $10 to $100 per month, paid annually, with a 50% discount for the first year.
WordPress is designed to streamline site creation and editing with no need for development, but some vendors end up hiring a developer to take advantage of deeper customization opportunities. Professional development could end up costing hundreds or thousands of dollars, but most users find that they can build a great WordPress website on their own.
How Much Does a Website Cost If You Use a Web Designer?
If you want full control over the direction of your site, you’ll need to develop it yourself or hire a professional web developer to implement your ideas.
Web development is time-consuming and expensive, so you should think carefully about whether it’s worth the initial investment. Keep in mind that you may need to bring the developer back in the future to update your site or make further design changes.
Custom development is a good option for creators who have a larger budget and a unique vision for the site that doesn’t fit into the themes and templates available with conventional website builders.
What’s Included in the Cost of Using a Web Designer?
When you decide to work with a web designer, you work out an agreement that describes the scope of their responsibilities. Try to be as clear as possible about your expectations and explicitly outline anything that you want to be included in their duties.
In most cases, the web designer’s fee covers the entire setup process until your site goes online. However, you may end up needing more assistance with updates or technical issues later on, and those responsibilities might not be included in the initial cost. The most important thing is for both sides to lay out their expectations as clearly as possible to avoid any ambiguities later on.
Typical Costs for Different Types of Websites
Every individual website is different, but websites of the same type tend to have similar expenses. Let’s take a look at what you can expect to spend while creating various kinds of sites.
What’s the Average Cost of Starting a Blog?
While the blog market is intensely competitive, blogging is still one of the best ways to earn money online. You can generate a reliable income by offering valuable insights into a popular topic or simply providing a unique voice that appeals to a specific audience. The average blogger earns $37,073 per year, but salaries vary widely depending on their traffic and monetization strategies.
Blogs are relatively straightforward compared to many other websites. WordPress is the most common way to get started with blogging, and you can set up a surprisingly professional blog for just $8 per month, billed annually, with the Premium plan, which includes hosting, video support, ad revenue, and Google Analytics integration.
WordPress offers most of the features bloggers need to connect with audiences, but you may need to spend money on a few other basic tools.
For example, WordPress only provides a free domain name for one year. You’ll be on your own after that, and your domain could be a significant expense depending on the name you choose.
A domain name usually runs about $10 to $20 per year, but you could end up with a much higher cost if you opt for a more valuable domain. Check out our list of the top domain registrars to start your search for a new domain name.
Unless you’re planning to rely on organic search traffic, you’ll also need to set aside some money for outreach. PPC ads, social media campaigns, and other digital marketing costs can add up quickly, but almost every blogger relies on these resources as they build an audience.
What’s the Average Cost of Starting an E-Commerce Site?
Most of the costs of website development are the same for e-commerce sites as for blogs, but there are a few notable differences.
First, e-commerce brands need to be able to accept and process payments to sell their products or services. The easiest way to accept payments is typically to use a website builder that’s specifically designed for e-commerce vendors.
This requirement usually means that e-commerce businesses need to spend more on their website builder than a blogger would. For example, you can get a WordPress plan for as little as $4 per month, billed annually, but most vendors need to upgrade to at least the Business tier ($25 per month, billed annually) to install WooCommerce and other critical plug-ins.
That cost comes in addition to premium plug-ins, which are often necessary for optimal e-commerce functionality. The popular MemberPress subscription plug-in starts at $179 per year, and many helpful tools are only available in one of the higher tiers ($299 or $399 per month).
Unless you’re planning to build the site yourself, you also need a theme that includes typical elements like product pages and checkout sequences. Even though some e-commerce themes are free, you may find that a premium design makes more sense for your site.
Every e-commerce brand deals with different costs, and you might not know exactly how much to budget until you get the site up and running. New expenses almost certainly pop up later on, so it’s a good idea to leave room for unpredictable costs.
What’s the Average Cost of Starting a Small Business Site?
Small businesses that aren’t planning to make any online sales don’t have to deal with quite as many costs. These websites are usually purely informational and designed to push visitors to contact the business or visit their physical store.
A restaurant website, for example, could be complete with a menu, address, contact information, about us page, and a few images showing the food and vibe. Beyond a theme, site builder, host, and domain name, an average restaurant should have relatively low website costs.
With that being said, some small businesses may be interested in digital marketing, particularly if they want to drive location-based traffic. Campaigns on Google, Facebook, Twitter, and other digital platforms are highly effective for physical stores that can narrowly target users in their area.
What’s the Average Cost of Starting a Portfolio Site?
Portfolio sites tend to have relatively low costs compared to other kinds of websites, especially for creators who aren’t planning to spend money on marketing. A host, website builder, and domain name should be enough for many portfolio sites.
Additionally, portfolio sites often have relatively uncommon domains. For example, many people use their name as the domain name if they’re displaying personal projects. Unless you have an extremely common name, it should be cheaper to buy a domain related to your name than it would be to get one for a common interest or product.