There are plenty of appealing aspects of having an online business. For one thing, it’s more accessible to a wider variety of people, since they won’t have to travel in order to see what your company is all about. It’s also cheaper to operate; you won’t have to pay rent on a retail space, for example. That being said, you should still leave a generous allowance in your budget for website maintenance and the occasional website redesign; after all, this is often the first and only way people learn about your brand. If you spend enough care and attention (and money, of course) on your business site, it’ll reflect well on your company, and inspire confidence in your customers.
For instance, consider one of the larger one-time costs involved in an online business: building the website. A reputable company would charge a few thousand dollars for this service, but it would be worth every penny. Why? Because to most people, your website and your business are indistinguishable. If your website is sub-par, everyone will assume that your business is too. This and several other common expenses aren’t totally necessary, but they all help to create the impression that you know what you’re doing, and that you’re a legitimate source of whatever product or service you’re selling.
If you’re here to figure out what your future business website might cost, you might not end up with a clear answer. This is because there are simply too many variables, including the size of the website, the number of extras and plugins you’ll use, and more. Even so, here are a few rough estimates so you have a better idea of what you’ll be dealing with:
- Popular restaurants or small universities could pay $40 to $450 a month
- Digital magazines could pay $300 to $2,500 a month
- Popular businesses could pay $250 to $4,500 a month
- Online stores could pay $1,000 to $6,000 a month
If that wasn’t as illuminating as you’d hoped, don’t give up – the information below should be more helpful. By the way, you’ll probably find pricing plans outside the price ranges you’ll see here; these are just averages.
A business website can certainly function without a feature like tech support, but that doesn’t mean you should think of it as optional. If you want happy customers and return business, tech support isn’t just an expense; it’s an investment. You could offer email or phone support, a live chat option, community forums, or a knowledge database.
- $0 – $12 monthly
This may or may not be needed, depending on whether or not you’ll be selling anything online. If so, this is something you can’t do without – for the most part. A standard ecommerce platform will come with everything you need to securely process orders, but a payment gateway could add to your trustworthiness and accessibility for customers. Then there are plugins that can help you manage inventory; again, not necessary, but definitely a feature that can make your life a little easier.
- $20 – $1,000 monthly
This is one of the few expenses that you won’t be able to avoid; fortunately, it doesn’t usually cost too much. Any website, business or not, will need to pay a hosting provider to use space on their servers. A few more popular choices are shared hosting, WordPress hosting, WooCommerce hosting, cloud hosting, dedicated hosting, and VPS hosting. In many cases, website owners aren’t even aware that they’re paying for web hosting; their web designers make all the arrangements and simply add the cost onto their total bill.
One way to cut down on your monthly cost is to make a longer-term commitment. For example, a two-year commitment would cost a lot less each month than a six-month commitment. The website’s size is another factor in the cost of web hosting. The bigger it is the more you’ll pay, but there isn’t much you can do to change that.
- $1.50 – $300 monthly
Most business websites have an SSL certificate, as they usually receive and store sensitive information like passwords, personal details, etc. This protocol encrypts data as it goes between servers and browsers, which prevents theft. As with other costs, it’s usually related to the size of the website.
- $10 – $1,000 yearly
Just like tech support, you don’t exactly need a dedicated email account; however, this is one of those basic features that your customers will expect to see. If you’re directing inquiries to a free Gmail account, they’re going to wonder if you actually have your act together.
- $1 – $20 monthly
Registering a domain name is one of the first steps in starting an online business, so it definitely isn’t optional. Watch out for possible scams; you might pay and never get the registration, or you could be tricked into committing to additional fees down the line. ICANN has a list of accredited registrars online, which can ensure that you get what you pay for.
- $1 – $20 to register for a year; $10 – $90 to renew for each following year
Building a website can be the single biggest expense involved in a business website, but people pay it anyway – because the payoff is exponential. A well-designed website sets you apart from competitors, as well as the millions of self-made websites that lack the polish and impact of a professionally designed site. Unless you have experience in web design yourself, it’s highly recommended that you get some experts involved in this step; the results will speak for themselves.
- About $6,000 to build a business site; $500 – $1000 to maintain yearly
These are only the basics; each business website tends to be customized with various plugins and extra features.
The question is, which of these extra features could benefit your business website? Many of them could add to the quality of your site, while others might just be gimmicky. The right ones, though, will definitely pay for themselves.