The REAL cost of building and maintaining a business website
Having a website can be a wonderful experience. I have experienced the joy of owning and operating a brilliant website built and hosted by a genius. I have also experienced the misery of having a lousy website hosted by notorious scammers. So I’ve seen websites from both ends of the spectrum.
This article is to find out about all the costs associated with building and operating a business website. There are millions of Internet users who seem to believe that everything they see on a website should be available for free. This will set the record straight so these people appreciate the costs involved in providing them with information. (Note: Fees will vary from provider to provider.)
First, a distinction: there are two basic types of websites:
- Personal – mom and pop type sites – several pages of “family” style information
- Commercial – business sites – from one page “sales letter” sites to massive sites of several hundred pages.
For the purposes of this discussion, I will limit my comments to commercial websites only.
A business website has been described as the great business leveler. You see, small businesses can compete on a level playing field with giant multinational companies in what have been described as “niche” markets. That is, market specialist.
As I mentioned before, many Internet users expect all websites to provide them with information completely free of charge. After all, websites are really cheap to build and cost next to nothing to maintain. Or them?
Let’s take a look at what’s involved and typical costs:
First, you will need a phone line. No problem. Most people have them. The cost is variable depending on the country in which you live.
Next you will need a computer. Again, no problem, most people have them too. They can range from several hundred dollars to several thousand US dollars depending on the make and model, its capacity, its range of features, and the like.
With a phone line and a computer, you’ll need an Internet Service Provider (ISP). An ISP will charge around $20 a month for Internet access. Broadband access will cost around $750 per year, depending on your ISP.
Please note that so far we are only incurring the cost incurred by the average browsing information seeker.
To have a website, you will either need to build it yourself or hire a specialist to build it for you. Obviously, if you don’t have the knowledge and ability to do it yourself, you’ll need a trained person to do it. For 15 or more pages (a reasonably sized website) you could pay around $1,500 US, often more.
So now you have a phone line, a computer, Internet access, and a website. Is there something else? Sure there is.
You will need a domain name for your website. This is so that it can be found by its Unique Resource Locator (URL) name. This is how people will be able to find you, through links to your http://www.domainname.com name. A domain name will cost you around US$10 to $20 per year to keep it registered.
Then there is the accommodation. You will need a website hosting company to keep your site up and online for the world to see. This is where the site “lives”. It is where it is located and can be changed by adding or removing pages. Hosting can cost you around US$200 to $300 per year. Yes, I know some people get it for a lot less. Like everything else though, if you want quality and performance, that’s the going rate.
Anything else? It is safe.
Now you can really spend some money. Now your website desperately needs what every other website needs: traffic, aka visitors. You can spend thousands, even tens of thousands on this if you want.
So, let’s add it all up so far:
- phone line – standard variable cost
- computer – standard variable cost
- PSI – US$240 per year.
- website construction US$1,500 to $2,500 (initial setup)
- domain name US$20 per year
- website hosting – US$200 to 300 per year
- website traffic zero US$ to infinity (whatever your budget allows)
In summary, without the initial cost of a phone line or a computer, the minimum cost of a commercial site is in the order of US$1,960. That doesn’t take traffic costs into account. It also doesn’t take into account an optional email collector or delivery system to send digital products automatically. These can add the better part of another thousand dollars per year to the costs. However, we will only count what the basic ongoing annual costs listed above are. These amount to around US$460 minimum.
I stress that these costs are conservative. In reality, a website owner can spend every penny he has on a commercial website. It is easy to do.
So if you’re looking to have your own website, now you know what kind of money you’ll need to finance it and keep funding it year after year. And we haven’t even talked about the cost of anything you want to sell yet or the time it might take to develop digital products that can be downloaded from the website to a consumer.
If you’re a web surfer who wants everything to be free, now you know why everything just can’t be free.
Many website owners are very generous with what they offer for free. Just don’t expect to get everything for nothing. If you do, your favorite site may be closed the next time you visit it. If you see something you want, buy it. Very little in this world is free: someone, somewhere has to pay. Something is free to you only if you don’t have to pay for it.
Website owners can display this article on their own sites to explain why not everything can be free for the many visitors who expect just that. Perhaps it could be listed under a heading like: “Why can’t everything on this website be free?”
Now Joe and Mary Websurfer will understand the costs that the average website owner has to pay before making a single sale.
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