Starting a website was the best thing I ever did. My website started an online business that has grown to six figures and is the hub of my personal brand. However,when I started, I knew nothing about the website maintenance costs that I now spend lots of money on.
Starting a website can be time-consuming and seemingly outside your comfort zone. Website maintenance costs are often overlooked when the gurus are selling the dream of online passive income or monthly recurring revenue. But, don’t worry, you can do it!
As you know, I like to tell it how it is. So, in this article, weâ€™re going to pull back the curtain on the overheads of running a blog in 2016.
This article isnâ€™t about trying to dissuade you from taking action – far from it. Many of these website maintenance costs accumulate over time and can be easily covered by your business’s growing income.
Figuring out how to get started
Before you start a website, thereâ€™s lots to figure out. Matters of niche selection aside, you need to choose a platform for your website, come up with a catchy domain name, and define your audience.
Then you need to learn how to use tools. This includes installing WordPress, navigating the dashboard, and working out how to publish your first blog post. After that, youâ€™ll need to turn a fresh WordPress installation into a content rich resource that can attract an audience and generate an income.
In the beginning, time will be your biggest website maintenance cost.When starting out, *time* is your biggest cost Click To Tweet
Most entrepreneurs will tell you that ordering a new domain name, opening a hosting account, and installing WordPress is all too easy. Putting in the time is what separates those who make it from those who donâ€™t.
After youâ€™ve put in the time to define your project and choose your tools, there are the startup costs to cover. At the very least, these include the domain name and an entry level shared hosting account.
Thanks to the wealth of free WordPress plugins and themes, thereâ€™s no need to invest in premium tools for your website just yet.
These startup costs are all very reasonable and could see your new website up and running, for less than $100 for the entire first year.
First forays into premium tools
With your website looking presentable, the essential WordPress startup tasks taken care of, and a steady stream of content being published, you should soon start attracting visitors. At this point, itâ€™s time to think about investing in one or two premium WordPress plugins to help accelerate growth and make life easier.
This could include a premium plugin like VaultPress that will ensure your website can not only be backed up but easily restored should something go wrong. Or you could make do with a free alternative like UpdraftPlus.
Investment in an email marketing service to help grow your list is now essential. You can go for a free MailChimp account or a basic Aweber starter deal for around $20/month to start off with. I have used both. I now use Active Campaign for my 15,000+ subscribers.
You might also want to consider investing in a premium WordPress caching plugin to take care of maintaining a fast loading website. I had bad experiences with the premium WordPress caching plugin Rocket.me. I’m happier to use WP Super Cache or W3 Total Cache to improve loading times. Again, this proves that you don’t always have to spend money to get the best online services.
This first set of improvements to your website could add another $100 onto your yearly website maintenance costs and maybe another $200 if you decide to do email marketing properly – and you really should!
Youâ€™re up and running – increasing visitor numbers, making money and landing more clients, itâ€™s time to think about scaling and reinvesting in your infrastructure.
This could include choosing a premium WordPress theme to give your website a more professional look. As many of you know, I can’t recommend Genesis highly enough. Buy the Genesis Theme Framework for $60 and a single theme (like the theme I’m using here, Magazine Pro) for $40 and there’s a great-looking, stable and future proof premium WordPress theme that will give you zero issues. You could even go as far as commissioning a bespoke design to help your website stand out from the crowd (see “Outsourcing” below).
Upgrading from free WordPress plugins and themes to commercial alternatives can help your website in many ways – from faster email list growth to a more secure website. However, switching to premium products can also see website maintenance costs quickly mount up, especially when you take annual license renewals into account. (Although, the above Genesis theme suggestion, as yet, doesn’t require any renewal! 🙂 )
Next up, thereâ€™s web hosting to think about. As your visitor numbers increase, that $4 a month shared hosting plan wonâ€™t cut it anymore. This would be a good time to start getting familiar with VPS or managed WordPress hosting and the idea of paying more each month in order to offer your visitors a better user experience.
Another new website maintenance cost you might want to start thinking about now is a Content Delivery Network (CDN) to help your site load even faster. A CDN will save a copy of your website and deliver it to users through a globally distributed network of proxy servers in multiple data centers across the world. I use MaxCDN. You get up to 100GB bandwidth/month for $7.50 per month or less. Great value, and it speeds up your site!
Upgrading your toolkit with additional premium WordPress plugins, such as better social sharing tools or more powerful caching and security plugins, can help save time and get better results.
Upgraded web hosting isnâ€™t cheap but this website maintenance cost will only grow as the popularity of your website increases. So it’s an investment you can afford and need to make.
Finally, as your empire really starts to take off, youâ€™ll be introduced to many new exciting and not-so-exciting demands on your time. With responding to blog comments, answering customer queries, or dealing with technical issues, youâ€™ll learn that popularity comes at a price.
Then thereâ€™s custom logos and artwork to consider for your website and growing social media profiles.
Keeping your website ticking over takes up more of your precious time. At this point, those who embrace outsourcing are the ones who take their online businesses to the next level. And those who don’t outsource, are left behind.
Once youâ€™re prepared to accept what you do best, and what others can do better, outsourcing will help you get back in touch with what inspired you to start your project in the first place. Shedding responsibilities like approving comments, updating plugins, or even writing blog posts, gives you the opportunity to save your most precious commodity of all – time.
Expect to pay anywhere between $15-30/hour for decent writers, designers and developers.
I’ve been outsourcing for years and I still make mistakes. Accept that you are going to lose money and outsource with patience and attention to detail. You just have to invest time and money into outsourcing at first. The rewards will come.Invest time and money into outsourcing at first. The rewards will come. Click To Tweet
Start a website: You Can Do It!
Now that weâ€™ve uncovered some of the truths of website maintenance costs, you might be having second thoughts about starting a website and taking those first steps towards an online business. Donâ€™t!
One of the best things about creating a website is that the startup costs are low. You only need to invest more in sophisticated and expensive solutions as your business grows. By years 3 and 4, you might be spending a few $100 a month on your website, but in the first year, it can be a fraction of that.
There are countless ways to monetize a blog and worrying about which niche to focus on or being put off by what your hosting costs are going to be in year 5 are just forms of procrastination.
Spend slowly. Make do with low-cost alternatives, such as free plugins, themes, and entry level shared hosting. But just make sure you get started. And be just as sure to invest $$$ when you start making $$$.Start with low website costs. But invest $$$ when you start making $$$! Click To Tweet
Has this answered your website maintenance cost questions? Whatâ€™s holding you back from starting a website? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.