Many people think that websites are cheap. While they certainly don’t cost as much as physical businesses in most cases, there are many hidden costs that you need to consider as a small business owner. While the domain and hosting prices might be obvious, there are other costs that you may not be considering. Here’s a good list of common costs that you should think about before starting online.
Domain and Hosting
You can’t have a website without a domain and hosting. The domain is the name of your website, while hosting is what puts it online. Without getting too much into the details, a common domain is going to cost you about $10 to $15 depending on the TLD. Hosting should only cost you about $10 to $20 a month at first depending on your needs, but it can easily shoot up to $50 to $100 per month as you expand.
If you want to buy a premium domain, then it can easily cost hundreds or thousands of dollars to acquire.
If you want sales, then you can’t just put up a static HTML theme and wait for people to come. This lazy designing worked well in the early 90s, but you need a good design to capture customers. There are many good themes out there for WordPress and other CMSs, but free themes often have their problems. You should consider buying a premium theme for about $40 to $100. These look better, run smoother and tend to have special features.
If you really want to get customers and brand yourself, then get a custom design. This can cost about $300 to $600 for a common five-page website.
Development costs are uncommon if you have average needs. If you just need to upload products and have a back-end that helps you manage inventory and orders, then a normal shopping cart should be enough. These are often cheap or free. There are even some ecommerce hosting companies that can be of assistance.
However, you might have very specific needs that most themes can’t provide. In this case, you’ll need a developer to make these features a reality. Development isn’t cheap. It will help your business (especially if you hire someone that is familiar with businesses), and it will allow you to make unique websites that others can’t mimic.
This can easily cost around $200 to $1,000 or more, depending on what you need and how long it will take to code.
If you want a professional shopping cart, customer service platform or advanced ordering system, then you might have to worry about licensing costs. Professional programs must be licensed so that you can use them. The license also provides you with constant updates so that the program is safe.
Some programs will charge on a monthly basis. This will often be for about $20 to $50 a month. Others will have a flat fee of several hundred dollars. However, there are some professional programs that will cost hundreds a month or thousands up front. As a small business owner, you shouldn’t have to pay this much unless you have very expensive and specific needs.
Now that the website is built, you need to fill it with content. Copying and pasting product descriptions won’t help your SEO. While there are writers will to make articles for just $2, you should spend at least $10 to $15 per article if you want something legible.
If you are looking to really sell products, then you might want to hire a professional copywriter. Many of them charge in the thousands, but they know exactly what triggers to press to get people to buy. A good writer can sell ice to a Eskimo, and someone like this is worth his weight in gold.
Marketing and Advertising
You won’t sell products if you don’t market your website. You can do your own marketing, but this isn’t suggested because it will take you away from your business. It’s much better to hire an SEO firm, use PPC ads and consult with marketing experts.
All of these will often cost you about $100 to $300 a month, depending on how much marketing you want to do.
Owning and operating an online business can be expensive. You can often mitigate these costs by using free programs, doing some of the work yourself and just knowing how to work the market. However, be sure to consider everything before starting a business because starting on the wrong foot can destroy your profits.