What’s the total cost to build a website for your small business?
I’m going to assume you’re focused on the financial cost. And I will cover those costs. But I’m also going to cover the cost of time. My decisions factor in the benefits of investing time and/or money into a project in my business. When you think about your small business website, the DIY route will often have a higher investment in time, while hiring a professional will have a higher investment in money.
Because of all the factors involved in building a website, there is always a range of costs.
The most general numbers are:
DIY Option: $0-$300
Hiring Professional: $2k-10K
If you’re interested in learning more about DTK Studios Services, our website builds start at $3,000.
A quick note on whom I’m writing for:
This article is for small business owners. Your business model is a solo proprietorship, or you may use contractors, or maybe a handful of employees. You’ll learn the basic setup costs of your website in this article. I work with service-based businesses looking to make a difference in the world. That difference can be stress-relief through a rage room like The Breakroom 831, or advocating for mental and behavioral health like Melek Consulting. I create the visual storefront to attract the right clients and make a change in the world.
3 Big Areas:
The Cost of Hosting and the Cost of Your Small Business Domain.
Hosting is like the landlord of your website. Your website is on the internet because the files that make up your site are stored on a computer server. Hosting companies own and manage those servers. You “rent” space on a Hosting companies server, and they, in turn, display your website on the internet.
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Your small business website should always be as secure as you can make it. You secure your site by adding a “Secure Socket Layer” (SSL). MOST hosting companies have this included, but it’s always good to double-check. You can quickly tell if a website is secure in two ways. First, the website address has an “s” added: HTTPS://. Second, there is a closed lock on the left-hand side to indicate that the site is secure in the URL bar.
DTK Studios uses Flywheel for hosting clients’ websites. Flywheel is built for agency owners and provides the security, support, and interface to allow me to keep my client’s sites updated and running perfectly!
Your business domain is your website address. Your website appears on the internet because you have a domain name (and hosting.) for example, my domain is http://dtkstudios.com/. My domain name is the “dtkstudios.”
Just like with hosting, there are many places you can purchase your domain. A few options are Domain.com, Blue Host, Host Gator, Go Daddy, Name Cheap, Dream Host, Google. Those who sell domains are called registrars.
Most domains cost around $12USD annually. The cost of a domain depends on the ending (.com, .io, .org, .net, etc.) and if it is currently owned by someone else. If you want to learn more about domains, WP Beginners has a more in-depth article.
As you price out your domain and hosting, you may purchase them from the same company. Bundling your domain and hosting would be a potential time saver as you wouldn’t need to maintain two different sets of log-in and payment information. And just like hosting, some website platforms will act as the liaison and help you purchase a domain from a partnered registrar and manage it within your account.
I’ve used Google Domains for all my business domains. I use many of Google’s tools, such as workspace, Google My Business, and Search Console. I like having my business in one spot for an easier time managing.
The cost to DIY Your Small Business Website or Hire a Professional.
To DIY or Hire a Professional, that is the question!
Do It Yourself (DIY) Small Business Website
Building your small business website allows you to use platforms that have made website design accessible to anyone at an affordable cost. I hesitate to say the DIY route will ALWAYS be cheaper, but I’ll say 98% of the time! The most popular website platform companies; Squarespace, Wix, Shopify, and SquareUp, all cost around $30 a month.
(Cost of Hosting and any plug ins or premium themes)
Other financial investments with the DIY route include paying for images and graphics. There are plenty of free resources, but you run the risk of seeing that photo on other websites or even in marketing campaigns by larger companies.
The learning curve of website design is steep, even with all of the support and guidance of platforms catering to the DIYer. You may still need to edit your images within these platforms by resizing or cropping them. The templates they provide look beautiful, but you run the risk of your website looking the same as someone else’s. Other than your colors and images. It takes time to customize the template to your brand, and you may be limited in how much you can change it. Another time investment is making sure your website follows SEO guidelines. SEO covers proper heading hierarchy, keyword choices, image optimization, responsive design, and page speed. There is strategy involved, and it takes time to learn, implement, test, and adjust.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed at the potential time investment, I’ve written an article with more depth around “When to hire a website designer.”
The Cost of Hiring a Professional Website Designer
The cost of hiring a professional website designer ranges significantly from what your website needs. For a site that is ten pages or less and doesn’t involve accepting payments or customer scheduling, you’re looking at closer to the $2K USD-$5K USD. Whereas if you have an e-commerce site with lots of products, run online courses, or have built-in tools, the cost can quickly exceed $10K USD.
This cost *should cover the basic website setup of design, compliancy, responsiveness, SEO best practices, and unique customer journey.
If those price tags are a bit daunting, ask about a payment plan for the project.
Your time investment in part will depend on how prepared you are. Working with a professional will probably take less of your time than the DIY route because the website designer is coming to you for branding, content, and feedback. They do the rest.
The project has a finite start and end date when working with a website designer. Most designers work by a project-based model where they quote you the cost and time it will take them to complete the website build. This model helps keep the project on track. You can run the risk of the DIY route taking much longer as you run into knowledge gaps, design roadblocks, or do not have the time because of other business needs.
*Website Designers (Freelancers and Agencies) do not have to meet any mandated criteria with their skills and knowledge. Therefore, even though they may claim to do all these things, it isn’t guaranteed. I have a FREE checklist of things to ask during consultation calls to help vet the professionalism of your website designer.
The Cost of Ongoing Maintenance for Your Small Business Website
The final area to look at with the cost of your website is the ongoing maintenance costs.
Your hosting, domain, and plugins all have licensing fees charged annually or monthly.
Your business may evolve and need different functionality with your website that costs more in subscriptions or tools.
You may outsource tasks such as marketing and SEO to help your ideal client see your website.
SEO Updates. Your website is not a static storefront for your business. To keep it high on search results and easy for your ideal clients to find, you will want to update it regularly. These updates may look like regular blog posts, client testimonials, or updating your portfolio.
Another area of your time is updating content (images, prices, or written content) or offerings. These may not need as much attention but are very important for the success of your website.
The final ongoing cost of both time and finance is updating or changing your business branding. If after a few years you’d like to freshen up your brand colors or add in a new style of graphics, that will take both money and time to achieve.
My opinion? When your business can financially support a website designer, hire them!
The way I see it, you have two options:
Invest in Time in the beginning with a DIY website.
In the beginning stages of your business, you can swing for the DIY version to get your business name out on the internet and create some space. You can think of a popup shop or food truck as your DIY. Then, as your business grows and stabilizes, you can invest in that “brick and mortar” store and hire a website designer to really bring your website to life and showcase your business brand.
Invest in Money and hire a website designer from the start.
You invest upfront with a professional and have that person help your website change and evolve as your business does.
If you are leaning towards option 2, let’s chat! I would love to see if we are a match and help build your small business website.