The REAL Cost of Building and Maintaining a Commercial WebsiteMay 4, 2020
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 owning a lousy website hosted by notorious scammers. So I have seen websites from both ends of the spectrum.
This article is to apprise everybody of the costs associated with building and operating a commercial website. There are millions of web-surfers who seem to believe that everything they see on a website should be available free of charge. This will set the record straight so these people get some appreciation of the costs involved to bring information to them. (Note: The rates will vary from provider to provider).
First, a distinction – there are two basic types of websites:
- Personal – mum and dad 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 purpose of this discussion I am going to limit my comments to commercial websites only.
A commercial website has been described as the great business leveller. You see, small businesses can compete on an even playing field with giant multi-national companies in what have been described as “niche” markets. That is, specialist markets.
As I mentioned before, so many web-surfers expect all websites to deliver completely free information to them. After all, websites are really cheap to build and cost virtually nothing to maintain. Or do they?
Let’s have a look at what is involved and the typical costs:
First, you will need a telephone line. No problem. Most people have them. The cost is variable depending on what country you live in.
Next, you will need a computer. Again, no problem, most people have them too. They can range from several hundred dollars to several thousand dollars US depending on the make and model, its capacity, its range of features and the like.
With a telephone line and a computer you will then require an Internet Service Provider (ISP). An ISP will charge around US$20 per month for internet access. Broadband access will cost around US$750 per year, depending on your ISP.
Note that so far we are still just incurring the cost that the average surfing information hunter incurs.
To have a website you will either need to build it yourself or contract a specialist to build it for you. Obviously, if you do not have the knowledge and ability to do it yourself you will need a person skilled in doing this. For 15 or so pages (a reasonable sized website) you could pay in the vicinity of $1,500 US, often more.
So, now you have a telephone line, a computer, internet access and a website. Is there anything else? There sure is.
You will need a domain name for your website. This is so you can be found by your Unique Resource Locator (URL) name. That is how people will be able to find you – via links to your http://www.domainname.com name. A domain name will cost you somewhere around US $10 to $20 per year to keep it registered.
Then there is hosting. You will need a website hosting company to keep your site active and online for all the world to view. This is where the site “lives.” It’s where it is domiciled and is able to be changed by adding to or subtracting from the pages. Hosting can set you back around US$200 to $300 per year. Yes, I know some people get it for a lot less. However, like everything else if you want quality and performance then that is the going rate.
Anything else? Sure is.
Now you can really spend some money. Now your website desperately needs what all other websites need – traffic, otherwise known as visitors. You can spend thousands, even tens of thousands on this if you want.
So, let’s add it all up so far:
- telephone line – standard variable cost
- computer – standard variable cost
- ISP – US$240 per year.
- website construction US$1,500 to $2,500 (initial set up)
- domain name US$20 per year
- website hosting – US$200 to 300 per year
- website traffic US$nil to infinity (whatever the budget will allow)
To summarize, without the initial cost of a telephone line or a computer, the minimum cost of a commercial site is in the order of US$1,960. That does not account for any traffic costs. Nor does it account for an opt-in email collector or a delivery system to send digital products automatically. These can add the best part of another thousand dollars per annum to costs. However, we will only count what the basic ongoing yearly costs are as listed above. These amount to around US$460 at the bare minimum.
I stress that these costs are conservative. In reality a website owner can spend every cent he or she has on a commercial website. It is easy to do.
So, if you are looking to have your own website you now know what sort of money you are going to need to fund it and keep funding it year after year. And we haven’t even talked about the cost of anything that you might 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 are a web-surfer wanting everything free you now know why everything simply cannot be free.
Many website owners are very generous with what they provide free of charge. Just don’t expect them to give you everything for nothing. If you do then your favorite site may be out of business the next time you go to visit it. If you see something that you want then buy it. Very little in this world is free – somebody, somewhere has to pay. Something is free to you only if you do not have to pay for it.
Website owners can display this article at their own sites to explain why not everything can be free to the many visitors who expect just that. Perhaps it could be listed under a heading like: “Why Not Everything At This Website Can Be Free.”
Now Joe and Mary Websurfer will understand the costs that the average website owner has to pay before even one sale is made.
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