Weighing up the costs of a WordPress website against the alternatives
Wondering if a website is the right option for you right now? Before embarking on your project, it’s important to be equipped with a robust idea of what your website costs will be from the outset.
With over 4 billion internet users, 55% of people searching for online reviews before making purchases and with online rising at a dramatic rate, it’s little wonder that you’re feeling the pressure to get your business online.
When you are looking at building a website, you have a number of options:
- Pay someone to build it for you
- Go it alone and build it yourself
- Hire someone to show you how to build it yourself.
All have their own merits, but for the sake of this article, I’ll assume that you’re simply at the point of sounding out initial costs.
Where do I start? What will my website costs be?
Such valid questions.
But if you are reading this, then I will assume you have already looked into building your website, and are more concerned right now with how much it will cost you, and whether WordPress is really free?
And because I realise that resources are tight when you’re starting out, I’ve listed your options below and marked whether they’re free or not.
I’m also guessing that you realise that there are many platforms available for building websites. And there are lots of pros and cons to each of them.
WordPress is my recommendation for so many reasons, but mainly because it’s so well-supported, it’s scalable so it can grow with your business, and because it’s robust. Yes, it’s a steeper learning curve than many, but I have had so many clients come to me who have started on an easier platform and bumped into restrictions, and then need to switch. It means it’s a false economy of time. You may as well save yourself the hassle and start out on the right platform from the outset.
What is WordPress?
What is exactly is WordPress, and why does it pop up everywhere when it comes to building a website? Quite simply, WordPress powers a significant portion of the internet.
One third of all websites you see when you’re surfing the internet are WordPress sites. It’s an open-source content management system, which basically means that a community contributes to the development of the platform which brings huge benefits.
It started out as a place for bloggers to build their blogs, but over time has transformed into one of the most versatile, customisable and cost-effective platforms for bringing your business to virtual life and for managing your content.
So how do I get started?
Just to confuse matters, there are in fact two versions of WordPress.
WordPress.org is the self-hosted version of WordPress which means that you need a hosting plan in order to get started, and you need to install WordPress which can sound daunting (although it’s actually really straightforward when you are shown how to).
WordPress.com is the hosted version which means you literally just sign up to an account with WordPress and you can get started straight away.
A lot of people start off with this latter version as it feels like the easy option. And in many ways it is, but it’s also very restrictive and if you’re wanting to build a business website, it won’t be long before you bump into frustrations with the .com version.
There are also cost implications which you should be aware of.
Here is a list of some of the key differences.
- Very simple to use
- Quick to set up
- Provides hosting
- Premade themes
- Can only install limited external pluginsO
- Need to have wordpress.com as part of domain name
- Free plan places ads on your site
- Anywhere from $0 to $2100+ if trying to grow it for a business
- Thousands of themes, all customisable
- 1-click installation (quick set up)
- Self-hosted so you control the hosting
- Thousands of plugins availableP
- Can be monetised through ads or other channels such as membership sites
- Can scale with your business
- A slightly steeper learning curve than some other platforms
- Free, although will need hosting (around $70-$100/year)
So if you are creating a blog with no intention of growing it into a business or monetising it, then WordPress.com offers you a cheap and easy route to do so. If, however, you are planning on growing your website into a real asset for your business, WordPress.org offers you greater options, room for growth, and the ability to directly create income.
.org it is then, but how much is it really?
So WordPress.org is technically free, however, you need to do more than just download it, create a site and go, you need to do a couple of things first, and it’s these that cost money, albeit not very much.
There are essentially 4 things that you need to create a WordPress.org site:
- A domain name
- A hosting plan
- A WordPress installation
- A theme
Your domain name
First thing you need is a domain name, also often referred to as your web address. This is important, as it is where your website will live, and is often the first thing that people see to reference your business online.
Check out this blog on crafting a powerful domain name.
Your domain name will cost you around $10 per year, and although is small investment, is one of the most valuable assets in your business. So be sure to register it yourself so you always maintain of this gem!
If you’re not sure how to go about it, read this step by step guide to registering your domain name.
Depends on the provider and the extension (eg. com, .co.uk etc) but usually around $10 per year
Next, you will need hosting.
This is the physical location where your website will actually reside. It is important to make a wise decision here because choosing an unreliable hosting plan can hurt your SEO and undermine your online efforts. Cost-wise, you are looking at around $50 for your first year and up to $120 per year after that. This article here will walk you through the process of finding a reliable hosting plan that will support your growing business.
Depends on provider and the size of your site, but usually around $50-$100 per year
WordPress.org is genuinely free of charge. You simply need the hosting plan (as outlined above) to install it on.
A theme helps define the visual look and feel of your site. It’s basically a group of templates and stylesheets. There are thousands of free and paid themes available. This article here will help you choose and install the perfect theme for your business.
Free or paid – it’s up to you
What about options other than WordPress?
Well, while there are no doubts that WordPress is by far the largest contributor of websites on the internet, you are right, there are other options, and one of them may be right for you.
There are many options available to you, so I’ll simply touch on 4 of the ones that you may have heard of and which you may want to take a look.
As you can probably guess, Shopify is entirely focused on online shopping! This can make it a fantastic option if you are an online shop, however, it has a rather limited blog tool, as well as plugins, meaning that SEO can be difficult, as is customisation.
Free for 2 weeks, then $29-299 per month
One of the simplest website creators around, Wix makes going online with a beautiful website easy. However, once you built it, your template is locked in so updating and evolving your site may require building an entirely new one. Your customers and clients will also be bombarded with ads if you are on the basic plan, and the internal URLs are impossible to comprehend, impacting your SEO.
$3 per month for a small website for personal use, to $22 per month for the full business VIP plan.
Weebly is another intuitive builder that makes websites easy, and it’s hosting offers quick loading times, which helps your SEO! However, its minimalism can be a double-edged sword, with it potentially limiting a growing or ambitious business. It is also difficult to add some advanced marketing tools that can make this worse.
Free for basic use with Weebly domain, to $18 per month (paid annually) for businesses, and up to $28 per month for large selling sites.
Squarespace is highly intuitive, with beautiful templates and a great drag and drop system for customising your website. It does, however, have some key drawbacks. First of all, support for third party plugins is lacking, so when things aren’t working, you may find yourself back at square one. It is also a more expensive option than some of the others. A while back, I ran a comparison between Squarespace and WordPress which you can read.
From $12 per month for a personal site, to $36 per month for advanced commerce.
So in summary
Hopefully by now, you have a clearer idea of the website costs involved in your potential new build, and realise that you can create a WordPress website for very little initial outlay.
Of course, you can spend money on premium themes, premium plugins (which extend the functionality of your website, a little bit like an app on your phone), and you may choose to hire someone to build your site, or help you create it yourself.
Either way, if you’d like to get off to a roaring start, you can sign up for my free 5-day Confident Website Creation Challenge which will show you the exact steps you need to take to register a powerful domain name, set up your hosting plan, install WordPress and build your first web page.
I look forward to seeing you in there and walking you through the foundational steps for your website.