If you’re thinking about starting a WordPress website or blog, one of the first questions you’ll probably ask yourself is “how much does a website cost?”. It’s an important question! Figuring out the best way to start a website early on can save you a ton of money in the long run.
If you want to hire a designer, developer, or web agency, to do the work for you, the price can get pretty steep. While there’s nothing wrong with that, you do have some other options. Because WordPress is free, open source software, you can build your own cost-effective website if you don’t mind a bit of work. So, how much will creating a WordPress website actually cost if you’re doing it yourself?
The real answer is that it depends on how you go about choosing the products and services you’ll need to create an effective site. In this post, we’re going to look at what costs you can expect as a DIYer and help you make well-informed choices to get the best bang for your buck.
First Up: How Much Does a Domain Name Cost?
The first thing you will need (if you don’t have it already) is a domain name. Your domain name is the URL (like wpsitecare.com) that people will type in to find your website.
There are two free resources you can use when choosing your domain name. KnowEm allows you to search for names to see if a matching domain and social accounts are available. For example, if you check wpsitecare, you’d see that we have the .com, Twitter, Facebook, and several other accounts for that name.
If social accounts for branding are not a concern, you can use Lean Domain Search to search only for available domain names. This service will allow you to see related domain names that are available or premium domains that are for sale through GoDaddy and Sedo.
The pricing of your domain will depend on its availability. For example, you could have the following scenarios.
If it is a domain that is available, you can purchase it from most domain registrars. .com names are generally the least expensive. GoDaddy usually charges $12.99 initially, whereas NameCheap usually charges $10.69. The yearly renewal may be more or less, depending on the regular price listed for the domain.
Once you choose a domain registrar, you can do a search on Google for their name + coupon code to save a little extra on the domain registration.
Other Top Level Domains
Pricing for other top level domains like the traditional .net, .org, and .info or the newer .guru, .photography, and .agency may have a higher or lower registration cost than .com domains. Most will have a similar or higher renewal cost.
For example, a .guru on GoDaddy may be on sale for registration at $27.99, but the yearly renewal cost is $39.00. A .global on GoDaddy may be on sale for registration at $49.99, but the yearly renewal cost is $99.99.
Be sure to check both the initial registration cost, as well as the yearly renewal cost, so you don’t get stuck with an expensive domain to maintain.
Some domains may be available at auction because the owner who purchased it no longer wants it. Auction domain sales work similar to eBay – several people will make a bid during a specified period of time, and the highest bidder will win. These domains can range in price from less than $100 to thousands, depending on the name and competition.
For Sale Domains
Some domains may be on sale because the owner who purchased it no longer wants it. As opposed to an auction, these domains are sale for a fixed price.
It never hurts to try and contact the seller to see if you can make a deal with them. Sometimes, if the domain has been on sale for a long time, they may be willing to negotiate a lower price with you to get it off their hands. Most for sale domains will have a way for you to contact the seller for more details.
As with auctioned domains, for sale domains can range in price from less than $100 to thousands, depending on the name and competition.
Domain Buying Service
Domain registrars like GoDaddy give you the option to buy a domain from someone who may not be auctioning or selling through their buying service. Essentially, they will contact the domain owner and try to broker a deal for you.
This service is good for domains that are not being auctioned, not for sale, not in use, or haven’t been updated in years. For example, if you go to a domain, see that it’s a blog, and the blog hasn’t been updated since 2010. That might be a good time to attempt contacting the owner and making a purchase.
Before trying the buy service, you should try contacting the domain owner if possible. You can use the URL http://whois.domaintools.com/domain.com and replace the domain.com to see if there is public contact information for the domain. If you contact them, but don’t receive a response, then try the buy service.
The cost for this approach is the fee for the service ($69.99) plus whatever the amount the owner wants for the domain.
Typical Domain Name Cost:
Most of the time you’ll be fine with a standard domain name from NameCheap or GoDaddy. If you don’t need to purchase a domain or use an unusual TLD, you can expect to pay around $12 per year.
Potential Domain Name Cost:
Although it is somewhat unusual, you may find yourself in a situation where you need to purchase a more expensive domain. Usually this will be a one-time fee and can run anywhere from $100 to 100,000 and up. In addition to this fee, you will also need to pay around $12 per year for your domain once it’s been purchased.
A Note on Pre-Owned Domains
If you are looking to buy a domain that has been owned or used before, be sure to research it carefully. Free services like Archive.org will allow you to see the content previously published on the domain.
Ahrefs’ backlink explorer will show you if a domain has a link profile established. If it does, you may also want to invest in a premium backlink research tool to see what links the domain has pointed to it.
The point of this research is to make sure you are not spending money on a domain that may have had questionable content on it in the past or has a bad backlink profile. Both may harm your chance of creating a successful website.
You may look at the rest of this guide and wonder why I spent so much time on the domain name. The truth is, it’s easy enough to change your web host, design, plugins, security solution, and other areas of your website. Changing the domain name means re-branding your name, redirecting all of your content, losing your social share counts, and much more. Therefore, really take the time on this portion of starting your WordPress website. You’ll be glad you did!
How About Web Hosting Prices? What’s Realistic?
Once you have your domain, you will need web hosting. Web hosting costs start at super inexpensive (under $10 per month) for shared hosting, where your website will be on a server with other websites. Inexpensive shared hosting companies include GoDaddy, SiteGround, InMotion, Bluehost, and similar.
Hosting costs continue to rise when you start looking for WordPress-focused hosting. They are not unreasonable, however. Companies that have hosting specific to WordPress include DreamHost, WP Engine, Synthesis, and Pagely. Pricing with these companies starts in a range from $19 – $47 and goes up to $400. Some plans include additional services for backups, security, and speed enhancement.
Most people starting a WordPress website will be able to utilize one of the above-mentioned options. If you know your website will be attracting Amazon-like volumes of traffic, you may need to look into dedicated servers and enterprise hosting options at a significantly higher cost.
To learn more about WordPress hosting, be sure to visit our guide comparing several popular hosting companies.
Typical Web Hosting Cost:
If you’re just getting started and don’t expect a ton of traffic to your website, you should be able to get some very affordable web hosting. We recommend SiteGround, but any of the hosts mentioned above would be a great place to start your website. On a standard shared hosting plan, you can expect to pay around $90 to $150 per year.
Potential Web Hosting Cost:
If you expect that the site you’re building is going to be a traffic magnet, or you just like to dream big, you can get a much higher capacity hosting plan from one of the managed WordPress hosting companies like Pagely. If you go this route, you can expect to pay anywhere from $300 to $10,000 per year.
Is Design Still Expensive? I Want a Nice Website!
Everyone wants a beautiful website and luckily WordPress has 1000s of great-looking themes available at reasonable prices. Since you’re doing things yourself, you’ll probably want to choose a pre-made WordPress theme for your site’s design. When choosing a theme, you need to think about how you want to represent yourself or your brand online.
As you search the web, you will find both free and premium WordPress themes. A lot will depend on the type of look you want for your WordPress site. Good themes won’t include much, if any, functionality directly within the theme, so be wary of any theme that offers huge bundles of cool-sounding features.
A theme with a ton of features might sound like a great deal, but most of the time you’ll be better served by a simple theme that works well with popular plugins. Here are some examples of where you can go to get WordPress themes and what you can expect in terms of pricing.
You can get some nicely-designed free themes through the WordPress theme directory.
For the highest quality code and better search optimization, you can choose framework themes such as Hybrid Core or Genesis. The frameworks start at $59 – $87. You will then either need to have good design / developer skills to customize the look, purchase a child theme, or purchase a package that gets you all of the additional designs that go with the framework.
For a larger variety of designs, you can choose theme memberships. DevPress offers a $69 per year membership for access to 14 themes. Array offers a $249 lifetime membership for access to 16 WordPress themes. The Theme Foundry offers a $79 membership per year for access to 12 themes. WooThemes offers a $399 per year membership for access to 55 themes. While the dollar value stands out in this group, the choice really comes down to which theme designs you like most.
You can also choose to hire a WordPress developer to customize a WordPress theme for you. One of the best ways to find a quality WordPress developer is to ask around. Most of the best developers get their business through referrals and don’t focus much on freelancer sites or organic search.
That said, there is at least one directory worth mentioning; the WordPress People directory on Post Status. In addition to asking around and checking the people directory, you might want to try Twitter. Lots of great WordPress developers work remotely and hang out on Twitter, so try searching there and asking for developer help using the #WordPress hashtag.
When you choose a WordPress theme, or have one created for you, be sure to go with a responsive design. This ensures that everyone who visits your website on a desktop, tablet, or mobile device will have a great experience. Google will also give you a little mobile-friendly seal of approval in search.
Be sure to visit our guide on choosing a great WordPress theme for your website for more information on this part of starting your WordPress website.
Typical WordPress Theme Cost:
Whatever theme you choose for your DIY website, you should probably expect to pay at least $60 to $100 for a quality theme with ongoing support. If you join a theme club, this could be a little bit higher and also be a recurring fee; however it will give you a larger selection of designs should you want to branch out and create more websites.
Potential WordPress Theme Cost:
If setting up and customizing a theme is a little beyond what you’re prepared to do, or you just want something a little more custom, you can still get a reasonably priced design. If you hire a designer or developer to help customize an existing theme, you can expect to pay anywhere from $500 to $5,000 depending on the complexity of your theme changes and the expertise of the person you’re working with.
Do I Need to Worry About WordPress Security Expenses?
One of the downsides to using WordPress is that because it is so popular, it is targeted by hackers and malicious code creators for the purposes of distributing malware and viruses. There are security solutions that can help.
One popular solution is Sucuri. They will help your website with malware cleanup, blacklist monitoring and removal, website firewall and protection, brute force / DDoS mitigation, and HTTP monitoring. Their service starts at $10 per month. Although not as comprehensive, there are some free and lower-priced options to help keep your WordPress website more secure. Some of the popular WordPress security-related plugins are:
Typical WordPress Security Cost:
If you’re a brave soul, you can forgo spending any money os security, but it may wind up costing you a lot more in the end. Some web hosting companies like WP Engine have an ongoing partnership with Sucuri which can save you a bit of money. That said, we recommend playing it safe and setting aside around $200 per year for a typical DIY website.
Potential WordPress Security Cost:
Security problems can cost a ton of money. It’s difficult to gauge what the potential damages of an insecure or hacked website could be, but rest assured it’s much higher than you think. Malicious intruders can make off with your personal information, your visitors information, and turn your digital world upside down. Trust us, don’t skimp on security. You’ll regret it eventually.
I Need Features! How Much Will They Cost Me?
Plugins help you enhance the functionality of your WordPress site. There are many free ones that will help you immensely, such as WordPress SEO by Yoast for search optimization, Jetpack for functionality similar to WordPress.com, and Floating Social Bar for social sharing.
In addition to the free ones, there are also paid ones that you might find useful now or down the road. Here are just a few you may want to consider.
- Akismet, the popular spam-fighting plugin, starts at $5 per month for commercial sites (or free for personal sites).
- Gravity Forms is a great plugin for adding all types of forms to your website. It starts at $39 per year and has a proven, reliable track record. If you need a free alternative form plugin, we recommend Custom Contact Forms.
- Related Posts for WordPress costs $39 and is a really easy way to add a related posts section to all of your blog posts. We use it and love it. There’s also a free version if you don’t need the extra features or premium support.
- Business Review Bundle will run you $36 and is an awesome set of plugins if you’re making a website for a local business. The plugins in the bundle can help increase your exposure on local sites like Yelp and the Yellow Pages.
- Pinterest “Pin It” Button Pro starts at $29 and is a great way to get more visitors to your site through Pinterest. We definitely recommend this one if your website is photo-heavy.
There are many, many more plugins out there to explore. These are only a sampling, and also the reason that WordPress is so great. There is no limit to what you can do with WordPress thanks to plugins.
Don’t miss our list of the 40 hand-tested WordPress plugins that we consider the best of the best.
Typical Plugin Budget:
Lots of sites can get by using only free plugins from the WordPress.org plugin repository. If you’d like to save some money on your site, this is probably the best area to do it. There are lots of great free plugins available for WordPress, so try searching for free options before looking for a premium solution.
That said, there is a good chance you’ll have at least one or two needs that can’t be met by free plugins, or you just want some paid support, so you should expect to spend around $100 per year on premium plugins.
Potential Plugin Budget:
If your site needs to work a very specific way to accomplish your goals, there’s a good chance you’ll need to pay for it. Most niche-specific plugins are paid because they only apply to a unique set of circumstances. A good example of this would be eCommerce plugins.
The two best eCommerce plugins for WordPress are free; however, they have many extensions which are not. If you need a lot of special functionality on your site, you can expect to pay anywhere from $500 to $3,000 for the premium plugins you’re going to need.
Even though this is a pretty comprehensive article, I didn’t address some of the specific features that factor into the pricing of a small business website. Things like eCommerce, membership functionality, and forums can drive up the price of a website significantly.
There are also more subtle parts of your website that seem like simple additions, but they certainly take more time for a design and development team to build into your site, so will drive up the cost as well. If you’re wondering what some of those additional items might be, Savvy SME has put together an article around frequently forgotten parts of small business websites.
Who’s Going to Help When Things Break?
Last, but not least, is maintenance and WordPress support. WordPress needs regular maintenance in terms of updates to the core software, updates to themes, and updates to plugins. These updates help your website perform at its best and keep it secure from the latest WordPress threats. Plus, you need backups if you want to ensure that your content will be safe in the event of a hosting disaster.
If you look at the totals above for website hosting plus security, you might be thinking that WordPress is a bit too pricey for your blood.
Fortunately, you can start with an inexpensive hosting solution (under $10 per month) and get security monitoring, backups, updates, and much more through one provider starting at $79 per month. This combination makes starting your own WordPress website affordable and much less of a hassle on your end.
Typical Ongoing Maintenance Cost:
Ongoing site maintenance is something you can definitely do yourself. If you don’t mind keeping up with WordPress updates, plugin updates, theme updates, and small adjustments to your theme and plugins, you can save some money in this area.
One major downside to saving money on site maintenance is that you may wind up in a situation where you’ve crashed your site and don’t know how to restore it. We see this sort of thing all the time, so definitely be careful if you decide to look after your site yourself. Remember to always make backups!
Potential Ongoing Maintenance Cost:
If you’d prefer to have someone else take care of your site for you, the cost is usually pretty minimal. For example, our least expensive starter plan costs $948 per year and includes 24/7 security monitoring, backups, updates, interactive WordPress training, and our favorite benefit – peace of mind. 🙂
So, How Much Does a Website Cost?
As you can see, there are quite a few things to consider when determining how much a website will cost. If you’re not so sure about rolling up your sleeves and doing things yourself, you can read about the costs of custom WordPress websites to get an idea of how much a custom site will cost.
On the other hand, if you’re still ready to start tinkering with a bit of code or figuring out how to get some plugins and a theme to work the way you need them to, you can save yourself quite a lot of money.
When you choose the right services from the start, WordPress doesn’t have to be a costly endeavor. With most things, like designs and plugins, you can start free and work your way up. If you invest in the right things like a great domain name, web hosting company, and maintenance plan, you’ll be on your way to creating a successful website without having to fuss with too much of the technical side. Now, for the moment you’ve all been waiting for…
Typical DIY WordPress Website Cost:
Getting started doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Keep in mind that you can always improve or expand on your ideas later down the road. If you keep the scope of your site small go with some budget-conscious options, you can expect to be up and running with your own WordPress website for around $500 to $600 per year. That’s not bad at all.
If you really want to cut costs, you can skip all of the extras and be publishing from your very own self-hosted WordPress website for as little as $150 to $200 per year, which is probably less than you will spend on coffee!
Potential DIY WordPress Website Cost:
If you’re really wanting to go all out and make the next big thing, you can spend quite a bit more than $200 getting your website off the ground. If you’re interested in things like membership sites, eCommerce, and complex functionality you’ll probably wind up spending closer to $2,000 to $5,000 per year on your website. This is really just a rough estimate based on potential costs and it could be much less or much more depending on your situation and your needs.
Our advice is to be careful about overspending on an idea before you’ve validated it. Make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into before you whip out your debit card and buy 50 premium plugins. If you have an idea and you’re looking for consulting to point you in the right direction, reach out to some WordPress people on Twitter and see what they have to say. You’ll find that the community is very open and welcoming to anyone who is interested in building something.
Which website costs are hardest for you to bear? Is there anywhere you wish you could save money, or tips you can share with fellow readers? Let us know in the comments!