Your website is your online branch office, your 24/7 service center, and the very best salesperson you’ve ever had.
A new website offers a really big addition to your business marketing mix. Now that you’re a website owner, you’ll need to plan for the cost of owning a site. These are very small advertising costs, especially given how your site functions as your online office, your 24/7 service center, and potentially the very best salesperson you’ve ever had.
There are three yearly costs for owning most basic websites. Your site can’t exist without two of them, and the third one is highly recommended:
#1. Domain renewal.
Every website address needs a domain name — a unique string of letters and numbers making up your internet address. Usually this name starts with www and ends with com or org. You can read all about how to buy your domain in this post: Buy your domain now. Build your site later. I use Domain.com for domain purchase and renewal, and typically renew my domains for 2-3 years at a time. Given renewal is so inexpensive, I find that renewing for two or three years saves me the hassle of renewing annually. And if I later decide I no longer need or want the domain, I’m only out $10 or so, which is peanuts. Additionally, once you’re in the Domain.com system, you’ll receive promotional emails which sometimes offer 15%, 20% or even 30% off domain purchases, so I save my renewal purchase for when I receive one of these email offers.
Your website needs to “live” somewhere and your hosting service is where your site lives. You’ll choose a monthly or yearly (recommended) fee for a server to host your site. Businesses have different hosting needs (from basic brochure sites to e-commerce shopping functions, for periods of high or spiked user traffic, for large file storage, for WordPress specific functions, etc.), so there isn’t a “one size fits all” here, but generally hosting will run $75-$250 per year. Your web designer should be able to recommend a web hosting vendor based on your needs.
#3. Site maintenance (or “Don’t leave your website untouched for 2 years”).
Your website is often your biggest marketing asset and the centerpiece of all your marketing activities. It’s the first place people go when looking for more information on your products or services. It’s the place that should drive all of your marketing efforts. It’s the first place prospects come looking for information about you.
Keep your website content updated and fresh. Perhaps you need to include new photos of products, staff or your facility, maybe you add new team member bios regularly, perhaps your contact information has changed, or you might decide to blog but need help with creating graphics that wow.
Businesses change, and your website content should reflect these changes. Maybe you’ll want to add a targeted landing page or start collecting emails to build a prospective customer list. Plan to grow your web content and functionality!
We live in a digital world that has constantly changing technology, so the technology that makes your website look good is also changing. Web browsers are updated, WordPress is updated, plugins are updated, text links get broken as other websites migrate, backup systems need attention…the list could go on. It’s inevitable that your new website will need some tweaks down the road to keep functioning. It’s almost impossible to build a website today that won’t need attention in 1 or 2 years.
Your website needs attention just like any other advertising strategy you employ needs to evolve and adapt over time. Website maintenance doesn’t have to cost a lot (maybe it’s a few hours per year of professional time), but don’t fail to budget for it.
Don’t ignore your biggest marketing asset! I encourage clients to seek advice on site improvements and to grow their online possibilities as they become more experienced website owners.