There is no such thing as the right price for a website. You can have something for any amount you budget.
It may be better to shift your question to “Why do I want a website in the first place? What do I expect to accomplish?” Once you find your answer, it will be much easier to assign a budget that makes sense for you.
A quick example:
Say you want to build an eCommerce site that will bring in $200k in revenue per year. In that case, it makes total sense to invest $20k to $50k to have it built professionally.
You are just starting, you don’t have an audience yet, and you need to test an idea. The expected revenue from this project could be as low as ZERO. Paying 20k for a test doesn’t make much sense now, does it? Perhaps this is a good situation where you need to look at some free options first.
How to think about website costs, price, revenue?
A common misconception that I see is to think that all that you need is the web-design, which means a page on the Internet that looks like the picture in your head. There are plenty of tools to help you build that pretty picture for free, but once you have it, what will you do with it?
The most significant investment in building something is in marketing—finding the right people and presenting the right message for them. Once you figure out what you want to create, for whom and what it is the best way to engage with the audience, the web design part is super easy: mostly fill in the blanks.
To better illustrate this, let’s have a look at some options.
The Free Website
With today’s tools, you can have a professional-looking website for free. This approach is an excellent way to test your ideas with no dollar investment. Use this to build up your writing skills, get some feedback on an idea you have in your head, start a conversation about the thing you want to create and get a feel for what it means to manage a website. You may discover that you are sitting on a gold mine or that nobody cares.
The $250 Website
You have now moved to a paid hosting company and under your own domain name.
The advantages you get are:
- you are signaling that you are taking this more seriously – if you invest in hosting and a custom domain name – that will set you apart from everyone using the free places.
- you begin to build your brand – as people will now use your domain to get to your content.
- you get more customization options and more flexibility.
You may still not make money from the site, but the $250/year investment is not too big, and you are learning a lot.
The $1,000 Website
At this point, you have an audience that trusts you and visits your content, and you believe you could help them with a paid solution. You deploy an e-commerce software on your site: a shopping cart (like WooCommerce), a payment gateway integration (like PayPal), a newsletter service (like AWeber), and maybe video content (on YouTube).
If your content is engaging and consistent, you may recoup your money in one year, so you are on to the next level.
The $5,000 Website
At this price point, you already have customers, you know what they like, you know what they would like improved on your website, so it makes sense to buy a custom design to solve these specific challenges.
You are also doing much better automation and integration of your tools. You will make regular backups of your content and customer list because now a loss of data will be costly. You are building up your analytics to help you make better decisions in the future.
You do expect to make somewhere between $30k to $60k per year in revenue.
The $10,000 Website
At this stage, you begin to optimize your site. You think about speed, caching, search engine optimization, user experience improvements, tracking your metrics. You are doing tests with your design and your messaging to see what works best for your audience. You may also choose to move away from platforms like WordPress and into dedicated software that better fits what you and your audience want to do.
The revenue expected is between $80k – $120k.
The $50,000 Website
Here we are usually talking about a major overhaul of your online presence. You will do much research and many tests, and studies about your audience and with your audience to make sure this next level is a perfect fit for them. You may hire a branding agency to fine-tune your online identity and create a unified feeling experience for your users, regardless of where they find you. Things like your logo and color scheme become very important.
You will get automatic publishing and tracking tools to update your content across social media. You will build a managed community for your audience, where they can connect and learn from one another. You will have a team of people around you, helping you manage all the systems.
A big part of this investment goes into research and marketing. If you get that right, then choosing the correct technology is very easy. Choosing the wrong technology can be very costly at this stage. This is why it makes sense to research first and build later.
The expected revenue is over $300k.
You can use the value you expect to create with your website and form that work out what kind of a budget makes sense to invest in getting there.
The bulk part of that investment will go into marketing:
- Understanding your audience.
- Making you a better communicator.
- Spending time engaging with your community.
- Finding better ways to help.