I was recently working on a freelance assignment for an individual who, while being quite tech-savvy and what not, who knew his iPhones from his Androids and his Macbooks from his Ultrabooks, was absolutely clueless about how websites are set up, and most importantly (for me), what are some of the costs involved in setting up a website or a blog.
Which got me thinking, you don’t come across a lot of material on this topic on the internet do you?
This article will list down a breakdown of all the (approximate) costs involved in setting up a small-to-medium website for a corporation or a business, or even a personal blog. I intend to keep it simple, and beginner-friendly. And the focus of this article will be people who are planning to start their own personal blogs, or small businesses or business owners looking for visibility and exposure on the internet through a corporate/company website.
Before we begin though, it is important to tell the readers that they don’t even need to spend a penny if they don’t want to, since there are plenty of free blogging platforms out there.
But these free platforms are usually quite limited in terms of functionality and customizability. Which is why it is generally a good idea to go for a self-hosted website or blog.
So without further ado, here is the breakdown of some of the costs associated with getting a website or a blog up:
The domain is essentially the name and identity of your website: YourWebsiteName.com or something similar. Buying a domain is often one of the first steps that you take when setting up a website/blog. Domains can be registered simply by visiting one of the many domain registrars out there; some of the reputable ones include Name.com and GoDaddy. The part of the domain name which is followed by the dot is usually referred to as the extension, and extensions such as .com, .net, .biz, .org, .edu etc. are called top-level domains (TLDs). TLDs such as .com and .net usually tend to cost somewhere around $9.99 to $19.99 per-year depending on where you register it. GoDaddy, for instance, sells .com domains for $9.99 for an year, and you can get a discount if you register yours for more than a year (can be done up to a maximum of 5 years, if I’m not mistaken). Domains need to be renewed every year (or at the end of the term you signed up for) so it’s a recurring expense.
2. Web Hosting
Another one of the essentials as far as getting a website/blog is concerned. Web hosting is the ‘virtual space’ on the internet where your website resides, and where its files are hosted. You can purchase web hosting from the million-and-one places on the internet, or give a local hosting company in your area or city a call or visit. Hosting companies usually offer a wide variety of different hosting packages, aimed at people with different hosting needs. For individuals and small businesses, a shared web hosting package usually does the job. HostGator is one of the best web hosts in the business right now, and offers shared packages for as low as just under $4-a-month. This package is particularly good as it offers unlimited hosting space, bandwidth and domains. Hosting too follows pretty much the same pattern as domains when it comes to the billing; you can purchase as less as 6 months of web hosting, or as much as 5 years of it. Although hosting companies usually list their cost on a per-month basis, billing is usually yearly.
Once you have web hosting and a domain, you need to get your website up, which usually starts off by choosing a CMS – or a Content Management System. While you can choose from a host of CMS, such as WordPress, Joomla and Drupal for instance, the most popular one out there is WordPress. Its free, very easy-to-use, easy to manage, and lets you change the appearance of your website, add posts, pages, images, and content to it, design its layout, and much more!
WordPress comes with a very basic-looking theme and a pretty vanilla interface. In order to be able to get your website to look exactly the way you want it to, you’ll have to turn to one of the million themes available for WordPress. There are many free themes available, a lot of them on WordPress’s own website. Or you could also browse through the many paid-for or premium themes (such as these) or theme frameworks (such as the Genesis framework or the Thesis framework) available on the internet. Themes can cost from anywhere between a couple of dollars to hundreds of dollars for a lifetime license (ditto for a theme framework), so the costs here really depend on what you choose. Go through the links above to get an idea of the costs here.
Alternatively, you could have someone design your website for you from scratch. This would allow you to get a custom-built or tailor-made website built for yourself, built to your exact specifications. The downside is that the web designer may charge you a good amount of money, depending on the amount of work involved, and you may not be able to manage a custom-built website on your own (as opposed to a WordPress-based website which requires very little technical expertise to run and/or manage). Another option is to get a custom WordPress theme designed, if you decide to stick with WP, however that too could cost you some money.
So that’s pretty much it for the setting-up part. Once your website it up, you’ll need to start putting content on it. Make sure you don’t do this after your website is up, rather plan your content well in advance so you know what goes where when the website goes live. You have two options here: either write the content yourself, or if you don’t have the expertise to do it, you might want to pay someone to do it for you – such as a content writer or a ghost-writer who produces the content for your website on your behalf. Costs, once again, can vary. Websites such as Freelancer.com are usually good place to look for people offering such services.
You might want to consider hiring someone to optimize your website for search engine traffic and human visitors for you. SEO is short for Search Engine Optimization, and includes a list of things that are aimed at optimizing certain on-page and off-page elements of a website in order to get maximum visibility, and attract the maximum amount of targeted traffic to the blog – both from search engines, as well as direct visitors. This allows people (such as potential customers) to be able to find you and your business, know about you, contact you, get information on the list of service you offer, know the products you sell and buy from you. Because that’s the whole purpose of having a website in the first place, right? Consider investing in SEO; for an idea of costs, once again go on Freelancer.com to look for freelancers who offer SEO as a service, or look for local businesses in the white pages or online.