Website maintenance is important if you want to keep your business website in top shape.
It’s kind of like owning a car in that maintenance on a regular basis helps you to avoid a costly fix if something goes wrong. But how much are those maintenance costs? Can you expect to pay as much in website maintenance costs as you would for maintaining your car?
The answer really is “it depends.” Your typical WordPress website with a few regular plugins and paid website hosting generally won’t cost you too much at all. On the other hand, a website design with a lot of custom coding or more expensive plugins will cost a lot more.
Here we’re breaking down the approximate cost of website maintenance under different scenarios:
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Regular website maintenance costs
There are certain things that you will have to pay for on a regular basis to maintain a website – usually paid monthly or annually. These costs will vary, depending on how you have set up your site.
Domain name and SSL certificate
You buy your domain, but it only remains yours so long as you keep paying for its registration. When you purchase from a domain registrar, you usually have the option of registering for a period of one year minimum and up to ten years maximum. This maximum depends upon the domain type – for a .com that’s ten years but for others it may only be one year at a time. If you renew annually, the cost is usually between $10 and $40, depending on the registrar and domain type.
Having an SSL certificate is a must for any small business website. It helps to foster trust between you and your customers and importantly, avert cyber attacks and protect your data. The maximum validity period for an SSL certificate is three years, so you’ll either be renewing annually, every two or every three years.
There are different levels of SSL certificate depending on what you need. For example, a small business that has a very basic, informational website or blog may only need a Domain Validation SSL. A Business Validation SSL is the next level up and is ideal for any business website that takes payments online. This level of SSL certificate ensures you meet Payment Card Industry requirements (PCI). There are a couple of other levels of SSL that larger organizations may require, particularly as they will secure multiple subdomains.
The price for renewing an SSL certificate begins somewhere around $10 for the basic level and goes up to somewhere around $4000 (think of a financial institution’s website for this top-end). The average for a business website tends to be somewhere between $40 and $60.
Web hosting is another essential part of owning a business website. Hosting is how your website is made available on the internet for people to Google or access directly. There are different levels of web hosting, so your hosting costs depend on how you have been set up. For example, if you’ve created a Wix website, you’ll pay the monthly fee attached to the package you chose, which will include your hosting.
If we look at WordPress websites, there are a number of different options. Basic hosting, where you look after website maintenance yourself might cost as little as a few dollars per month. However, this is something to be careful of when looking at hosting plans. Cheap hosting usually means shared servers and when a shared server gets too crowded, it can affect the performance of your business website. You should also consider, do you as the website owner really want to be making any software updates, updates to security or installation of new features yourself?
Another option is one we offer with our packages here at One Week Website: fully managed hosting services. This means that the host looks after installing WordPress, security, speed, WordPress updates, daily backups, website uptime, and scalability. These are all things that are essential and that most business owners don’t want to take care of themselves. Our managed hosting starts at $149 per month, however that’s as part of a new website package along with regular updates. Basic managed hosting (where you take care of other website updates yourself) can be around $50 per month.
WordPress plugin costs
Plugins add essential functionality to any WordPress website. For example, you might use plugins for payment gateways, to set up an ecommerce store or to manage website content. Some plugins are free, but some premium plugins are paid, either one-off or monthly. How much will these cost you? Once again, it depends. Monthly rates tend to range between $5 and $100.
Less regular (but essential) website maintenance
Some website maintenance requirements will be more or less regular for you, depending on your preferences. For example, if your current website is looking dated, you may want a website designer to update its appearance. Design costs are generally a one-time fee (unless you buy a package that spreads the cost out) and can vary from a few hundred dollars to $10,000 or more.
Here are some other important website maintenance items:
There are many reasons to make regular content updates on your website. For one thing, the information you provide should always be up-to-date. Business websites that still reference a past event as though it is still coming up look as though they’re not being used. You might have essential people come and go, or other important information that requires an update.
If you operate a blog on your website, then usually you would update the content at regular intervals – weekly or fortnightly. Some business owners will do this themselves, but others would prefer to have someone else make those updates. The amount you pay is generally in line with how many updates you want the web agency, freelancers or whomever you use to make. We offer unlimited website changes as part of our two premium packages.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is another area that needs to be looked at regularly. This is because the algorithms the search engines use are always being updated. If you left your website as-is, you’d risk that you might drop in ranking on Google because some essential element is missing (or causing you to be penalized).
How will you know you need an SEO update? There are a few clues:
You learn of a major algorithm update
You notice that your organic traffic has dropped or been stagnant
You want to improve your overall search engine rankings and haven’t noticed any change, despite making an effort.
How much will this cost? You could take the DIY route, in which case it costs your time. You might also have these sorts of updates as part of a package with your web agency, or, you could hire an SEO specialist. That last option tends to be the most expensive one, usually costing $2000+ (which can be well-worth it if you get results).
New feature updates
With technology evolving rapidly, there can be any number of reasons that your website might need feature updates. For example, perhaps you need to add new payment options or integrations with social media. Maybe you want new add-ons or a more efficient way of getting clients to book appointments. Adding new features isn’t about “keeping up with the Joneses,” it’s about maintaining a website that is attractive to the user.
As technology changes, people become more discerning and have higher expectations about how websites should operate. If your business website is lagging behind, you may lose potential customers who look for a website that is easier to use. If you’re looking at feature updates, we’d always prioritize items that will make the user experience better. How much will this cost? It very much depends on the feature and its complexity. If you can’t buy it “out of the box” such as a plugin, then you’ll need it custom-coded which will cost you more.
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How much does it cost to maintain a website? The answer is difficult to quantify – as you can see here, your costs will depend upon your needs and the complexity of your website. If we’re talking WordPress websites, I’d say anything from $500 to $10,000 annually.
I’d like to end with this: your website is like a window into your business via the online world, so it’s in your best interests to keep it maintained. You get your car detailed and maintained, and a website needs that care too. Not only do you look after the experience of your website visitors, but you keep “what’s under the hood” running well.
If you are a writer of any sort, an author site is a key tool for creating an online presence. Having your own website gives you a great platform from which to market your various books or services and to take control of how you are portrayed online.
Whether you are self-publishing, working through an agent or even blogging, an author’s website offers you the opportunity to reach more potential readers. Combine that with social media reach and any other marketing efforts and you can build up quite an online audience.
Many authors struggle to decide what they should do in terms of putting together a website, so here we’re looking at five of the best author websites we could find. See what they are doing well and think about how you could “borrow” their strategy for yourself:
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Jeff Goins is a great example of an author who speaks to his identified target audience immediately. “Tell your story,” his headline says on his homepage, immediately evoking a desire or pain point among his readers. The books Jeff writes and the talks he gives are for other “artists” who aren’t sure how to make a living out of what they do, or how to build up an audience for themselves.
This headline is followed by an obvious call to action to get a free guide he has created, helping people to tell their own stories. You can see a second call to action in the header that is also designed to attract his target audience by giving them what they want; “Start a daily writing habit and FINALLY finish your book.”
The website design is simple and clean. In fact, we can even tell you what WordPress theme he used! The tool “What WordPress Theme is That?” reveals that his website uses Tribe2, a theme by Notable Themes that has specifically been created for authors, writers and artists.
Scrolling further down the homepage, Goins has a further call to action and a short and sweet introductory section about himself. This section again highlights who his target audience is and gives a strong call to action:
“And here’s the thing: you don’t have to starve to share your best work. If you have a passion for creativity and changing the world, this is the place for you. I invite you to subscribe and sit tight. This is going to be fun.”
The next section highlights testimonials as social proof, providing potential readers with the answer to “why should I listen to you?” He keeps it simple on the homepage, with only his latest book and book cover shown, then links to his podcast, blog and further information. Site navigation is easy to follow from the buttons at the bottom of the page.
A great value-add for his target audience is the “resources” page which is included in the links at the bottom of the homepage. Here he outlines some key resources for the budding or aspiring writer. It’s good use of the idea of reciprocity – when someone sees the useful information he provides for free, they wonder what he includes in his books. This is an excellent book marketing technique.
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If you’re the prolific author of multiple book series, then keeping a website well-coordinated can be a challenge. Cassandra Clare is a well-known fantasy author who releases a few books each year and has created an intertwining fantasy world across the different book series.
There is a lot going on for an author site, but it has been designed to be simple to navigate. Each series has its own menu button at the top and importantly for book marketing, there is a prominent “coming soon” tab. The main images are a gallery that goes between new-release titles and artwork for the books. If it’s all a bit overwhelming for someone new to Clare’s books, there is a helpful “where to start” tab at the top. Any author of multiple interweaving books where it is important that the reader start with certain titles should have a similar page.
The website design definitely involves custom coding to achieve the vintage look, but the overall vibe really works for the history and fantasy elements of Clare’s books. It’s worth investing in an appropriate look if you are a genre author.
As an interesting addition in her “resources” section, Clare directly addresses her core target audience – young readers. For any who are interested in how to become an author or who would like to ask questions for a school project, she provides a list of FAQs for them to get the information.
There are clear calls to action for readers to sign up for her email list, which is another excellent marketing technique. Each book page also includes links to Amazon and other sites where it can be purchased.
What if you’re an author who writes across a spectrum of genres, including fiction and nonfiction? Jennifer Niven introduces herself as such: “I’ve written nonfiction and fiction, both historical and contemporary, adult and YA. At first glance, my books are all over the map, but if you look closely they share a common theme: they are stories about ordinary people doing extraordinary things.”
This is how she’s drawn them all together into an effective author site – by highlighting the common theme among them all. Her introduction here is short yet interesting, appealing to a broad audience yet also narrowing it down to those who are interested in reading about people. Notably, she tends to write about strong, independent women, who would form a core part of her target audience.
Scrolling down her homepage, Niven highlights her New York Times bestsellers first, a sort of “social proof” for anyone who may not have read her books yet. She shows the book cover and the Amazon or other purchase links so that people can easily order the book immediately.
The website design is simple and contemporary, making it easy for potential readers to navigate. Niven also includes her social networking links at the top of the page, helping to grow her social media audience too.
Peter Rosenberger gives a great example of an author website for someone who specializes in a particular non-fiction niche. He is an author, speaker, and a known expert in his field – being the primary caregiver of an adult in his household (his wife).
One of the striking things that will immediately resonate with his target audience (other caregivers) is his list of “credentials” for being an expert on the topic. The first thing you see on the homepage is details about his wife; 80 surgeries, multiple amputations, 100+ physicians and of course – one caregiver for the last 30 years. This will immediately resonate with anyone who might be struggling with the caregiving role and looking for someone who will understand. It says “I get you.”
Instead of making an obvious push to sell books, Rosenberger’s site provides a wealth of information for his audience. There is a “books” tab showcasing his titles, but he largely relies on good content marketing to get his message across. He includes facts, statistics and free content such as videos and clips from his radio show. It gets back to that idea of sharing value with the target audience to create goodwill and boost the author platform.
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Paul Jarvis’ website is a good reflection of his personal ethos – that business growth (or being bigger) isn’t always better or even required of business owners. His website is one of the simplest you’ll ever see – that’s the homepage above.
Jarvis has a quick call to action to join his email newsletter, but other than that, he’s basically practicing what he preaches. A complex website with multiple calls to action, images and paragraphs wouldn’t really suit his core message.
The tiny homepage does leave room for a brief piece of social proof – a one-line recommendation from Cal Newport, who many followers of productivity practices will already know. Basic navigation buttons lead people to Jarvis’ products, articles and newsletter. It’s very simple, but it works for his core messaging.
If we were to sum up anything that these very different author websites have in common, it’s that they adeptly speak to the target audience they are seeking to attract.
The best author websites aren’t just about showcasing the books that they sell, they’re about engaging the imagination or the core needs of the audience. All of these authors have found ways to deliver extra value for people who visit their website.
Of course, good design helps too. If you need a sharp new author’s website, then have a chat with us at One Week Website here.
Have you ever felt that you’d like to improve your opt-in rates on your website?
Opt-ins remain an important tool for business websites. They get subscribers onto your email list so that you’re able to stay in touch with them and help to progress them through your marketing funnel.
While email marketing can be super-effective once you have people on your list, the first challenge you face is actually getting them there. How do you entice someone to hand over their email address and opt into your list?
Know your audience first
We know, we’ve said this before! However any marketing activity worth doing needs to start with a thorough knowledge of the audience you are targeting. You need to understand what appeals to them and the problems that seem urgent in their eyes.
In terms of website opt-ins, you need to be able to connect the desire to opt-in with something that matters to them or is part of their character. For example, let’s say you have a target audience that largely consists of busy executives. You decide to create a “lead magnet” – a free giveaway in return for their email address. What should you create?
Considering the description of your target audience and the fact that they’re always busy, in this case you might choose something that is quick to consume but provides them with value. Something like “10 Quick Tips to Improve …”, may be more likely to get read than a 50-page eBook. Of course this isn’t always the case, but you get the picture – you need to create something with broad appeal for your defined audience.
How to create an enticing lead magnet
According to Marketo, 96% of people who arrive on your website aren’t yet ready to buy. This means that capturing their details on that visit is very important. The exchange of an email address becomes the transaction you are looking for.
To get something of value (the email address), generally you need to give something of value. In most cases, this will be a lead magnet – a free piece of useful content – however if you run an ecommerce business, a quick strategy is to offer a discount in exchange for the email address. Here’s an example of a pop-up form from kid’s clothing retailer, Primary, below:
The immediate discount offer might work well for products that tend to be everyday needs or of lower-price, but it’s usually not going to work right away for more complex products or services. For example, if you sell a cloud-based software, consulting or something big-ticket, people often want to do more homework before committing.
In terms of devising an effective lead magnet, it can be anything that you like as long as it provides real value to your target audience. This is why you define them first! In fact, step two is to identify a specific value proposition for your lead magnet. Your value proposition will answer to a need of your audience, such as “how do I fix X problem?”
The most effective lead magnets tend to aim for a quick solution to a very defined problem. They are ultra-specific which helps the target audience to get results more quickly. For example, if you run a business that sells disaster preparedness kits, you might give away a printable checklist that people can mark off before evacuating. It’s simple and it’s directly related to the products being sold.
A lead magnet can help you to demonstrate commitment to solving and a true understanding of a problem. This helps you to build the trust of the target audience. If you can get them some kind of quick win, they may trust your paid products or services.
We like how Jon Morrow puts it here:
“On an opt in page, you want the copy to be as short as possible. One litmus test is if what you are offering requires more than a headline to explain, it’s too abstract. It’s not familiar enough, it’s not obvious enough!”
Lastly, when we talk about effective lead magnets, we have to talk about format. Yours may take any format that you like, but it’s important that you play to your own strengths, particularly if you’re creating it yourself. If you’re not great at writing but love video, then look at a video format, and vice versa.
Aiming for rapid consumption tends to also be effective. So if you’re producing a video, keep it short and punchy, serving a clear purpose in a small amount of time. Think about those buyer personas and whether or not they are likely to spend a lot of time consuming a piece of content.
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How to get that email address
You’ve created a lead magnet (or other type of offer), but now you need to actually get your website visitors to sign up for it. This is where presentation is everything.
Think about what entices you when you’re choosing something. The saying goes not to “judge a book by its cover,” but the truth is we do. When a visitor arrives on your website, they usually can’t see the valuable content inside your lead magnet, only the outer packaging which is only unwrapped once they opt-in.
Website visitors will either get to your lead magnet via an opt-in form that could be placed anywhere on your website, or via a dedicated landing page. This second option is usually useful if you’re trying to get opt-ins from paid ads or from social media posts. It makes sense to direct them to a purpose-built page rather than straight to your website where there are all sorts of other distractions.
Whether you have a website, landing page or both, there are some key elements to include that help you to get that email address:
Unbounce defines attention ratio as “the ratio of the number of things you can do on a given page to the number of things you should do.” Any landing page should have a 1:1 ratio, denoting one key goal of the page. When you’re talking about an opt-in form on your home page or anywhere else on your website, your ratio might be more like 10:1.
Your aim is to keep that attention ratio low and guide visitors to taking the action you want – opting in. Too many distractions can impact your opt-in rate negatively because people don’t pay attention to it.
Tips for improving attention ratios include:
Having one clear call to action
Using elements that draw attention to the sign-up form, such as pictures or an arrow
Using pop-ups or top bar forms
Reducing the number of elements on your page
The written copy you produce plays a vital role in enticing people to take the next step. Whether on a landing page or as part of a sign-up form, the place to start is with your headline copy.
“On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.” David Ogilvy
Successful headlines tend to tell the visitor what they’ll get out of taking action, stand out and compel them to take action. Depending on the complexity of what you’re offering (and remember, the idea is not to be too complex), you may include a subheadline as well.
Melanie Duncan’s “4-U” formula provides a simple way to craft compelling headlines. The basic elements are shown in the image (borrowed from her website) below:
Useful = it solves a problem the target audience has (“Get More Opt-Ins With 5 Simple Steps”)
Urgent = language that indicates time or avoidance of a serious pain (“This Common Household Cleaner May Cause Asthma in Your Children”)
Unique = use of words that are interesting or novel
Ultra-specific = you hone in on the specifics. For example, instead of just “8 Marketing Tips for Small Businesses,” you might have “8 Killer Email Marketing Tips for Small Businesses.”
Any other copy you use should only be support the “big why” for visitors to opt-in. It comes back to that attention ratio – rambling won’t help you to keep people’s attention.
Your visual design plays a big role in enticing people to opt-in. To start with, you might use contrasting colors that, while they still go with your overall look, help your opt-in form to stand out. For example, perhaps you use a contrasting border color, or fill color.
Another design element might include directional clues, such as arrows pointing to your form. A person’s eyes will naturally follow to the point of an arrow, drawing them in. Think also about your button design, using contrasting colors and stand-out shapes to make them obvious.
The type and placement of your form is also important. This is something you can test to learn more about what appeals to your audience. “Behavioral marketing” is the term used when you set up marketing strategies based on behavior you have observed (such as with Google Analytics).
To give you an example, pop-ups can be very effective – they can also be very annoying! Timing tends to be the key. If visitors are hit with a pop-up the second they get to your website, that’s when they tend to get dismissed immediately. Waiting until they’ve had an opportunity to look at what they came for can be a better strategy.
A floating bar is another way to display your opt-in form that can be quite effective. Sidebar forms can work too, however, they’re also prone to people’s “banner blindness.”
Opt-ins can form a key part of your lead generation strategy, allowing you to build an email list as well as grow your visibility and trust with your target audience.
The key with any opt-in is that you must be giving people a good reason to subscribe and you must “package” the opt-in enticingly. For example, you should solve a specific problem that they have, giving them a quick win, and making it obvious how they should proceed to get your lead magnet.
Play to your strengths and showcase what makes you wonderful. This way you can make the best use of opt-ins on your website.
How much does a website cost for your small business?
A business website is an essential tool for marketing your business, but the question of how much it will cost you is wide open. The short answer is that it can cost as little as $5 per month, or as much as $10,000 or more.
It’s almost like asking “how much is a house?” The cost will depend upon the size and features of the house. When talking about a business website, the price range varies because it depends on the website needs that you have.
Another option if you have the know-how yourself is to build your own hosted website. This does involve more knowledge and work on your part, and requires a platform such as WordPress.
Your other option is to have a custom website built for you. This requires a person (or perhaps a web design agency) that has specialist website development skills. A web designer and developer will cost you more, especially for someone who has the right skills and experience. However, you don’t have to do any work and you should get a well-built website.
Your website cost will depend upon the options you choose. Let’s dig in a bit on each choice.
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The basics of a business website
First of all, there are a few basics that, no matter the type of website, you will need. These items are put into place before you have any website development done:
Domain name – This is the website address people will use to find you (such as oneweekwebsite.com). Domains can be purchased from a domain registrar such as GoDaddy or Google Domains.
A new domain that is unowned and available when you do a search of a registrar site will cost you between 99 cents and a few dollars per year. If your desired domain name is unavailable, you may be able to purchase it from the owner. This might cost you anywhere from less than $100 to several thousand dollars. In fact, some of the most expensive domains have sold for millions of dollars.
SSL certificate – If your business website is going to process transactions and gather user information, then you need an SSL certificate to allow secure connections with your domain. This will cost between $69 and $300 per year, depending on what you need.
Website hosting – Your website must be hosted in order to be available on the internet. There are many different website hosting providers and types of hosting, which we will outline later. Hosting will cost you anything from free (for a very basic website) to a few hundred per month (for a dedicated server). If you are getting your website built by a web design agency, hosting will often be part of the package.
Another thing that you will need along the way, no matter how you are getting your website built, is content for your website. In some cases, you may be able to get a website package that includes some content (One Week Website offers this), however you will otherwise have to source it yourself.
At a very basic level, your content will include:
The written copy on your webpages (free if you write it yourself, $400+ per page if an experienced copywriter does it for you). Cost: $0 (and a lot of your time) up to $1200+
The images. You might have your own photos to contribute, otherwise you will pay for either stock photos or a photographer where you need specific images. Cost: $0 – several hundred dollars, depending on what you need.
Your logo. If yours is a new online business, you’ll want a professional logo made. A good designer and a more complex logo will cost you more than anything basic. Cost: $100 – $600+
Summary cost of the basics: $1 – $2000.
Using a website builder
If you’re starting a new small business, often the method you choose to get a business website up is a function of how much you have in your budget. A website builder platform such as Weebly, Wix or Shopify (for an ecommerce website) is usually more budget-friendly.
These types of platforms have user-friendly drag-and-drop interfaces, allowing you to decide how your website will look. It requires very little know-how on your part to put a basic website together. The downside to this is that there will be limitations – you won’t necessarily get everything that you want in a website.
Most website builder platforms will have options for add-ons (often at extra cost) so that you can tack on some extra features. It’s definitely not the same as custom design though – you can only use what they have available.
Pros and cons of a website builder
In very general terms (considering there are several different platforms with varying features), here are some pros and cons of using a website builder:
Can be built very cheaply
May not have all of the features you’d like
Can be up and running within a day
Will be very basic
You can do it yourself
Doing it yourself takes time
You don’t have to worry about the technical details of how the website runs.
You are relying on a platform to be reliable. Sometimes website builder platforms experience outages.
You can get a professional-looking design.
Your design may look like everyone else’s.
Your website is fully-managed and the building of it is automated.
You’re building your website on someone else’s real estate. If your website builder platform disappeared tomorrow, so would your website.
Using a website builder may be a good option for you if you have time to do it yourself, you only need a very basic website, and/or you have a small budget and can’t manage the development costs for a more custom build.
Summary cost for a web builder website: $60 – $300 for your first year (including website maintenance cost). This does not consider the cost of your time…
DIY website design
If you’re seeking a website that is independent of any website builder platform (especially if you are concerned about building on someone else’s real estate), you could also choose to DIY your own website. People often do this using website building software such as WordPress.
In comparison to a web builder platform where the functions are automated, using WordPress to DIY your website is like going to IKEA for furniture – there will be assembly required. This means that you do need a certain amount of technical know-how (or the patience to learn as you go) to build your business website.
Using WordPress to build your own website avoids the costs of custom web development, however website maintenance, functionality and design will all be up to you. If you are low on technical skills, this can be time-consuming and frustrating thing to learn.
Use of the WordPress platform itself is free. It’s important to note that WordPress comes in three different types:
Fully-hosted at WordPress.com (with limitations in functionality such as in the web builders above);
A premium version at WordPress.com which allows for some plugins and more theme choices;
Self-hosted, where you download the software from WordPress.org and install it via your hosting platform (e.g. GoDaddy).
Here we’re focusing on the third option, as the first two are very similar to what we’ve already discussed. Once you’ve downloaded the WordPress software and installed it on your web host, you effectively have a blank canvas to build from. You will need:
A WordPress theme. It’s important to choose a theme that makes your business look good and works well functionally. While there are free themes available, they are often unreliable in terms of being maintained. A premium theme from a site such as Themeforest will cost you $30 – $100.
Plugins – these are the WordPress add-ons that deliver different functions to your site. They offer anything from website analytics to payment gateways which you would need for an ecommerce website. The cost of plugins really depends upon what you need. Many are free, but some will cost anywhere from $5 – $150, while others will be a subscription with a monthly charge.
Pros and cons of building your own website with WordPress
You can do it yourself without web developer costs.
It can be a steep learning curve if you don’t have the technical know-how already.
You have more customization available to you.
It can be tricky “assembling” your website so that it works as you’d like.
You have entire control over the website (it is unlikely a huge software such as WordPress will go down)
You have to sort out website maintenance yourself (or hire someone to do it). Sometimes plugins become buggy or code becomes corrupted.
You can create your own website look that is unique for your business.
If you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s easy to mess up the look of the website.
Summary cost of a DIY WordPress website: $50 – $2000 (depending on what you need and whether you end up hiring a developer to help with any parts).
Custom design and development
Custom design of your business website is usually going to cost you more, however it may be necessary for some websites. For example, if your website needs complex functionality, you have a very specific website design in mind, or if you need something like a large ecommerce website. Of course, if you simply want the time and labor of creating your own website taken off your hands, that’s a good enough reason!
As it sounds, custom design means that a web developer or web design agency starts from scratch, or at least builds a very customized site on top of a template.
The question of how much a custom website will cost you is again dictated by what you need. The more complexity, the more functionality, the more you are asking a web developer and/or web designer to do, the more you can expect to pay.
It’s fair to say that most websites are not built entirely from scratch these days, unless it is for an enterprise-level company with a very specific set of needs. Custom-built, from-scratch websites can cost $30,000 or more.
WordPress is a popular choice to build from because it is so flexible as a platform. While you could create a basic WordPress site yourself with a little knowledge, it will never beat the honed skills of an experienced developer.
The cost of having your website built for you on a WordPress platform will vary depending on who you get to do it and whether you want a basic website, or something more complex. You can hire a freelance web developer and you’ll find the price varies from $500 to $10,000 or more.
Many people look to save money by hiring someone who seems to be cheaper, but this usually results in a “you get what you pay for” situation. It’s important to choose someone based on a verifiable body of work and strong references, rather than simply pricing. If you want a WordPress website, then they should specialize in creating them. In the worst cases, some small businesses have ended up paying out much more money because they had to hire someone else to fix the mess.
Something to bear in mind when you hire a developer is that the good ones tend to know their worth and charge accordingly. Expect to pay $100 – $250 per hour, with the best developers at the top end of the scale. You should also investigate how long it will take them to deliver your finished product. Sometimes a website build can take months, especially if you’re dealing with a small firm or individual developer with multiple clients to take care of. You may want to weigh up cost along with time to delivery (expect to pay a premium for any rush work).
Another option is to hire a web design agency. Many will offer set packages so that you can see what you’re getting for your money (check out One Week Website’s pricing here). It’s important to clarify what you’re getting for the price no matter who you hire. This should be laid out in writing so that there is no confusion later on. For example, some companies will offer packages that include search engine optimization and clear messaging for your website too. Web hosting is often included in these sorts of packages, but this is something to check as well.
One aspect to investigate is any ongoing website maintenance. Every website needs it and it’s definitely easier to have maintenance done by the person or company who built your website. Check to see if your web developer will offer any ongoing maintenance – this is often charged out as a monthly “subscription” rate.
Pros and cons of a custom-built website
You can have complex features added.
Complexity will add more time and cost to your website build.
You get professional help instead of having to learn yourself.
You need to do a bit of homework to find a person or agency with the right skills and experience.
You can have a very unique website created.
The more customization involved, the more it will cost you.
Professional design is a better look for your business and could lead to more revenue.
It’s often not as simple to make a quick design change as it is on a website builder platform.
Summary cost of a custom website build:
With a template used as a basis – $500 – $10,000 or more, depending on complexity.
Custom design from scratch – $5000 – $30,000+
Website maintenance – $50 – $200 per month
Website hosting is an important part of website cost and is worth looking at separately. You may have purchased web hosting as part of a package with whoever built your website, but you need to know that there are different levels of hosting with different implications for cost and performance.
The type of web hosting you have can cost anywhere from a few dollars to a few hundred dollars per month. Thus it could be a significant cost to factor in to your overall budget for building a business website.
In simple terms, “hosting” is where the files for your website are stored on a server, making your site available on the internet. A large, complex company might use several of their own exclusive servers (such as an airline or a bank), while a hobby website or small, local business might use a shared server.
There are three main types of website hosting:
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#1. Shared server
Shared hosting, where you share a server with other websites is at the very basic end of hosting options. There are multiple companies offering shared hosting and it is the cheapest option available (sometimes even free, within limitations. This is not generally recommended for a business).
Basically, it’s like paying rent in a shared apartment building. There could be multiple other units in the same building – or multiple websites on the same server. In some cases, there could be thousands of websites on one server.
Shared hosting can be a good starter option for a small business, but that very much depends on what the hosting company is offering. You are sharing the resources of the server (its Random Access Memory and Central Processing Unit) with others – this means if the server gets overloaded with requests, it can drastically slow down the websites it hosts, or even shut them down. There have been some “bad actors” in the hosting market, cramming too many websites onto one server.
In terms of who you share the server with, you won’t know, however shared hosting can be subject to the “bad neighbor effect.” This is where your neighbors on the server do things that impact the performance of your website too – much like neighbors in an apartment building might do. Most web hosting companies work to mitigate this, but it really is a “you get what you pay for” situation. Cheap hosting is unlikely to include maximum effort to deal with bad neighbors.
Look at more than just price when it comes to hosting. You want to ensure you get good website performance too. If your ecommerce website is having a Cyber Monday sale, then you don’t want it slowing down with an increase in traffic!
Cost of shared hosting: $4 – $10 per month
#2. VPS hosting
VPS means “virtual private server” and is the next step up from shared hosting. It costs a bit more than shared hosting, but you usually get to avoid the problems associated with a shared server.
On a VPS, a few websites will still share the server hardware, however each site will be allocated its own dedicated slice of computing technology. If you were to max-out your allocation, then your site may be throttled, but it won’t affect other sites on the server. Thus the bad neighbor effect is mitigated.
VPS tends to be a good option for most small businesses that get a reasonable amount of website traffic, however, if you get a lot of traffic or need a lot of storage space, it may not be enough for your business.
Cost of VPS hosting: $20 – $100 per month (depending on the resource allocation you get)
#3. Dedicated server
A dedicated server means that your business gets a server (or multiple servers) all to yourself. Some larger businesses with the resources to do so manage their own dedicated servers, however there are options for managed dedicated server hosting. This means that a hosting company maintains and manages the server/s for your business.
Dedicated servers give you more space and more flexibility in terms of what you’re able to do. They mean no bad neighbor effect and the ability to customize your hardware. Naturally, with exclusivity and flexibility comes more cost.
For some businesses with high traffic, security and storage needs, this might be your only reasonable option. Sites like Amazon are hosted on multiple dedicated servers, meaning it is unlikely they will ever go down.
Cost of a dedicated server: $150+ per month
If you want to know how much a website will cost for your small business, it’s important to define what your needs are for the website. Your overall cost is a function of the features and performance you need, much like when you are purchasing a car.
Remember that the initial website build isn’t your only cost to consider – you should factor in the costs of hosting, maintenance and owning your domain name. You may also have ongoing subscription costs for things like plugins or add-ons that you’d like to use. This is intended as an approximate guide to costs, but if you have questions about getting a website built for your business, feel free to contact us for a chat here.
Many small business owners do this as a way to help them achieve their goals. A small business blog that shares great content can help to attract potential customers and promote your personal brand.
The trick is knowing where to get started. When you look at the volume of content some companies are producing, it can seem daunting setting up your own! Here we’re tackling the basics – if starting a business blog is your goal, where should you start?
First thing’s first, what are your goals for starting a business blog? Content for content’s sake is never a great idea – it can lead to your blog content being misdirected and unsuccessful. The only real way to know if your blog is on target is to set clear goals to drive the content.
For example, a small business blog can be good for:
Enhancing your personal brand
Reaching potential customers
Improving your website’s search engine results through search engine optimization
Sharing your know-how and delivering value to a defined target audience.
Transitioning a website or side-hustle from a hobby to a full-time business
Giving your current business a wider audience
A business blog is an excellent marketing tool, but it must be done well to be successful. Your goals should define the types of content you need to post and the structure of your blog. Importantly, you need to have sufficient blog content ideas that will keep it going. Blogs work with consistency – otherwise you’re unlikely to see your goals met.
#2. Understand your target audience
A business blog isn’t written for you (as a personal blog may be), it’s written to attract a target audience. You’re hoping to attract potential customers and achieve any of those goals you defined at step #1.
Your blog topics need to be developed so that they entice the right people to stop by and read. This means you should know in detail who those people are.
One great strategy for defining your audience is to create customer or buyer personas. These are detailed descriptions of individual personas that make up your desired audience. Most businesses have more than one clear persona, although usually one or two are the most prominent. Defining any more than five starts to get messy when it comes to directing small business blog content.
A buyer persona contains details like:
The age and gender of the person (where relevant)
Where they are located
Their “life stage” (e.g. single, married, divorced, college, empty nesters…)
Their job role and level of responsibility
Key problems they have that your business can solve
Key areas of interest.
The image below shows an example of buyer persona, borrowed from HubSpot:
#3. Set up your new blog
Are your starting a business blog from scratch, or adding a blog to a current website? If it’s the latter, many website platforms allow you to easily add a blog to your site. For example, WordPress websites have a blog built in as a standard part of what they offer.
If you’re starting completely from scratch, for example when you’re starting a side-hustle or wanting to monetize a hobby, then there are a few things you need to get organized:
Domain name – this is the web address for your blog or website. For example, our domain is oneweekwebsite.com. The simplest domain name is your own business name.
Web hosting – your website requires a host in order to be found on the internet. (We offer fully-hosted packages, found here).
A blogging platform. WordPress is one of the most common, but there are other options, such as Joomla or Weebly.
A theme or “look” for your business blog. If you have a WordPress website, then you will look for a WordPress theme. This provides design elements for your website. (Try Themeforest for WordPress themes).
#4. Plan your blog topics
“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.”
Now that you understand your goals and who you are targeting, it’s time to plan your blog topics. Great content starts by being relevant and useful – even if you write very well, no one is going to read it if it’s not aimed at them.
Sometimes people struggle with post ideas, while other times they come in a flood. We recommend keeping an “ideas” sheet (or Trello board – however you like to do it), so that you can quickly note blog topics down as the idea strikes.
We also strongly recommend that you keep an editorial calendar, scheduling out regular blog posts. Many business blogs have started with good intentions, then petered out as busy business owners run out of time or ideas. An editorial calendar keeps you on the straight and narrow, and also helps with an important factor for blogging success – consistency.
Blogging on a consistent schedule trains your audience to look for your posts at certain times. It also helps with search engine optimization. If you need ideas to kick-off your blog topics, look at some of these:
The key problems you identified among your target audience
Keyword research – this will sometimes reveal related topics
Competitors’ posts – can you write a similar topic but do a better job?
How your audience can achieve key goals that they have
#5. Create policies for your blog content
There’s a good chance that you won’t be the only one who ever creates your business blog content. For the sake of consistency and keeping up the appearance you want to share with your audience, having a few policies that govern your blog can help. For example:
Specific standards for your blog entries (grade level, grammar, spelling, keywords…)
The voice or tone that you want to use
Any style guidelines
The rules for any links that are added to the post
Whether you will accept guest posts and who from
Core topic categories that should be addressed.
Even if you’re the only one writing the posts for now, it’s good to think about these things for your own guidance.
#6. Optimize your blog content
Search engine optimization helps to ensure that your blog gets found. These days, there is so much content already online, you can’t assume that people will simply find you. Optimization needs to be intentional.
To begin with, look at your target audience and the blog topics that will be of interest to them. Conduct keyword research to work out the best combinations of keywords to get your posts found.
Remember, keywords are no good to you without targeting and context. This means you have to think of the related words that provide context, to ensure that you get the right target audience showing up. For example, “football” means different things in different countries. In the U.S. it’s the NFL, in the UK and Europe, it’s soccer, in New Zealand, it’s rugby. Find keyword combinations that make sense and clearly denote what your blog content is about.
The idea is not to “stuff” blog posts with keywords (this can get you penalized by Google), or to use them unnaturally for the sake of adding keywords. Great content should read well, no matter what. Put your main keywords in a few strategic places, for example:
Image alt text
The body of your content.
#7. Promote your business blog
Search engine optimization helps with organic traffic, but you also need to actively promote your business blog. Be prepared that it tends to take a while to get some momentum going and build an audience through content marketing – it’s a slow burn. This is why producing consistently great content is important.
There are several different paid or free methods for promoting your blog:
Share on social media. Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter tend to be the key platforms to share on, but again, know your audience. Perhaps your audience and business type are suited to Instagram.
Share on sites like Medium or Reddit.
Engage in some email marketing. Let your list know every time a new post goes up.
Take out some paid advertising, such as through social media or Google Ads.
Include links to your blog in social media profiles and email signatures.
Re-share old content. Social media posts have a short lifecycle – schedule posts to re-share at a later date.
#8. Measure your results
Every successful business measures their results against their goals. The same should be done for your business blog. The key is knowing what you should be measuring – it needs to make sense for the goals that you have.
For example, if your goal was to improve search engine results against a certain set of keywords, then you need to measure how well you rank over time. If your goal was to drive more traffic to your business website, you need to look at how blogging has impacted traffic. Beyond that, you need to know whether that traffic is taking other actions that you’d like, such as signing up to your list or buying a product.
You might also want to track engagement on social media, especially if improving the visibility of your brand is a goal. Look at comments and shares of posts and whether or not you are growing your audience.
Importantly, are you attracting the right audience? There is no sense in driving a lot of traffic if most of it is not your target audience. One way of tracking this is looking at comments on your blog posts and looking at those further actions visitors have taken. Are you improving sales and can that be attributed to your blog?
Track results for individual blog topics too. When you begin a business blog, it’s often a case of trial and error to work out what the most popular content will be. Look at the blog posts getting the most traffic, shares and engagement – these are what you want to write more of.
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#9. Get help with your blog entries
Lastly, we know that starting a business blog is a big commitment, and keeping it up is challenging for small business owners. If you’re at the point where even the editorial calendar isn’t keeping you on-track, it’s probably time to look for help.
Whether you have someone else internally or can find a writer externally, it’s important that great content continues to flow. If you’ve set the foundations, you can introduce a new writer to your content policies and what you need for your business blog.
It’s up to you whether you want to have someone “ghost write,” where they write on behalf of a credited author, whether the writer gets the byline, or whether you post as “admin” or some other anonymous poster. Consider your business goals – if improving your own personal brand is part of it, you probably want the byline and to have the posts ghost written.
The bottom line for starting a business blog? Make it relevant, interesting and consistent. Always write for your target audience and have some clear goals in mind. Great content doesn’t happen by accident.
Your web copy provides text or messaging that visitors to your website read to find out about you and what you offer. It has a vital role to play in attracting potential customers and hopefully encouraging them to buy or sign up with you.
Given the crucial role of website copy, you’d think it would be a priority for businesses to do well, right? Unfortunately, poor web copy is a common mistake. We often see businesses more focused on having a “pretty” website than on clear website content.
There’s a saying about how “a confused mind never buys” and this holds true for your web copy. Data from Crazyegg suggests you have less than 15 seconds to capture attention on your website, before visitors leave. If your copy is confusing or doesn’t provide enough useful information, they’re not going to hang around for more.
So, it’s worth taking the time to get your messaging right (and it’s something we are big on at One Week Website!). How do you make sure website copy is clear?
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Define your ideal customers
The first step is to know exactly who your message is for. Your aim is to attract not just anyone, but “ideal customers,” those who are best suited to your product or service. You need to identify these buyer attributes, including:
Where they are
What they do/ their job role and level of authority
Their problems and goals.
Collating this information helps you incorporate some key components into your web copy, designed to attract those ideal customers. If you understand their needs and what appeals to them, you can craft your copy to suit.
Know what your audience wants from you
What does your target audience want from your products or services? Clearly understand this from the perspective of the buyer personas you have identified. This way you can highlight those benefits in your web copy and other online content.
There’s a quote from copywriter and sales expert Dan Kennedy that fits well here:
“Get a fix on the prospect/customer/client and on his or her desires; failing to do so will undermine all your other efforts.”
Agitate the problem
A core reason that people buy is because they have a problem that needs solving. They might have tried something else before they came upon your website, and maybe that other thing didn’t work for them.
Agitating the problem is about being able to clearly articulate the issue and how it makes your ideal customers feel if it goes unresolved. What emotions does it evoke? Why is your product or service a better solution than others? This helps you to deliver website copy that is clear and appealing.
For example, if you are an accounting business, agitating the problem might look like this:
Problem: Are you trying to plan ahead to minimize your tax obligation?
Agitation: The new tax code ushers in the biggest changes in over 30 years. How do you interpret the complexities and ensure you’re not paying too much tax?
Note how agitating the problem can also involve suggesting what might happen if it remains unsolved. Highlighting the potential impact to your audience’s lives helps create some urgency.
Be succinct and upfront
How many websites have you visited where the product descriptions or other marketing materials lack basic, useful information? There are a lot of websites that are not clear upfront and when this happens, you can almost guarantee that visitors aren’t going to hang around trying to figure it out.
You need to be able to succinctly communicate what your business does through your website copy and within seconds of someone landing on your website homepage. People don’t like to click around trying to understand what you do – in fact they probably won’t.
“Keep it simple” is a good rule of thumb to follow. A common mistake is to try to be “clever” with copy, ending up with something that no one else understands. It’s great to let your personal voice shine through, as long as website visitors know what you mean!
We have a couple of strategies that we use with website copy in an effort to keep it simple and effective:
Show website visitors a simple three-step plan to get what they want. So you’re addressing the problem upfront, but immediately giving them some easy steps to resolve it. Take a look at the example below, from our own website:
Take the position of being a guide, rather than a hero. This means positioning the company with empathy and authority, as a more relatable entity than one which takes a “supreme” kind of position.
Make it clear who your business is for. This might be included in a USP (Unique Selling Proposition) statement upfront. This is a statement of why your business is the best choice, perhaps hinting at why you’re different from others.
You might include who your business is for by saying something like: “We take the stress out of tax planning for small businesses.” A statement like that immediately says that the company is not serving individuals or large businesses – their ideal customers are small businesses. Sometimes it is worth including somewhere who your business is NOT for too – this helps to avoid “tire kickers” – those who might take up your time with enquiries, but are never going to become customers.
Have consistent branding
Your branding involves all the elements of your website and other areas (such as social media) that make your business unique. This includes elements such as the logo and color scheme you use, and the overall voice and tone of your website copy. It all adds up to the overall messaging you want to communicate.
Consistency and congruent messaging is the key. If we were to go back to our example of an accounting firm, it would be an unusual move to take an “edgy” sort of voice in your website content or marketing materials, or to go for loud colors. Perhaps it would work for some firms, but overall, people would like to be reassured that their CPA is professional and takes their business seriously.
“Brand voice” encompasses things such as the words you choose, the attitude of your content marketing, and the values and personality that you convey. It all adds up to creating clear messaging. It is confusing when a company tries to borrow elements of different branding voices, for example switching from edgy to reassuring and sensible.
Why is this all so important? Developing consistent branding carries over into everything that you do. It includes press releases, social media, content creation, website copy and every other marketing effort you make. Consistency leads to better brand recognition over time. We could write an entire article dedicated to branding alone, but for now, it’s important to see how it ties in with clear website copy.
Have strong CTAs
What do you want your website visitors to do? You might think it is obvious, but more often than not, it really isn’t to the average website visitor. This is why having strong CTAs are important. The CTA (Call to Action) is the part of your website copy that tells potential buyers what they should be doing. Some very simple examples include “click here” or “buy now.”
As a general rule, an effective CTA includes more information than those last two examples. Your target audience needs a compelling reason to heed your CTA, so clear messaging is important. For example, “click here for your free copy” or “subscribe to receive deals in your inbox” are clearer and more compelling reasons to do as you ask.
If you’re able to evoke strong emotions, this can be another excellent way to get people following through. For example, “click here to start planning your dream vacation today.”
Giving the audience a clear reason to act or take the next step is a key part of effective CTAs. You should answer the questions “what’s in it for me?” within your CTA and the surrounding web copy.
If you’re writing sales copy for anything that might be limited (such as products with a finite supply), you can take advantage of this to leverage the natural FOMO (fear of missing out) that most people have. For example, “Limited supply available. Buy now before they’re gone!”
Your calls to action can be tested over time to assess their effectiveness. For example, you might monitor actions via Google Analytics or even through split testing different CTAs. It’s important to test and figure out what works best for your ideal audience.
Show the customer what success looks like
You’re addressing key pain points that your customers have, you’re ensuring your website copy and your branding are consistent and that your CTAs are clear. Another important technique is to show potential buyers what success looks like with your company.
This is important for helping the customer to visualize their own success through buying your products or services. For example, you might include testimonials from happy past customers within your web copy, or imagery to highlight that success. As a website-building company, we highlight images and testimonials from the websites we have created.
Test your website on users
You know what your company does and who your ideal customers are that you’d like to attract, but is that really clear to website visitors? Often we are too close to our own businesses to see where there might be any confusion over website content, so it’s a good idea to take a step back and view it through the lens of a complete outsider.
First-time visitors may not perceive your website content as you do and it’s important to understand this early if so. One way is to go through independent user testing (as is offered by several companies), but otherwise, you might simply seek feedback from various people who don’t already know your business. You’re looking for any confusion they might have over your website, so that you can make it as clear as possible.
In the end, your website isn’t there for you, it’s for your potential buyers. As such, we suggest that you keep an open mind for the sake of clarity. Don’t be so attached to any particular thing on your website that you’re not willing to change it to be clearer.
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Your website copy may be the first point of contact with you that your potential buyers have. It must be clear so that there is no confusion left in the minds of your audience. This way they are more likely to take the actions that you desire on your website.
If we were to leave with one final piece of website copy advice it would be this: a professional-looking website is important, but your messaging needs to come first. When you know what you want to say and how to say it clearly, a more effective, professional website can be built with that in mind.