“How long is a piece of string?” might be the cynical response to being asked how much it costs to build but it is actually pretty simple to answer once you lay out what the site actually does.
First let’s look at what are the absolutely must haves you need for a site to work and that you MUST pay for:
Domain Name – This is the URL where people will access your site. These are pretty cheap and will only cost about $15/year.
Hosting – This is where your site will sit so that people can access it. There are endless options for this and a huge variation in prices depending on a few factors:
- How much traffic your site gets.
- How big your site is in terms of file size.
- Security offered by the host.
- Speed of the host’s servers.
- Support level provided by the host.
- Extra features like auto-backups etc.
Most hosts offer an introductory offer, once that finishes you can expect to pay about $15/month for 1 site on a basic but solid host like SiteGround.
So theoretically you can have a site up and live for about $150 a year if you do all other parts of the site build using free methods (which is totally doable).
How Much Does WordPress Cost?
Nothing! It is totally free.
How? Well they have a lot of paid themes and plugins that they sell which is how they make their money, but you in no way need to use any of their ‘official’ products.
What Do I Need To Create A Website?
Very little, a WordPress site is made up of a Theme and Plugins.
What Is A Theme?
This is effectively what your site is, the theme allows you to create a site what you are familiar with e.g a page with a header and menu at the top, a footer at the bottom and the ability to add images and text in between. There are literally thousands of themes available to choose from and some are very basic that don’t let you do much right up to super advanced ones that massive companies use to run their complex sites on.
There are many good free ones available that can usually be styled to look however you want them to. Most paid ones are only about $50-150 (sometimes yearly or lifetime fee) so they won’t break the bank.
What Is A Page Builder?
Many themes utilize a page builder which is what you use to design your site, think of the drag and drop styling examples you see around the web when they show “how easy it is to create a website”.
My go to pagebuilder is Elementor which is one of the most popular in the world due to its ease of use and ability to achieve so much design wise on site with no coding needed.
I usually build my sites with GeneratePress and Elementor combo which for me works really well. GeneratePress is very lightweight and partners well with Elementor to be able to create sites that look and work like whatever design you can come up with.
Both these have free versions which you can use but I find the Pro versions give much more features to produce better sites, not bad for just $100/year for both.
What Are Plugins?
Plugins are add-ons for your site, think of them like apps…small little programs allowing you to do something specific on WordPress that isn’t built in functionality for the platform or your theme.
There are over 50k plugins available to do all types of things on your site. Like with themes there are many free and many paid too, often there will be a free version of the plugin with a pro version available to unlock extra features.
On 90% of all my site builds all the plugins are free, the only time I need to use paid plugins is when the client wants special functionality that we can’t get from free ones.
How Much To Build The Site?
Do It Yourself
If you want to spend the least amount of money as possible most themes have demos that you can import with all the images, color schemes and layout done for you and you just need to update the content.
This can be a good option for those on a budget as they are usually simple to do it yourself and get the site live and looking good without too much effort.
Cost: Less than $100 but a lot of your time.
Hire Someone Cheap Overseas
Using someone from overseas can be fine, but you can see it in the end result and experience it more in the process of getting the site built. Sometimes you can strike it lucky with someone cheap who really does know what they are doing, are easy to communicate with and produces good looking websites. The problem is these people are not idiots and when they realise they fulfill those requirements they end up charging more for their services as clients will pay it.
Cost: $300 – $800 but could also be a lot of your time depending on how good they are. This is a pot luck most of the time.
Hire A Freelancer
More and more Digital Marketers are appearing in the world and offering their services, this can be a great option as with them you are usually a big fish for them so get their dedicated attention during the site build. You can also find good ones who cover other areas of digital marketing such as SEO (search engine optimization), analytics, ads etc so you can get a complete ‘digital package’ all from just one person meaning it will be efficient and every work well together.
Cost: $1,500 – $3,000 Usually little of your time required as they can do most work autonomously and if they are good will produce something that doesn’t need too many changes to get it perfect.
Hire An Agency
In almost all cases this is overkill and will cost way more than needed for a result that isn’t necessarily better than any of the other options. In fact often I have seen really subpar work produced by agencies as there can be a disconnect between the knowledge of the contact selling you the product and the web designer and site developers who actually create the site.
Plus these are more likely to have clauses that mean they still own the site or they restrict access meaning to can’t make updates and need them to make changes to the site which can be very costly for even minor adjustments.
Cost: $5,000 – $15,000 Probably will require the same amount of input as your as using a good freelance would. Agencies are usually more focused on a fully custom design and building the site as part of an ongoing marketing strategy (ads, social, promotions etc).
A website does not have to cost much at all, the key is to outline first what it needs to be able to do and finding a theme to fit those requirements. The most challenging part is finding the right person to do it (unless you do it yourself).
My advice would be to talk to someone who builds sites and ask to see the sites they have built to get an idea of their work.