Have you ever wondered how much it would cost to build your dream website?
If you’ve asked any professional in the industry, they’ve probably told you that: “it depends”.
And they’re right.
The cost of creating a website can range from $0 to hundreds, thousands, and even millions of dollars based on the features you need.
That’s why in this guide we’ll discuss which factors most influence the total cost of a website, which ones you can avoid, which ones you can reduce, and which ones you’ll have to pay for.
Can you create a website for free?
You’ve probably read somewhere that it’s possible to start by spending $0.
While it’s technically possible to create a website for free, it’s not something we recommend you do.
Some things are just worth paying for.
The experience for your users, and for you as the creator, won’t be as good as it should be if you use purely free tools.
- No one will take your business seriously if your address is business.blogspot.com or business.wordpress.com because you haven’t invested in your own domain.
- If you get free hosting (the place where your website resides), you may face a few challenges compared to paid hosting, as you can read in the article: the murky waters of free web hosting.
But not everything free is necessarily bad.
There are website templates that, even though they are free, offer the quality you need to get started.
Summary of the possible costs of creating a website
Basic costs for creating a website
It doesn’t matter if you want to create a blog to talk about your hobby, a website to promote your restaurant or create the next Facebook.
There are 4 basic elements you’ll need to create a good website.
- Web hosting
- SSL certificate
- Your time
Although you can get some of them for free, we advise investing money in them, because the cost-benefit ratio is enormous.
1. Hosting – Where your website resides
Hosting is the web space where all the content of your website will be stored, as well as all the tools and databases that it needs to function.
Your smartphone needs some space (gigabytes) to store the operating system or the photos of your last vacation.
Hosting is something similar, but for your website.
You can use free web hosting, but we don’t recommend it.
You’ll be sharing it with hundreds or perhaps, thousands of other websites and won’t have much control over it.
We think it’s much better to invest in hosting as you’ll typically get faster performance and more control over your website and domain name.
It is storage that stays permanently online so that any user can access and interact with your website at any time.
Web hosting is a recurring cost, typically paid annually.
Although we talk about buying hosting, really what you’ll be doing is renting it.
Hosting has dozens of different features: more or less storage space, capacity to support more visitors at the same time, automatic backups, and more security options…
Learn about web hosting in more detail in the following web hosting guide.
But the summary is that:
- Avoid free hosting where possible for maximum performance and control
- Hosting prices can range from less than $50 a year, to thousands of dollars a year.
The good news is that you don’t need expensive hosting to start with, since your needs will likely be very modest.
You could begin with cheaper shared hosting and scale up to managed hosting once you need it.
As hosting companies often offer welcome deals, it’s quite likely that you can get one year for $50, or even less.
We don’t recommend that you try to reduce this cost too much because you typically get what you pay for with web hosting.
Visit the WP Mayor deals page for great savings from recommended hosting providers.
2. Domain – Your website address
Hosting is where you store the elements of your website. The domain is the address that will take users there.
There are website creation tools that offer a free subdomain (like Blogger). These are fine if you’re creating a blog for your hobby or are experimenting but won’t be suitable for much else.
Your domain will include the provider’s domain rather than your own (e.g. https://wpmayor.blogspot.com).
That’s why it’s much better to “buy” your own domain.
“Buy” in quotation marks, since again, this is an annual recurring cost, as you will technically be renting it.
Domains are much simpler to understand as they have no special features.
However, there are extensions that are cheaper than others: for example, wpmayor.com is cheaper than wpmayor.io.
Whenever you can, choose a .com domain. It’s one of the cheapest options and the one that users remember more easily.
A .com domain will cost between $10-$15 per year.
Almost all hosting providers allow you to buy the domain alongside your hosting which will simplify things a lot.
Read our guide on where to buy a domain name for your website for more information about this step.
3. SSL certificate
The third essential element of website creation is a bit tricky.
An SSL certificate adds an additional layer of security to your domain. Nowadays this is a must-have since otherwise, web browsers will give the users a hard time accessing the website.
So this item has become basically mandatory.
Example of a website not using an SSL certificate
Many domain registrars or hosting providers include this product for free with the purchase of the domain and hosting.
You can even install an SSL certificate from Lets Encrypt for free which will be more than enough if you are just starting out.
So actually, this certificate probably won’t cost you anything at first. But in the future, you might want to invest +$10/year to get a better one.
4. Your time
Your website is not going to create itself. While some web themes provide complete websites, you’re still going to need to customize it and add your own content.
To say that your website will cost only $50 a year for hosting + ~$10 for the domain, (a total of $60 per year), wouldn’t be completely accurate.
So always consider including the time you’ll invest in it, as it will be useful for you to make decisions regarding the points we are going to mention next.
Cost of software for creating your website
There is another essential element when creating any website.
This is the technology you will use to create it. Technology such as WordPress, Joomla, Drupal or HTML5.
The reason why this is not an essential or mandatory cost is that this technology can often be free.
- You can create your website from scratch by coding it yourself. It’s free, but it will take a lot of work and time, and you’ll need to have previous knowledge of the matter.
- You can use website builders like Squarespace or Wix (from $16/mo) or WebFlow (from $14/mo)
- Or you can use WordPress, a free content management platform that has endless possibilities for growing your website.
Creating a website with WordPress is very simple and that is why it’s the option we recommend.
Optional extra costs for creating a website
Although WordPress.org is free, depending on how far you want to take your website, you’ll need some extras.
These extra costs are optional for basic websites but may be necessary in your case.
Extra costs for a better design
There are more than 10,000 free templates in the WordPress repository.
But if you want a website that makes you stand out from the others, you’ll need a premium template, that has better quality, is less used, and above all, offers easy customization options.
The price of premium WordPress templates can also vary considerably, but typically, they range from $50 to $100 per year.
You’ll usually have to pay annually if you want to continue receiving updates and support for your theme, but it’s also possible to use them for life once you buy them.
One of the most popular page builders is Elementor.
Using such a well-known tool will make things much easier for you since you will find hundreds of quality Elementor templates on the market.
Note: you could also add extra design costs not directly related to your website, such as the cost of designing your logo, brand (colors, typography), and so on.
Extra costs for more features
So far, we had talked about the costs related to creating a basic website.
Although it could look professional thanks to premium themes, it would have standard functionality.
That is a simple website to mainly display content, maybe have a contact form, and little else.
But if you want your site to be able to perform specific tasks, like manage reservations for your vacation home, take orders in your restaurant, or sell content behind a paywall, you‘ll probably have to install plugins that allow WordPress to do that.
These plugins are mostly paid, although there are also free ones of high quality, such as WooCommerce.
What is WooCommerce? It’s a WordPress plugin that can add eCommerce functions to any website.
WooCommerce also has free and paid plugins, but these are completely optional.
There are plugins of all kinds, from those that completely change WordPress (turning it into an online store or eLearning website) to others that simply help you work faster without having to use code.
For example, SpotlightWP is a lightweight plugin that allows you to display your Instagram posts on your website easily and using different templates.
- Simple plugins will cost you between $39 and $99 (per year if you want to keep getting updates and support).
- More advanced plugins will cost between $99 and $499.
Although you’ve already seen that you could create a website without paying anything, there are essential elements in which you’ll have to invest (hosting, domain, and SSL certificate).
This leads to a minimum cost of about $60 per year.
From there, you can do a lot of things for free, without having to invest in anything else thanks to the hundreds of templates and even free plugins that exist in the market.
As a very rough estimate, we could say that each extra feature you would like to add to your website (a better theme, or a plugin with a specific functionality) will cost you between $50 to $100 per year.
Creating a website is not the same as maintaining it or growing it.
Adding content to it, performing SEO audits from time to time, promoting it through advertising, or adding extra security layers, are things that you must take into account when estimating the real cost of your website.