A behind-the-scenes look at what it costs to build a WordPress website yourself
Ages ago, in the dark ages of the internet, it was confusing, complicated, and expensive to have a website created for your business. Unless you were nerdy enough to make one yourself — or had access to a nerdy and generous friend or relative — it was a daunting process.
Times have changed. Well, sort of.
In all honesty, the process of having a website built for you can still be confusing and complicated. And, it can still be expensive to have a site custom-designed just for you. But what has changed is the barrier for entry if you want to build one yourself.
Today, you don’t have to be a computer programmer and a graphic designer to make a great website. There are tools like WordPress — my favorite — and also Squarespace, Wix, and more, that make it possible for business owners to create their own professional-looking websites inexpensively.
Here’s what you can expect to pay when you create a website using WordPress:
- Domain Registration: $15/year
You’ll need to register a domain name — in other words, the part that comes after the “www.” For example, my domain name for this site is meganmallicoat.com. The exact price will vary according to the type of name you register (.com, .net, .somethingelse), as well as where you register it. GoDaddy is a good place to register domain names.
- Web Hosting: $10/month +
You’ll also need to pay someone to make your site available on a server somewhere. This ties into your domain, and so when someone types your domain name into their web browser, they’ll see your website. Hosting plans vary widely in terms of features and prices, but a basic plan is relatively inexpensive. If you want to sell your products from your website — sometimes referred to by the hosting companies as “e-commerce” — you might need a more robust plan. DreamHost is my preferred host.
- WordPress: Free!
If you want to use WordPress to build your site, you’ll have to install it. Fortunately, one of the best things about WordPress is that it’s a free, open source tool. Commonly, web hosting companies make it easy to install. Look for WordPress support as a feature when deciding on a web host.
- A WordPress Theme: $50
WordPress themes determine what your site looks like, and to a lesser extent, the features you have available for displaying your content. There are tons of free themes available, but in my experience, it’s worth the money to pay for a reliable, feature-rich theme. I can’t say enough good things about Thrive’s themes. They offer individual themes for a one-time fee of about $50, or you can subscribe to all of their products — themes and tons of useful plugins — for about $19 a month (paid annually). In my opinion, Thrive’s products are some of the best WordPress support products available.
- Design Elements: Varies
Depending on the theme you select, you might also want to create some extra design elements for your site. Think banner images, logos, icons, buttons, etc. If you’re comfortable with a platform like Canva, you can easily create these things yourself. However, if the idea of creating images according to certain size specifications fills you with dread, you might consider hiring a designer. Though I’ve never personally used them, I’ve heard good things about companies like 99designs and fiverr.
- Plugins: Varies
Plugins extend WordPress’s capabilities. If it doesn’t do something you need it to do out of the box, chances are good that you can find a plugin that will make it possible. For example, if you want an easy way to display calendar events, you can use a plugin like The Events Calendar. Or, if you want to integrate your email marketing efforts and display a pop up box asking for visitors’ email addresses, you can use a plugin like Thrive Leads. Some plugins are free, and others aren’t. In terms of time saved and features added, though, plugins can be a real bargain.
And that’s it. If you build your website yourself, that’s all you will pay for it. If you hire a web developer, these costs will still apply, and you’ll also pay for the web developer’s time and expertise. There is a learning curve for WordPress, to be sure, and it can’t do everything. However, if you need a simple, straightforward, affordable website, a DIY WordPress website is a great choice.