For a new blogger or small business owner, a website is essential. But if you don’t know what you’re doing, you could easily make the wrong choice or pay way too much. But do you have to pay monthly for a website?
Generally speaking, the only monthly expense for a website will be hosting which can be paid monthly or annually. The other expenses include annual domain registration and theme costs if purchasing a premium WordPress theme.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg!
I own and operate 11 different websites and will likely start 1-2 more next year and occasionally sell off older sites I own. (believe it or not, you can sell some sites for 5 or 6 figures!)
So in this article, I’m going to detail what the actual costs are based on exactly what I did when I first started blogging, as well as detail how some of those costs have changed for me as my sites have grown larger.
Let’s get started.
Do you have to pay for a website domain?
Some hosting companies will offer the 1st year of website domain registration for free as part of their overall hosting costs.
But domain registration is an annual expense.
Most often domain registration will be between $10-15 per year depending on who you use. Also, some domains can be had for as little as 99 cents the first year on sites like GoDaddy.
Having said that, that’s assuming you choose a domain name that isn’t already registered. If you want to go with a domain name that is super valuable (take PaddleboardHero.com for example).
Chances are if there isn’t a site already on that URL (there isn’t as of this writing), someone has probably already purchased it in the hopes of selling it to a would-be paddleboard website owner.
And those more sought-after domains can sometimes go for thousands of dollars.
Now once you’re a successful 6-figure blogger, maybe you want to buy expensive domains like that (I never have). But most of the time, for a brand new blogger not making much yet, it will make sense to just go with an available URL with an annual cost of around 15 bucks.
I use and recommend NameCheap for quickly and easily finding available domain names and registering them.
Be sure to check out our new case study with the creator of Simple Green Smoothies!😁🍏
— BigScoots Web Hosting (@BigScoots) June 10, 2021
What is the difference between a domain and hosting?
A domain is the URL (website address) of your website. You pay for a URL when you first register it and then pay annually to re-register it.
Hosting is referring the computer servers where the files that make up your website are hosted.
So both are necessary for a website. Hosting can be paid monthly or annually. And many hosting companies will give big discounts for even paying for 2-3 years at a time.
If you’re just getting started, I would recommend NameCheap for both hosting and domain registration (click to see their plans including ones as cheap as $1.24/month).
NameCheap is reliable, well-rated, and simply offers the lowest rate of any quality host to get started.
And let’s face it, when you’re starting out, you want to make money, not spend a ton of it! And NameCheap helps you do that.
CLICK HERE to get started with NameCheap for as little as $1.24/month.
Also, be aware that a lot of hosting companies will advertise a monthly rate. But most don’t actually charge monthly. Instead, they will only offer an annual charge but divide that figure by 12 for their promotions without it actually being an option.
Annoying and deceptive for sure. But most companies do that.
Also, be aware that while you can get hosting for dirt cheap, as traffic increases to your site, it will pay to move to better and more expensive hosts. Your site will run faster on a bigger more dedicated server. And often the customer service will be more premium too.
So when you get to that level, I am a huge fan of Big Scoots.
That’s who I currently use on all my sites. My websites rarely have downtime, are very fast, and their 24/7 live chat support is great. I’ve also used WPX and Siteground but don’t recommend either at this point.
They can solve virtually any problem, including me messing things up accidentally.
CLICK HERE to check out all of Big Scoots’ plans, pricing, and options.
Do I need a paid WordPress theme?
A paid WordPress theme is not essential for creating a good website.
In the early days of my blogging career back in 2016, I used the free theme called Astrid from aThemes. Many companies offer both a free and paid version. So starting with the free version gives you a taste of the theme and lets you know if it might be worth upgrading to the paid version down the road.
Click here to see all of the free and paid themes at aThemes and start your blog today!
Eventually, I did migrate to a paid theme called Acabado (what I use on this and all my other websites).
Acabado is from the guys over at Income School, and I love this theme! It’s by far faster than any other theme I’ve tried (and I’ve tried dozens at this point).
Even with banner ads from AdThrive, my sites still hit Google Page Speed Insight Mobile Scores in the 90s which is unheard of.
You can pay annually or buy a one-time license. Note: if you buy the Project 24 Blogging Course I recommend above, you get free unlimited use of this theme automatically!
Click here to check out Acabado and start your site today!
THANK YOU wow! my site is blazingly fast! Thanks to #IncomeSchool and #acabado theme! We just updated php on @peopleshost -> stunningly fast. This is pagespeed at Google testing… pic.twitter.com/Hqw1GcPcnL
— Laurel Papworth (@SilkCharm) May 15, 2021
Should you hire a website designer?
Website designers still make bank these days. But I honestly don’t see how given how easy it is for most people to quickly and easily create a site for themselves that looks great.
So no, if you haven’t guessed, I don’t think hiring a website designer is needed for beginning bloggers or small business owners.
Now sure if you’re Oprah, Tony Robbins, or The Rolling Stones, you will have a small team of developers that run your site and add lots of cool customization.
But for those of us who don’t make millions, it’s just not necessary.
So don’t be afraid to jump in and play around. Unless you are completely technology-adverse, it just isn’t that hard to create a great-looking website using WordPress and a great theme (either free or paid).
And with tens of thousands of themes out there and page-builder plugins, it’s also easy to quickly change the look of your site completely if you aren’t happy with it.
And no matter what your question, there’s likely a free tutorial on YouTube for it already.
How much does it cost to create a website for a small business?
Small businesses often just need what’s referred to as a brochure website.
It doesn’t need a blog section typically and often will just have a few static pages that don’t change often once they are set up.
Check out this one I set up for my brother-in-law and his window tint business – https://austinwindowtint.net/
The costs involved, however, will be the same for a small business website or a blogger.
Now I will say you could go with a free website builder like Wix. But in my experience building close to 20 websites at this point and managing others for former employers, I still think using WordPress is worth paying for.
The costs don’t have to be high, and I think WordPress sites tend to look more professional, run faster, and (most importantly) don’t lock you into a set look and feel and are often way more customizable.
Let’s review the costs involved in a basic small business website:
|Type of Expense||Low-end cost||High-end cost|
|Domain Registration||99 cents first year||$15.00 per year|
|WordPress paid theme||$99 (one-time)||$200 (one-time)|
I will also mention that you’ll likely see the term SSL certificate thrown around a lot.
These days, almost all hosting will include that for free. And if it doesn’t you can quickly and easily add it for free using the free SSL plugin Really Simple SSL.
An SSL certificate makes your site safer. If you browse on Google Chrome chances are at some point you’ve gotten that message that the site you are trying to go to isn’t safe and they recommend going back.
That just means they don’t have an SSL certificate.
In the old days of the web, most people didn’t unless they directly took payments. But these days, almost all websites do (and should). But you don’t need to pay for it.
Not sure how to get started?
I have a very comprehensive article on my original website that literally walks you through setting up a website from start to finish with every step screenshotted so you can easily follow along.
Just click that link to read it on my site.
— Matt DeSiena (@theinstantwin) June 22, 2022
Is WordPress the best website builder?
WordPress.org is the best website builder.
But don’t confuse WordPress.org with WordPress.com! WordPress.com is basically their free version designed to compete with companies like Wix.
They don’t have anywhere near the level of customization as a full WordPress site, and overall tend to run slower and often just look less professional.
So in my humble opinion, if you want a professional website, using WordPress.org with good hosting and a custom domain URL is the only way to go.
But don’t worry if that’s confusing.
If you register a domain and get hosting from someone like NameCheap that I mentioned above, with just a few clicks, they will automatically install WordPress for you, so you literally have to do almost nothing to get your website going.
So whether you’re a burgeoning blogger, have a small business that needs a website, or you just want a home base for your musings or future endeavors, you need a website.
Luckily, that doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg to get started.
And the only actual monthly expense in most cases will be hosting. But that can be paid annually or even in 2 or 3-year increments for better savings.
So it is possible to start a website for very little money and then as your business and income grow, you can add on more premium services.