How much does it cost to maintain a website?

website maintenance costs

Your website is not a one-time investment. As your business evolves, you need to update your website to reflect changes to your services, team members, or policies. Even a very basic site should be updated from time to time to keep the design and the content fresh!

In addition, there is much going on behind the scenes that requires attention. To help you anticipate your expenses, I’ll outline the many variables that can affect your ongoing website maintenance costs.

Website Content Updates

If you use WordPress or another Content Management System (CMS), you can probably update your content yourself. However, if you’re simply too busy with client work to fit website updates into your schedule, it may be more practical to outsource this task.

And when it comes to major changes affecting the layout or navigation of your site, you will likely need to pay a website designer to implement them for you.

Domain Name Renewal

In most cases, you will have registered one or more domain names for your website. Your domain registration must be renewed annually, usually at a cost of $10.00 to $15.00 per year. If you have multiple domain names (such as organizedassistant.com, organizedassistant.biz, organizedassistant.ca), this fee applies to each one, so a fairly small investment can add up quickly if you’re not careful!

Website Hosting

Hosting can range from free to hundreds of dollars per month, depending on the level of service you need. I cover this in detail in Signing on with a Web Hosting Company.

If you’ve purchased an SSL certificate or other extras from your hosting service, this is usually a recurring expense as well.

WordPress Updates

WordPress is continually being updated with new features and security enhancements. This is great, but it means you need to apply the updates to access the new features and, more importantly, to keep your site secure.

It’s not always a difficult process, depending on your level of technical knowledge, but it is essential that you do it carefully and correctly. I’ve had clients contact me after updating their own site because something went wrong. Restoring a broken site can be costly, especially if you factor in the cost of lost business due to your website being down.

If you’re not 100% sure you have the time and expertise to manage your own updates, my Yearly Maintenance Package may be just what you need. For only $397.00 per year, I look after updates, backup, security, and even minor content updates.

Themes and Plugins

Premium WordPress themes and plugins are a great way to give your site a professional look and added functionality, but in some cases, you need to renew your license each year in order to be eligible for continuing upgrades and support. Outdated themes and plugins present a security risk and may even stop working properly.

If your web designer purchased a theme or plugins for you, ask them whether you are responsible for the cost of future updates.

Conclusion

I’ve listed above the types of maintenance costs that most website owners can anticipate. Clearly, a website is not a one-time expense! You’re probably looking at $100 or more per year for domain registration and hosting, and even more if you require assistance keeping your site up-to-date.

You may also choose to enhance your site by investing in other services, such as professional copywriting or search engine optimization. Just like anything else, pricing for such services varies widely, so do your homework and make sure you’re working with someone who really understands your business and your goals for your website.

Photo © Rawpixel / depositphotos

This post was originally published in 2013 and has been updated.

    A former professional organizer, I’m now a web designer and DIY marketing facilitator. I love helping others succeed by sharing the knowledge and insight I’ve gained through marketing my own business for over 15 years! When I’m away from my desk, I enjoy reading, photography, watching movies, and cooking.

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    Comments

    1. Keeping WordPress updated can be done with a few minutes a week. If you have multiple sites, a tool like ManageWP can let you connect to and run updates for multiple WP installations at one time.

      • That looks like an amazing tool, Lorenzo. My biggest worry is that by updating all the plugins on a site at one time like that, if something goes wrong, how do you know which one caused the problem? Have you ever run into that?

    2. I want to be sure that I understand correctly. Let’s say that you want to build a website only to show 100 photographs of yourself. Could such a website be maintained for $85.00 a year? Then, just to have a better understanding, suppose you wanted a site only to house the links to 1000 songs. How would the cost for such a site compare to the cost for 100 photographs? Finally, where can I find a place to roughly factor in the costs of the most common variables in websites?

      • Warren, many shared hosting plans offer unlimited storage, so you shouldn’t have any problem displaying 100 or more photos. You should be able to find the information you’re looking for by googling web hosting comparison chart. Good luck with your new website!

    3. I have a few friends who own small businesses and are looking for simple websites. While I have an IT background I told them there are many free and easy DIY sites out there. However they would much rather have someone else do it for them. My question is what would a fair price be to build and maintain their websites? I would most likely use WordPress.

      • Having an IT background doesn’t necessarily equip you to build and maintain websites. If you have no experience with that, I have no idea what would be a reasonable rate for you to charge.

    4. I love that I can work with YOU when it comes to website issues. You are my lifeline, Janet! This is a wonderful post to give readers an idea of what is involved.

    5. Like organizing, websites also require maintenance. My sites are built on the Squarespace platform, which I love. I’m easily able to add new content, review stats, and make minor adjustments to layout or features. However, there have been “issues” that have arisen every once in a while that were beyond my expertise. And when those have occurred, I reach out to my web support person. Her help has been invaluable, as I’m sure yours is for all of your WordPress clients, Janet.

      Perhaps building in website maintenance and the expense associated with that is similar to maintaining our homes or even having insurance for our homes. It’s an essential part of ownership.

      I love that you offer that annual maintenance plan. If you worked on the Squarespace platform, I’d purchase it.

      • You make an excellent point, Linda. Many people postpone home maintenance jobs, only to end up spending even more to fix problems that arise.

        I appreciate your kind words too! I’ve been asked to work on a Squarespace site, so if I end up adding it to my skill set, you’ll be the first to know.

    6. Whenever I am in my clients’ WordPress accounts and I see uninstalled updates notification, I make an effort to remind them that it is important to get the site updated. But, since I don’t work on their website that way, it usually isn’t completed for a long time. It makes me nervous that they don’t update it right away.

      If it is not a critical update, I wait until Friday afternoon and then do the update. That way if there is an issue, I can work on it over the weekend.

      Great post, Janet. It’s important that everyone knows the cost and what is involved before they update their website.

    7. I love working with you to maintain my web site. On top of your help, I review my site monthly, just to keep it current. Sometimes I ask someone else to review and get feedback. I think a web site can become stale quickly, but often the owner does see it that way. If maintaining you site is always at the bottom of your to-do list you should consider hiring someone (like Janet) to do it. I believe a web site is the most important marketing tool you can have these days.

      • Thank you for the recommendation and the great reminder to review website content on a regular basis!

        If someone lands on your website and sees events which are long past and that you haven’t posted to your blog in months (or longer), they might assume that you’re super busy so they should contact someone else, or they might think you’re not actually operating your business anymore. Neither one is a good scenario!

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