A True Guide to Website Maintenance Cost: How Much Should You Expect to Pay?
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In order to properly budget your website maintenance cost, you need to break down what you're paying for.
The truth is a simple personal website can cost as little as $60 a year to maintain. On the other end of the spectrum, enterprise-level websites can cost closer to $60,000.
Both websites must budget for necessary maintenance fees, like domain renewal and hosting. But depending on the kind of website you're running, you won't need to splurge on optional extras. This guide will explain how much and how often you should expect to pay to maintain your website.
In a rush?
Iridium provides a website maintenance monthly service that not only keeps your site up to date but also ensures its backed up properly and safe from malicious attacks. This saves you time, money, and a world of hurt!
- Average Website Maintenance Cost
- Necessary Website Maintenance Cost
- Good to Have
- Optional Website Maintenance costs
- Should I Hire a Professional to Maintain my Website?
- Example Website Maintenance Cost Budget
- Final Thoughts
Average Website Maintenance Cost
|Type of Website||Average Monthly Website Maintenance Cost|
This is a small portfolio or hobby page with minimal function and low traffic
Any website with decent incoming traffic, ads, links, etc.
Think restaurants, small educational sites, corporate landing pages, etc.
This would be anything like Netflix, Trello, Google Docs, etc.
From your small online shop to giants like Amazon or eBay.
Some things, like your domain renewal, will be paid for annually. Other things are more likely to be recurring monthly costs.
As a general rule of thumb, you should be looking at website maintenance on a monthly basis. By performing general updates and regular maintenance, you keep your site less vulnerable to attack and ensure a smooth user experience.
By assessing your site monthly, you can also look at how your site is functioning and where you can improve. If you wait all year to realize your form function is out of date and no longer works, you're missing out on business.
As a website owner, you might find it helpful to develop a website maintenance plan to stay on top of all the tasks that website maintenance encompasses.
Necessary Website Maintenance Cost
At the bare minimum, you need to pay to have your domain registered, your site hosted, and some basic security for the sake of your incoming traffic.
The good news is, even all in, it doesn't amount to much. Owning a website can be really affordable, especially when you're just starting out.
Average price: $10-$90/year
When you first get your site up and choose a domain name, you will need to register that name. Domain registration can cost anywhere from $0-$20 and is a one-time fee. After that, you need to pay to renew your domain, and the cost of this can sometimes vary.
Note: Depending on your web hosting plan, domain registration is often included in the price of your plan.
How much you can expect to pay for your domain name on an annual basis will depend on three key factors:
- Your extension (.com, .org, .blog, etc.)
- The registrar (GoDaddy, NameCheap, etc.)
- How old your domain is (your first year is always cheaper)
Typically, popular extensions like .com or .org will cost more because of the credibility they lend to your site. However, niche extensions like .build or .credit are where things really start to get expensive. For example, renewing a .credit domain will cost $72.99 with Bluehost.
This table compares the average cost for a .com renewal among the top domain registrars.
Read more about what domain extensions to use for niche websites.
Note: You should also consider whether you want or need to purchase domain privacy protection along with your domain name. Some plans will include it in the price. Other times you will need to purchase it yourself. This protects your personal information as it will be attached to your domain name.
Average price: $3-$50/month
In order to have your website live on the Internet, besides a domain name, the only other thing you really need is a website hosting plan.
Some CMS and website builders like Squarespace will include this, but technically you're still paying for it.
For the average small website, blog, or eCommerce site, you're probably looking at a monthly cost of $30 or less. However, high-traffic blogs, corporate websites, and web applications will start to run you closer to $50-$100/month. Some of the most expensive hosting plans are in the $500/month range.
How much you need to budget for hosting will depend largely on your hosting provider as well as the type of hosting you need. Popular types of hosting include shared, cloud, VPS, and dedicated WordPress hosting.
VPS and dedicated plans tend to be more expensive. While you're still growing your website, you can save money by opting for a shared hosting plan.
If you have a WordPress website, you'll find plenty of hosts are set up and optimized to deal with WordPress specifically.
When choosing a hosting provider, make sure you go with a reputable company. Reliable names like Bluehost offer plans for as little as $2.75/month.
Another popular web host is GoDaddy, offering beginner plans at just $5.99/month.
Not sure which web host to choose? You can check out our list of the best WordPress hosting providers to get an idea of how they compare, or check out our in-depth review of Bluehost vs GoDaddy in this head-to-head comparison.
Average price: $60/year
Whether or not you have an SSL certificate can affect your site in two significant ways.
- Google and other search engines consider sites without an SSL certificate to be non-secure. This will affect where you rank on search engine results pages.
- SSL certificates encrypt any information sent by your visitors to your web server. Having one protects their personal data and increases your website's trustworthiness.
Most people would class paying for an SSL certificate as an absolute necessity, even though technically it isn't. In fact, a lot of hosted CMS plans and other web host providers will include an SSL certificate for free for your first year just because it's something that pretty much everyone goes for.
If you're unsure whether or not you already have an SSL certificate, there is an easy way to check. When you look in your browser bar, any website prefaced by HTTPS versus just HTTP has an SSL certificate. The "s" stands for "secure".
Good to Have
Once you've paid for everything above, you could call that your total website maintenance cost and get on with your day. However, you'd be missing out on a lot of the reasons why most people bother having a website. If your aim is to drive traffic to your site or provide credibility for your brand, there are a few more expenses worth getting your credit card out for.
Average price: $0-$10/month
If you're running a business, there are a lot of reasons to want a dedicated email address:
- You won't lose professional emails amongst personal and spam emails in your regular inbox
- A professional email address will give you credibility
- Your email is less likely to get flagged as spam
- Professional email helps with branding and awareness
For these reasons and more, most people will either look for a web host provider that includes a professional email or pay for email hosting separately.
Average price: $0-$200/year
If you have a WordPress site, chances are you're no stranger to plugins. The WordPress plugin library boasts well over 60,000 third-party apps that integrate with your WordPress website.
If that number is overwhelming to you, take a look at our take on how many WordPress plugins you actually need for your website.
No matter how many plugins you use, their cost becomes part of your website's maintenance fees.
Some key plugins you may need to have on your website include:
- Website security - there are plugins for everything from automated backup software and malware scanners to brute-force protection and anti-spam bots. Premium security plugins average somewhere around $50-$500/year.
- Contact forms - plenty of websites rely on contact forms or some other form plugin to help with their business. These tend to run between $40-$300/year.
- Page builders - you don't have to be an expert website designer these days to get your pages looking professional. But you might need a little extra in your budget. Drag-and-drop web design page builders can cost you $20-$250/year on average.
- eCommerce features - if you sell anything on your website, you'll need, at the very least, a few basic eCommerce features. Depending on the size and needs of your store, paying for eCommerce plugins can be anywhere from $20-$1000+/month.
Make sure you check whether the fee for your plugin is monthly or annual.
Average price: $0-$500+/month
Paying for tech support might seem frivolous until you really need it. The good news is most website builders and web hosts will have some tech support as part of your plan. This will probably be enough for casual websites or bloggers, meaning you don't have to worry about paying for tech support on top of your expenses.
However, once your site is bringing in high volumes of traffic or you're running a business website, reliable tech support becomes much more critical. From there, it becomes a question of how much you are capable and willing to do yourself and how much you need help with.
For one-off issues, you can hire help for roughly $60/hour. Once you get to a point where you want tailored website maintenance, you need to start looking at tiered plans, which tend to start around $40/month and go up as high as $1000/month.
Optional Website Maintenance costs
You can build and maintain your own website for very little if you're willing to put in the time and effort. If you're not, you need to accept that the trade-off will be that it's going to cost you more. Below are some things you may need to consider when budgeting your annual or monthly website maintenance cost if you're not ready to handle them yourself or need a little more than what free tools offer.
Average price: $0-$20/month for premium design tools to use yourself, $1,000-$6,000+/year for a professional
It's important to remember that when you're budgeting for your website design, you should also factor in costs for regular design updates. Updates include banners, header images, product images, featured blog post images, infographics, etc.
A consistent and attractive web design is essential for several reasons. Not only does it reinforce your branding and appeal to your target market, but it can also have an impact on your overall search engine optimization.
You can choose to handle web design updates yourself, using either free or premium tools. Alternatively, you might look to hire a professional if that's within your budget.
Your initial website design should be budgeted under your website startup costs. Maintenance costs should be sustainable rather than a one-time investment.
Content and SEO
Average price: $0-$1000/month
Both content and search engine optimization play a significant role in digital marketing and driving traffic to your site. Whether you are a hobby blog, an eCommerce page, or a major web application, you will always need content on your site.
Content can be product descriptions, landing page copy, blog posts, etc. You can write it all yourself, but if you haven't got a way with words or don't know the first thing about SEO, you might benefit from outsourcing. You can look for an SEO service that provides optimized content and will go through old content and update it to perform better.
Check out our guide to SEO content writing services to find out how to start outsourcing your content creation.
Average price: $0-$99/month
If your website is for business, you need to be able to track what's going on with some web analytics.
Google Analytics and Google Search Console are both excellent, free software to use to track how your site is performing. Analytics is an essential part of being on top of your website maintenance. Things like post updates and marketing strategies can be informed by taking a good look at your analytics dashboard.
For most website owners, Google analytics will likely be enough for you to work with. But, if you're paying for more advanced analytics, like Semrush, be prepared to factor that into your website maintenance cost.
Average price: $10-$50/month
I always recommend people build their site on WordPress. It's free, it's user-friendly, and there is a massive online community with ready answers if you ever get stuck. For that reason, most of this article is based on a WordPress website's monthly maintenance cost. And yet, I can admit that not everyone chooses to go that route.
There are actually lots of different options if you're looking for a content management system, and while many are free, some are not.
Different options like Squarespace or Wix can seem appealing with their built-in website builder and hosted plans. Even eCommerce options like Shopify are hot contenders when you consider how easy it is to get your website up and running with minimal experience.
However, all good things come with a price, and some of these options can get very pricey. That said, they are all-in-one solutions, which means budgeting your monthly website maintenance cost is a lot easier. Hosting, security, tech support, etc., are all included in one price, so you'll only need to worry about extras on top.
Should I Hire a Professional to Maintain my Website?
Whether you should hire a professional really depends on how much you have on your plate and how big your website is. Website maintenance is a crucial part of being online. If you're looking after a site with tens of thousands of visitors a day and it's your sole income, I recommend hiring a professional.
Some aspects of site maintenance can be time-consuming to handle on your own and take up time you could spend on other things.
There are lots of affordable maintenance plans out there that will handle things like updates, repairs, 404 detection, new integrations, and more. You can even find a website maintenance package specifically for WordPress maintenance if that is what you built your site on.
Plus, if you hired someone to handle your website design, they may also be available to provide a monthly website maintenance service at a discounted rate.
One great place to look if you're interested in a website maintenance service is Iridium.
Just some of the services included in their Managed plan include:
- Business email creation and audit to ensure you can avoid the spam folder.
- Installing email opt-in forms
- Ongoing upkeep of site theme
- Image optimization to help ensure your site's fast
- Optimizing caching plugin
- Support with code your ad management needs
- Consultation on any Google Search Console indexing issues
- Support and consultation on the optimal content strategy for your site
As you can see a website maintenance plan like this goes above and beyond the technical issues and provides you with all-encompassing support for your site.
On the other hand, if you're running a small hobby blog about your fish tank, you can probably handle the necessary maintenance yourself. Even if you are starting to gain a bit of traction in search engine results, unless you want your site to be hands-off, I'd probably handle your own maintenance for as long as you can.
Example Website Maintenance Cost Budget
For the average blogger or niche website owner, keeping your maintenance costs down is pretty easy by handling a lot of the work yourself.
If you were reserved in splurging on things like premium themes and content writers, here's an idea of how much you should expect to budget per month:
Domain: $19.99/year for a .com domain = $1.67/month
SSL: $60/year = $5/month
Dedicated email: free, included with hosting plan
Plugins: free (take advantage of free plugins before you're ready to pay for premium ones)
Tech Support: free, included with hosting plan OR roughly $60/hour every 6 months or so = $10/month
Web Design: free, do it yourself
Content and SEO: free, do it yourself (use tools like Yoast or the free version of Surfer SEO to track your optimization)
Analytics: free, use Google's apps
Total monthly website maintenance cost: $19.42
The average website maintenance cost is, in truth, all over the place. But, if you're still growing your site and looking to keep costs down, it's doable for less than 20 bucks a month.
Monthly website maintenance is vital for security reasons and to ensure your site is performing as it should. Regular website maintenance is unavoidable if you want your site to succeed. If you're not up to doing it yourself, hire a professional to keep track of it.
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