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Do I Have to Pay Monthly for a Website?

The top ranking answer to this question on Google is “no”… However, when you click the link to proceed to the website to see the full explanation, you can see the writer goes on to say how their clients can pay a one-time fee for the website and then they only have to pay monthly for the hosting, maintenance, domain, etc. GUESS WHAT!!!??? THEN IT’S NOT A ONE TIME FEE!!! I’m sorry for yelling, I just constantly see this and it is beyond frustrating.

A website is like a car. You can purchase a car outright for a one time fee but then you still need to register it, pay property taxes, insure it, fill it with gas and change the oil once every few months. Having a website is exactly the same! It doesn’t matter if an agency builds it, if it’s programmed from scratch, or built using a DIY option like Wix; for a website to be online there are regular costs involved. The key is getting the most value for that money, not wasting money on unnecessary elements and not hiring a freelancer or agency who has no idea what they are doing.

Today we are going to get into:

  • The specific costs associated with a website.
  • Do you have to pay for these things on an ongoing basis.
  • How much you should expect to pay for them.

The Costs Associated With a Website

About a year ago I bought a new car (well it was used but it’s new to me) Anyways, it cost $8000. I went to register it at the DMV and had to pay sales tax, property tax and a bunch of other random fees which ended up being about another $1000. Since it had been sitting for a while I bought oil, an oil filter and transmission fluid to give it a tune up. That added another $100 to the cost. Then I insured it for $50 a month, have to pay a few hundred in property taxes every 6 months and have to regularly maintain it. Whenever I drive it I also burn gas which is an additional $40 every time I fill my tank. So when someone asks me how much my car costs, do I say “$8000” or “$9100 upfront plus $2500 per year”? That is my long way of explaining having a website is an ongoing cost, just like a car. However, when talking about the costs associated with a car, you probably already know them. For a website you may not, so lets cover everything.

If you just want the cliff notes, here is every charge on a website and some specifics about it:

Service Is It an Ongoing Cost?
Design and Development No (kind of, read the specifics below)
Hosting / Server Costs Yes
Maintenance Yes
Updates Yes
Domain Yes

Website Design and Development

Sometimes an agency will charge separately for the design and development but most places nowadays do it together so that’s how we are going to cover it. The website design is what the website looks like to the user. What they see, how the elements interact when the page scrolls or a button is hovered over, what colors it uses, if the images have a shadow or radius, etc. The development is the code in the backend that makes it all work.

Do you have to pay for website design and development on an ongoing basis?

No, in most cases the original cost of the websites design and development is a one-time fee. However, please note, this does not consider maintenance, updates or anything else a website needs.

Using a DIY Builder Like Wix, Squarespace or Shopify

It is usually free to design your website using a DIY builder, however you are then locked to the platform you built the website with. It’s kind of like how Amazon offers “free shipping” but you have to pay monthly for a Prime subscription to gain access to it. You cannot build a website with Wix and then host it on your own server or take the design elsewhere.

Hiring an Agency or Freelancer

This can be hard to put a price on because the pricing varies so much. The question of “how much does an agency charge for a website” is like asking “how long is a piece of string” and the answer is, it depends. However, we recently spent a lot of time researching countless agencies and freelancers to build a good guide to the cost of a small business website in 2023 and are going to use the data from that article in this one.

5 page informational website design and development costs on average $500-$5000 upfront.

eCommerce website design and development costs on average $1000-$10000 upfront.

Getting an All-In-One Monthly Website Package With Worldwide Web Designs

Since monthly website packages (at least the ones offered by Worldwide Web Designs) include everything and the costs are not broken down separately, it is hard to put a price on the website design and development. However, if you get one of our monthly website packages the only cost is your monthly payment which is either $99, $149 or $199 depending on which package you choose.

Website Hosting AKA Server Costs

Web hosting is a service that allows your website’s content to be available online. By buying a hosting plan, you’re essentially leasing space on a server to store all your website’s files and data. For your website to be accessible on the internet, it needs to be hosted on a server, there is no way around it.

Can I Host My Website on My Own Computer?

Hosting a website on a personal computer isn’t recommended because home setups lack the reliability, security, and performance needed, plus it requires technical knowledge beyond what most people have. Professional hosting services offer better security, reliability, and support for websites.

Hosting With a DIY Builder Like Wix, Squarespace or Shopify

If you use a DIY site builder like Wix or Squarespace, the hosting cost is included in your monthly or yearly plan. Similar to the all-in-one website packages provided by us, DIY options usually include everything you need in one package. However, they usually give the customer the bare minimum and charge extra for any small thing they may need. The websites themselves are an overall lower quality as well. Even if they look nice, they are usually filled with bloated code and countless issues that hurt your users experience, your SEO and more.

Hosting With an Agency or Freelancer

When it comes to agencies and freelancers hosting is usually handled one of few ways.

  • The agency / freelancer resells hosting to their clients and have their clients handle the hosting management themselves.
  • The agency / freelancer sells hosting to their clients and charges them on a monthly, quarterly or yearly basis.
  • The agency / freelancer bundles the hosting with a maintenance package.

Hosting With Worldwide Web Designs

Once again, it is included in our plans like everything else in this list. Sorry I have to keep saying it, I am sure you get the point by now. In the future please feel free to keep scrolling when you get the part that compares Worldwide Web Designs to DIY options and agencies / freelancers.

However, in case you are curious on what we do for hosting, we personally use a small but outstanding company, Rs Hosting. We came across them a few years ago and instantly fell in love.

The Average Ongoing Cost of Website Hosting

DIY Builder Average Hosting Costs: $20-$40 per month on average.

Agency / Freelancer Hosting Costs: $20-$100 per month, sometimes they handle it for the client, sometimes the client is in charge of it.

Worldwide Web Designs Monthly Website Packages: Hosting is included in all of our pay monthly website packages.

Website Maintenance

All websites, no matter how they are built, require regular maintenance. Maintenance includes updating plugins, preforming backups, fixing bugs and more. Depending on how the website was built the level of maintenance will vary but all websites need regular maintenance, even if nothing on the website is being changed itself. I apologize for comparing websites to cars again but they are the perfect example when considering website maintenance. You might not want to get your oil changed but if you don’t it’s going to be a lot more expensive to fix a seized engine. Same goes for a website. If it gets hacked for example and you cannot recover access, if you have a recent backup you can freshly reinstall it and be back up and running in a matter of hours, rather then a matter of weeks.

What Does Website Maintenance Include?

  • Plugin Updates
  • Broken Link Repair
  • Uptime Monitoring
  • Performing Regular Backups
  • Security Checks
  • Maintaining ADA compliance

Maintenance on DIY Site Builders

Not to say there are not countless downsides to DIY website builders, however, when it comes to maintenance they require a lot less then an average site. This is because Wix handles all of the infrastructure. I know at first this might sound nice but this is not necessarily a good thing. This convenience often comes with limitations on customization and control, making it challenging or even impossible to implement unique features or perform advanced optimizations. Broken link repair, maintaining ADA compliance, monitoring for bugs as well as other issues will still have to be done as well.

Maintenance With an Agency or Freelancer

Website maintenance with an agency or freelancer usually works the same way or at least very similar to how they handle website hosting. While I can’t speak for everyone, what I most commonly see is:

  • They will bundle regular maintenance in with hosting for a monthly, quarterly or yearly fee.
  • Once the website is built they wish them luck and have the client figure it out on their own.
  • They wait until the website crashes and then charge the client an arm and a leg to get it back up and running.
  • They refer you to an agency that specializes specifically in website maintenance.

Maintenance With Worldwide Web Designs

Website maintenance is included in all of our plans. We manually check our clients websites on a daily basis for updates or issues that may have sprung up. We perform regular backups so if there ever is an issue so bad the site goes down we can have it back up in a matter of hours rather than in a matter of days. Lastly, we use Wordfence, a global leader in website security to monitor any potential attacks.

The Average Ongoing Cost of Website Maintenance

DIY Builder Maintenance Costs: The majority of maintenance costs get paid for through your monthly plan, the remaining amount costs your time.

Agency / Freelancer Maintenance Costs: On average $50-$200 per month for informational websites or $100-$500 per month for eCommerce websites.

Worldwide Web Designs Maintenance Costs: Included at no additional cost in every one of our plans.

Website Updates

People often get confused on the difference between website updates and website maintenance. Website maintenance involves tasks to keep a website secure, functional, and up-to-date. Website updates on the other hand involve making specific changes or enhancements to the website, such as adding new content, modifying design elements, or implementing feature improvements to keep the site current and engaging for visitors.

Here is a fun little table to show you some examples:

Work Being Done Update Maintenance
Picture being changed ✔️  
New page being added ✔️  
Fixing a button   ✔️
Font being changed ✔️  
Backing up the website   ✔️
Rewriting bad code   ✔️
Changing the background ✔️  

Updates on DIY Site Builders

While it doesn’t usually cost money to do an update on a site builder, you have to actually do the work. When you are someone who is not use to working on a websites making updates can be very risky though. I have seen countless times someone who just barley got a website up and running using a program like Wix. Then they have to change something, they break the whole site and cannot figure out why. Usually though it just involves the work itself and depending on what the update is, that could be very easy or very time consuming.

Updates With Agencies / Freelancers

Like hosting and maintenance, agencies and freelancers usually have predetermined plans for how website updates are handled. The most common ways include charging an hourly rate, having a certain amount of labor each month packaged in with hosting and maintenance or lastly, not offering the service at all.

Updates With Worldwide Web Designs

Once again, they are included in all of our plans. Our Small Business plan comes with two hours of labor worth of updates each month and our Business Pro plan as well as our eCommerce plan come with unlimited updates as long as the updates are in the original scope of the project. For example, you cannot get the Small Business plan and then ask for an update to make it an eCommerce website.

The Average Cost of Website Updates

DIY Builder Update Costs: The updates cost the amount of time it takes you to do them.

Agency / Freelancer Update Costs: On average agencies / freelancers will charge between $30 and $100 per hour.

Worldwide Web Designs Update Costs: Included at no additional cost in every one of our plans.

Your Domain

Your domain is what is used for people to access your website. For example, the domain of this website is www.WorldwideWebDesigns.com. You don’t actually buy the domain name but rather you rent it from your registrar. The registrar then routes the domain to your server; without that your domain would lead nowhere.

The yearly cost of a domain rental ranges depending on what the TLD is, which is what is to the right of the dot. The most known TLD’s are .com , .org , .edu and .net. While not all registrars charge the same, they are usually pretty close in price. The classic .com TLD usually costs about $20 per year while .edu could cost a couple hundred per year. If you would like to compare the prices of all domain endings (TLD’s) you can do so at tld-list.com.

It is important to mention that cost is just the yearly rental fee, if someone else already holds the domain they can charge whatever they want for it. We paid $500 for WorldwideWebDesigns.com.

Fun fact Cars.com sold for $872 million dollars back in 2014. After that initial $872 million dollar payment it only costs $20 per year to keep it active though.

The Annual Cost of Your Domain

Since there are countless domain endings, this is going to be specific to .com domains….

DIY Builder Domain Cost: $15-$25 per year or included for free when you pay a year in advance.

Agency / Freelancer Domain Cost: $15-$25 per year (plus the agency mark up to purchase and configure it)

Worldwide Web Designs Update Costs: Included at no additional cost in every one of our plans.

SEO or Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the practice of enhancing a website’s visibility and ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs) to attract more organic (unpaid) traffic.

There are two primary types of SEO:

  1. On-Page SEO: It involves optimizing individual web pages with relevant content, keywords, meta tags, and ensuring a user-friendly experience to improve search engine rankings.
  2. Off-Page SEO: This focuses on factors outside the website itself, such as building quality backlinks from other websites, social media engagement, and enhancing the site’s authority to improve its search engine rankings.

Is SEO an Ongoing Cost?

Yes, SEO is an ongoing cost and continual process. Search engines frequently update their algorithms, requiring continuous adjustments to maintain or improve website rankings. Additionally, new content, keyword strategies, and competition necessitate ongoing efforts to stay relevant and visible in search results. Investing in

The Ongoing Cost of SEO

There are so many different levels to SEO that for me to list any price is not accurate. Some companies literally have seven figure monthly SEO budgets. However, I will try to give extremely simplified examples.

DIY Builder SEO: DIY websites are horrible for SEO. While you can put in effort to cover the basics, it starts you off with a lot against you. For example, page speed is one of one thousand things that effect your SEO and site builders are known for building slow websites.

Agency / Freelancer Domain Cost: Agencies / freelancers should build their websites with on-page SEO although 99% of them don’t either due to a lack of knowledge or a lack of effort. If you were to hire an agency specifically to do SEO for your small business the cost would range anywhere from a few hundred per month to a few thousand but technically could go A LOT higher.

Worldwide Web Designs SEO: All of our website packages include on-page SEO. This includes structuring the website correctly, doing keyword research and more!

Can You Do Your Own SEO?

Yes! You do not need to be a genius to optimize your website for search engines or to get it to rank high. However, you do need to put in A LOT of work. One aspect that helps a websites SEO is posting high quality content consistently, which is why I am writing this blog post. If you don’t mind putting in a ton of effort, you could click here to learn how to optimize your site for free.

So Do You Have to Pay Monthly for a Website?

So, in a nutshell, owning a website is like owning a car — it’s not just a one-time expense. The initial website design and development may feel like a one-time payment, but the reality is that various ongoing costs accompany its existence on the web. From hosting fees to maintenance, updates, domain charges, and SEO requirements, these elements comprise the ongoing expenses that keep a website running smoothly and understanding these costs and their implications is crucial when considering the actual investment involved in having a website.

Ultimately, recognizing these ongoing expenses is fundamental in making informed decisions about website ownership. While the idea of a one-time payment might seem attractive, it’s vital to understand the costs involved to ensure a successful and sustained online presence. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to comment below or to reach out via our Support page.


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