When I put together a proposal for a client, I include the the ongoing costs. These costs are the investment fees to keep the site up and running beyond the initial launch of their site.
The initial investment of a site was covered in a previous post. This post covers the ongoing costs of a website.
There are a number of ongoing costs associated with a website:
- renewal of domain name
- webhosting fees
- updates to site
- SEO optimization
The first two are given. The third cost, updates to site, will vary depending on how much updating you require. Let’s cover each one.
Domain names can be purchased from 1 year to 10+ years. I like to set up client’s domain name to renew every 1 to 2 years. It’s a good reminder to them and it gives another opportunity for me to touch base with them.
Domain names run from $5/yr on up. I like to handle the domain name registration for my clients, to assure them they won’t ‘accidentally’ lose their domain name. I’ve had clients lose their domain names because they didn’t know to renew them each year. If the client has me take care of that, they won’t need to worry about losing their domain name.
Webhosting fees vary. Again, I recommend your web designer taking care of these fees for you. I also recommend going with the host recommended by your web designer. If they use a specific host, they are familiar with that host, how to handle any technical issues, can more easily and fully support your website, and better protect your site. And, if they monitor these fees, you can be assured your annual fees will consistently be renewed.
Webhosting fees range from $10/month on up. Large, dynamic sites can be in the $100+ range/month. I recommend not just going with the cheapest, but going with the option that best supports your site month after month. There are always software upgrades, new malicious-ware, spy-ware updates, etc to consider on a web server. Let your web designer make this decision for you and be willing to pay for their expertise in overseeing your site.
Updates to Site
Your site performs better with search engines if it’s being regularly updated. Plan to invest in updates to your site on a consistent basis. If you want to be able to perform routine updates, let your web designer know from the beginning. They should be able to set up the site for you to do this. (WordPress is one of the best options for this.) Also, plan on investing a bit more from time to time to do more complex updates to your site. This may be adding or deleting a page or section. It may be adding a newsletter subscription option to your site. Or, it may be adding a gallery. Your web designer may need to get involved with these more complex updates.
If your updates require consistent help from your web designer, ask them about a maintenance plan. A maintenance plan provides monthly support for your site at reduced rates. It usually guarantees a set number of hours at a certain rate. I offer a Gold Plan and a Silver Plan. The gold plan is up to 4 hours/month at a 20% reduced rate. The Silver Plan is up to 2 hours/month at a 10% discount rate.
If a client does not go with a maintenance plan because they don’t require consistent support for updates, I will give them an estimate per project or per update.
If you really want to optimize your site for SEO, it’ll require additional investment. Search optimization has become its own science. SEO firms focus on making sites perform optimally. A web designer may or may not offer these services. At a minimum, a web designer needs to set up your site with the keywords (provided by client), page descriptions, and page titles. You also want to use keywords towards the top of your text on each page. An SEO firm will take all of this to the next level and perform studies on the best keywords and titles to use, in addition to a lot of other research geared towards your site.
Rates for SEO vary widely. There is usually a minimum amount of time they require as search engine results take a number of months. A local firm charges $300/month for a minimum of 12 months. A national firm I recently checked with wanted $24,000 for a year.
What’s your experience with ongoing costs for a website? What questions do you have about ongoing costs?