Why does a custom website cost so much?

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Before I start this post outlining the costs of a custom website, I want to make three key points:

#1 – Despite what GoDaddy and Wix say in their ads, you CANNOT create branded, strategic a website in an hour.

Yes, using Wix, you can create a website more quickly and inexpensively than a custom WordPress web design.

But, if you watch those commercials, they are adding copy that has already been written, photos that have already been edited, and colors and fonts that have already been chosen and aligned with the overall branding onto a theme/layout that has already been designed.

These commercials do SUCH a disservice to web designers everywhere.

#2 – Your website is your storefront and an investment that will give you a return.

ALL of my clients are online entrepreneurs. They’ve structured their businesses so that they’re free of having an actual location-based store where they have to physically show up, every day, for a set number of hours that are posted on the door.

I’m no different. It’s why I do what I do. All this means that your website IS your storefront. It’s open 24/7, is a foundation of your marketing, and drives business sales and growth.

If I were to actually open up a location-based business, I’d be paying $1000-$4000+ per MONTH in rent, in addition to a website, inventory, signage, cash register, insurance, etc. So, a one-time investment into a business tool that drives growth and sales, is open 24/7, AND allows me the freedom to work from wherever I want is just that, an investment in your business, and in this day and age, it’s a required investment.

You don’t need to start with a custom website, but at some point, you’ll need a website.

#3 – A custom website is just that, custom, so fixed prices are virtually impossible to offer.

It’s hard to put a “fixed rate” on a custom website because every site is different and every business owner has different needs. This is why I have potential clients schedule a call where I can ask them a bunch of questions about what they need so I can put a custom proposal together for them.

Let’s dive into what the costs are in building a website. What exactly are you paying for?

Website Costs

There is a LOT that goes into putting together a visually pleasing, strategic, converting website. And if you have the time and inclination to do it yourself, go for it. That’s how I got into web design years ago.

But if that’s not you, and you would rather hike Mt. Everest or complete an Ironman competition than build a website, you’ll need to pay someone to do it for you.

And what follows, my friend, is what you’re paying for:

Website Setup

This is all of the technical stuff that a designer can do in a few hours but that can take someone with zero experience days or weeks.

  • install WordPress
  • point your domain to your host
  • install necessary plugins
  • install a custom theme
  • link to Google
  • integrate social media
  • integrate with your email newsletter provider
  • provide basic SEO so your site can get found

Design and branding

This is creating all of the visual elements of your site so that they are cohesive and in alignment with your personality, services, offerings, and business.

Branding is about drilling down the emotional elements of your business and creating the visual identity to reflect that through colors, patterns, images, fonts, and icons. It may include a logo if you don’t already have one.

Content Creation Support

Your website must have something on it, and somebody has to write all of that content. You can either hire a copywriter or you can do it yourself. In my case, since my first career was as an English teacher and I’m also a writer, I provide quite a bit of copywriting support to clients.

All of my clients get access to my course on writing web copy, and I do extensive editing and commenting as we work together to polish it up.

Once the coy is done, designers then design the pages to work with your copy, upload all of the copy, set up the blog (if needed) and add the required legal docs for your site.

This also may or may not include SEO support in terms of defining those keywords you want to use on your site and adding them to the pages in an appropriate way.

Site Size & Functionality

The size of your site will also impact the cost. If you’ve got 100+ pages, it will cost MUCH more, or if you’ve been adding content to your site for twelve years and need an update, the cost will be more. It’s just so much more content to deal with and wrangle into an organized, structured site.

Obviously, a three-page simple site with no blog will cost much less than a huge site.

Similarly, a site with lots of technical features will cost more. For example, if you’ve got a store with products and shipping that need setting up, a membership site with all of the pages that go with that, multiple landing or sales pages, more complex sales funnels, or even courses, the price will go up even higher than the base price.

Site maintenance

Finally, your web designer will either teach you how to maintain your site or provide you with a maintenance package, and they’ll do it for you. This includes how to:

  • run backups
  • update plugins
  • edit/update copy and pages as offerings change

All of the above takes time and expertise…for which you are also paying.

Expertise

Web designers have a fairly large skill set that most often includes:

  • CSS and HTML basic coding skills
  • Photoshop and Illustrator (or other graphics programs which they pay for every month)
  • Design skills
  • Branding
  • Marketing
  • Digital Strategy
  • Conversion Strategy
  • SEO
  • Intimate knowledge of their chosen platform whether that’s WordPress, Squarespace, Wix or Shopify

It takes a LOT of time to learn these skills, and that’s part of what you’re paying for. Think of when you hire an appliance repair guy, and it costs $210 for him to come to your house to for 20 minutes to install a $5 part that fixes your washing machine. Obviously, you aren’t paying just for his time and the part. You’re paying him because it saved you from watching three hours of videos on YouTube on washing machine repair, two trips to the hardware store to get the right part, and the frustration of the whole thing.

The repairman knows which part goes where, just as a web designer knows how to take that vertical photo of you and make it into a lovely horizontal header across the top of your website or how she knows how to create a cohesive feel between all of your pages so your site is professional and clean, attracting your ideal clients.

Education, Training, and Coaching

I call myself a Website Coach because I provide so much training and support for my clients. This takes time, like hours and hours of coaching and consulting calls during the brand and content creation process as well as feedback on all content.

We discuss and define their branding, copywriting, marketing strategy, business goals, SEO, and post-launch we have calls to go over site maintenance and upkeep. This is an addition to the page of customized “how to” videos that each custom clients get on their custom site.

Most web designers I know also provide quite a bit of training on site usage as well.

Time

A custom website takes time, a LOT of time, like 50-100+ hours of time. Custom means that the designer isn’t using templates or pre-made anything. Every single page is designed from scratch to meet the needs of each client. And you’ve got to pay for that.

Conversely, YOUR time is valuable. Is it worth more to you to spend an entire day figuring out how to customize your footer and add your legal docs OR would you rather pay a designer to do that for you? What’s your time worth?

Conclusion

As I said earlier, your website IS your storefront and is an investment in your business. And, it’s actually much less expensive than opening a brick and mortar based business like a shop or a restaurant.

However, a website still costs money. For me, it means that you’re going to pay somewhere between $4500-$6500 for a custom site.

You can find web designers who are less expensive and some who are far more expensive.

With that said, if you don’t want to pay for a website, don’t.

Do it yourself. It’s totally doable. You can get on Wix or Weebly (or even WordPress if you’re adventurous) and create your own site. There are thousands of video and blog tutorials walking you through how to complete all of the steps outlined above.

One final point, please don’t haggle with a web designer. Do you haggle with the plumber when he comes to fix your leaky toilet? Do you haggle with the grocery store clerk over the cost of your gallon of organic milk? Do you haggle with your dentist when she bills you for your root canal?

Of course you don’t. You pay for your toilet to get fixed, your milk to drink, and your teeth to stay happily in your mouth. A web designer is also a small business owner who is working to make a living. If you can’t afford their rates, ask for a payment plan for the full cost or keep looking for a designer who’s in your budget..

Remember, your website is an investment in your growth and business. And, you’re worth investing in.

xo,

Amy

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