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Websites cost money. That's no secret. What's often forgotten are the on-going costs of having a site once it's up and running. Let's go over the more common ones.

Domain Name Renewals

This should be pretty obvious, but when you register a domain name, you do so for one or more years and at the end of that period, you'll have to renew it if you want to keep it. However, domain names can be pretty cheap – from $10 and up – so the on-going cost is minimal.

Web Hosting

Web hosting fees vary depending on the kind of hosting you sign up for. And to make things a bit more confusing, web hosting companies are a dime a dozen, so it can be difficult to figure out what company to host with (hint: don't ever use GoDaddy).

For this reason, it's a good idea to go with the host recommended by your web agency. In addition to knowing the ins and outs of a particular hosting setup, your web agency will be able to give you a recommendation based on your site's current and potential future needs to ensure that your host will be able to handle things.

Web hosting can be as cheap as a few bucks a month, all the way up to hundreds per month. It's important to not just go with the cheapest option, however. Instead, pick a host that will be able to support you and grow with your business. Again, your web agency should be helping you with this.

SSL Certificates

If you're running any kind of e-commerce or a site that requires people to input even remotely sensitive information, an SSL certificate is an absolute must. Not having one can expose your customers to the very real risk of identity theft.

SSL certificates run anywhere from $20 per year to a few hundred a month. However, this is not an area to go cheap in. The monthly cost of an SSL certificate varies based on the type of validation, warranty amounts and more. Like with hosting, having your web agency recommend an option is a good idea.

Site Updates

It's common these days for websites to be powered by a content management system (CMS) that allows you to make basic yet essential updates to your site, such as modifying text, adding new products, posting a new blog post, etc. CMS software, just like any other software, is going to need updating. Not all web software is easy to update, however, so getting help from your web agency will be needed.

That's just one piece of the site updates puzzle though. Your web design studio should offer a maintenance plan of some kind. Generally, maintenance packages include the following:

  • content updates (in case you don't have time to do them yourself)
  • software updates (it's important to stay as up to date as possible if for no other reason than to make sure you're up to date on security patches)
  • new features
  • regular backups

Maintenance package rates vary from agency to agency. Some will offer maintenance for as little as $30 per month or per hour, some for hundreds per month for a set number of hours. It's always a good idea though, to ask the web agency that built your site about on-going maintenance if you think you'll need it. (Tip: if you have any sort of web software powering your site, you're going to need maintenance.)

SEO (search engine optimization)

To put it as simply as possible, SEO is the “stuff" that's done to help your site rank well in search engines like Google. Unlike some web agencies, we thoroughly optimize the websites we build to give the site a solid foundation from which to start. Admittedly though, that's just a third of the SEO spectrum. The other two-thirds involve content writing and link building that is done on a regular basis after the site is built.

Some web design agencies offer this service, others may have partnered with content strategists or SEO firms. In either case, you'll need to budget anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars per month.

Adding it All Up

These are the most common services you might need on a regular basis. How much you spend each month will vary based on your specific needs. The important thing to know is that it's guaranteed that you'll be spending money on at least two or three of the services described. Keep that in mind when you're getting ready to have your site built or redesigned.