How Much Does It Cost To Maintain a Website?

Quick Summary

Building your website is just the beginning. Understanding the ongoing costs of maintaining your website is crucial for making the best decisions for your organization. In addition to the monthly and annual fees, there is a bigger consideration. Where do you invest your hard-earned time and money when it comes to managing your website support? Managing support in-house can be expensive and risky due to knowledge gaps. With dedicated care plans, you get proactive monitoring, comprehensive coverage, and cost-effective pricing that saves you time and money.

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Google “how much does a website cost,” and you’ll get somewhere around 6,600,000,000 results. A lot of people talk about how much it costs to build a website but few ever talk about how much caring for and maintaining a website costs. Well, at least they don’t until you’re already on the hook or far into your project.

Creating a business website is often viewed as a one-time investment, which is a problem. The costs of maintaining software and plugin licenses, performing updates, testing for conflicts, and making sure the website keeps working, need to be budgeted for. It’s never good when the costs associated with website maintenance come as a surprise after the fact. 

Navigating potential costs upfront allows you to make the best decisions for your website and your business. Discover how working with an expert like me to care for your website can drastically reduce those costs.

Understanding Website Maintenance Costs

Costs can range widely, especially when dealing with a WordPress-based website. While there are always options that cost more, in this article, I’ll outline the average cost ranges you can expect.

Here are the typical costs that go into maintaining a WordPress website:

Website Hosting

Average Range: $30 – $200 per month

Website hosting is usually the first cost that comes to mind when website owners think about the ongoing expenses of their website. What makes it all the more confusing is how widely hosting costs can vary, from as low as $5 a month for the cheapest shared hosting to as high as $2,500 a month for high-availability enterprise hosting. Thankfully, both of these are outliers.

Choosing a reliable, secure, and fast hosting provider with top-notch support can significantly improve your website’s success. Although cheap hosting may seem tempting, it will only cost you more in the long run when shared resources leave your site running slow and bad support leaves you frustrated. Fortunately, good hosting can be found at reasonable costs for organizations at every stage of business.

For small to medium-sized professional service companies and non-profits, hosting usually starts at $30 a month for quality-managed WordPress hosting. Unlike shared hosts, managed hosting offers better performance and security for your website and includes other features that are part of good website maintenance, including reliable backups and managed core WordPress updates. SSL certificates, which encrypt connections for site visitors, are essential for privacy, security, and search engine rankings and should be included at no additional costs. The exception is for some larger organizations with specific SSL validation needs who can expect an additional renewal cost ranging from $50-$200 a year.

Domain Name Renewal

Average Range: $10 – $30 annually

Your website’s domain name is one of the seemingly simplest items on your maintenance list. But every year, without fail, a client’s website goes down because they forgot to renew their domain, bringing down their website, email, and business systems.

For most businesses and organizations, you can expect to pay, on average, $10 – $30 a year for your generic (.com, .org, .net) domain. How much you pay ends up depending a lot on who your domain provider is, and paying more doesn’t necessarily mean they are any better. If you’re using a specialty top-level domain (.oi, .co, .biz), it can cost 2- 4 times the amount. Regardless of who your domain provider is, private domain registration should be included at no additional cost.

Website Backups

Average Range: $5 – $16 per month

The ability to securely and quickly restore your website to a safe point before everything went wrong, is what makes properly backing up your website something you need to be paying for. 

Many website hosting providers include daily backup as part of their service — if yours doesn’t, then you’re with the wrong host. But your hosting’s backup isn’t the complete picture. You will still need a second separate set of backups that you can control. There are a number of options when it comes to backing up your website, but a reliable service should offer real-time backup, quick restoration and download, and 30 days or more of backups. This is particularly important for organizations that use their sites for sales, collecting donations or have user-generated content.

Website Security

Average Range: $59 – $150 annually

Like any system, your website’s security depends on the steps you take to protect it. The good news is that you have control over your website’s safety. By investing some time and resources into security measures, you can create a strong defense against online threats.

Choosing the right approach to website security can be overwhelming, especially if you’re doing it on your own. It’s important to keep in mind that website security is not as simple as using a single plugin or solution. Website security requires a layered approach. So it’s not surprising that with so many options available, it’s easy to get confused. Ultimately, you’ll need a security approach that involves a combination of a firewall, traffic and bot protection, malware scanning, vulnerability monitoring, virtual patching, and password management.

If you want to know more, I have written about what your website maintenance should include for good security.

Email Delivery

Average Cost:  $0 – $15 per month

Email delivery is not something you usually think of when it comes to your website.

But you rely on your website to send a lot more emails than you may think. Leads, customer inquiries, sales, donations, and membership communications. To ensure your emails get to your customers reliably and quickly, you need an email delivery service.

There are several email delivery providers that offer a free tier. However, these options generally restrict the number of emails you can send per hour or per day, and only keep a record of emails for a short period of time. Because of those restrictions these plans are suitable only for small businesses that mainly rely on their contact form for communication purposes.

For businesses that need their websites to reliably deliver essential emails to their users and prospects, a paid email delivery provider is required. Providers offer plans at a fixed monthly fee or on a usage-based price. A paid plan offers higher volume sending, faster, more reliable deliverability, more support, and better monitoring of delivery issues.

Premium Plugins

For WordPress-based websites, plugins are the lifeblood of your site. They provide the extended functionality your website needs. While many third-party plugins are free, those with premium features are paid and charge a recurring annual fee.

While your website may benefit from a variety of free plugins, it’s important to invest in paid plugins for the features that your business relies on. Renewing your plugin licenses not only ensures that the plugin remains available and up-to-date, but it also allows the developers to continue improving them and provides access to expert support.

The exact plugins your website will need vary depending on how you use it. To make things easier, I’ve broken down costs based on a couple of common use cases.

Lead Generation and SEO Plugins

Average Range: $59 – $300 annually

For professional service companies and organizations, a strong online presence requires capturing leads and ranking well in search results. To achieve this, two important plugins are required for your website, namely, a contact form plugin and an SEO plugin.

  • Contact Plugin: Capture work inquiries, answer customer queries, conduct surveys, capture emails through customizable contact forms, integrate with marketing and CRM tools, and potentially manage payments (depending on the plugin).
  • SEO Plugin: Optimize your website for search engines by managing technical SEO aspects (sitemaps, robots.txt), assisting with on-page optimization (titles, meta descriptions), offering keyword research tools, and provide reporting for tracking SEO progress.

Donations and Event Plugins

Average Range: $149 – $500 annually

Many non-profit organizations and mission-driven websites rely heavily on online donations and events, online and off, to grow their missions. If you have explored donation systems and event management software in the past then you know how complicated the options can get. Thankfully there are a number of premium plugins that can provide flexible options that make donation collections and event management easier at a reasonable price.

  • Donation Plugin: Create secure, customizable forms, provide multiple payment options (one-time, recurring), automated communication, and integration with donor management tools (CRM, marketing platforms).
  • Event Plugins: Flexible event creation and management, registration forms, ticketing and sales, calendar integration, attendee management tools, and reporting and analytics.

Membership/Course and Automation Plugins

Average Range: $249 – $1,200 annually

For many businesses and organizations, their websites are more than just a digital storefront. They can be platforms for growing communities, delivering educational content, nurturing members through automated marketing, and even automating a variety of internal tasks and processes.

The costs associated with plugins for memberships, courses, and automation will depend heavily on the features offered, the supported integrations, and the level of support provided. Since membership and LMS (Learning Management System) plugins can have overlapping functionalities, you will want to carefully evaluate your organization’s specific needs. Consider which functionalities are most important to achieving your goals and the direction in which you want to grow before making a selection, as it can be costly and painful to switch later.

  • Membership Plugin: Create different membership levels and groupings, flexible content restriction rules, managing memberships and subscriptions, member communication, payment processing, tracking activity, and access to membership information through integrations.
  • Learn Management Systems: Easy and flexible options for building and structuring content, supporting multiple types of materials (video, audio, written content), content dripping, student progress tracking, assessments, payment processing, and access to course data through integrations.
  • Automation Plugins: Integrates tightly with your plugins and third-party systems (marketing, CRM), streamlines repetitive tasks, builds business workflows, seamlessly exchanges data and triggered actions.
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Managing Website Support

In-House vs Outsourcing

Cost per month is unique

The cost of managing website support will largely depend on how much you want to do yourself, your knowledge and speed, and how much you value you and your staff’s time.

Some aspects of website maintenance can be time-consuming to handle on your own. If it takes 6 hours per month and your time is worth $50 an hour, your costs can easily be $300 a month. For small to medium-sized businesses that don’t have a big team with the necessary experience, maintaining a website on your own isn’t a good deal. Not only is your time pulled away from more beneficial activities, but your limited experience will still mean you need to turn elsewhere every time you run into an issue, driving your costs up further.

Inevitably, many businesses look to outsourcing their website maintenance, paying for it when needed at an hourly rate of $50 – $150. This can easily seem like the best option. But in reality, it can be less reliable, more expensive, and still leave you vulnerable.

Good website maintenance involves a proactive and preventive approach. When you outsource by the hour, you inevitably end up only reacting to website issues as they arise and when you’re willing to pay. When you do, it will likely take longer and cost more. Maintenance slowly gets put off, leaving you more vulnerable and unable to plan for future website upgrades or development.

Some managed WordPress hosting companies are now offering hosting add-ons. Those add-ons make managing some aspects of website maintenance convenient and automated. But they don’t offer a complete maintenance service, and at $25 – $45 a month per add-on, the charges can add up and end up costing more. Even then, you will still need to outsource the rest.

A Dedicated Care Plan Provider

Average Cost: $75 – $300 a month

While in-house management and hourly outsourcing offer some level of website support, they come with significant drawbacks. Website care plans, on the other hand, provide a reliable, comprehensive, and cost-effective solution that most other options don’t.

Instead of just reacting to website problems, care plans offer proactive website management. Your plan monitors your website’s health, security, and performance, manages updates, and addresses potential issues before they disrupt your business.

A good care plan gives you access to a dedicated provider with the experience and systems in place to ensure maintenance is done consistently and problems are solved efficiently. Freeing up your time to focus on the business and giving you access to an experienced professional who will pick up the phone to answer your questions and provide ongoing consulting.

Care plans offer different options at a fixed monthly fee. You can choose a plan that best fits your business needs, eliminating the uncertainty and surprise invoice associated with hourly billing. The fees also give you room to grow, providing peace of mind as your needs evolve and cover maintenance expenses you would otherwise need to cover on your own, like backup, security, and some premium plugin licenses. The savings alone can make care plans the best choice.

The True Cost of Website Ownership

Your website is one of the most essential assets in your business. While it may seem like any other business expense, your website is an investment. It’s far too valuable to let maintenance slip through the cracks. Neglecting website maintenance can lead to costly downtime, security breaches, and lost sales opportunities — and these hidden costs can far outweigh the upfront investment in a proper maintenance plan.

If you’re looking for a reliable, dedicated website maintenance and care plan service, one with a track record for helping businesses eliminate the hassle of managing their website, I’m here to help. I offer a free consultation to discuss your specific needs and explore how different care options might benefit your website.

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Author Profile

About the author

Patrick Boehner is a seasoned website designer with over a decade of experience. He works with mission-driven organizations, non-profits, and professional service firms to bring their bold visions to life by building websites showcasing their brilliance, experience, and the transformation they create. If you're looking for a website that truly reflects your organization's unique mission and story, I would love to talk with you.

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