You know what really grinds my gears? People buying websites when they have no idea what things should generally cost – This will help
If you ask a web professional how much a website costs they all say the same thing:
How much have you got?
Ok, Ok – now that we have that stupid joke out of the way let’s talk about what sites cost in big round numbers.
In the 1990’s I sold websites with cheesy ads in the New York Times for $349. I’ve also sold sites for more than $100,000. (In today’s dollars that’s the same as a million plus).
I’ve seen it all.
If you have less than $500 you don’t want to hire anyone. Do it yourself.
If you have $500 – $2,500 you can get some professional help. You are buying hours right here.
If you have $2,500 – $10,000 you can get serious professional help. You are buying solid thinkers.
If you are about to spend more than $10,000 it should not be your first time buying a website.
Sites that cost $10,000 – $50,000 are pretty common. You are buying serious thinkers and goal achievers.
Sites that cost more than $50,000 do lots of stuff and almost all in this range sell things to website visitors.
Sites that cost $50,000 – $250,000 are ‘serious’ web projects, sometimes because they are complicated and sometimes because there is a ton of simple work to do (like tens of thousands of pictures). Usually both. You are buying folks with a proven track record of success.
Sites that cost $250,000 – $1,000,000 are ‘commercial scale’ web projects that are executed by large organizations of web professionals. You are buying a proven track record of success and tons of resources (people power). Just like if you were building an office building you might have a bunch of subcontractors and when you add up what you paid all of them it comes out to 850K, the same thing applies to websites in this range – there are often many vendors contributing to total project cost.
Sites that cost more than $1,000,000 are very rare. Expenditures over a million bucks are common and spending a few hundred grand a month for web professionals will get you over this total fast – but single projects in excess of a million bucks are unusual.
Sites that cost more than $1,000,000 are almost always cooperative projects between in house experts and external vendors. A giant hotel might hire a plumber but they also have one on staff. You are buying a proven track record of success, serious people power, and you are very making a serious investment in your business plan.
So here it is again in quick form:
- Less than $500 – do it yourself
- $500 – $2,500 – some professional help
- $2,500 – $10,000 – serious professional help
- $10,000 – $50,000 – serious professional thinkers
- $50,000 – $250,000 – serious professionals with proven record of success
- $250,000 – $1,000,000 – commercial scale web projects
- $1,000,000 plus – serious investment in your business plan
But how much should I spend?
You must spend using the principle of expenditure vs expectation.
If your site totally kicks ass and does the most amazing thing you’ve ever seen and your success goes through the roof how much money could you make? Spend less than that.
How much would you make if things go reasonably well? Probably you want to spend less than that.
So if websites are really just ways to connect with people and help them buy your stuff you have to keep that in mind as you make decisions.
How much do you spend on rent?
How much do you spend on marketing overall? Is that reasonable based on your sales goals?
Having a website at all is a worthy goal for pretty much every micro business – do it yourself. One good plumbing job is probably worth having spent a few hundred bucks.
A decent website is very important for a small business – and there is lots of value to be found for less than $2,500. The more hand holding you desire the more you’ll spend. Ignore perfect and go for good enough.
How much is a sale worth you? Does it make basic business sense to buy something for your business that costs as much as ten grand?
It is easy to spend ten grand having a photographer make pretty pictures out of a thousand products. Same deal with a copywriter. You might do all of that yourself, you might not. You are buying time.
If you are laying out more than ten grand you better know what you are doing – if not you’ll probably be buying some very expensive “lessons”.
Super critical thing to know: most web professionals alter the price based on how ‘hard’ it is going to be to work with you.
If you have specific sales goals – eCommerce – the cost of a site is like the rent on your store. A store that plans to sell 100K worth of stuff would probably see 10K in rent as reasonable.
Not all stuff is created equal – 100K worth of lumber or gasoline isn’t very much at all (low low profit margins on those items) while 100K worth of T-shirts is serious profit waiting to happen.
Industries spend different amounts on sales and marketing overall because of this principle – it is shockingly profitable to sell sugar water and Coke spends and spends on marketing. Fashion has a high profit margin and high marketing costs. So do most pharmaceuticals. Profit margins on basic commodity items can be razor thin – when you fill up at a convenience store they made more on the Coke you bought than the tank of gas.
Spend on your website based upon sound business planning principles – the ancient wisdom on what % of gross sales you should spend on sales and marketing very much applies right here.
There should be a relationship between what you spend and what result is going to make you happy – expenditure vs expectation.