A website isn’t free, but they aren’t outrageous expensive either. Depending upon the amount of products you sell, or if you just want a website to showcase your work, it may even be cheaper to host your own website than using an online online marketplace. Thankfully there are both free and paid services that let you set up a running website fast and cheaply.
This post is looking at the costs of setting up your own website and not using a all-in-one service like SquareSpace (this will be in a future post).
Common Costs With Establishing A Website
Some of the costs that you will have to pay for are:
- A domain name. This is like buying a physical piece of land with an address on how to get there. It’ll look something like www.yoursite.com. These often only cost $5-15 (for a .com address) for a whole year.
- Hosting. This is the difference of a customer driving past your address and seeing a vacant lot or a fancy building saying come inside. From $3-4/month ($36/year).
- The website code. There are many free options for building shopping carts and making your site look pretty; more on that later. Paid options can be from $10-1000+ (depending upon how customised you want it). Don’t let this cost scare you, the free options are perfectly fine for most people. I spent only $39 for all of my website code.
- A SSL certificate (optional). If you are selling products on your site and processing credit/bank cards, then you want to make sure it’s safe. An SSL certificate is a must. Some host providers will charge you for this, but there are ways to get this for free (and it should be free; more on this later too). Usually bought through the hosting provider; I’ve seen this sold around $30/year.
A note on SSL certificates: LetsEncrypt.org made it possible for companies to provide these for free. Some hosting providers were contacted, but not all agreed and opted for the profit instead (it’s unknown if they get the certificates for free themselves). The reason I chose my hosting provider was for the general customer feedback being so positive, the really competitive pricing, and that they didn’t charge for SSL certificates.
All the prices mentioned above can fluctuate a little bit. You often will get deals for buying lengthier subscriptions, meaning the upfront cost is higher but the amount you pay over a couple years is reduced.
Companies I Use
I bought my domain name through Dynadot. I got annoyed with other companies when they would track domain names I was interested in, pre-purchase them and then selling back to me at higher prices. If I forgot to pay for renewal in time they did the same thing – even trying to charge me $5000 for a domain name I had for years!
My hosting provider is Siteground. They provide LetsEncrypt.org SSL certificates as part of their hosting packages.
The code on my website runs off of WordPress (free). Many hosting providers have ways to 1 click install it from their admin panels, so it’s one of the best options of non-tech savvy people. WordPress lets you easily add content from an Admin screen, see how it performs (with statistics like page views) and more.
My shopping cart code is Woocommerce. It can be installed from the admin screen of WordPress. It connects automatically with most of WordPress, and lets you create and sell products. You can optionally buy extensions to Woocommerce that enhances it’s ability; things like improving tracking information, variations on shipping costs and options, how products are displayed and so much more.
I had the ability to design and code my own website theme, but frankly wanted to focus on my art rather than coding. My website theme is sold by Woocommerce. It was cheap, customisable, and works with any extensions I might want to buy. I had a few times when I had to contact customer service for help with my theme, and they were incredibly responsive (even offering live chat), polite, and always solved my problem.