Whenever I think they’re interesting and/or useful, I’m going to start answering some questions here on the blog that I actually receive at the library, while working on the reference desk. Yesterday I was asked “How much does it cost to make a website?”
Of course, the answer is a huge “It depends.” I knew there were lots of options, and that some options would be better suited to certain goals–this patron wanted to start a website promoting a dance club, which probably wouldn’t be something you’d set up on a blogger blog.
On that note, I’m not going to make the distinction between blogs and websites. I think it’s negligible at this point, and I suspect the distinction will matter less and less in the future.
As we go through these options, I’ll also give you costs for the blog that you’re reading right now.
I originally registered World’s Strongest Librarian through GoDaddy.com. The domain just means the actual URL: in this case it’s www.worldsstrongestlibrarian.com.
The address of this blog cost less than $10.
There is no fee to register a domain with a free blogging platform.
Hosted vs. Free
Here are three free options for starting a website. These are all popular choices, and I have experience with all of them:
One potential downside of the free model is that you don’t own the website. Blogger can shut you down whenever they want. It’s unlikely that they will, unless you get up to shenanigans outside their terms of service, but they could. They’re letting you use their blogging platform for free, so they get to make the rules.
The difference between hosted and free is that you pay someone to host your site. So you don’t really own it, but you’re renting the space and can pretty much do what you want with it.
I started out with Hostgator. I highly recommend them. If you’re looking for hosting, that’s an affiliate link.
I started with an account that cost less than $10/month. As traffic has grown, I’ve only needed to upgrade once. It’s still very affordable and it’s still right around $10. Not bad at all, and the second option comes with unlimited domain add-ons.
One big plus with Hostgator has been their customer service. Whenever I’ve had a problem, I’ve always been able to get someone on the phone within five minutes.
At its most simple, those are the only costs you really can’t get away from if you’re going to have a hosted blog. You have to pay for a domain and host it somewhere. And if you go the free route, none of that applies. But some of these other features might, depending on what your goals are.
- Email newsletter service
- Offline publicity (business cards, etc)
I get a lot of compliments about the logo for this blog. It cost me $100 and was contracted through Elance.
The customized Twitter button over there in the sidebar was part of a trade: I did some copyediting for a blogger who was not a native English speaker, and he gave me a bird flinging kettlebells around.
I paid $20 for the Facebook button, an Advertise Here button, and a lot of other ideas that I’ve not yet found a reason to use here. Not bad.
Matt Cheuvront has done a lot of the customization on the way the entire blog looks. So far I haven’t paid him anything since the very first work he did for me, which was some menu bar customization that is no longer. My advice? Go make some friends in the blogging world. Ideally, powerful, talented friends. Be useful to others and they’ll help you out.
I have also used Fiverr for the logos on Strength Rules and Dunce Academy. $5 each! Hard to beat that, even with those other two sites that I run purely for fun.
I use Aweber (affiliate link) for my book club newsletter. It’s easy to use and has approximately 99,000 more features than I use. I pay approximately $11/month for the ability to collect email addresses and send emails to book club members.
If you’re in the market for an autoresponder, Aweber has been fantastic. I don’t have personal experience with any other options, but it’s certainly not the only tool out there.
Running a website takes some time, no matter what you’re doing with it. It is possible to get a site to the point where it makes money whether you write or not. Yesterday this blog had nearly 2,000 search visitors, and that would have happened whether I wrote anything or not.
But the time I have put in to get it to that point has value. Because I love to be here and I love to write, it’s time well spent in my case. It’s a good use of my time.
What is your time worth? Just something to keep in mind. Making money online isn’t, in my experience, a game for the impatient. In fact, if that had been my goal in starting the site, I would have given it up long ago.
I never spend more than $50 on this site in a month. In fact, my expenses for the three blogs I pay consistent attention to don’t total $50 all together. They continue to grow, they continue to pay me, and I have fun with them every single day.
You do not have to spend money to make a website. It might be more effective to do so, but there’s only one way to find out: experiment!
The bare bones are the domain and the hosting. And those are so affordable that it’s a challenge for me to really consider them an expense.
If you have any questions about any of this, I’d be happy to respond.
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