Cheap? Expensive?... The Yearly Cost of Maintaining a WordPress Site


Cheap? Expensive?… The Yearly Cost of Maintaining a WordPress Site

When it comes to the cost of building a WordPress website, the focus tends to be on how expensive it will be to get things up and running. There’s a lot to think about, including getting a domain name.

However, it’s important to remember that the costs don’t end once the website is built. It’s equally as important to factor in the ongoing costs to avoid any negative surprises down the road.

While WordPress is a free content management system (CMS), you can still build an expensive site using the platform. This is because the options for customization are nearly endless. There are also a variety of services important for running a website, like hosting and security, which can make the ongoing cost quickly rise.

It might be helpful to think of WordPress maintenance like car maintenance. Not only is there the initial cost of purchasing, you also have to have it serviced regularly to keep it running. If you want your site to have a long and healthy life, you have to put in some extra care.

So, with this in mind -what charges should you expect to pay to maintain your WordPress site?

Here we’ve broken down what you need to consider into chunks, so you can get a better feel for the associated costs.

Type of Site

Type of Site - Cheap? Expensive?... The Yearly Cost of Maintaining a WordPress Site

As mentioned earlier, the customization options for WordPress are endless. This means that you can create any kind of website you want, from personal blog to the next big eCommerce store.

The cost of maintaining your WordPress will depend on the type of site you choose to build.

If you’re running a standard blog, the resources needed to maintain it will be less than if you’re running an eCommerce store with thousands of products.

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Maintenance Tools

There are several bits of maintenance that need to be checked and addressed on a regular basis. It really isn’t enough to do a few and abandon the others – that would be like checking only one of your car tyres instead of all four!

Picking and choosing the maintenance you do won’t keep your site in peak condition, and with every bit of maintenance comes the tools you need to do it – all of which come with their own price tag, both monetary and in terms of your time.

Here we’ve included some of the most important areas that need regular checks and maintenance, and the impact they can have on costing.

· Backups

Backups - Cheap? Expensive?... The Yearly Cost of Maintaining a WordPress Site

Put simply, website backups ensure that if something unforeseen happens to your site, you can get it back on its feet quickly and efficiently. A great way to do this is to set up an automated backup as this greatly reduces the amount of work involved.

The WordPress Codex recommends backing up your site 3-12 times a year depending on how much existing content you have and how quickly you add new content to your website.

Potential Costs: BackupBuddy is one of the top plugins for managing backups. There are three price tiers available, depending on the number of websites you have to manage. The ‘Blogger’ plan, which includes one year of access and support for one website, costs $80. Meanwhile, the ‘Gold’ package offers backups for an unlimited number of websites for $199 per year.

· Deleting Comment Spam

Comment spam is an unfortunate reality for anyone that allows user comments on their website. Deleting spam comments are essential in order to keep your site looking professional and avoid damaging your credibility.

A spam filtering plugin can make fighting spam easier. These tools filter out comments before they become live on your site, helping to greatly reduce the amount of time spent deleting them.

Potential Costs: A plugin like Akismet is a great choice if you don’t want to fall foul of spam. They offer Personal, Plus, and Enterprise packages depending on your needs. The plus package is just £4 (roughly $5) per month per site. The Enterprise plan, aimed at large businesses with multiple sites, is £37.50 (approximately $45) per month with support for unlimited websites.

· Core and Plugin Updates

Core and Plugin Updates - Cheap? Expensive?... The Yearly Cost of Maintaining a WordPress Site

Another important element you need to maintain is the WordPress core of your website, as well as any plugins that you use.

Keeping both the core and additional plugins up to date is essential to keep your site secure – and take advantage of the newest features! If you don’t maintain your WordPress site, it will likely become slow and full of errors. This makes it an easy target for hackers.

However, you may find that after an update you find some of your website’s features have been broken. This makes it essential to thoroughly check your website after each and every update – both of the WordPress core and your selection of plugins.

A tip is to update plugins and core one at a time and check the website carefully after each. This means that if there is a conflict, you can easily identify what caused it.

Potential Costs: This is a largely manual job – so the cost will come down to how much you pay your developer, or how long it takes you to do the work yourself.

· Quality Assurance

In addition to the maintenance steps we’ve outlined here, we also recommend undertaking monthly quality assurance to ensure your site is running properly. This is especially important after you’ve completed the updates mentioned earlier.

Your monthly list should include checking:

  • Site speed
  • Search function
  • Specific plugin functionalities
  • Page browsing
  • The checkout process (if you run an eCommerce store)

Doing a monthly “check-up” can help to catch issues before they become a bigger problem.

Potential Costs: Again, these are all things that can be done manually for free – if you have the time to spend. Alternatively, you can take advantage of a service like Pingdom which monitors site health and alerts you if the site is down. Pingdom offers two types of monitoring – ‘Synthetic’ and ‘Real User’ – both of which are less than $15 a month.

As mentioned earlier, if you have some experience with WordPress and know what you’re doing, these tasks should take about 5-10 hours each month.

You might think maintenance sounds like an unnecessary burden, but if you don’t undertake it you’ll see the end result: a slow website full of errors.

DIY or Developer

DIY or Developer - Cheap? Expensive?... The Yearly Cost of Maintaining a WordPress Site

There are two main options when deciding on how you’re going to maintain your WordPress website. You can either go it alone with the do-it-yourself route or you can hire a professional to maintain your site for you.

Like with everything in life, there are pros and cons to both options.

The DIY Approach

Consider how much you know about WordPress and the amount of time you can invest in learning the ropes. Maintaining a website can be a mammoth task for someone who is unfamiliar with the platform.

While WP Beginner offers a guide on how to learn WordPress in a week or less, Efficient WP estimates that learning the intricacies takes at least 100 hours. You may be comfortable learning the basics, but when it comes to managing a website well you need to know the ins and outs as well as what to do if disaster strikes.

Inevitably, learning this can come with a price tag. While there are tons of free guides – like the one from WP Beginner and video tutorials on YouTube – higher quality, more detailed resources are likely to come with a cost.

In addition, managing a website doesn’t just come with a monetary cost, it’s expensive in terms of your time too.

You’re likely to spend 5-10 hours a month doing regular maintenance tasks such as performing updates, backups, deleting spam, and checking for bad links. On top of this, you’ll probably want to add new plugins to expand the functionality of your site and change your theme as time goes on.

As a business owner, or even just a hobbyist with a blog on the side of a full-time job, you’re likely to have a million and one other things that you need to do with your time. While it may be rewarding to master a new skill, it’s important that you take into account the time and money needed when making your decision.

If you are certain that you want to do it all yourself, the WordPress Codex is an important resource. The Codex is an official manual from the developers of WordPress, so here you’ll find details of every function and feature that the CMS uses. As a ‘living repository for WordPress information and documentation’, you’ll also find links to guides and tutorials.

Hiring a Developer

Hiring a Developer - Cheap? Expensive?... The Yearly Cost of Maintaining a WordPress Site

If you don’t have the time or the know-how to manage the site yourself, the alternative is to seek out the help of a professional.

Of course, this will come with a cost. Site maintenance services range in price but may not be as expensive as you think.

In either case, the total yearly cost will again depend on your site’s features and your individual needs. If you compare these costs to the expense of the time you might spend learning WordPress and maintain the site solo, it may make sense to pick a professional option.

In addition to completing basic maintenance tasks, professional services like the ones highlighted here can increase site speed, decrease down time, and stop you from worrying about your site.

If you’re new to WordPress and not confident you can deal with possible mishaps, don’t take that chance. And even for advanced WordPress users, it can still be useful to enlist these time-saving services!

Hosting

Hosting - Cheap? Expensive?... The Yearly Cost of Maintaining a WordPress Site

One of the first decisions you’ll make when setting up your website is the hosting company you use to keep it on the web.

However, in most cases this isn’t a one-off fee that you pay at the start. You’ll have to keep paying the hosting company on a rolling basis. If you’re unable to pay the bill down the line, you risk your site going down. If you see a substantial amount of traffic, your site going down for even a short amount of time can make a huge impact – so it’s vitally important that you factor these bills into your budget.

Check: WordPress Hosting: 10 Top Picks

Prices will obviously depend on the hosting company and the services included in their hosting package.

In addition to hosting your website, many companies also offer services like backup, security, and site speed enhancement. If you are expecting extremely high amounts of traffic, you need to take this into consideration and make sure your hosting company can handle it. This may also ad to the cost.

Generally, hosting companies often package their hosting based on the type of site and the amount of traffic. You’ll want to choose a hosting package based on your website’s needs, i.e whether you have a business site or a personal blog. If opt for a lower-level package and realize down the line that you need more, you can always upgrade.

If you’re hosting an average WordPress site and go with basic hosting, expect to pay around $15 a month. This doesn’t include add-on services that the company may offer.

Also bear in mind that many sites offer discounts for new users before bumping up to the regular price after a year. Make sure you factor in the regular price, as that is what you’ll end up paying in the long-term.

Plugins

Plugins - Cheap? Expensive?... The Yearly Cost of Maintaining a WordPress Site

No matter what kind of website you run it’s likely that you’ll have plugins to extend the functionality of your site.

WordPress plugins come in free or paid version and are a surefire way to help your site achieve your goal.

Initial Cost

Adding new plugins to your website can both expand and revitalize what you offer to visitors.

In our research, we found that the average price for a comprehensive plugin from a well-established developer is £138. Though prices can range from anywhere between $15 to $500.

When thinking about the ongoing cost of your WordPress site, it’s important that you get a feel for the type and price of plugins you may need. Of course, the price of this will vary depending on how many plugins you install, the type of plugin, and the developer you buy from.

Renewals

The majority of plugin developers operate on a yearly renewal cycle. This means a year after initially purchasing the plugin, you will need to renew the plugin license to keep getting updates and support.

If you don’t renew a plugin, you may still be able to use it, but you’ll miss out on important updates to the code as well as new features. Updates can often address security issues, so it’s vitally important to keep renewing the license to keep you and your visitors safe.

Oftentimes, plugin developers will offer license renewals at a discounted rate. Through our research, we found the renewal price is most commonly around 60% of the original price, though this varies per developer and sometimes different plugins made by the same developer can vary too.

The number of renewals you need each year will obviously depend on how many paid plugins you use. It also depends on how costly the initial plugin was.

To get an idea of how much plugin renewals can cost, here’s an anecdotal calculation:

According to our research, WordPress users tend to have less than ten plugins per site – but, for the sake of ease, let’s say you have a total of ten plugins.

If half of these plugins are premium paid options, as was the case with 34% of users surveyed, that means that 5 plugins will need to be renewed at the end of every year, at 60% of the original cost.

The average price for a comprehensive plugin, based on our research, is $138. That makes the initial cost for 5 premium plugins in the region of $690. With a 60% discount at the time of renewal, the renewal cost would be $414.

Of course, this will vary based on the type of plugin, the initial purchase price, the developer you purchase from, and how many plugins you typically use.

If you need many very specific plugins for a specific niche, your renewal costs may be even higher. If you’re looking to reduce this cost, there are many free plugins available, though they may lack certain useful features of their paid counterparts.

Theme Changes

Theme Changes - Cheap? Expensive?... The Yearly Cost of Maintaining a WordPress Site

Every website is different, and to make yours stand out from the crowd and improve user experience you’ll want to add a theme.

Finding the perfect theme can take time. You may go with one, only to find it’s frustrating to use, or it doesn’t allow you to add a feature you really need, or you just like another one better and fancy a change. But this may come with its very own price-tag as well.

The typical cost for a good theme with ongoing support is $60 to $100, so if you plan on changing your theme, making sure you keep this in mind.

Some theme developers also have a model by which you can have access to all of their themes for a fixed fee. For example, Elegant Themes gives access to all of their themes for $89 a year or a one-off payment of $249.

Security

As we mentioned earlier, the security of your website is paramount for both you and your visitors. Even more so if you run an eCommerce store or website where visitors are asked to input any kind of personal danger.

It doesn’t matter how small, large, new, or old your website is – due to the popularity of WordPress, every site is a potential target for nefarious hackers. Investing in good, reputable security now ensures you won’t have any regrets in the future.

We highly recommend that you look for a security service that offers login attempt limits, site scans, and site protection services. Some security also includes site backups, but this is an added bonus.

When it comes to website security, the more ways you secure your site without significantly slowing it down, the better. You can never be ‘too safe’.

So, how much will it cost?

WPSitecare recommends setting aside $200 per year for site security. This cost can be spent on a security service like Sucuri. The Basic Sucuri package costs $199.99 per year, but for more advanced features you can go Pro for $299.99. They also offer a package for Business at $499.99, so you have a range of options to choose from.

In you’re budget doesn’t quite accommodate this, an alternative is premium security plugins such as iThemes Security or Wordfence. iThemes offers their security plugin starting at $80 per year, while Wordfence is $99 for one license but offers a discount for the more licenses you purchase.

You may find that your hosting company offers security built in, which can help you save even more money.

However, whatever you opt for the bottom line is that you need an effective way to ensure your site’s security. While you might get away with opting for free versions of other plugins, we don’t recommend you ever skimp on security. You might come to regret it (and end up paying even more) if something disastrous does happen.

Is WordPress Worth It?

Is WordPress Worth It? - Cheap? Expensive?... The Yearly Cost of Maintaining a WordPress Site

Looking at the cost of running a website year on year is a good strategy to help you work out what’s right for you.

As mentioned throughout, the total yearly cost will really depend on what kind of site you’re running. Some sites will cost less while some will cost significantly more.

Here at CreativeMinds, we believe that WordPress is one of the best tools available to build your perfect website.

The popularity of WordPress as a CMS is one of the many great things it has going for it and it’s extremely helpful when it comes to the cost.

Firstly, you’re more likely to find an affordable WordPress developer than a developer for a rival platform like Drupal. In addition, due to WordPress’ open source nature it also means there are many free plugins out there for you to make the most of – and that means premium plugin developers have to stay competitive in terms of price.

Like building and maintaining any website, developing a WordPress site is a process and the costs are always going to be ongoing. The expense doesn’t end after you register a domain name and pick your first theme – and this is true of any CMS.

We suggest that, in order to make a sensible, informed decision these ongoing costs should be figured out before you even create your site, so you know what to expect and don’t encounter any nasty surprises.

If you’re interested in plugins for your website, here at CreativeMinds we’re dedicated to giving you affordable support.