What Is the Actual Cost of Building a Website?

Building a Website, SquareSpace, WordPress | 0 comments

If you’re embarking on the journey of launching a website, you’ve probably spent a fair amount of time pondering this very question… “How much does it cost to build a website?” (Like, actually).

The truth is that it varies… wildly varies. My recent web search came up with a number of sources quoting ranges like “from $12,000 to $150,000” (1) and $1,000 to $1,000,000 (2).

If you’re anything like me when I created my first website for my work as a health coach, these numbers are making you very, very anxious. Not to worry! The website that my average client – a coach, consultant, solopreneur or artist – needs costs about $4,000 on either Squarespace or WordPress if you continue to search the internet.

And I have even better news! I actually think that’s a bit pricier than the average business owner needs to pay. Just be careful of hiring on the lower budget side on platforms like Upwork and Fiverr. I started out, and still earn some projects, off of Upwork and when my prices were super low, it was because I did not have the experience to back it up. Totally OK to hire those people, just know what you’re getting.

For reference of what is possible: right now I offer a 4-page templated website build for $600, and I also have a streamlined two-week build process that gets you a custom (a.ka. non-templated) website for $2,000.

What is the DIY cost of building a website?

This does vary based on platform. Typically your hosting costs (~$150/year) and domain registration costs (~$20/year) will be the same whether you build the website yourself or hire a designer.

Side note: Be wary of WordPress designers that offer $30+/month hosting fees. If they’re doing monthly maintenance that’s different – but just for hosting, that’s a little more than you need to pay for basic hosting.

As far as DIY costs, you will need to purchase a theme if you are going to build a WordPress site on your own. This ranges from $19 to $250 – and could potentially be more depending on the design and functionality. The big thing here is you really need to do your research when selecting a theme. Ending up with the wrong one will waste your money, cost you a lot of time, and possibly your sanity.

If you’re building a Squarespace site, the theme factor is not an issue. Your Squarespace registration will cover the use of all of their templates.

The true cost here is time. Even if you pick the perfect WordPress theme, you will need to learn how to install it and use it. In Squarespace, you will need to learn how to use their editor, and potentially how to alter their templates with CSS code. I can’t think of one Squarespace website that I have designed that did not utilize CSS code to create custom options. These options can be as simple as removing the underline from links in the footer. Yes, you need code for that.

For a 5-page website, I would factor in 40-80 hours of work on the design alone if you’re new to website-building, and depending on your tech learning curve, you may not end up with a result you love – even after all of that time. If you invest in additional resources to learn how to create the design you want (courses or even a ton of time on YouTube), you’ll likely get there.

Total costs:

  • Hosting: $150-$220/year
  • Domain registration: $15-$25/year
  • (WordPress only) theme: $19-$250
  • (Optional) Educational resources: $19-$2,000

This is not an article to try to persuade you not to DIY your website. If you learn how to do it well, you can save yourself a lot of money over the course of the first few years of your business since you will be able to alter pages yourself and create new ones as needed. I do, however, want you to know what you’re getting into!

Pssst… if you do want to DIY it, be sure to get my DIY Website in a Weekend Guide, check out my SkillShare courses, and for my WordPress people, learn all about why I recommend Divi as a theme/page builder, and SiteGround as a WordPress host.

Professional costs of building a website

At the end of the day, what you’re really paying a website designer/developer for is their knowledge and experience. Yes, their time is a factor – but their time on your project is considered less or more valuable depending on their aesthetic sensibilities, knowledge of UX and conversion factors, ability to code custom elements and experience troubleshooting things so that you don’t have to.

An experienced designer will be able to get the most out of your platform. They will know Squarespace inside and out. They will know WordPress and WordPress hosts – and what themes to use (and not to use). They will shorten the amount of time needed on your site while producing a great end product.

Some things to look out for when assessing pricing:

  • Price per page – many designers/developers will charge a certain amount per page, or for extra page
  • Number of edits – the number of times the designer/developer goes in to make edits often effects the total price
  • Project end support – this might look like availability for questions, a project-end tutorial, or both, and may increase the price
  • Timeline – I’ve created a streamlined process that keeps most of my website engagements to two weeks, and this enables me to offer a lower pricepoint. Other designers/developers may have a more open-ended timeline, with greater cost. That might be more suited to your style, or a quicker build at a lower cost might be!

And of course, since what you’re really buying is this person’s experience, be sure to check out their portfolio and thoroughly review the quality of their work. If they will be working on a functionality piece for you (like a store), make sure that they have similar examples.

P.S. I’ve said designer/developer like 5 times now. There is a difference. Designers create the aesthetic of your website, developers build it. Some people are hybrids (like myself), others just do design (mockups), and others just build (developers). For completely custom features and intricate or advanced functionality, you may need what I call “big gun developers” a.k.a. coding geniuses, and their price tag is typically pretty steep (and rightfully so since that is a SKILL, (wo)man).

cost of building a website

That should hopefully give you a good amount to go on as you assess the true cost of building a website – and whether you want to hire someone and how much you want to pay – or if you want to go the DIY route.

My DIYers, may want to start with the differences between WordPress and Squarespace here. And if you’re serious about it, I have a value-packed course with ethical copywriter Lauren Van Mullem that teaches you Brand Strategy, Ethical Copywriting and DIY Design. Learn more about it here.

My designer-hirers, might want to check out this post on what to expect when you work with a website designer.

Best of luck! Xx, Kara

Ready for more?

Be sure to check out and subscribe to my YouTube channel. You can also view SkillShare courses (and a free two-week trial) here.

Sign up for services mentioned in post:

SiteGround (best WordPress host) ➡️ https://kcocreative.com/siteground

Divi (great WordPress theme) ➡️ https://kcocreative.com/divi

Squarespace ➡️ https://kcocreative.com/squarespace

✨ Ready for the DIYer’s dream? Check out Website Launch Bootcamp, where a website designer (me!) and an ethical copywriter (Lauren Van Mullem) teach you brand strategy, ethical copy for coaches and website design in one nifty (and affordable!) package. ✨

*Some of these are affiliate links! I only promote services that I have used myself, regardless of whether I have an affiliate account with them, and using affiliate links when available helps me to continue to provide useful information at no cost to my viewers/readers/peeps. Thank you 🥰

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Hi, I'm Kara

I’m one part website designer, one part strategist and one part accountability partner.  I help service-based solopreneurs get set up online without the tech headaches!