Archive for category Overhead

How Much For A Website?

Without doubt the number one question I get from people can be boiled down to two words: how much? There is lots of confusion about the costs involved with having a website, so let me break it down for you. Basically it can all be broken down into three parts: your domain, your host, and your maintenance costs.

Domain Name Costs: $10 / year. I’ve written about domain names earlier.

Hosting Costs: $25 / month. This is the typical charge I have for hosting fees. You can find some hosting out there for $5 dollars per month, and others over $100. The average hosting fees to a small business is supposed to be $45 / month. At my company, I sweeten the pot by offering free maintenance with each hosted website that I make.

Maintenance Costs: $0 – 85 / hour. The maintenance includes the initial design costs, as well as any costs later when you need to revise or update the information on the website. An important question to ask the person building your website is how much it will cost to maintain it later on, that way you are not caught by surprise. My standard rate for doing maintenance work is usually around 30 / hour.

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Domain Names

So what is all this business about domain names? Here is some clarification for you, and it goes nicely with my previous post on website hosting. Some points about your domain name:

  • A domain name is your web address:, or whatever.
  • Your domain name belongs to you and can be taken with you to whatever host company you want.
  • You don’t actually buy a domain name, you rent it for a period of time.  So if you stop paying for it, someone else can start renting it.
  • The domain names are theoretically rented out on a first come, first served basis. I say theoretically because I have some doubts to the reality of the statement, even though that is what everyone will tell you.
  • When you buy a domain name, all you are really doing is paying to have your domain added to the DNS database.
  • This DNS database is a core component of the internet and is what makes it what it is.  When you type ‘’ into your browser, your browser asks the nearest DNS database where your website is located, and then forwards the request on to the web host computer. The web host computer receives your message to access the website files and sends them back to your computer browser to be displayed.  And the great thing about this process is that it takes only about a second.  (at least for those of you fortunate enough to have high speed internet access)
  • Domain names are not case sensitive, and really are just for human convenience. You should avoid an underscore in the domain since that can confuse computer programs, and use the dash instead.
  • The DNS database will convert your domain name to what it really is: an IP address.
  • The DNS database could be a subject of a whole new post – but to say it quickly – it is a database that is shared across many different computers / routers. No one single computer holds the database information, it gets “propagated” or shared with all the others that are out there. That is why when you first purchase the domain it can take up to 48 hours for you to actually see it on the internet. This also shows its military background – the DNS database is bomb proofed.
  • The cost for a domain name is usually about 10 dollars a year. Companies like Network Solutions used to sell domains for something like 35 dollars a year, because apparently many people thought they had to, but NetSol finally dropped their prices to what has become the norm in the industry (urged along by GoDaddy’s success I’m sure).

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Website Hosting

Thought I’d talk a little bit about website hosting and how it relates to your domain name, as I get questions about it all the time. What is website hosting? Website hosting is where the public accesses your website from – the computer that has your web files, and where the internet points to when someone types your URL into their browser. Your host company is not the same as your domain company, and not the same as your web designer either.

Some points about hosting:

  • Remember your host is just a computer – a beefed up computer usually, but still having similar limitations.  It has a certain amount of memory, a certain speed on its processor, a certain operating system, a certain amount of space on its hard drive, etc – and what is best for your website depends on your situation.
  • For most situations, I recommend going with a Unix server as it is the least expensive. If it has MySQL and PHP installed, all the better – since most of the open-source software out there is based on that so it will save you money in the long run. (I think I read somewhere that 80% of all web servers are Unix)
  • You used to have to worry about how much disk space and bandwidth was needed as the hosting fees would go out the roof, but not any longer. The cost for both are so cheap nowadays, needing lots of either is no big deal. For my own hosting packages, I don’t even bother listing any limits – I promise to provide whatever you need since adding more to an account is no big deal.
  • According to a study done by 1&1 Internet, the average hosting cost is $45 per month, and 40% of small business (SMB) don’t bother to have one. Mostly because they don’t know how, think it too expensive to do, etc. (For the record, will host your website for $25 / month and throw in some free maintenance to boot). The study also mentions that of the ones who do have websites, fully 80% of them call the website “essential” to their business.

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Free Online Accounting

If you own a business, you know that doing the accounting is a real pain. I found out about a free online accounting service that looks pretty easy for a simple income / expense platform – that can be accessed from anywhere. Nice!

Of course, it won’t work for a real business to use – you need real accounting software for that.

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