Starting an online business is considerably cheaper than starting a brick and mortar business, this is one of the reasons why you should start one today! However, I know from personal experiences that small expenses can quickly add up when you are starting a website. If you have never developed a website before and you are not an already established company with a budget, it is hard to plan and manage your expenses.
On the internet there is a lot of advice on what kind of plugins, themes, tools and other services you need to develop your website, but truth is that most of them are not required to start. In this post, I will highlight the tools and services that I feel are the absolute minimum and I will show you the associated costs.
In this post, I talk about the minimum costs for a website, that could be a blog, a website for a small business, an e-commerce platform or a personal website. This website will also be set up for the future giving you the tools and possibility to expand and adapt to your business.
Premium Domain Name – ~ $ 10 or for Free!
In a previous post, I have discussed the importance of having a .com name if you have the chance. There are a lot of different domain extensions available, but a .com is still the most recognized and the standard.
You can register your domain on Namecheap for around 10 USD, if you sign up for hosting with Siteground you will receive a domain name for free.
Hosting Services – ~ $ 47
Hosting is the server that stores your website and that allows your visitors to find you on the internet. Your own hosting means more freedom and possibilities opposed to free hosting. Find more background about hosting here.
Personally I use SiteGround for all my hosting needs. They are smaller than the big names in hosting such as Bluehost, GoDaddy and HostGator and I feel that there support and service is far more reliable and personalized. If you sign up with Siteground you will receive a domain name for free to help you to get started!
Premium Theme – ~ $ 60
Once you install WordPress you will notice that there are a lot of options when it comes to themes. Themes are basically the body and paint of your website whereas WordPress itself is the engine.
Now there are a lot of free themes available and it might be tempting to choose for a free theme for your website. I have personally used several free themes, but I would always find that they lacked the versatility to do exactly what I wanted. If you have good skills developing in HTML and skills in CSS, it is possible to make a free theme do exactly what you want, but the chances are that this not apply to you.
A theme also determines the backend and markup of your website, meaning that switching to a different theme could impact your ranking in Google and how people find your website. Choosing a premium theme and framework saves you a lot of time when you are starting up and it saves you trouble in the future once your business is growing.
Email Marketing Providers – Free or $ 19 per month
There are a lot of debates what the best bang for your buck is when it comes to email marketing providers. If you are not familiar with this term, it means that people have the possibility to subscribe for your mailing list and you can send them weekly updates.
There are a lot of different providers for email marketing the most talked about are MailChimp and AWeber. Both have a different approach when it comes to pricing and, what is more, suitable depends on the type of online business you have and your budget. Switching between email marketing providers is not easy when you want to keep the list of your accumulated subscribers so choose wisely.
MailChimp is free of charge for the first 10,000 emails you send whereas AWeber charges you $ 19 per month for up to 500 subscribers with unlimited emails. The more subscribers you have and the more emails you send, the more you pay.
Stay posted for a more in-depth article about a comparison for what is most suitable for you.
Plugins, Plugins, Plugins – $$$ Depending on your needs
When you visit the WordPress Plugin repository you will find a seeming infinite amount of available plugins. Often plugins offer a free but limited version and a premium version with added functionality and support.
Often WordPress plugins make it easier to implement a certain function to your website but they are not always needed. Often a lot of functionalities are already built-in the theme that you are using, this is even more the case in a premium theme. Furthermore, it is also possible to use specific code snippets and shortcodes to add additional functionality to your website.
I personally advise you to use a theme that already has some functions that you need to be built in, this ultimately saves you both money and a headache later on. Try to keep the number of plugins you need limited, as they sometimes cause malfunctions on your website and too many plugins could slow down the speed of your website significantly.
What do I use and what have I spend on Tropical U.P?
To give you a better idea of what you can expect I will show you what I use and what I spend money on. When I started out with my online businesses I have tried a lot of different resources along the way.
For the biggest learning curve was not directly using a premium theme. I started out with a very clean, responsive and simple theme, that also was available for free. Although the website kind of looked like I wanted, I was simply missing too many functions and getting this coded manually just took too much time and energy. Sometimes it is hard to get it just the way you wanted. For me switching to the Genesis Framework has got to be the best decision I made.
As I mentioned before I manage all my domains with Namecheap and this has worked very well for me so far. I paid around $ 10 per domain, I have a couple of different domain extensions for future projects for which I paid around $ 30 per year.
My hosting is with SiteGround and I have the GrowBig Package @ $ 7.95 per month. This allows me to host all my websites under one account. I signed up and paid for a year in advance to get the discounted price. They gave me a free domain when I signed up that I also plan to use in the future.
I personally use the Genesis Framework for my WordPress site, I only use the framework itself and I have not purchased a Genesis Child Theme. I feel that the Genesis Framework provides me with all the functionality I could ever need and when you know your way around the framework you can make your website look like anything you want. I paid around $ 60 for the framework, but I can use it for any website that I own or build for other people.
Although AWeber offers better support when it comes to design sign up forms on your website and how they look, I have decided to use MailChimp. For me they have always been reliable and I like their attitude to having the first 10,000 emails for free. It could take quite some time before you see the subscribers on your list grow and I personally do not see the need to already pay $ 19 per month for not really using their services.
Because I use the Genesis Framework and I feel fairly comfortable changing the functionality and design of my website, I do not use any paid or premium plugins at the moment. I could foresee that when the need arises I would in the future, they are in general quite inexpensive and I can write them off under my company if I wanted.
As you can see above you can already start your online business for quite a limited amount of money upfront. You could purchase the StartUp package at SiteGround for $ 3.95 a month that includes a free domain. If you are serious about building your online presence a premium theme like Genesis could prove useful for you, you can also use for any future website you plan to build.
With a little bit of time you can create and launch your own online business for a little over $ 100! This gives you hosting, a domain and a premium theme that is yours. I personally feel that this is the bare minimum that you should buy, and that spending much more is not required in order to really test your idea and get your feet wet.
What do you think and do you feel that I have left out any tools that you feel should have been on the list? As always let me know below and stay Awesome!