If I had to guess, I’d say the most common question I get from friends, family and potential clients is “how much does a WordPress website cost?”. Whenever I’m asked this question, I immediately follow it with a long, drawn out sigh, because it’s so hard to answer.
The truth is, the cost of a WordPress website varies. A lot. I’m not talking a few hundred dollars, I’m talking thousands of dollars in variation, depending on what you are looking to do.
I’ve done my best to lay out my understanding of what you can expect in terms of WordPress website costs. By the way, I’m talking cost in terms of monetary dollars here, not in terms of time/effort/frustration, etc.
Although it might seem counter-intuitive, I’m going to do this a little bit backwards by listing these estimates from most to least expensive:
- Hiring an agency
- Working with an independent designer/developer
- Working with an offshore designer/developer
- Hiring for basic theme setup and training
The reason I’m doing this is to give you a better sense of the trade-offs you are making by choosing one of the less expensive options. Truthfully, I think that a low-cost or DIY option works best if you are just starting out; no need to blow your entire budget on a website. That said, you should know that you are definitely making trade-offs with less expensive options.
Hiring an Agency – $10,000+
Hiring an agency is the most expensive and most variable option. With an agency, you’ll usually have a variety of people working on your project, such as:
- Project Manager
- Content Manager
All of those people need to be paid, and that’s what really drives up the WordPress website cost of hiring an agency. In addition, many agencies have a lot of overhead in terms of office space, insurance and administrative costs that further drive up the price.
In my experience, most medium-sized agencies won’t touch a project below $10,000 or so. For that price, you can expect a somewhat basic website: a blog, a few custom page types, and maybe a bit of custom functionality.
If you are looking to build an e-commerce site, you can expect prices to start around $12,000-$15,000.
If already have a large site and are looking to redesign, or if you want something particularly complicated, expect to pay (much) more.
Although agency-developed websites are pricey, they have some big benefits. These are generalizations, but assuming you hire a reputable agency, you can expect:
- A streamlined process. The project manager will ask the right questions to get your project off the ground, and will guide you through the entire process.
- Redundancy. If you hire an independent developer, she could always be hit by the proverbial bus, and you’d be back at square one. With an agency, you have the benefit of a large team, minimizing the effect of someone getting sick, leaving, etc.
- Expertise in multiple areas. You’ll get an expert designer, and expert developer and an expert project manager, not a superstar developer who’s not great in communication and marginal in design.
The downside of using an agency, besides the cost, is timing. Large teams require more time to coordinate, and if you have a question, it might go unanswered for longer that it would if you were working with just one person. Agencies also tend to be less flexible in their process, so it’s best to be sure you have all your site requirements up front to avoid an up-charge.
Hiring an Independent Designer/Developer – $2,000+
This one is near and dear to my heart, because I pride myself on being an independent developer. All this means is that I work solo and am not affiliated with an agency.
I should state up front that I’m talking about hiring a US or Western-based developer here. We’ll get to offshore developers in a minute.
Unlike an agency, independent developers have low overhead. They typically work solo, often out of a home office. This lack of overhead tends to greatly decrease the WordPress website cost.
For a basic site (a blog and a few custom pages), I’ve found most developers start around the $2,000 mark. Add in e-commerce, and you’re probably looking to start around $4,000.
Price and timing are the two big benefits of going independent. Independent developers generally have quicker turnarounds than agencies, and tend to cost significantly less. They are also better equipped to handle time-sensitive or last-minute requests. Many independent developers will also handle hourly work for add-on projects or things that are hard to scope out, which not many agencies will do. By the way, if you’re wondering about hourly pricing, expect $75-100+.
What you are giving up with an independent developer is the expertise of a larger team. It’s rare to find an independent developer that is awesome at project management, design AND programming/development. You’ll likely be giving up a bit of expertise in one of those areas in favor of a lower WordPress website cost.
Hiring an Offshore Designer/Developer – $500+
Hiring an offshore developer is a bad idea. Despite that fact, I wanted to throw this in there, as many new website owners end up hiring offshore developers from sites like Upwork.
Although your WordPress website cost will decline dramatically if you go this route, you will very likely pay for it down the line, when your site breaks or your developer goes MIA and you have no idea how to access your own website. There are also some shady practices that tend to happen, such as developers purposely breaking your site so that you have to pay them more to fix it.
Sure, there are reliable, good offshore developers out there, but they are very, very hard to find. If you do find one, they’ll probably cost at least 5x the cheapest option.
Hiring for Basic Theme Setup and Training – $1,000+
I wasn’t really sure what to call this option, but it’s something I’ve noticed becoming extremely popular over the last year or so. It’s kind of a DIY-custom hybrid, where someone sets everything up for you and then sends you on your way.
Honestly, custom design is less and less important these days, as more themes become available to fit particular niches. If you find a theme that you love, you can hire someone to set up the theme for you and train you on the basics of managing your site. Generally, this involves:
- Theme selection. Your developer will help you choose a theme to fit your needs, if needed.
- Theme installation.
- Plugin installation.
- Content setup. You send the content, your developer sets it up so that it looks right.
- Training. Your developer walks you through how to update and maintain your site.
There are some huge benefits to going this route. Most notably, you bypass the absolute worst part of DIY-ing website, which is the somewhat boring a labor-intensive process of figuring out what, exactly, you need and how, exactly, to get everything set up in a way that looks professional. You also get training specific to your website. This is huge; although there are a ton of WordPress resources out there, there are also thousands of ways to configure your site, and what works for one website might not work for yours.
The downside? No custom design (although your developer could throw in some custom functionality if the project calls for it).
DIY / Basic Costs of a WordPress Site – $110-220 per year
Whether you are DIY-ing your website or hiring a full-blown agency, there are a basic things that will factor into the WordPress website cost regardless of whether you build it yourself or hire out.
- Domain registration. You’ll need to register a domain name for your website, and renew the domain name as needed. Cost: $10-20 per year.
- Hosting. Hosting costs vary widely. Generally, the more traffic you get, the more you’ll need to pay for hosting. If you’re just starting out, expect to pay $100-200 per year.
- Theme. Although there are free WordPress themes available, most online businesses tend to use a premium theme. $30-100 one-time cost.
Bottom line: there is no one-size-fits-all answer to how much a WordPress website costs. You’ll need to take your budget and your site requirements into account when determining how to build your site.