Starting a business on the internet can be relatively simple and affordable, but some expenses are necessary. In this article, we'll take a look at the typical startup costs associated with an online business.
To start an online business, you'll typically start out with a whole lot of ideas and not a clue what to do with them. You might have the best idea in the world for your e-commerce website but don't have a solid plan on the "how" quite yet. There are many costs associated with starting up an online business, and also considering your options for working from home. Depending on the type of business you want to start and how and where you would like to set all of this up, your startup costs can heavily vary.
With all of this in mind, let's take a deep dive into what you will need to dish up some money for, and how much you can expect to pay for these necessities.
The first two things you'll need are a web hosting platform and a domain name. These costs are absolutely necessary to get started.
Your domain name will be the URL associated with your website. You'll typically pay an upfront price for the domain name, then an annual fee after that. It's typically $50-$100 for the initial fee, and about $20 a year after.
For web hosting, the costs you can expect all depend on how large your company is and how much traffic you anticipate. If you're expecting a generous amount of traffic to your site every day, you'll need to pay a bit more to have a platform that can host that many visitors. You can typically pay per year or per month, but either way, you can probably expect to pay a flat fee (a few hundred dollars) and then about $100 a month, again depending on how much traffic you expect to receive.
Web design and responsiveness
You'll need your website to be mobile-friendly, meaning it needs to be responsive on devices other than just a desktop. This way, you reduce customer frustration from not being able to easily access your website on their phones, and you'll rank higher in Google search results by doing so. You'll want to make sure your platform for your website includes mobile responsiveness in the costs.
If you have a specific brand and follow branding standards, you'll also need to pay for custom web design. Your will need to hire a professional who uses your brand colors and fonts to design your menus, homepage and the other content on your site. To hire a professional to do this work, you might expect to pay a few hundred dollars, depending on how many hours it takes to refine the design. If you don't adhere to certain brand standards, you can potentially find a free website theme online to add to your site.
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This is probably the most you'll spend throughout the process of starting your online business. Marketing is one of the most important things you can spend money on, because it has a direct payoff depending on how well you do it. You'll need to budget for things like search engine optimization, pay-per-click (PPC) ads, social media and content creation.
Why do you need to pay for search engine optimization? For starters, so that customers actually know you exist! SEO is a necessary cost to make sure you appear in search results. To ensure that your site shows up high in the search results (organically), you may want to hire an SEO agency to help you build backlinks and further optimize content on your site. You can expect to pay several thousand to set up your SEO with an agency, and then several hundred each month to make sure you're continuing to get results.
Many online brands and businesses also go with PPC marketing. With this option, site owners pay a fee based on the keywords they want to rank for and how many clicks they receive to their site. Your ads will appear on potential customers' screens, whether as a link at the top of the search results page or a small ad in the corner of their Facebook, and if they click on it, you pay a fee. This is a great way to get customers, and it's not too pricey – expect to pay around $100 a month for this.
Last but not least is web content creation. If you're not an experienced content writer, then you should hire a freelancer to take care of this. Google and other search engines prioritize sites in their search result rankings that have well-written, quality content. If your homepage is full of spelling errors and doesn't have a great user experience, your rankings will suffer. It's important to hire a good copywriter to make sure that your homepage, subpages and any blog-style posts have quality content that makes it easy for users to find what they want.
Same goes for social media post creation and marketing – just because you have a personal Instagram doesn't mean you know how to run a business Instagram. You'll need someone who can maintain all of your social media platforms, create content, monitor reviews and comments, and make sure everything is running smoothly. Chances are you don't have the time or bandwidth to do all of that and run your business. Just hire a freelancer who knows how the world of social media works, and then sit back, relax and watch your follower count grow.
Having read through everything above, take a moment to consider your startup budget and see if you are ready to get started with a website, blog or online business of your own. In case you need more examples, this small business owner details how she calculated all of the costs for getting her online business started over the first year and what she learned.