How Much Should you Pay For a Website?

At a minimum, you should expect to pay $2.64/m for a website when you begin to host. That means $32 per year. If you have a lot of visitors, or if your site generates significant revenue, you should be willing to pay more. But you can get started for much less. All web hosts give you a massive discount for the first billing cycle. Website renewal costs are a lot higher.

Last week, I was helping a friend start their own website – a simple affair with an “About” page, a contact form, and a blog. They were signing up for a free service from WordPress.com, but my advice to them was to upgrade to paid hosting. Upgrading to a paid plan brings great benefits. Here’s why you should be paying for your website, and not using free plans.

Table of Contents

How Much Should a Website Cost?

A website will cost you between $2.64/m and $10/m depending on the quality of the hosting and features. There are two components of cost in a website:

Don’t go lower than $2.64/m. It’s too risky.

  1. Domain cost: $14/year ($1.17/m, often free for the first year)
  2. Hosting cost: $2.64/m

$2.64/m is the minimum floor price. If you go below this, be suspicious immediately. Unscrupulous web hosts can tempt you with unrealistically low prices, and then skimp so hard on the service, that your website can barely function. The price above includes a basic level of service with no additional features like backups, or malware scanning. But it does include SSL.

You can get this price from Hostgator using the coupon below:

Many hosting providers like Hostgator give you the domain for free for the first year, so you can save that initial cost. Others like NameHero will only provide a free domain if you choose a higher-tier plan for a certain duration.

Website Renewal Costs are Higher

After the first billing cycle is over, you pay a much higher price for the renewal. The higher the discount you got during the discount period, the more you pay. This is why I don’t recommend hosts like SiteGround, because they lure you in with super high discounts, and then slap you with a huge bill at the end.

Remember – the higher the discount, the more you’ll have to pay when the billing period ends.

Here’s a web hosting comparison chart with the prices and discounts for all the major providers. Make sure you’re prepared to pay the higher prices when it’s time to renew. For example, GreenGeeks gives you a huge 73% discount for web hosting starting at only $2.95/m. But when it renews, you have to pay $10.95/m. That’s a big difference!

It’s not easy to migrate a website to a new host, but you can have a strategy where you switch hosts every 2 or 3 years and start with a new discount on a different host. I wouldn’t recommend it, though. Once you find a host you like, you should stick with them, because it’s always a risk to move elsewhere.

Also, free domain registration only happens for the first year. After that, you’ll have to pay the domain renewal cost yourself.

Hostgator Shows How Much a Website Costs in 2022

I use Hostgator as a benchmark for the lowest-cost hosting in 2022. Here are their prices for 36 months and 12 months.

Hostgator Prices - Why you Should be Paying for Your Website
Hostgator Prices – Why you Should be Paying for Your Website

Here’s the complete Hostgator coupon code page, but the above two are most likely what you need. There are plenty of other web hosts, but if you’re reading this article, you’re probably looking for something cheap. And there’s nothing cheaper than Hostgator.

Even Semi-Professional Sites Need a Domain Name

There was a time, 20 years ago, when almost everyone had their own personal GeoCities homepage. Those were the days! But we’ve moved on a lot since then. These days we expect even a half-serious website to have its own domain name.

Free Websites Don’t Give you a Domain Name

If you host your website on a free service, you get a web address like this:

  • xyz.wordpress.com
  • xyz.wixsite.com
  • xyz.blogspot.com

You get the idea. What you want, is the domain name “xyz.com”. That indicates trust and the fact that you’re serious. The only time when I would say that it’s ok to not have your domain name is if yours is a purely personal blog – nothing more. But as soon as you even think of making it serious, you need to have your own domain name. There are no two ways about it.

Free Domain Hosting Doesn’t Exit

Many hosting costs are indirect, and web hosts can afford to provide them for free – at least in the short term. That’s why you see these amazing discounts that allow you to host your site for almost nothing.

But domain registration costs are non-negotiable. These are paid directly to a 3rd party, and it also includes an ICANN fee. As far as I know, Cloudflare is the only domain registrar that sells domains “at cost” as shown here:

Cloudflare sells domains at cost
Cloudflare Sells Domains at Cost Price

So you see – even the cheapest hosting with free domain registration can’t possibly go lower than this price. Any more than that, and the web hosts will be running at a loss. So when a web host offers you a free domain, what does it mean?

No Free Domain Hosting: Cost is Built In

No web host is going to give you free domain registration for nothing, because no one wants to go at a loss. They can compromise on other resources – hard disk space, bandwidth, or CPU cycles because it might not cost them much directly. But domain registration fees are set in stone.

Even 000webhost.com, which famously offers “free” web hosting, doesn’t give you a free domain as shown here:

No Free Domain Hosting with 000webhost.com
No Free Domains with 000webhost.com

Another famous hosting provider that offers free web hosting is InfinityFree.net. But look closely at their product page, and you see this:

InfinityFree.net Also Doesn't Give Free Domains
InfinityFree.net Also Doesn’t Give Free Domains

This is proof that if you’re looking for truly free domain hosting without any catches, you’re going to be disappointed. It doesn’t exist.

Best Option: Purchase your Domain from Cloudflare

If you need to get the cheapest deal, then you should separate your domain registration from your hosting service. This has the added perk of allowing you to freely move between web hosts when you want to migrate.

Cloudflare sells domains at cost. It’s the cheapest you’re going to get.

As mentioned above, Cloudflare makes the promise of offering domain registrations at cost. That’s about as honest an answer as you’re going to get. You won’t get it cheaper anywhere else. So purchase your domain name from Cloudflare, and then find the cheapest web hosting you can find. Just keep in mind one thing – hosting isn’t truly free either.

If you choose a company like 000webhost.com with free hosting, you’re going to get a severely dysfunctional product. Here’s a list of things you lose when you opt for “free” web hosting. So as a long-term solution, get a “normal” web host like Hostgator, and purchase the domain name separately. It’ll turn out to be cheaper for you than anything else on offer.

Free Hosting is Paid by Advertisements

With a free website, you’ll be living in someone else’s space and they need to make back their money somehow. So how does that happen? Advertisements of course!

Don’t let others put ads on your website.

Providers like Wix will allow you to host your website on their infrastructure and use their page builder tools, at the cost of putting up their own targeted advertisements on your site. Not only is this a monetization of content that you created, but it’s also a betrayal of trust for your customers since you have no control over what these free platforms show to your visitors. Not to mention that these advertisements will almost certainly have tracking components that will continue to follow your visitors long after they’ve left your page.

Wix is particularly bad when it comes to advertising on your site. If you want to lock yourself into a page builder, I suggest you try the Gator Website builder from Hostgator. At least they won’t put ads on your site once you’ve already paid for the product. And they give you a domain for free!

Upgrading to Paid Hosting Solves This

Once you start paying for hosting, providers don’t need to resort to semi-shady tactics like the above to generate revenue. Not only will you be able to use your own domain name, but you will also have complete control over the presentation of your content.

However, Wix is an exception to this. So as mentioned above, stay away from them!

There’s No Shortcut – You NEED to Pay Money

As shown above, it doesn’t cost much to start a website. A few bucks a month at the lowest price. Most hosting providers will throw in the domain name for free when you choose to host with them for a year or more. You’ll need to pay the renewal costs after that, though.

Compared to other businesses, starting a website entails a laughably small investment. There’s no venue to rent, no license fees, no salaries to pay, no inventory…nothing! A website is one of the easiest ventures to start because of its low barrier to entry. Considering all this, it’s not unreasonable to charge a few bucks a month for something that can become a hugely successful business.

So don’t be penny wise and pound foolish. For the cost of a nice cup of coffee every month, you’ll be investing in your business that can reap rich dividends in the future.

About Bhagwad Park

I've been writing about web hosting and WordPress tutorials since 2008. I also create tutorials on Linux server administration, and have a ton of experience with web hosting products. Contact me via e-mail!

Speak Your Mind

*

WP-Tweaks