How much do solo entrepreneurs spend on their website?

Unfortunately I have to give the frustrating answer: It depends. Don’t trust sources that give you a single hard number.  Luckily I can tell you exactly what website budgets depend on! There are two primary factors that determine how much solopreneurs spend on creating a business website. (Spoiler alert: Basic quality requires an investment of at least $600.)

 

Factor 1: Type of Business

Whether you offer services or products, online or offline, determines how important an excellent website is to your business.

Offline
Generally, businesses that provide transactions in person can get away with spending the least on a website, since it primarily exists for credibility and information. A reputable online presence requires a strong understanding of your business and brand, a clear design aesthetic, and simple execution.

Example: Fashion consultant, business consultant, accountant, non-profit...
Requirements: Branding, clear design aesthetic, simple execution
Cost: $20 - $2,000

Ecommerce
If your business sells physical goods online, you’ll have to spend more on your site. If you want people to buy your products, your website will have to make your visitors feel safe. That requires quality product images and descriptions, a seamless checkout process, and a generally high level of professionalism.

Customers need every reason to trust you with information as intimate as their address and credit card number. I personally never make a purchase online unless I see clear signs that my information will be securely protected. Your security stickers and accreditation goes hand-in-hand with a “look” that together tell your customer: You’re in very good hands!

Example: Online store selling clothing, accessories, art, home decor, specialty foods...
Requirements: Branding, quality product images and descriptions, professional look, seamless checkout process, security stickers
Cost: $1,000-10,000

Well, this one cost a LOT more than $10k... 

Well, this one cost a LOT more than $10k... 

Digital Products/Services
If you have a business that provides online services (e.g. any kind of software), you will have to spend the most on your website. If you are asking people to trust you as a digital service provider, you need to show that you are indeed an expert in the field. Because of your position, visitors will have no patience for a sloppy site that delivers anything less than a perfectly seamless experience.

You will do best with a full website team: a UX (user experience) designer, developer, graphic designer, and copywriter. And setting up your site is not the only cost; you will need to budget for ongoing maintenance too.

Example: Games, Accounting software, project management software, networking software...
Requirements: Branding, quality product images and descriptions, professional look, excellent user experience, web development team
Cost: $10k+ (with ongoing maintenance)

Factor 2: Level of Expectation

Solopreneurs across business types think differently about their website. For some, it is a key piece of their brand and marketing strategy. For others, it means very little. What you expect from your website naturally determines how much you are willing to invest in it.

Zero to Low
If creating a website is nothing more than a to-do on your business checklist, you can find ways to spend very little. You can even get a site for free through Wix. After some customization and troubleshooting, you can publish your site, check that box, and move on. But will you really be better off than before you had a website?

Though I might be just a little biased, I strongly believe that it’s worse for your business to have a poorly designed website than none at all. What would you rather have your potential customers do: look for your business online and shrug as they realize you don’t have a site, or find your website and remember you as “that business that doesn’t really have its act together”? Thankfully, there are folks who understand that small business owners have too much to do and too little money to spend, and who will give you their business nonetheless. Unfortunately, that group is a minority that’s not getting any bigger.

Moderate to High
If you want your website to build relationships with customers and increase your revenue, expect to spend at least $800 for a professional level of quality. An entry-level designer in NYC will usually charge an hourly rate around $40. A minimal website will contain about 5 pages (Home, About, Services, Pricing, Contact) and require a unique design. Designing a basic website easily takes about 20 hours, including:

  • Time for the designer to create a concept
    (~4 hours)
  • Time to lay the structural groundwork
    (~4 hours)
  • Time to design each page (~8 hours)
  • Time to get/implement your feedback and possibly train you to make changes (~4 hours)

And that doesn’t even include the copywriting! And so, for an entry-level designer with limited experience, your website will cost at least $800 (20 hours). The more experience and training you want your designer to have, the more you will have to pay. The more you want people to pay for the quality of your goods or services, the more you’ll need to pay for the quality of your own branding.

In order to serve solo entrepreneurs starting a new business, we at Sunbird Creative offer two levels of pricing — budget and premium, so business owners with a range of budget can still access our expertise. I’ve personally designed dozens of websites and worked with multi-million dollar companies. But instead of leveraging that experience to command high prices from big companies, I’ve streamlined our services to meet the needs of entrepreneurs who want a strong website but have a tight budget. Take a look at our Brand Design offerings.

 
Websites, Good DesignMara Measor