Why should I pay thousands for a website when I can build one for free?

Why pay for a website? iscariot Media - Indigenous and Creative Agency.

In meeting with new business owners, many of who are resource scarce, a common question is Why should I pay lots of money for a logo or graphic design? What’s wrong with just making a logo on Paint? Especially now, with the proliferation of DIY websites and design software, why should someone pay for something they can get for free. Here are a couple of responses that should clear up the difference.

1) What’s wrong with free sites?
There’s nothing wrong with free sites. I’ve always used free websites like Blogger. The Critical Classroom, Deadly Bloggers, Dark+Disturbing and Iscariot Media, all started on Blogger, when nothing was all I could afford.

There are probably two main issues with free sites that you need to be aware of if you’re going down this track. Firstly, just like the social media sites you don’t pay for (ie. Facebook), a free site (eg. Blogger, WordPress.com, Wix, etc) is not OWNED by you but LEASED. These sites can be bought down by their companies at any time without notice. This has happened in the past to high profile and uncontroversial website owners. They can also alter the terms of service at a moments notice. A number of these sites do now have paid options. WordPress.com and Wix are two examples, and payment may mean that your site is less likely to be removed.

The second issues is that you have limited functionality. Many businesses do not need more than a few pages and a contact form. In that case, I’d seriously consider using a free option. However, if you’re after something more substantial and more customisation, then you should move to self-hosted.

If you’re just starting up, and if, like me in the beginning, nothing is all you can afford, I suggest that you use a free site, start trading, save some dollars while you create a plan so that 18 months into your business you can get a self-hosted website. Eighteen months should be enough time for you to work out if this relationship (you and your business) is the real deal, as well as time to begin to form what it is that your business is about.

2) How much is your time worth?
It takes time to build a website. $1000 is enough to cover hosting, domain, and a few hours or work. That’s it.

Okay you say, I’m going to learn off YouTube. You know what I say to that? I say go for it.

However, before you start you need to think about the real cost of this option. If as a business owner, your time is worth conservatively $100 per hour, and you spend say 2-3 sessions of 5 hours each building a site, then you’ve effectively spent $1000-$1500 of your time. And did you get the site you really wanted? Or something just good enough because you don’t really know how to code? This was time that you could have spent with your family, or on your business. We get experts in because they’re trained, are expert, and it’s cheaper in the long run to outsource some specialised tasks.

3) Why is it so expensive?
I’ll answer this in two ways.

Firstly, experts cost money. When you’ve spent years at university and decades in the industry your knowledge and skill is something that not all people have. As business owners, and experts in your own fields, you should understand this principle.

Secondly, while most clients think their site is simple “I just want a website”, invariably there will be custom coding to do (every line of code takes time) for those little touches to be made. All of these things take time. We also find from our experience, that few clients have ALL their content ready from the moment the quote is approved. A lot of time is used up waiting for clients to create content, make decisions and provide feedback. This lost time is factored into the costs of use running a business.

Most sites take an average of 30 hours (from that first client meeting, waiting for the content, reformatting content, the design and coding, to uploading, making tweaks, resetting lost client passwords, and final invoicing). If we’ve quoted your site at $3500 it’s not as expensive as it could be.

Choosing to own your own website is not cheap, it costs dollars and time to maintain. But, for the growing business, the cost of NOT having a properly built site, could be much more than you imagine.

What value do you place on your business?