The additional costs of a running a website

When you first hire a web designer/developer to create your WordPress website, you might think that the cost of the project is the only cost that you’ll have. This is rarely the case.

WordPress by itself is free to use and there are a lot of free themes and plugins that can add style and functionality to your website. But there will always be additional costs to creating, running and maintaining a website.

Some of these are not so obvious and here I’ll outline what else you may need to pay for in order to have a successful website.


You need to host your website with a web hosting company in order for people to visit your website. At the basic level, a web hosting company is a company that gives you a server to put your website on. After pointing your domain to this server, people can get to your site by typing in your domain into their web browser.

There are a lot of options out there for web hosting and the amount you pay will usually depend on how much power you need to run your site and whether or not you want a managed or non managed server.

A website that does e-commerce and has a lot of traffic will need more powerful hardware compared to a site that gets a moderate amount of traffic and is information only.

This is one area where you don’t want to cheap out on. It’s always better to pay a little bit extra for a more reliable host.


Your domain is another critical component to your website. It is your web address, it’s what people type into their browser to visit your website.

The cost of a domain depends on the specific domain you’re after and it’s a little difficult to really see how much your domain will cost without doing a search. But the cheapest ones start at around 15 dollars a year and go up from there.


If you want a custom branded email like ‘[email protected]’ then you will need to pay an email service to use a custom domain as your email address. Services like Google Workspace or Fastmail offers this for around 5-10 dollars a month on their most basic plan.

Premium plugins and themes

The beauty of WordPress is that with the right theme and plugins (and a sprinkle of customisation) you can build any site you want.

But a lot of the most full featured plugins and themes cost money.

Premium plugins and themes will usually have a full-time team behind them and are regularly updated for both features and security.

The typical business model for these are you pay for a yearly subscription which lets you get updates during the subscription. If the subscription ends then you can still use the plugin or theme but you will not be able to update them anymore. Considering that updates can include critical security fixes, it’s highly recommended that you keep your plugins and themes updated.


There are a lot of free options for basic functions but once you start needing something more complicated and/or comprehensive like memberships, bookings etc. then you’ll need to start looking at using a premium plugin.

A lot of plugins go the ‘freemium’ route which lets you try a basic version of the plugin before upgrading to the paid version for more features.


Free themes have come a long way now and can do a lot for your website, especially since the 5.9 update that includes full site editing. But a well made premium theme will still give you more options and control over the look of your website.

With that said a lot of premium themes can have too many features and can add bloat your website. So you’ll need to do your research.

Personally, I find the best approach is to use a free theme from the WordPress marketplace and see how far you can push it before looking to buy a premium theme.

One theme I can recommend is Generatepress, I’m using it now for my own site. It has a free and a paid option. I’d look at the free option first and then get the paid if you think the extra features can be helpful.

Other integrations

The four items mentioned above are the most common costs for a WordPress website but there are plenty of other integrations that you might be used to enhance your website. Some of these might have an introductory free plan but others won’t. These integrations can include (but are certainly not limited to):

  • Email marketing
  • Paid Analytics
  • Payment services, these usually take a percentage of every transaction
  • Security and monitoring software
  • CRMs
  • Content Delivery Systems

So as you can see, a lot more costs are involved when creating a website than it first appears. And these are just operational costs of tools. It doesn’t even include what you may pay someone to maintain the website.

It also doesn’t mean you need to pay thousands of dollars a month to have a successful website but you shouldn’t expect to pay 5 dollars a month either. A website is an investment and requires constant maintenance and updating in order to perform at it’s best. It’s always worth to pay a little bit extra for that piece of mind.

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