Digital Marketing Insights

There can be hidden costs for anything you purchase nowadays, be it a product or service and while these may be unavoidable, you can still prepare yourself to deal with these costs by including them in your budget. In this article, we will highlight the different hidden costs associated with purchasing and designing a website for yourself or your company.

But what if you aren’t sure what these costs are?

Read on to uncover these hidden costs often associated with website projects but not usually included in the project cost, and to help you avoid any unexpected financial pitfalls when the time comes for you to foot the bill.

1. Domain name registration and renewal fee

When you decide to start a website, you will have to pay a domain registrar a certain annual fee to keep your website online and to have complete ownership of the domain name. So once you register a domain name with the registrar, you will have total ownership over that name, but you will have to keep paying the renewal fee if you want to keep owning it.

Usually the cost for registering your website’s domain name is about $10-$25 per year, however, this amount could be even less due to the increasing amount of competition between registrars. On the other hand, this amount could be A LOT more as well, if you were trying to get a premium domain name. Now remember, this is a fixed registration fee that you will have to pay when you first register your domain name. What you will also have to factor into your overall expenditures would be the recurring renewal fee that you are required to pay the registrar every year.

  • GoDaddy – register from C$2.99/year for .com, C$9.99/year for .ca; renew from C$19.99/year for .com and C$14.99/year for .ca

2. Hosting registration and renewal fee

Another fee that you will come across when creating and launching a website is the hosting and renewal fee. This is basically the fee that you would need to pay your registrar in order to host your site on the world wide web. The main thing to understand here is that this charge is separate from the domain name registration fee, and it could contain hidden costs like an initial setup fee.

The cost fee for this works out to anything from $50-$1000 a year depending on the total size of the website that you want to launch, the amount of space that you need in the cloud, etc. Just like the domain name registration fee, this would also be a recurring charge that you would need to pay per year to host your website online. You would have to keep a certain portion of your budget aside for this fee.

  • GoDaddy – from as low as C$4.99/month to C$11.99/month; renew from C$7.99/month to C$16.99/month

3. Email Provider

Most domain name providers also offer a dedicated business email feature along with their customers’ websites. However, this can vary based on the size of the website and number of free email accounts that can be opened along with the web hosting and domain name registration plan.

Or if you wish to get a branded email address of your choice, then you could approach some renowned email service providers who can offer you branded domains that could range from just $60 per year, per user to upwards of $1000 yearly plans for enterprise plans with numerous mailboxes and lots of space. 

  • Google Apps for Work – from U$5/month/user to U$10/month/user
  • Rackspace – from U$2/month/user to U$10/month/user

4. E-commerce Merchant Accounts and Payment Gateways

If you are planning to create an e-commerce website to sell your goods and services or to enable online sales transactions through your website, then you will need to open an E-commerce Merchant Account. This is a kind of online bank account that holds your money, whenever you make a sale online. Once the money comes into this account, you can electronically transfer the funds to the business account you have with your bank. These accounts often charge a monthly account fee as well.

Payment Gateways help you process your online payments by authorizing credit card transactions made by your customers on your business website. You can even get a shopping cart integration service which may also be required for online shopping. We have gathered some of the transaction costs for a few of the popular merchant accounts available: 

  • PayPal – from 1.9% to 2.9% + C$0.30 per transaction
  • Stripe – from 2.9% + U$0.30 per transaction

5. Security Certificates (SSL)

Security Certificates or Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is a type of security technology that is used to establish an encrypted link between a server and client (or a website and a browser). It is a computer networking protocol used to manage server and client authentication. These security certificates are definitely required for your website, especially if you are thinking of enabling online sales transactions.

This security technology will help keep your clients’ information safe whenever they try making a payment online. The price for this type of security protocol varies from site to site, based on the number of subdomains or servers used.

  • GlobalSign – from U$249/year to U$849/year
  • GeoTrust SSL Certificates – from U$149/year to U$745/year

6. License or third party applications / integrations

When you are creating your website, you might sometimes need to use certain software and applications designed by other entities and integrate them into your website. You will need to acquire a license from the third party to use their applications and run them as a part of your website’s facilities.

The average price of this type of integration can be as less than $10 or more than $1000 based on the license or application. You might also need to pay a bit extra for some additional features but this could be optional expenditure, so you can choose not to include it in the total cost.

  • LiveChat integration – from U$16/seat/month to upwards of U$50/seat/month
  • – From a U$19/agent/month to upwards of U$89/agent/month

7. Graphic Design

I. Photography / Stock art:

Quality images can definitely help improve the appearance of your website, but it is certainly not a crucial part of the website designing and development process. However, if you do require to use some pictures for certain portions of your website like blogs, press releases, management information section, then you could either hire a professional photographer to provide you the pictures or choose a good online photography website like Shutterstock for instance.

Photographers could charge you per image or per hour which would vary depending upon location and editing of photos.

  • Shutterstock – 2 images for U$24
  • iStock – 3 credits for C$36 (FYI–an image usually costs 3 credits!)

II. Logo Design / Branding:

Sometimes the look and feel of your existing corporate branding require a little revamp. While this is not included in most website projects, it may be added on as an extra.

Say, for example, your logo was designed when you started your venture. And now you’ve had quite a bit of success and your logo just doesn’t cut it anymore. Oftentimes your website designer and developer can help you out with this, or at least point you in the right direction.

8. Site maintenance and upgrades

With the increasing amount of attacks taking place on websites by malicious entities, it is important for you to ensure that all the content and applications are protected and maintained from time to time. Moreover, when you maintain or upgrade your website every so often, you help improve its performance as well as the user experience that visitors have on your site.

For this reason, you may need to use some site security software or applications to help you keep your website secure and regularly backed up. This could cost you anything from $200 to even $2500 annually for top level security applications. 

  • Sucuri – from U$16.99/month to U$41.66/month
  • CodeGuard – from U$5/month to U$239/month

9. Copywriting or website content

When you launch your website you would also need to keep updating it constantly with new and informative content. This will help you get a steady flow of visitors to your website people always love to read and share fresh educational content. Now you could provide the content yourself, but if you want to ensure that there is always something current for your visitors to read every day, then you could get professional copywriters or hire a content writing team to write it for you.

If you do decide to hire professionals, then it would cost you based on the hours worked or the words written, depending on your content requirements and the experience of the professionals whom you hire. An option some people choose for help is Zerys.

  • Zerys – control the offer of minimum U$0.01/word to maximum U$0.50/word

10. Site optimization & management

Site optimization and management software tracks the entire performance of your website by providing suggestions to improve your site and to boost online traffic. There are usually monthly charges for this type of software and it varies from $500 to $4000 per month depending on the type and quality of optimization software you choose. Purchasing this type of software is definitely optional but is recommended once your website gaining traction.

  • HubSpot – from U$200/month to upwards of U$2,400/month

11. Tools

Once your website has been launched, there are certain online tools that you would need to use to support it. Using these tools would also help ensure that your site gets plenty of visits and leads of potential customers.

I. Social Media Marketing Tools

These time-saving tools are really helpful in scheduling tweets, posts and sharing articles on your company’s official social media accounts.

  • HootSuite – fromU$0/month to at least U$120/yearly
  • BufferApp – fromU$0/month to U$399/month
  • CoSchedule – from U$60/month to U$300/moth

II. Email Marketing Tools

These tools are designed to help you with your email marketing strategy. In case you want to design a fancy promotional email or snazzy newsletter, then online marketing tools like Constant Contact and MailChimp can help you a great deal.

  • Constant Contact – from U$20/month to starting at U$45/month
  • Mail Chimp – from U$0/month to U$245/month

The average monthly charges for these tools could be anywhere free to around $300/month, depending on the plans and features you pick.

III. CRM Tools

CRM or Customer Relationship Management tools help in the sales process by providing support to your customers and even improves relationships between you and your clients. There are many popular CRM tools available in the market like Nimble and HubSpot. Their prices are per user or per contact and can be as low as $15 or more than $2,400 per month.

  • Nimble – from U$25/user/month
  • HubSpot – from U$200/month to upwards of U$2,400/month

IV. Video hosting tools

If you are planning on posting a significant number of videos on your website, then it would be best to use a premium web hosting provider to ensure proper streaming of those videos. There are plenty of video hosting platforms available in the market like Vimeo and Wistia which provide video hosting solutions at affordable rates.

  • Vimeo – from $0 to $649/year CAD
  • Wistia – from $0/month to starting at $300/month USD

Depending on the number of videos you upload, you could use these services for free, or subscribe to a monthly or yearly plan to have more space.

12. Paid Advertisements

There are numerous paid advertising options which many companies use to gain an increased share of the online market. There are also plenty of factors that play into the cost of paid advertisements, such as industry, popularity, and location. This is an optional expense which you do not necessarily need to include in your initial website development budget, but it is something that you may want to consider down the road.

13. Your time!

There is one last big investment that you might not think of. Trust me–it’s a fun one!

Getting involved, hands-on with your online presence is key to taking your digital marketing to the next level. Although there are resources out there that can help you succeed, you will still have to lead the way, shaping your online brand and personality. A little TLC will go a long way!

Creating a successful website will surely take time and even a good deal of investment. However, the information we have provided in this article should help you set aside enough capital to pay for the hidden costs that go into website construction and development. Once you launch your site, keep it updated with fresh, new content to ensure it remains visible and desirable by Google.

Know of any more hidden costs that we may have missed? Then let us know in the comments section.


Mouneeb is an experienced digital marketing strategist with a passion for helping clients achieve their goals online. With over 15 years of experience in designing, developing, and managing a team that develops top-notch web projects, he brings a wealth of information to the teams that he leads and the leaders that he follows.

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