Your website is like your car. If you never check fluids or get a tune-up, it won’t work when you need it.
Maintaining your website requires some effort and includes a price tag. Even if it’s not a “BMW”, it is a vehicle critical to your marketing. The real cost of creating and then maintaining a website is usually not apparent from its onset. How the internet works is constantly evolving in a strange dance between technology that’s both pushed and pulled into existence by tech leaders and consumers. Cost and performance go hand-in-hand. Your website can be central to driving business revenue, or operate on the sidelines. To get more, you’ll have to spend more. The better you understand your needs, the less likely you’ll be surprised by unexpected fees.
When first launching a site, you have to register a domain and space on a host server. Then expect to pay an ongoing fee, to continue using the space, at minimum. The provider, price, and package options vary widely. For example, you may pay the web host to maintain your website, or hire an independent webmaster.
Maintenance and security
Building a website is now super-easy compared to ten years ago, in a relative sense. It’s possible for a complete novice to independently set-up a website. The downside is a novice who’s not a fast learner with TONS of time on his hands can quickly become overwhelmed. At best the site will experience negligible traffic, and at worst get hacked or be suspended by the host if it lacks proper maintenance.
Large bands or established artists usually have a contingent of geeks on call who can troubleshoot their problems, but small DIY artists often have shoestring support operations. But if you cut too many corners, your brand could be offline for days. You should ask yourself from the outset what is the right level of website maintenance and support for my music?
Here are the key elements that dictate the cost of maintaining a website.
Getting a domain for your website doesn’t cost much. That’s because most musicians don’t technically purchase a domain. They rent one. If you obtain a brand new (or not registered to anyone) domain, it’s very affordable. If your musicians and you don’t have a domain name for your site, you should start thinking of a catchy name. If you’ve done your trademark research, getting a domain that matches the name of your company should be doable.
A web host is essentially a company with a bunch of servers connected to the internet and the World Wide Web. Size, quality, and security of service ranges widely.
Hiring a web designer
One of the first questions you will face when planning a website is whether you should hire an independent designer, a web company, or (shudder) do it yourself. Images heavily influence the look of a website. You can expect to pay about $5 to $20 per royalty-free stock image. We recommend using professional photography as much as possible, so your website truly reflects your music. If you want something unique, custom built themes usually cost $1000 to $3,000. It depends on how much work goes into the design. Your website builder may or may not help you maintain the site. If not, you need a webmaster who will be your go-to man for monitoring it and making updates. A webmaster can charge up to $150 an hour and package their services starting at 2-5 hours a month. There are smaller web design companies that charge $50 or less an hour. Skill level and responsiveness vary widely. This can get really expensive very quickly. That’s why we at Exposed Vocals offer a low monthly plan that includes everything we’ve mentions so far and much more. There is nothing more frustrating than an incapable or non-accessible webmaster. We offer this low price package because small bands can expect to spend approximately $100 a month, and medium sized site owners (15-50 pages) can spend approximately $400 to $450 a month for a webmaster to watch their precious digital marketing tool or point of sale system. Ask yourself from the outset if your website budget will stretch from construction to on-going maintenance.
If you have a static website, you are likely to have a static business. Beyond routine maintenance, consider how often you want to overhaul your website. Some companies do small updates every quarter and then an extensive overhaul every two years. Others continually work on their site, so overhauls are far apart. The look and feel of websites change almost as quickly as fashion, and updates in Google’s algorithms can penalize static sites. There’s also the self-evident point that your website will become boring if it remains the same. If Giorgio Armani made his models wear the same clothes in Milan from one year to the next, his brand would suffer. It’s the same with your website. No matter the industry, a dated look implies a dated company.
Reasons why you need to update your website
1.The Content is Out of Date
If your site refers to events that are old or hosts out-of-date reports, it will look dated to the visitor. Time sensitive material that’s old gives the impression your business is stagnating.
2. To take Advantage of New Features
Website technology is evolving fast. In recent years, it has become increasingly important to have features on your site that integrate with social media because of how much traffic it can send your way.
Online security is another area that’s fast-moving. You will need to invest in securing your site with an SSL certificate that will encrypt communications to assure customers their personal details are safe with you. We deal with the costs of SSL certificates in the next section.
3. The Look May Be Out of Date
Animated graphics and flash elements went out of date in the 1990s. Now and again we still see websites that look obviously dated. It’s unlikely that you will dress in flares or rah-rah skirts. Update your website as well as your wardrobe. Today’s most successful sites embrace simplicity and clean lines!
4. It’s Not Responsive for Mobile
In May 2015, Google revealed that more searches are taking place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 leading countries including the US and Japan. The announcement marked a significant milestone and one that Google anticipated the previous month when it brought in an algorithm change that benefits sites optimized for mobile.
The Wall Street Journal reported on how the leading search engine had tweaked its algorithm for mobile searches to “favor sites that look good on smartphone screens.” If the content of a site is too wide for a phone screen and links are too small your site will be negatively affected.
Most all websites built today use responsive design, so it displays cleanly on multiple devices. You can learn more about responsive versus standalone mobile websites in a few of our other posts. A fully responsive site that can adapt to any device or screen can cost anywhere from $2,500 to $25,000.
The Cost of an SSL Certificate
An SSL certificate (security socket layer) is important to apply to a website that collects a lot of personal data from visitors. It ensures the information they enter through their browser securely reaches your server. Certificates cost about $60 a year
Companies such as Thawte offer five SSL certificate options ranging from the $149 year to the Wildcard SSL option starting at $499 a year that cover multiple subdomains. All the certificates have 128/256 bit encryption and come with a warranty ranging from $100,000 to $500,000.
Many of the cheaper SSL options offer a lower warranty. If you do a lot of e-commerce, it’s worth considering the higher end plans. Savvy buyers will not make purchases if they see the site is not secured! Especially if you’re selling digital downloads of your music. Would you download a file to your pc from a website this isn’t secure? All of the website that Exposed Vocals host for musicians come with a FREE SSL certificate and installation.
This is a lot of work to build and manage while you’re focusing on building your music career. That’s why Exposed Vocals has opened our servers and developers up to our user-base. If you’re a musician that can use a professionally designed website that is hosted on lighting fast and secure servers, why not use a company that has been around for a long time and widely respected and trusted in the music industry? We’re musicians, developers, writers and web hosts. We get it and it won’t break your bank!