Running a website is not an easy job if the investment is not well-planned, especially for those looking to generate a decent income out of the process. Small and medium businesses will have to plan their foray into the virtual market in such a manner that their efforts yield maximum benefits, though in the long run. Right from choosing the web hosting firm and the hosting plan to online marketing campaigns to increasing traffic to the website, each and every effort is associated with a specific cost, which has to be eventually recovered in order to break even.
Costs incurred while running a website may be fixed one-time payments. However, recurring operating costs as well as invisible costs may really go unnoticed in the normal course of operations.
Fixed costs usually cover initial infrastructure hardware, software, hosting fees, website design and marketing efforts. Though classified as fixed costs, most of these costs will recur based on upgrades and changes required to the initial setup. Technology advancements and software upgrades will necessarily require additional investments to get hold of the latest features on offer. Website design may require minor changes to accommodate a few new features and apart from initial marketing campaigns undertaken to promote the business, occasional advertisement campaigns are planned to coincide with seasonal as well as new offers. Additional bandwidth and disk space requirements come at an additional cost.
Recurring costs span rentals, regular backups, hosting and domain registration renewals, commissions associated with payment portals and paid marketing campaigns, and other specific costs associated with a specific website type.
Website content creation as well as Search Engine Optimisation and Search Engine Marketing efforts add to the recurring costs, as regular content updates and fine tuning of SEO processes and continuous SEM initiatives are mandatory for the site to maintain a high level of visibility on the search engine result pages. Website maintenance is also a recurring cost incurred to ensure that site functions at its best at all times
Invisible costs are those that are part of the job but still add value to the process, personal time and effort, telephone, electricity and Internet charges. Any paid resources such as books, subscriptions etc. that are used to keep pace with competition can be classified as invisible costs.
Basically all business websites looking to generate a return on their investments will necessarily incur these costs but the exact amounts will tend to vary depending on the size of the business. While small business websites with minimum interactions, graphics, animations, images or video, spanning a few pages may cost less, E-commerce websites with the standard set of payment and shopping features too are affordable to maintain. Company websites for internal use with graphics, animation, images, web search, and CMS features are slightly costlier to create and maintain, and data-intensive websites or web applications are the costliest to deploy and maintain because of highly expensive software and skills required to create and maintain the environment, which usually also has an enterprise level database integrated with the web app.