I recently heard someone say that they recommend using Elance or Odesk to get their website built.

While the goal here is probably to save money, there is something you need to do if you use Elance: Compare apples to apples and not apples to oranges.

In other words, if you are going to try to hire someone to do a task with Elance and you think, “Oh that sounds like a bargain.” just make sure there aren’t other things you’ll need to include later that won’t make that price change.

Here are some things you should ALSO get a price quote on if you’re going to have someone build your website…

Does It Include Hosting? (crappy hosting: $75/year)

Where will it be hosted? If you are self-hosting then it will be anywhere from $75 to over $1,000/year.

From personal experience, hosting can be a crapshoot until you find the right one. I’ve dealt with slow load times on some hosts, frequent crashing on other hosts, terrible incompatibility problems with others and much more. I’ve found that a really good host is going to run you at least $20 a month if you really want to drive people to your site. Where do you want to send your site visitors?

My customers are proudly hosted at LiquidWeb (and I have used MediaTemple, Dreamhost, Bluehost, Site5 and WP Engine for hosting and found they all came up short for various reasons).

What Website Platform? (WordPress: FREE)

If someone makes a site for you in HTML, that will certainly be good for how fast your page loads but that’s about it. However, it’s a totally different experience if you want to add functionality for free or for a low cost. For example, adding social media icons with WordPress is free and easy enough to do yourself, but in HTML, you’ve got to pay their hourly rate for that. What about adding in contact forms? What about virus/hacking protection? What about adding in share buttons? Spam protection? Google Analytics? Sliders? SEO?

Needless to say, there are SO MANY THINGS you will want on your site. Are you including them all? What if they were available to your for free or at a low cost? If you like that idea of adding in your own features, then WordPress is the best choice.

It’s also the top website platform in the world with 1 out of every 5 sites using WordPress.

And besides, if you ever plan to log in and add something, how will you do it? Without a system like WordPress you’ll have to buy expensive software like DreamWeaver (which is not easy to use) to make simple changes. That’s crazy. Stick with WordPress and life will be much easier.

My customers are all on WordPress which means that it’s easier for them to use a well-known platform with lots of help videos and tips/tricks written about every day. Also, I train theme one-on-one and provide tons of my own videos they can access 24/7.

Does It Include Premium Plugins? (various plugins: over $100 at least for a “normal” site)

Going back to those features I mentioned before that you can add-on such as contact forms, hacking protection, share buttons, spam protection, Google Analytics, SEO and much, much, much more, if you are using WordPress there are tens of thousands of these features that can be added to your site in the form of plugins. Most are free, but some come with a price tag. For example, there are free contact form programs out there, but remember that if it’s free and it breaks then the person fixing it isn’t getting paid to keep it up so the help you get will be spotty or non-existent. A paid/premium plugin will give you the support you need if it breaks.

My customers enjoy access to premium plugins that I have screened and pay for; I share their license as a developer (which means I pay hundreds for each plugin but I can share it with as many customers as I wish). They have access to plugins that would total up to over $1,000 and it doesn’t cost them anything extra.

Does It Come With Premium Theme License? (vary in price from $19 to hundreds)

You’ll only need one theme for your site, but the beauty of themes is that you can instantly change the entire layout and color scheme and fonts and pictures of your site very easily. WordPress comes with a default theme for free, but having a more “normal” site with the bells and whistles you expect (like responsive design so that it will show up nicely on a small phone or tablet) is what you would expect so you need to pay for it if you want a theme that comes with support.

My customers have access to over $1,000 worth of over 500 premium themes though most of them are using one that I designed myself using Headway Themes awesome software.

What About Repairs/Updates/Security/Errors/Conflicts? (per project on Elance: $35/hour)

Obviously, the best person to fix problems with your site is going to the one who makes it. Will they include any repairs to the site they create? If they don’t plan to maintain your site, then how will they keep it from becoming vulnerable to hackers?

If you’re using WordPress, then you need to keep in mind that updates to WordPress are frequent, as well as to the plugins and theme you are using. This means the potential for conflicts with your plugins and possibly problems with your themes.

By using premium (paid) plugins and themes, you can get help for problems you may encounter, but that means that you are the one who will have to do the fixing unless someone is doing it for you. Again, the right person to fix your site is the one who makes it.

Hopefully they are using a premium WordPress theme instead of something that they threw together themselves. Why? Because a premium WordPress theme is always being updated to reflect the latest changes with the WordPress software and plugins. The question remains: Who you gonna call?

Does It Include Training? (from free to hundreds)

After you get your site, will you be taught how to use it by the one who made it for you? It only seems right that you be given some time to do some one-on-one rather than only have the option to pay for training on how to use WordPress or use their site.

As I mentioned, when I create a site for a customer, I always offer them the free one-on-one training session of which there are two parts. One is for basic use of WordPress and the other is a session on how to do your own SEO. Combined with the dozens of training videos I have made which can be access 24/7; my customers are quite happy with their training.

In addition, I’m available during regular business hours via Facebook to help with anything that my training videos don’t cover.

How About Migration? ($500)

If you’ve already got a site on Blogger or other blog platform, what will it cost to migrate all your entries?

You need to ask this because they certainly may charge extra. How much?

If you went to WP Engine and asked them to migrate your site for you, they will refer you to a company that specializes in that sort of thing and their fee starts at $500. I don’t know of anyone else who does this for a standard fee less than $500 except myself (at no extra cost).

My customers get migrated free!

Does It Include Daily Backups? ($29/mo. or $180/half-year)

Depending on where you host, you’re going to get your entire site backed up for free, but if your site is part of a larger system such as WordPress Multisite or shared server configuration, you need to make sure that your individual site is backed up daily and not just part of the whole. If you wanted to recover your site from a week ago, forget it if you’re not individually backed up.

Check the Internet for how much it costs to do your own separate backups and you’ll find it starts at $29/mo. and goes up from there.

My customers all have their own backup done daily and they have three backups deep available to recover.

The REAL Total Cost of Having a Site Designed? ($249 or Elance for MUCH more)

OK, so let’s talk about how much it costs to design a site and what you can expect on Elance or Odesk.

I think it’s reasonable to expect to pay $99… But what ELSE does that not include??

So now let’s add up all these other things you will either need now or over the course of the next six months.

Over six months, that is somewhere between several hundred and over a thousand depending on how many times they will need help fixing or updating their site.

My customers pay just $249 for six months of service with all these features starting with a premium theme customized to their approval.

If you’re interested in taking the guesswork out of who to hire and get your site designed for free (you only pay for hosting if you LOVE your site), contact me below.

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