[Market Survey] Cost of Building a Website: Estimation based on Top 400 UpWork Freelancers

It’s the single most important question when you’re starting your own website. And honestly, the answer will depend on how much you want it to be.

There are a number of factors that you need to consider when calculating the cost of a website, and all of them can vary wildly, depending on how complex or simple your needs are (i.e. personal site, forum, or full eCommerce store).

In this article, we try to provide as much real-world values and pricing, based on our research, so that you can have a better understanding of the different costs of a website and how you should plan your budget.

Table of Content

The cost to build a website basically boils down to the following five main categories:

  1. Web hosting & domain cost
  2. Website design cost
  3. Copy writing / content cost
  4. Web development cost
  5. Web marketing cost

Summary: How much to pay for a website?

We took a dive and studied top 400 freelancer profiles at UpWork. Here are the cost estimations for three different types of website based on our market research.

  • For a 10-page info website – you need $200 – $1,500 for initial setup.
  • For a 10-page info website with custom site designs, expect to pay $1,500 – $5,000 for initial setup.
  • For a 10-page website with custom designs and functions, expect to pay $5,000 – $10,000 for initial setup and $1,000 – $10,000/month for ongoing marketing and development.

Cost breakdown & statistics

1. Web hosting and domain cost (details)

** Domain Cost New: $10 - $15 per year

** Pre-owned: $500 - $150,000 acquisition cost

** Web Host Cost Shared: $3 - $15 per month

** VPS: $15 - $50 per month


2. Website design cost (details)

Designer fees:

** Average: $26.32/hour

** Highest: $80/hour

** Pre-designed website templates: Free - $99

** Logo designs: Free - $200

** Icon sets: Free - $50


3. Content cost (details)

Writer fees

** Average: $29.29/hour

** Highest: $200/hour


4. Web development cost (details)

Web developer fees:

** Average: $31.64/hour

** Highest: $160/hour


5. Marketing cost (details)

Search engine optimization (SEO)

** Average: $23.68/hour

** Highest: $175/hour

Social media marketing / management (SMM)

** Average: $25.25/hour

** Highest: $150/hour

* All cost estimated based on our study on 400 top UpWork freelancers profile.

That might seem like a lot, but thankfully, all of them can be very flexible in terms of how much they can cost. This means that you can choose to maximize your spending on one item while keeping costs down on another.

This way, you can tailor the cost of your website to your budget.

Also read – Three simple ways of create a website (estimated budget < $500).

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How Much Does It Cost to Build a Website?

On average though, the cost of a website can range anywhere between $200 to even $10,000 or more.

Let’s take a closer look at each item and see how it all stacks up.

* Note: Cost estimation based on 400 freelancer profiles at Upwork. We are NOT related nor affiliated with Upwork or any of the freelancers. 

1- Web Hosting and Domain Cost

** Estimation **

Domain Cost
New: $10 - $15 per year
Pre-owned: $500 - $150,000 acquisition cost

Web Host Cost
Shared: $3 - $15 per month
VPS: $15 - $50 per month

The two most basic foundations that you need to get a website started is a domain name and a web host. If you don’t have both, then you don’t have a website.

Domain Name Prices

Where to get: NameCheap, GoDaddy

It’s basically the address of your website on the internet and the cost of a custom domain will usually be around $10 – $15 dollars per year. These are for domain names that end with a .com, .net., .org, or .info.

You can even go for unique domain names that end with a .tv or .store but will cost a bit more. Though, if you’re just getting started, we recommend just sticking to .com as it’s much more commonly used.

If the domain name you want is new, you can easily register it on domain registrar sites such as NameCheap and GoDaddy. However, if the name you want is already taken, then you’ll have to buy it from the current owner.

These can be very expensive as pre-owned domain names can cost up to $10,000 or more. Unless it’s important to your brand, we don’t recommend buying domain names that are already taken.

Domain sales report published on DN Journal (May 2018).

Web Hosting Prices

Where to get: InMotion Hosting, SiteGround, A2 Hosting

Now that you have a domain name, you need a place to store your website. This is where a web host comes in as they will host your website’s data so that people can visit it.

For web hosting solutions, there are plenty for you to choose from. Some offer budget hosting that costs about $3 – $5 per month, while some offer more advanced hosting that can cost as much $50 per month.

Generally, a shared hosting plan should not cost you more than $10 per month in the long run; whereas a VPS hosting should cost you about $30 per month.

Please read our guide on website hosting cost here.

2- Design Cost

** Estimation **

Graphic design cost (based on our market research)
Average: $26.32/hour
Median: $25/hour
Highest: $80/hour

Pre-designed website templates: Free - $99

Logo designs: Free - $200

Icon sets: Free - $50

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder but when it comes to design, you got to have a professional looking website if you want to be taken seriously. With the advent of website builders and CMS platforms such as WordPress, you have much more flexibility in terms of how you design the look of your blog or website.

Cost of website and graphic design based on Upwork Top 100 freelancer profiles. Average hourly rate = $26.32/hour; highest = $80/hour, lowest = $3/mo.

Pre-designed templates

There are plenty of free templates or designs on website builders such as Wix or Weebly that you can use to easily create a great looking website. If you want better looking or unique designs, you can opt for premium themes, which can range anywhere between $50 – $200 for a theme or skin, depending on the design and how much functionality is included.

Here are some pre-designed templates we found at Wix.

Example – “Restaurant Site” – Wix template for restaurants; free for all Wix users .

Custom designs

For those who have a bigger budget and want a website design that is totally custom and unique to your brand, you can always hire designers to build that a one-of-a-kind template.

Though these can be quite expensive with designers charging anywhere between $1,500 to $10,000 for a full-on website design.

Example: You can hire a designer by posting your project to job matching / freelancers platforms like Savvy SME. The designers usually charge around $20 – $40/hour.

Icons & logos

Another design cost that you need to consider is logos and icons for your website. Logos usually cost $0 – $200 per piece, while icons cost $1/icon or $30/set if you buy it from icon gallery sites (ie. Icon Finder and Free Pik)

In case you need to save cost in this, we have an array of custom-made icons and original logos that you can use for free.

Free original designed icons from our designers – Click here to download.

Identity & Branding

Aside from the obvious design concerns, you also need to come up with a consistent brand identity. This means your logo – for multiple platforms – and other designs should be planned for properly.

Although outsourcing this to a designer can be one way to solve the problem, you can also opt for web-based services which can generate entire brand concepts for you to choose from. They’re fast and fuss-free.

3- Content Cost

** Estimation ** 

Writer cost (based on our market research)
Average: $29.29/hour
Median: $30/hour
Highest: $200/hour

Expect to spend $150 - $400 per page for one page of good write-up.

Once you’ve got the domain name, web host, and design completed, it’s time to move to the next important aspect of your website. And that is content.

When it comes to content creation costs, the main three that you should consider are written content (articles, digital or self-published books, etc), graphic content (images, etc.), and video/audio content (videos, webinars, etc.).

Now, the great thing about content creation is that you can manage a lot of it yourself to keep costs down.

Pro tips

When I thought of running my blog full time then I invested $3000 over a period of 4 months. Out of that 40% investment was in hiring team (content) and 50% was in various tools.

If I have to start out a new money website then I would spend more money in content creation than anything else because content is the most critical element in blogging based business.

– Pardeep Goyal, Blogging As Business

However, that comes at the sacrifice of adding more work to your plate. You can hire freelancers or an agency to help with creating content and the cost can range anywhere between $10 to $100 per hour for content generation.

Generally, if you’re just starting out, it’s best to maintain the content creation yourself. Once your website gets bigger, you can consider hiring freelancers to add more content. For a better idea of the cost of freelancers, you can check out our estimations below.

Cost of copy writing based on Upwork Top 100 freelancer profiles. Average hourly rate = $30/hour; highest = $200/hour, lowest = $9/mo.

4- Development Cost

** Estimation ** 

Web development cost (based on our market research)
Average: $31.64/hour
Median: $25/hour
Highest: $160/hour

Back in the day, adding functionalities to your website was the biggest contributor the overall costs of building your website. The reason was that, if you wanted to have a feature on your site, it had to be bought separately as a pre-made script or be built from scratch by a web developer, which tend to be expensive.

Nowadays, you can use a Content Management System (CMS) to build and add the features to the website yourself without having to hire a developer. In fact, a lot of these CMS offer all the standard features that you’ll need for a website, right out the gate.

Pro Tips


For the first few months [of building my first website], I spent $100 on the domain & hosting, and nothing else.

I went with a free theme and once the site started making enough money, I switched to a premium theme. Other than that, I don't think I spent any money on WordPress plugins or tools.

– Devesh Sharma, WP Kube

WordPress is one such popular CMS that lets you do things such as edit and publish content yourself, add social media integrations, optimize your website for search engines and more. The best part is that most of it is free.

Also read – Compare Top 3 CMS: WordPress vs Joomla vs Drupal

Of course, when it comes to more advanced stuff such as an eCommerce store, the ability to process credit cards, adding membership tools, etc., these will still cost you. And the more advanced the features are, the higher the cost will be.

Similar to content creation, you can opt for freelancers to help you with the advanced stuff and the pricing can range from anywhere between $5 – $160 per hour.

Cost of web development based on Upwork Top 100 freelancer profiles. Average hourly rate = $31.64/hour; highest = $160/hour, lowest = $5/mo.

5- Marketing Cost

** Estimation ** 

Web marketing cost (based on our market research)

Search engine optimization (SEO)
Average: $23.68/hour
Median: $19/hour
Highest: $175/hour

Social media marketing / management (SMM)
Average: $25.25/hour
Median: $20/hour
Highest: $150/hour

Let’s say you were a cake shop owner that’s located in LA. When people google “cake shop LA”, they are going to get millions of results. How do you make sure that your business appears near the top of the search result?

Well, it depends on a lot of factors such as how relevant your business is, how updated your content is, and the number of visitors you get.

The other most important factor? How you market your website.

Proper investment in marketing will ensure that your website becomes visible to the key audiences that you want. This will provide a steady stream of visitors and improve your overall ranking on search engine websites such as Google.

Now that we know that marketing is important, it begs the question, “How much should you spend on marketing?”

As with all the costs we discussed previously, it all depends on what you want to get out of it.

Generally, we recommend you focus on two big aspects: SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SMM (Social Media Marketing / Management).

Search Engine Optimization Costs

Optimizing your website for search engines is a must if you want to attract the most visitors possible. There are many SEO services available today that can range from the inexpensive to paying thousands of dollars per month.

For budget websites, you can tackle SEO functions yourself by using plugins to help optimize your website for search engine. Some lets you use the plugins for free while others might require a one time fee and give you more advanced features.

Freemium tools such as SEM Rush, Ahref, and MOZ costs around $100 – $1,500 annually. These are great tools that are helpful and fairly easy to use. If you plan to optimize your sites by yourself – go check them out.

But what if you want to hire an expert who can do everything from keyword research to targeted outreach and link building?

Well, for freelance SEO consultants, you can expect to pay anywhere between $3 to $175 per hour for consultations. Agencies or project-based SEO services tend to vary much more, with some charging as high as $30,000.

Cost of search engine optimiztion based on Upwork Top 100 freelancer profiles. Average hourly rate = $23.68/hour; highest = $175/hour, lowest = $3/mo.

Social Media Marketing / Management Costs

Social media is an important component to consider for any online business if they want to succeed. Using platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, and FaceBook for your business can yield amazing results, but it all depends on how you go about it.

Similar to SEO, you can choose to handle all of the social media marketing and management work yourself. All you have to do create accounts on the important, create content on it, and do all the posting yourself. Using tools such as Socialert, Buffer, or HootSuite can help you plan, create, and schedule a lot of your social media tasks and can cost around $100 to $500 per month.

When it comes down to it, you can keep your costs down to a zero if you know what you’re doing with social media.

However, the thing about social media is that it’s constantly changing and to keep track of its trends can be hard, especially when you have a business to run. That’s where social media experts or freelancers come in.

If you have the budget for it, outsourcing your social media marketing to agencies or freelancers is a great option as they provide all kinds of services ranging from setting up and configuring accounts to creating and scheduling social media posting.

As for the cost itself, you can expect to pay agencies anywhere between $500 to $5,000 per month. Freelancers, on the other hand, will usually charge around $4 to $150 per hour.

Cost of social media marketing and management based on Upwork Top 100 freelancer profiles. Average hourly rate = $26.25/hour; highest = $150/hour, lowest = $4/mo.

Our Market Research: Based on 400 freelancers' Upwork profiles

Now that we’ve gone through all the costs for making a website, you’re racking your brain and trying to figure out how much exactly it’s going to cost you to start a website.

To make life easier, we’ve compiled an hourly price list of the top 100 freelancers for writers, web designers, graphic designers, SEO, and social media marketers from UpWork.

Our market studies based on top 100 Upwork freelancers (with >85% job success rate) – download full spreadsheet here. Check freelancers' hourly rate in web development, content writing, SEO, SMM, and graphic design.

Here are some real life examples of the freelancer profiles.

Writer profiles

* To have a closer look, click to enlarge image.

Cost of building a website - Content / writing cost
Cost of building a website - Content / writing cost

Web developer profiles

* To have a closer look, click to enlarge image.

Cost of building a website - Site development cost
Cost of building a website - Site development cost

Graphic designer profiles

* To have a closer look, click to enlarge image.

Cost of building a website - Design cost
Cost of building a website - Design cost
Cost of building a website - Design cost
Cost of building a website - Design cost

Social media marketer profiles

* To have a closer look, click to enlarge image.

Cost of building a website - SMM cost
Cost of building a website - SMM cost

SEO and search marketer profiles

* To have a closer look, click to enlarge image.

Cost of building a website - SEO cost
Cost of building a website - SEO cost
Cost of building a website - SEO cost
Cost of building a website - SEO cost

Matching your budget and website goals

We then break it down into 4 different levels of costs for a simple and easy reference.

What can you get with $200?

At $200, you can expect to have a custom domain name and use a shared hosting plan for your website. You can use WordPress as the foundation for running your website and use either free or premium designed templates.

You’ll most likely be running everything yourself and be tasked with editing and creating articles, adding features and functionalities, and maintaining the website. As for SEO and social media integrations, you’ll have to rely on free plugins such as Yoast SEO and HootSuite.

What can you get with $1,000?

At $1,000, you can expect to have a custom domain name and the ability to choose between shared or VPS hosting plans. WordPress is still the best platform to build your site but you now have the option to use free or premium plugins and also premium templates that you can modify to match your requirements.

Hiring a freelancer to do certain tasks such as designing your website, creating content, or even SEO and social media is possible, though you shouldn’t expect anything fancy.

What can you get with $5,000?

At $5,000, you can get a custom domain and the option to host your website on either a VPS or cloud hosting plan for better server performance. You can still build your website on WordPress or you can explore other CMS.

If you’re looking to start an online store, you can hire freelancers or agencies to help build the whole thing with a tailor-made template and custom-built features. You can hire freelancers to handle certain aspects of your website such as SEO, social media, and content creation. Though if you want to keep costs down, we recommend doing it yourself.

What can you get with $10,000?

Beyond the domain name, at $10,000 you can go for dedicated servers to host your website. The website itself can be built on WordPress, other CMS, or you can hire a developer to build it from scratch with features that are unique to your needs.

The look of your website will be an original design that’s true to your brand identity and fits in with your industry and target audience. You can also hire agencies or freelancers to handle tasks such as content creation, SEO, and social media management.

Justifying Website Cost from a Business Angle

Making and starting a website can be an expensive and endeavour. But here’s the thing, just because you put more money into your website, doesn’t mean that it’ll be more successful. In fact, blindly putting money into your website without understanding the needs of your audience is the quickest way to over-blow your budget.

Pro Tips


If you have only $1,000 to start a business online, which area would you spend the most of that budget?

I'd start with content and marketing (& maybe on an seo tool). As for site design, tools, & other stuff, you can easily find free alternatives.

For example if you are looking for a theme you can find a good collection of free themes on WordPress.org. And if you are looking for a keyword research tool, you can look at free options like SEM Rush and KW Finder.

What about budget of $5,000 – does that make a difference?

If I had $5000 budget, I'd spend 20% of that on creating pillar content, 5% on a premium theme & plugins, and the rest on paid marketing.

You don't need a custom design when you are just getting started. Your focus should be on content & marketing.

A more expensive website doesn’t always translate to a better website.

It’s all about putting money in the areas that you need to improve, in order to make your website perform better.

If slow loading pages are affecting your user experience, invest in better written codes or better web hosting plans. Integrate more payment options to make the checkout process easier for your customers. Hire writers who are expert in your industry to provide quality content.

Just like any business, in order to be successful, you need to focus on your users and understand the needs of your targeted audience. Once you’ve figured that out, then you’ll know the true cost of starting and creating your own website.

There’s no easy answer when it comes to the cost of a website.

With this article, you should have a better understanding of all the different costs that make up a website and how it can it be tailor-made to your needs.

Article co-written by Azreen Azmi.


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