How much should you charge for a website  8 factors to consider

How Much Should You Charge for a Website? 8 Factors to Consider

Published on February 4, 2022. Updated on April 17, 2023.

When you’re getting your web design business off the ground with SiteSwan, it’s important to have a plan for how much you will charge for a website. You want to keep your rates attractive enough so you can quickly take on new clients with little push back, but you also don't want to price yourself so low that you need to wait months to turn a significant profit.

Many web designers struggle with coming up with the right pricing for their hard work. You don’t want to charge too little and sell yourself short, yet you don’t want to charge too much and risk turning away the client. There is an art and science to finding the right sweet spot where you’re compensated fairly for all your hard work AND clients feel like they’re getting a very good deal.

So How Much Should You Charge for a Website?

At SiteSwan, our suggested retail price for a typical small business website is anywhere from $500 - $1,500 for the setup and design, followed by a monthly service fee of $50 - $99. While these are only suggestions, you should use these numbers as a baseline for developing your own pricing strategy.

Consider this: according to WebFX, the average cost of a small business website is between $2,000 - $9,000 (source). Even on the low end, these prices are considerably more than what most SiteSwan website resellers charge. When speaking to prospective clients, you can use this to your advantage when pitching your web design service as it gives you a clear competitive advantage.

You’ll have to figure out just the right balance in order to appeal to your client while also being profitable for you. Whatever prices you settle on, remember that you should always charge your clients a website setup fee and a recurring monthly service fee. This way you can generate both upfront and recurring income from every site you sell. In fact, the idea of requiring a modest monthly maintenance fee is how you can afford to keep your setup fee so low (and attractive). The combination of an affordable setup fee and modest monthly fee make for an appealing, easy-to-understand, and fair pricing structure that business owners can agree to very quickly. That’s the key to scaling a profitable web design business and generating passive income you can count on for years to come.

In most cases, you’ll be able to adopt a “one price fits all'' model for your web design business. You’ll find that the majority of small businesses you take on as clients all need and want the same thing in a website - a site that looks great, performs well in search, is mobile optimized, and easy to edit.

However, there will be times when you will need to adjust your pricing based on the scope of the project or other factors. Use this article as a resource to help you figure out how much you should be charging your website clients, and as a guide for assessing each project before you take them on.

Before you put together your next web design proposal, here are 7 factors to consider:

1. Number of Pages

Most small businesses generally only need about 5 pages of content. Always start with a base price that includes a set number of pages for a simple, informational, lead-generating website. For instance, most SiteSwan resellers charge $500 for up to 5 pages.

Depending on the client’s industry or unique needs, they might need more than 5 pages. In anticipation of encountering this request, you should come up with a fee that you would charge for each additional page. We recommend somewhere between $75-100 for each additional page. This allows you to confidently welcome the additional work because you know you are being properly compensated for it. The total number of pages is one of the major factors in establishing your website setup price. The monthly recurring price will likely not need to change based on the number of pages alone, but it could if it means more time maintaining these additional pages of the website each month.

2. Who’s Supplying the Content

Website content, which consists of both the words and imagery that appear on the site, is what helps visitors understand what the business does, as well as helps the search engines locate the website and display it in search results. A small business website has nothing if it doesn’t have good content throughout the site.

If the client provides the content, that means they will either submit paragraphs / pages of written content and photos, or they have an existing site with content that they authorize you to use on the new site. In this scenario, you can just copy-paste that information and upload the images to the website you’re building for them.

If they don’t provide the content, then that means you need to come up with all the words and imagery that will appear on their site. This is a much more time-consuming task because you have to conduct research to uncover what a business like theirs needs to say on a website to impress and entice consumers. And because it will take more of your time, you should have a higher setup fee for it. Optionally, you could outsource this research task to a content creator on Fiverr for example, putting less of a time burden on you, but still increasing your costs, so you have to be sure you charge a setup fee that will cover all your costs.

At SiteSwan, our goal is for our resellers to launch sites very quickly and affordably, so that’s why we put a lot of time and energy into developing as many industry-specific Themes as possible. Since all of our Themes come with expertly-crafted written content and professional imagery that you have the rights to use on your client sites, it greatly cuts down on the need for you to come up with unique content for your clients. All you have to do is swap out a few key elements of content to further personalize the Theme for your client, and then you’re done. So long as your client falls into one of the categories we have a Theme for, this allows you to keep your prices very fair even if the client doesn’t or cannot provide the content. 

3. Special Requests or Advanced Feature Requests

A typical small business owner will need an informational, lead-generating website, but some businesses have special requests for fancy features or things like online scheduling, chatbots or pop-ups. Sometimes they’ll already have a system in place that can easily be added to the site with just a link while other times they may want to start fresh and will need assistance picking out a vendor or setting up the account.

These special requests could have impacts on both the setup fee & monthly fee you charge them. If a project requires you to incorporate a third party software or application, be sure to adjust your prices accordingly once you fully understand what needs to be done. Obviously the more work or research you do for the client, the higher your fees will be. As a simple rule of thumb, you want to cover any fees associated with the added feature, and charge a little extra to cover your time integrating and/or managing it. If the special feature is truly important to the client, they’ll happily pay extra for it.

4. E-commerce Functionality

No matter how simple online selling sounds, or how simple a client makes it sound, e-commerce sites always require more work upfront and to maintain. If you plan on building an online store for your website clients, be sure you charge more for both your setup and ongoing fees. The best thing to do is assess their needs and make sure they are aware of everything involved in operating an online store. If they just need to sell a handful of products, our simple built-in e-commerce feature can be a great solution and eliminate many of the headaches associated with setting up an online store.

However, if they have much bigger plans, then you might need to lean on a third party e-commerce solution which might require more effort from you and have additional costs that you or the client will have to bear. Task your client with giving you ALL the details associated with their plans to sell online (such as the number of products, product names, photos, descriptions, shipping fees, logistics plans, etc.) and then assess that. You’ll be able to determine if our online store solution is a good fit, or if you will need a more robust solution. You can even reach out to our support to help you analyze that data to make a good decision on what might be involved.

Either way, you should be charging more for a website that requires e-commerce. We suggest charging at least $1,500 upfront and $99/month. This will help cover the additional time associated with setting up and managing their website.

Keep in mind: some e-commerce website projects may not be a perfect fit for the SiteSwan platform or might extend outside of your personal comfort zone. Don’t take on any website clients that you cannot accommodate or who have unrealistic expectations. For example, if a client tells you that they want you to build the next, they are clearly not the right fit for our platform.

5. If They’re Buying Anything Else From You

Oftentimes, many small business owners will want more than just a website from their web designer. Websites are the gateway to offering other marketing services.

If you think there is an opportunity to sell them some other profitable services, you may choose to keep your monthly pricing low to leave plenty of room for selling additional services like Reputation Management, social media management, credit repair, or anything else of value. Maybe your plan isn’t to make all your profit from web design but just to establish a business relationship with the client so you can sell them other stuff.

What you can also do is bundle multiple services into a package and/or offer multiple packages to save the client money. Many experts recommend offering three different packages to choose from (a low, medium, and high price point). Obviously the higher priced the package, the more services the client gets each month.

For example, you might offer 3 plans that look like this…

  • Plan 1: $500 + $49/month for a Website
  • Plan 2: $500 + $149/month for a Website + Reputation Management
  • Plan 3: $1,500 + $199/month for Website + Online Store + Reputation Management. 

In addition to a monthly price per package, you could also offer a yearly price and give two months free. For instance, if your lowest package is $49/month, you would also give the option to pay $490/year so that you get more money up front AND the client saves more money in the long run.

6. Difficulty Level of Client

Sometimes you’ll find clients who are indecisive, slow to respond, require a lot of hand-holding, or need things explained to them over and over again. If the conversations with your potential clients are easy, straightforward, and they have realistic expectations (e.g., they don’t think their website alone is going to make them a $5 million company) then you can keep your pricing low because you know the process will be smooth and that you’ll be able to complete the website project quickly.

On the other hand, if you can tell that the client will not be a joy to work with, then feel free to charge an inflated fee. This also goes for current clients on a monthly plan of some sort: if they start becoming difficult or painful to work with, then feel free to let them know that you have to increase your rates to cover the extra time associated with managing their website.

7. Your Personal Revenue Goals

Another factor that can influence how much you charge for a website is how much money you want to make. Sometimes you can reverse-engineer your price point by forecasting how many websites you will sell in a given period of time. Then determine how much you need to charge in order to hit your revenue targets.

For example, let’s say your goal is to generate $5,000 per month in recurring revenue after your first year of selling websites. If you charged only $50/month for each site, you will need to sell 100 websites to hit your goal. If you charge $79/month for each site, you will need to sell 63 sites. And if you charge $100/month, you will only need to sell 50 websites to generate $5,000 per month in recurring revenue.

It’s important to be realistic when setting revenue goals. We all want to be millionaires but the majority of entrepreneurs are not overnight successes. Building a business takes time and you need to put in the effort. You need to stay committed and be in it for the long haul.

8. Your Experience or Skill Level

One more factor to consider as you grow your business is your experience level.

Simply put, the more experience you gain, the more you can charge. When you’re just starting out, you may have to keep your prices super low to make it easier for clients to say yes. As you continue to build websites and take on more clients, your skills will improve, and the quality of your work will increase. Soon you’ll have an impressive portfolio of great-looking sites, glowing customer testimonials, and new clients knocking down your door to work with you!

With more experience, you can justify higher rates. There will come a time when you can confidently charge $1,500 or more for even a 5-page website.

Use This Knowledge to Establish Your Own Prices

If this is your first time selling websites to small businesses, you probably feel very much in the dark about how to price your web design services. At SiteSwan, we strive to educate and guide our website resellers to growth and profitability using real-world, first-hand knowledge and experience. By utilizing our suggestions on how much to charge for a small business website, success should be within your grasp. 

We'd love to hear from you!

Share your comments or questions using the form below.