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Keep your website’s operational costs low without sacrificing quality

The approach that many small business owners take with their web hosting package is to choose the cheapest one. Then, after they’ve signed up, they forget about it and just keep on paying and upgrading each year.

We’ve written this article to help small business owners understand how much hosting, domain renewals, and SSL certificates cost. We also discuss which free or cheaper alternatives are available without sacrificing the quality of their website. Additionally, we explain what takes up storage on their hosting and how to reduce it over the long term.

Web Hosting Plan

Although it’s very cheap, we recommend that you stay away from Shared Hosting for your WordPress website. Instead, use a hosting package that includes a LiteSpeed web server. The difference in cost between the two is usually only 20%, but you essentially get triple the value.

Shared Hosting provides very little resources. Over the long term, WordPress websites tend to become extremely slow as they grow. We’ve always had to move the majority of our clients away from their shared hosting package.

We recommend reviewing your website’s hosting plan at least twice a year.

There’s three reasons for this:

  1. Hosting providers increase their costs without improving the features of the hosting plans.
  2. Depending on your website’s growth, you might need to upgrade your hosting plan.
  3. Your website might not be using all the features of your current hosting plan, so you might want to downgrade to save on costs.

If you own a small business website, we don’t recommend using an international managed WordPress hosting provider. In most cases, it’s an overblown solution and too expensive over the long term, especially because of the USD to ZAR currency fluctuations.

Domain Registration and Renewals

We don’t suggest that you go as cheap as possible with your domain registrations and renewals. All hosting providers/domain registrars provide additional value-added services with their domains, such as free WHOIS protection and SSL certificates.

Below is a breakdown of the registration and renewal costs for domains from popular hosting providers that we work with:

 Registration (once-off)Renewal (per year)
Register DomainR85.00R85.00
Domain Registration and Renewal Costs in South Africa as of December 2023.

SSL Certificates

The majority of hosting providers use Let’s Encrypt to provide a free SSL certificate.

The type of TLS/SSL certificate from Let’s Encrypt is a Domain Validation (DV) SSL Certificate. This is a basic type of certificate that only verifies that the domain belongs to the owner and doesn’t include any company information on it.

You could use Let’s Encrypt for a small e-commerce-based website, but it’s generally more used for basic small business or personal websites.

Storage and Disk Space Usage

Content such as images, videos, and documents (PDFs) take up the majority of your disk space and, if left unchecked, can get a bit out of hand.

There’s two main issues when you don’t keep your storage / disk space in check:

  1. You’ll need to upgrade your hosting package, which can become expensive.
  2. Your website’s backups become extremely large, which makes restoration slow and transferring your website to another hosting provider becomes difficult.

It’s suggested that you should always resize and compress all your media files before you upload them to your website. If possible, you should host your videos on YouTube.

Monthly Website Maintenance

The average cost of monthly WordPress website maintenance can vary between R350 to R5000 per month, depending on the complexity of your website and the services included in each website maintenance package.

The range of services included in a website maintenance package can vary between:

  1. WordPress core, plugins and theme updates
  2. Cloud Website Backups
  3. Responsive or Mobile Optimisation
  4. Speed Optimisation
  5. Security Optimisation
  6. Monthly Website Analytics Reports

For a small business website, you should try to sign up for a website maintenance package that offers a monthly flat fee instead of hourly rates. If possible, the maintenance package should include the updating of your WordPress’ core, plugins, and themes, and not be allocated to the maintenance hours.

There’s also a couple of website maintenance packages that include a set number of website edits or changes that you can use every month to expand and improve your website’s structure and design.

Marketing and Automation Tools

There’s various tools available that help with automating certain tasks on your website and marketing-related efforts. The majority of small business websites use two tools when starting out: MailChimp (for Newsletters) and Zapier (for Workflow Automation).

Although these tools are great, we don’t recommend using the paid plans when you’ve just launched your small business website. They aren’t cheap, and in the short term, they won’t provide any return on investment if you don’t have enough website visitors.

If you don’t have the budget for the above tools, you can use the following cheaper alternatives which are just as good: Email Octopus (for Newsletters) and Make (for Workflow Automation).