The True Cost of WordPress Maintenance

The WordPress software is free, and you can get basic web hosting and a domain name for $5-10/month. So your total cost of ownership should be less than $100 per year, right?

Only if you’re willing to endure slow load times, intermittent downtime, and are willing to devote hundreds, maybe thousands, of hours into learning the ins and outs of WordPress so you can maintain and fix your site. You might think that once you install WordPress, choose a theme and plugins, and add in your content, you’re done. But that’s only the beginning.

Expected Costs

  • Domain name and hosting

Actual Costs

  • Domain name and hosting
  • Maintenance
    • Backups. Backup software, backup services, third-party offsite storage (i.e. Dropbox, Amazon S3). Hiring a developer to set up the backups correctly, test the backups, and restore your site in the event of a disaster.
    • Upgrades. Clicking the upgrade button doesn’t take much time. But hiring someone to fix your site if the upgrades go wrong can cost a lot.
    • Security. A secure site setup is a one-time investment that can greatly reduce the chance you will get hacked. Ongoing education on security, and monitoring your site are also recommended. These can add up to a significant cost.

After You Set Up Your WordPress Website

Once your site is set up on a self-hosted WordPress installation, you generally have 3 options for maintaining your website:

Option 1. Don’t do anything – don’t back up, upgrade, or secure your site. Your recurring time commitment and cost are zero. But you have a higher chance of something going wrong, and it will cost you more money to fix it. You will also have the highest potential downtime with this option. This is, unfortunately, the most common choice among WordPress users.

  • Cost: High. When something goes wrong, it may cost you $500 or more.
  • Time commitment: None.
  • Risk of hacking/downtime: High.

Option 2. Hire someone to do it all for you. Back up and upgrade your site but don’t do security. If your backups are done properly, you should be able to quickly recover your website in the event of a disaster. But you will likely lose any changes made since the last successful backup  – posts, pages, comments, etc. Your site may be down or broken for days or weeks, depending on how quickly you can identify the problem after it appears, and how quickly you can get your developer to fix it.

  • Cost: Medium. Probably $50-100/month.
  • Time commitment: Low. You will contact your developer whenever something goes wrong.
  • Risk of hacking/downtime: Medium. However, it varies depending on your developer’s skill level, your priority as their customer, and your contract/retainer.

Option 3. Educate yourself and maintain your website on your own. Back up, upgrade, and secure your site on a regular basis. Know what themes and plugins to use, how to restore from a backup, how to fix broken PHP code, etc. When you’re doing it all yourself, you don’t have to wait for your developer to fix things.

  • Cost: $0.
  • Time commitment: High. At least 100 hours to learn the intricacies of managing WordPress, and 5-10 hours/month to manage your site and stay up to date.
  • Risk of hacking/downtime: Low. Assuming you learn how to maintain your site correctly.

If you don’t educate yourself or have a WordPress developer on call, you’re putting both your website and business at risk. If you want to do things yourself, or you’re responsible for other people’s websites, it’s essential that you devote the time to learn the technical side of WordPress maintenance before things go wrong. You should have a strong foundation in HTML, CSS, PHP, and MySQL to start with. If not, then it could take even more time to master.

EfficientWP is designed to take care of all the hosting and maintenance, at a fraction of the cost a developer would charge to maintain your site for you on an ongoing basis. Our platform is on high performance managed hosting, so your websites load faster and are more reliable than on shared hosting. We have the experience to handle all the technical work for maintaining your websites, so you never have to worry about it. Contact us if you’re interested in learning more.

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