You want to get a website for your private practice but what is this really going to cost? Doing research online you can find sites ranging from free, to a lifetime membership fee to several thousands of dollars for a custom designed site (sometimes more than $10,000) That is a huge range, so let's break down what you need to know.
Domain Name: Your domain name is what people type in to reach your website. This is an ongoing cost. Most therapists pay this annually. If you go with a service like TherapySites, the cost of the domain is built into your monthly fee. However, you will not own your domain and if you stop using TherapySites you will need to purchase it from them. Squarespace allow gives you a free domain name if you do an annual account, but it is registered under your name and you can transfer out without paying any additional fees to Squarespace.
You can pay several years in advance to keep the domain registered with your name. You can choose a domain based on your name, area, or expertise. Whatever you choose, you need to be sure to stay current with payments or you could lose your domain name (and your placement in Google).
You can get your domain free when you pay for a service like Squarespace or you can pay just a couple of bucks per year with Godaddy or Namecheap. We however recommend Hover for $13/yr because they have great customer service (a live person picks up the phone and helps) and will help you with set up or any other issues you might have. Investment $0 - $13 per year
Hosting: This is a monthly or annual fee you pay. Think of your domain as your phone number to your house, and hosting as the lot on which your site sits. Weebly, wordpress.com, wix, squarespace are services where you can host and design your website. They provide templates for you to use and you design your website on their platform. Please be aware that if you use the free plans with some of these companies, you don't get to have your own domain without their name being included (Kellyhigdon.weebly.com). It is worth the extra money to have a professional domain, so pay for hosting. Whereas, a Wordpress.org site is a piece of software that needs to be hosted at a place of your choosing. For Wordpress.org the host is simply an off-site computer you are paying to store files on. We recommend Blue Host or Pressable. Investment: $4 - $20 per month
Are you feeling a bit lost when talking about terms like domain, platform, hosting, etc Check out the website dictionary for therapists and then come back here to look at costs.
Template or Theme: Many website builders and content management systems have templates or themes that give you the basic look and feel of your site. Wordpress.org templates are called themes. They are a piece of software that you download, pay for, and install separately. Weebly, Wix, Squarespace, and others integrate their templates into their monthly hosting costs (no extra fee). Wordpress themes out of the box can range from very simple to very complex. Some themes integrate mobile or responsive designs, while others require a separate plugin. Also, watch out for free themes that can house malware or have a funky link back to the designer that you can't remove without paying them. Each theme or template also builds in specific changes you can, or cannot make. For example, in Squarespace, I can change the color of every item on my website. Certain Wordpress themes require coding knowledge to make color or font changes. For Wordpress themes, you might check out StudioPress, but there are many options out there. Additional Investment: Free-$199
Custom Design: You can spend a lot of money on the design of your site. Professional designers may charge by the hour or with packaged rates. Also, some website designers don't provide custom design. They simply help you choose a theme and install the theme and text for you. Be sure you really understand what you are (and are not) purchasing when you review quotes for therapy websites. A few of our favorite designers include WriteBrave.com, CounselingWise.com, and BrighterVision.com Investment: Free - $2,000+ (We've talked to therapists who've been spent more than $5,000 for a not great website).
Content: You may write your own content for free or you may choose to have a copy writer help you out. This is an important part of your website because it is how you convey your value and your services to the visitor of your site. We love Nicole Bonsol at www.writebrave.com. Investment: Free - $2,000
Maintenance: If you have a service website you do not need to back up your website. However, if you have a Wordpress site you need to make sure your hosting company provides back ups and security. This can be an additional cost for a wordpress.org site. Investment: Free - $20 per month
SEO: It really shouldn't cost any more to have your website show up on Google placements. However, sometimes you might need some extra support in understanding how search engines work, knowing what words you should be focusing on, and developing a plan that will get your website where you need it to be. Be wary of paying search engine gurus who will get your website to the top of Google too fast. Some of theme use "blackhat" or sneaky tactics that can actually get your website "blacklisted" by Google. Blacklisted is bad for your website, and your business. A few people we trust to learn about SEO Cathy Hanville, CounselingWise, and BrighterVision. We also teach therapists about SEO as part of the Business School Bootcamp for Therapists.
How about you? How much has your website cost you? Share below and let's learn from each other.