~By Tim Emineth
We have talked to a lot of agents, that are moving from an “all in one site” to a WordPress website. I define all in one sites as websites that have a larger monthly fee and everything is provided for you, the MLS solution and the content. An example of the All in one sites are iHouseweb, Real Geeks, Boomtown, flexmls or any other turn key site. I am not saying that these sites are bad if you have one and if it's working for you then great. The key phrase is if it is working for you, if it isn’t then you have a 3 options (yes only 3.)
- Switch to another all in one site.
- Create your own custom site.
Have no site. (I know of a few successful agents that do not have a website and make a great living.)
For the sake of this article I am going to stay with option 2. Option 1 is just shopping, and option 3 is an entirely different article on how to have a successful real estate carrier without a website. (let me know in the comments if you are interested in that ;)
Here is the list of hidden costs in creating your own WordPress website. I wanted to spell this out because ownership comes with a cost. Sometimes with sticker shock and sometimes it is really easy to handle. So, let’s get to it.
The cost of a theme.
Whether you are using a WordPress developer or not there is the cost of a WordPress theme. Most of the time the developer builds it into the total cost of the site. If you are going on your own then you will know the cost. A lot of developers and agents use Themeforest to buy themes. The average cost of a theme is between $40 to $60 (not bad for a one-time fee.) But if you buy a theme from Themeforest you only get 6 months of support and there is an additional $18 for the whole year and then after that year is over you will have to spend that same amount for a total of $78. I know you are thinking, I just won’t buy it every year but then if you don’t do that then your site can be hacked because they are continually patching security holes in the theme. (this is every theme by the way).
So, what’s the other option? You can buy a framework such as Genesis (from studiopress), Thesis (from diythemes), Equity (from agent evolution), Divi (Elegant Themes)… etc. Frameworks come with their own costs. You have to buy the framework then sometimes a fee or sometimes you get them both. Here are the costs of frame works:
1. Agent Evolution - $99 a year, each theme is 49.99
2. Genesis - $59.99 One time, each theme is about $69
3. Thesis - $87 a year, 1 skin is included
The cheapest option and the best ROI is Genesis just because it is a one-time fee rather than a yearly cost. Frameworks are always the way to go when purchasing a theme because the framework is updated while your child theme or skin is left alone, this way you don’t lose any customization you or your developer may have installed.
Hosting is another fee this can range between $50 a month for WordPress managed hosting (the hosting company fixes issues and makes sure that you site is updated) to $3 a month if you pay for a year at a time. What you are looking for in a good host for SEO is speed and support.
I have Google’d best WordPress hosting (and the year) almost every year so that I can help agents find faster hosts. The same names usually come up and they are InMotion, Bluehost, WP Engine, Hostgator and SiteGround. This is not a hosting review article this is just to mention costs. WP Engine I think is the most at $30 a month so on average I am going to say that hosting is about $15 a month.
Some hosts build this into the monthly cost of hosting like WP Engine but and SSL cert. costs on average $69 a year.
So, let’s catch up on costs:
Monthly Costs - $15 for hosting
• $69 a year for the SSL Cert.
• $99 a year for a framework (if you chose one that has a yearly cost).
• $78 a year if you bought your theme from ThemeForest.
IDX Solution (Property Search Feature)
If you're an agent you may need an IDX solution on your site so that visitors can search for properties. There's a fee for that.
- IDXBroker - $100 setup fee $39 to $59 a month if you use a developer code like this one the $100 setup fee is waived. (link above)
- Showcase IDX - $59 a month no setup fee.
- Ihomefinder.com - $99 setup and $39 a month
Again, this is if you are doing this all by yourself. If you hire a web designer then there is usually an hourly cost which on average is $75 to $150 an hour.
If you are tech savvy and design your own site it will save you the hourly cost but if you are not you'll need to find a developer to design the site for you. (Here is our shameless plug)
Now let’s skip ahead to the hidden costs after your site is designed. Now that you have your beautiful site designed and your IDX in place. Here are the fee’s that you will have.
1. $15 a month for hosting.
2. $60 a month for IDX.
1. $8 for domain renewal each year (buy in 5-year increments) you would have to pay this no matter what you decided to do.
2. $69 for SSL
3. $50 for CDN (I will get to this) Costs can go higher based on traffic.
What is a CDN?
A Content Delivery Network (CDN) the best way to describe this is as such. Say you want a pizza but the closest pizza place is 30 mins away. If the pizza place was using a CDN to deliver their pizza then the network makes the pizza 10 mins away saving you 20 mins. Now everyone in your neighborhood can drive 10 mins instead of 30 mins saving everyone time. Now just replace pizza with your website and the mins with seconds and you get the general idea. Instead of having to go to your server where you are hosting your website, your website is cached on servers closer to the people visiting your site hence delivering your website faster.
Google wants your site to load quickly and this is a tool to load your site quickly and possibly avoid a slow load penalty. Google wants your mobile site to load in 1 second and this is how webmasters and get that done. (Yes, this is a whole other article)
And the grand total of the yearly cost is $1027.
This is not including any additional cost in marketing or pay per click ads; this is the base cost of owning your own WordPress website. Remember the “all in one” solutions which they average around $100 a month so doing everything yourself saves you $200 a year (give or take).
So why bother?
Having your own WordPress website gives you complete ownership. You can change brokerages, change the look and feel and market yourself better than the other option. For example, if you use an all in one solution and decide that you want to change the way that your site looks while there may be a fee for doing that you will only have the choice of one of the pre-designed themes that someone else has created for you. So, you get little to no flexibility.
Also, let’s say that you want to change your all-in-one solution for another one. Then you will have to spend hours coping and pasting your content from one site to another. (I have done it and it sucks)
One major issue is that these all-in-one sites also provide you with content; the same content that they provide everyone else, so for SEO reasons it is always better to start from scratch rather than automatically getting hit with a duplicate content penalty. (If you haven’t deleted all of the “canned” content that you are given then please delete them now they are only hurting you.)
This is why as a marketing company we always ask ourselves, are our customers getting a return on the investment that they spend a year with us? Are we providing them leads that get closed to cover our costs and the costs of having a website altogether (and then some). To be honest most of the time we do a great job and sometimes we just can’t get anything we try to work. Then I have the conversation with my clients, “I don’t think we are doing a good job for you. What do you think we need to do in your market? What do you think about this new direction? Let’s come up with a strategy that will work.” This also the reasoning behind the Scream Out Loud Marketing article that I wrote a while back.
Owning your own website, in my opinion, is the best way to go. Even if you pay for someone to design it, because you own it. Owning gives you freedom to move and adjust quickly to your local real estate market in look and feel. If you have any questions about how to OWN everything yourself, give us a call!