How I keep my startup expenses low

How to Keep your Startup Website Expenses Low?

by Chandoo on November 26, 2010 · 5 comments

in Money Matters, Selling Online

This is part 3 of my series on how to lower startup expenses.

  1. How I lower my Rental & Salary Expenses
  2. How I lower my Marketing & Sales Expenses
  3. How I lower my Website Expenses
  4. How I lower my Other Operational Expenses [Hardware, Software, Misc.]

What are various expenses associated with running a website?

I run 3 active websites (chandoo.org, excelschool.in and startupdesi.com) and 2 passive sites.  I incur a lot of expenses each month in running these sites. Below is a table of various expenses and their nature.

Expense TypeFrequencyCost
in $s
Required?Recommended Option
Website HostingMonthly10YesGoDaddy
Shopping Cart SoftwareMonthly5YesE-Junkie
CDN (Content Delivery Network for fast loading of frequently used files)Monthly10OptionalAmazon S3 / Cloud Front
Website BackupsMonthly15OptionalVaultPress
PC BackupsMonthly5OptionalMozy
Payment ProcessorsPer TransactionDependsYesPayPal, 2Checkout
Domain Name RegistrationAnnual10YesGoDaddy
Database BackupMonthly0YesWP-DB Manager Plugin
A/B Testing & Page OptimizationAs needed0YesGoogle Website Optimizer
Website AnalyticsN/A0YesGoogle Analytics
News Letter ServiceMonthly19YesAweber, Feedburner is free but offers little control
Sitemaps, NavigationN/A0YesXML Sitemaps, WP-Page Navi Plugins
Caching SolutionsN/A0Yeshttp://www.w3-edge.com/wordpress-plugins/w3-total-cache/
SEON/A0YesAll in one SEO Pack
FTP SoftwareAs needed0YesFire FTP addin for Firefox addin for Firefox
S3 Admin SoftwareAs needed0YesS3Fox, Also use CloudBerry Explorer Pro if you want more control over S3
Polls & SurveysAs needed0YesGoogle Docs
Advanced Scripts & Plugins for WordpressAs neededBetween $5 - $150OptionalUse only reliable plugins. Do not hesitate to buy something if it is valuable to you. Most scripts /plugins pay back very quickly.

As you can see, you can run a decent website with less than $45 per month. For more info read how much it costs to run a website.

How to cut down website maintenance expenses?

Here are a few ideas to help you cut-down your website maintenance expenses.

1. Host multiple sites in one hosting account: Almost all hosting providers supporting hosting multiple sites under one account. For eg. I run startupdesi and excelschool (and 2 other sites) from just one hosting account.

2. Learn some HTML & CSS: HTML is the language of web. CSS is what you use to style a web page anyway you want. These are ridiculously simple to learn. Many people try to outsource the website development work thinking they need to focus on core products. While it is a good strategy, you will find that often you feel crippled as you lack HTML  / CSS knowledge to make immediate changes to your site. In fact, I would say that unless you are running a very large company / website, it is an absolute necessity to learn the language of web to do well. Once you are big, you can always hire someone else to do it for you.

3. Use WordPress: WordPress, the premier blogging platform is what I use across my sites. It is undoubtedly one of the best ways to maintain a dynamic, constantly updating site. It works really well with Google and many people are already familiar with the way wordpress sites look. If you are starting a website today, give wordpress a serious thought.

4. Keep it simple: These days, it is too tempting to make your site look slick and vibrating with all the AJAX widgetry, CSS3, Fonts etc. But always remember the purpose of your site. It is there to provide value to your customers. So keep it simple and to the point. Add features progressively and experiment carefully. A simple site is easy to maintain, easy to navigate, easy to understand and easy to purchase from.

5. Pay for good stuff: Do not skimp when it comes website stuff. You should always get good hosting partners. Just because someone is ready to host your site for few dollars doesnt mean you should switch. Thoroughly investigate if the hosting partner can keep your website safe, available and load it fast enough. Also, pay only for good stuff. Do not throw away money for un-needed features or goodies (I did this a few times and I regret my decisions. More on this in a later post).

6. Use Amazon S3 and CloudFront CDN for frequently accessed files to speed up your sites: Amazon S3 is laughably cheap and very reliable. You can use their Cloud Front CDN to speed up your site by moving various static parts (CSS files, logo images, Java script files etc.) to them. It is a pay as you go service, so you only pay for what bandwidth you consume. [here is a tutorial explaining how to do this.]

Share your tips

What ideas and tricks you use to cutdown website maintenance expenses? Please share using comments.

What next?

In the final installment of this series, I will share with you how I cut down my operational expenses. Stay tuned.

Read the previous part – 7 tips for lowering marketing & sales expenses in start-ups.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Girija Acharya November 2, 2011 at 7:46 am

Very useful set of information for people who want to setup an online business .
Regards
Girija

Reply

Nitin May 1, 2012 at 10:29 am

Hi Chandoo,

Big fan… I need a suggestion from you. When users register on your website, you send an email. We also have an emailer setup but godaddy smtp shared hosting server is too slow and my users are receiving email after upto 2 hours. This is bad for my business.

Which hosting plan are you using, if you can reveal that? Or what can be a possible solution to my prob?

Thanks a lot for your time.

Nitin

Reply

Praveen May 16, 2012 at 11:35 am

Dear Chandoo…

You truly are an inspiration for me. Am regular at your blog now.
In my second yr of MBA at NITIE, and wanting to have my own startup soon. Looking to work in the rural setup, but wondering if I can do something in the Website arena, to get something moving and to give me the initial capital.

Thanks a Lot,
-Praveen

Reply

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