Total Cost Of Ownership – WordPress

Total cost of ownership is a financial term that considers the direct and indirect costs  of ownership over the entire lifecycle of an asset, in this case your WordPress site.

WordPress as a platform choice for your web site is attractive because it promises low costs (Free…..initially) and ease of development and update.  In the early days of business development every cent is carefully allocated where it may provide the greatest bang for buck. You become a DYI expert at marketing, web development, sales, administration, accounting, HR, and anything else where you can save outsourcing to prioritise where you spend your income.  Much of this maybe while you work your day job dreaming of eventually breaking away and going out on your own.

As time goes on you discover that your web site is not converting but at least you can point to the web site in your legitimate marketing and advertising. 

You keep working away, growing the business, burning the midnight oil to build your business, cutting corners where you can to control spending while trying to grow revenue.  The small job list grows and before long you are prioritising – marketing first, customer relations second, sales hopefully third (why so few sales???), accounts next, then family – they won’t let you forget them, then finally anything else if you have time. This doesn’t feel like fun anymore! Still, when revenue grows you can get help with the little stuff but now you must make sales, grow your Facebook followers, update your WordPress site, upgrade those plugins and themes, manage comments on your blog, change pricing on your web site, put more into Adwords, advertise in the local paper, discount that old stock to make room for new, update the signage on the company car…….sleep…….try and get some exercise……my chest has tightened up just writing this!

All of the above are tasks which we have taken on and in most cases are not our core business. Before we contemplated venturing out on our own most of us were employed to provide a specific skill or function to an enterprise and depending on the size of the business, in a specific department.  Now, we are all departments, all functions, 90% not involving our core competencies.  It is no wonder we are not as successful as we imagined as we only have a proportion of our time to work on providing the service or product we intended.

With all this going on it is unlikely we are doing anything well simply because we have no time! If this is you I congratulate you for reading this far!

Way back at the beginning I mentioned how WordPress was the platform of choice because of low cost and ease of development and update.  Initially this is true.  Free themes and plugins and even free hosting if we use, right?  At some time someone will comment on your web site (and I don’t mean those pesky spam comment posters). Maybe it is a family member or friend who offers to clean things up and make it more errrr… professional.  Time to invest in a premium theme and some premium plugins to bring the site up to at least the same standard as the competitor(s).  You learn about SEO and SEM and decide to have a go on your own, what could go wrong?  You setup analytics, load a free SEO plugin and start to optimise your site. If you have gotten this far and haven’t hit a hosting hurdle – not enough memory or missing server function or incorrect php version…. you are doing well.  I could keep drilling down into the requirements of a proper WordPress site but will save time and summarise below:


  • WordPress Core – rolled out for 2 reasons; 1. Security release to close exploits, 2.  Feature update to improve the WordPress core.
  • Themes – usually rolled out for the same reasons as the core as well as for compatibility with the latest WordPress Core
  • Plugins – same as themes.
  • Content – new pages, blog posts, new products, comment responses, promotion, refinement.

It is important to stay on top of updates to ensure your site does not become compromised.  Hacked sites may not be visibly compromised eg. serving up malware (ransomware is an example).


  • Regular scans of site code
  • Firewall to prevent intrusion attempts
  • Check for site black ban
  • SSL certificate up to date
  • Access Management


  • Full site and database backup to remote storage
  • Scheduled backups at regular intervals
  • Backup prior to any major updates or changes


  • Configure regular uptime checks
  • Log uptime failures and investigate


  • SEO on all pages
  • Minimise images
  • Use a Content Delivery Network to speed up site
  • Employ a cache plugin to speed up site
  • Content updates
  • Comment Management

The above list is not exhaustive and if diligently applied will reduce risks of downtime and loss of reputation while increasing potential performance and conversion.


  1. Hosting – not all hosting is equal (or FREE).  Hosting costs may include the disk space and data usage on a server, SSL certificate, Content Data Network usage, and mobile hosting for those who have separate sites
  2. Premium plugins and themes.  The costs are proportional to the features of the site.  An eCommerce site will require additional plugins for the shopping cart and payment processing.
  3. Website development.  Very few online websites are out of the box solutions.  Photography, copy writing, usability design, shopping cart provisioning, Blog, premium graphics, terms and conditions, contact forms etc.
  4. Offsite backup storage – will depend on the number of concurrent backups and the location eg. Amazon or Dropbox
  5. Security – High end security providers are subscription based services.  The lack of a security system may result in far higher costs to recover a hacked site.
  6. Average weekly time performing updates, backups, security scans, site optimisation, and content updates.  A recent survey found that the average business spent 4 hours per week on their WordPress site.

If we apply some basic costs over a 1 year period for a standard site (not ecommerce) we come up with the following:

CDN Hosting$100
Standard Hosting$100
Premium Theme$100
Assorted premium plugins$150
Domain Name$20
SSL Certificate$100
Initial cost to develop$2000
Security Subscription$96
Offsite Backup Storage$100
Weekly updates (4 hours @ $50 per hour)$10,400
Total Cost 1st 12 months$13,166

By far the largest cost is the time spent by the business on WordPress Management.  Even at 1 hour per week this still equates to a significant impost which could easily be used for something more productive.  Some might argue that these costs are unnecessary – develop the site yourself (how much time? Quality? Will it convert?  What does an amateur site say about your business?).

A good site attracts visitors through being found on search engines.  Search engines rank pages on content, speed, usability, security, and mobile readiness to mention a few.  A site that is insecure will eventually be compromised which could result in a loss of reputation or a black ban by the search engines.  What is a good site that attracts customers worth?  What is your business or personal reputation worth and what is the cost to recover?

I hope this article assists in understanding the true costs of owning and operating an important component of your business.  Professional WordPress Management through us or someone else is a reasonable price to pay to keep your site working hard for your business and to free up time for core business activities (or just spending time with the family)