Getting the Word Out – How Much Does it Cost to Build Your O

Getting the Word Out – How Much Does it Cost to Build Your O

From Hasaan Sethi

Getting the Word Out – How Much Does it Cost to Build Your Organization's Website?

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How do you get as many people as possible behind a cause?

Well, you need all the help you can get from family, friends, and like-minded people who should use any means possible to tell everybody about who you are and what you're doing.

However, they can only get you so far. You need to get the word out properly and convince your target audience that supporting you is a good idea.

Given that we live in the world of social media, some people might say this is easier than ever. And to a certain degree, this is true. However, Facebook posts and hashtags can never convey enough information about your organization.

Not to mention that they're not that representative.

What you really need is a place where people can learn everything about you and your cause and possibly even get on board in the process. In other words, you need a website.

Today, we'll show you the steps involved in building one, and we'll see how much the whole project could cost.

How Can a Website Support My Cause?

The idea of a website may seem old-fashioned to some. Modern internet users like information to be as condensed as possible, preferring bite-sized chunks of text and colorful images over detailed paragraphs.

And yet, the humble website continues to be as popular as ever. Organizations in all fields of life use it as a medium for getting to as many people as possible, and so should you. However, in your case, its purpose goes beyond simply informing users about your existence.

If a person considers backing your cause, they'll first want to learn more about your organization. With a website, you can give them all the information they need, structured and presented according to your personal preference. Your site also offers visitors an easy method for contacting you, which is crucial if you want to make your organization more trustworthy.

Users can have a system for direct donation or easy access to your payment processing platform through your site, and if you want, you can build a messaging board where they discuss and share their thoughts on your cause and everything surrounding it

So, there's no shortage of upsides to having a website for your organization and cause. But what are the drawbacks?

The main one is that you'll need to set aside a budget for it, and it shouldn't be underestimated. After all, you're trying to raise money, not spend it.

That being said, the potential for getting people on board far outweighs the negative effects on your financials. Moreover, the amount of cash you need to start a website may not be as huge as you think. And if you know what you're doing, you could streamline the site-building process and further minimize expenses.

Let's delve a bit deeper into the subject.

 Preparation and the Importance of Planning Ahead

The word "website" is a broad term for many different types of online portals. For example, a blog is considered a website, but so is an online store, a messaging board, a news site, etc. Many think a website for a fundraising campaign would encompass little more than a few informative pages about the cause and the people supporting it.

However, there's a lot more you can add to it to make it more interactive and functional. For example, a newsletter giving subscribers regular updates on how far you've come may not be a bad idea. You can also sell items through the site as an additional source of funds.

The possibilities are pretty much endless, and looking into some of them is definitely worth it. It's up to you to decide which features you want to implement, but be sure to do it before you start work on the website.

Many people try to make it up as they go along, but that's not a very good strategy. If you add functionality on the fly, you may encounter technical problems that could set you back and even undo some of the work you've already done. This is especially true if you overestimate your skills and try to implement a feature without knowing how it works or what it requires.

There's another problem – adding features on the go can lead to unexpected expenses.

Implementing new functionality requires time and money, so any unplanned features will mess up the schedule and put weight on the budget. When you're running a fundraising campaign, every penny (and often, every second) counts, so this sort of use of resources is far from ideal.

So, a clear vision of what you want to achieve and how you can achieve it could go a long way.

 The Cost of Building a Website

To form a plan and assign a budget, you first have to identify the components and services you'll need to build your website. After you find out how they work and how much they cost, you'll have a clear idea of how to proceed.

Here's the run-down:

● Domain

The domain is the unique name that people associate with your website. It's what you enter into the browser's address bar, and without it, users won't know how to get to your site. Domains are registered by companies known as domain registrars, though they can often be bought through your hosting provider, as well.

To maintain ownership of a domain, you need to pay a yearly fee that largely depends on what's known as its TLD. TLD stands for top-level domain, but for the sake of simplicity, many people prefer to call it the domain's extension. The TLD of domain.com is .com.

Domains with generic TLDs like .com, .net, .org, etc., usually cost in the region of $20 per year, though you can often get those bundled with your hosting account and use them for free for the first year. Country-code TLDs like .us, .uk, etc., tend to be more expensive and are usually accessible through specific registrars.

● Website building platform

In this day and age, it rarely makes sense to build a website from scratch. There are many software applications that let anyone create professional-looking pages quickly and efficiently. Obviously, the end result depends largely on your chosen platform, so make sure you pick wisely. You want the best possible blend of usability, features, and reliability.

There are two types of website-building applications. Some, like Wix, are offered under the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model. They are renowned for their ease of use, and they run on a hosting service which you get as part of your plan.

However, SaaS platforms aren't particularly flexible and could cause a few issues, especially as your website grows bigger and more popular. Some offer a free tier, but if you want to use your own domain, you usually need to go for one of the paid plans.

Prices don't seem too high to begin with, but they can swell up if your site is more complex or traffic levels pick up. Another downside of these platforms is that if you're not happy with your provider, your options are limited. Migrating from one SaaS app to another is tricky, and often, you have no choice but to start from scratch.

The alternative is a self-hosted content management system (CMS) like WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal. You have dozens of options to choose from, and most of them are fully open-source, meaning you can use them as much as you want for free.

These solutions require a separate hosting account (more of that in a minute), but they tend to be more powerful and versatile. The fact that over 40% of the world's websites are built with WordPress speaks for itself.

● Hosting

Hosting services come in all shapes and sizes, with the cheapest plans starting as low as a couple of dollars per month and the most advanced solutions running well into the three-figure range.

At the lower end of the scale, you have shared plans, and while they would work for small, simple websites, they present a few limitations and can't really give you consistent loading speeds or reliable performance. Shared packages also wouldn't work particularly well if you want to send many emails to your newsletter subscribers.

A VPS cloud is the better choice overall. It is pricier, with managed solutions starting at around $20 per month, but the performance and security benefits are significant. You get a virtual server with guaranteed resources, a dedicated IP, and a completely isolated environment. This means more reliable loading speeds, better scalability, and improved security.

● Theme

 

The theme (also called template) determines your website's appearance. It acts as a skin that can set the page layout, the background, the colors, and everything else the user sees on the screen.

Good themes come with a range of customization options. You can place your logo, create a new color scheme, and change the position of things like the menus and some buttons.

Anyone can develop themes – from an established development agency to an amateur programmer with enough free time. Consequently, a template can be free, but it can also cost quite a lot of money.

With thousands of themes to choose from, picking a design is hardly a walk in the park, and because there's such a huge variety of prices, it's difficult to estimate precisely how much you'll pay. Nevertheless, setting a budget and trying to stick to it is a good idea.

● Plugins

The theme takes care of your website's appearance, and the plugins are responsible for its functionality. Plugins (also referred to as extensions or add-ons) can implement features of varying complexity. Anything from a humble contact form to a fully-fledged ecommerce platform can be introduced with the help of add-ons, so they're an essential part of putting together a website that is both informative and interactive.

Yet again, you have both free and paid plugins and yet again, it's tricky to say how much you'll need to set aside for them. However, you can help yourself by putting together a list of features you want to implement and doing some market research to find out how much they will potentially cost.

● SEO

The more traffic you have on your site, the more people you can convince to get on board. And since most of the traffic will likely come from search engines, you should think about doing everything you can to position your website at the very top of the results pages.

This could involve anything from installing a plugin to hiring external specialists who can help you with things like content, links, imagery, etc. Do some research and ensure you have sufficient resources to optimize your site and put it in front of people's eyes. Invest wisely, and your cause will benefit no end.

● Development service

Thanks to easy-to-install platforms like WordPress, you can now host and build a WordPress website without writing a single line of code. This doesn't mean it's a piece of cake, though. If this is your first site, you'll need some time to familiarize yourself with the application of your choice.

If you don't have that time, your only option is to hire a specialist who can do the hard work for you. The same is true if you want a custom-built feature. Be sure you find out exactly how much help you'll need before you start. Otherwise, you're pretty much guaranteed to blow a hole in your budget.

 Maintenance and Website Updates

Launching your website is one thing. Keeping it going is another.

Being a fundraising organization, you probably don't have the resources to put together a team that keeps a constant eye on the site. And the truth is, unless it's an integral part of the organization's work, you likely don't need to. That being said, this doesn't mean there's no maintenance involved.

Obviously, the amount of time and effort you need to commit to keeping the site in perfect working order depends on many factors. No two projects are the same, so the exact steps you should take differ, as well. However, there are a few common best practices.

Use the tools provided by your host to ensure the server load is acceptable, and upgrade your solution if you think it may be slowing your site down. Your provider should also have a malware scanning service of some sort. Use it regularly to identify any potential problems before they can cause any damage.

To minimize the chances of these scans detecting something, you must ensure every piece of software powering your site is updated to the latest version. Security vulnerabilities can pose a real threat, and the only way to eliminate them is to ensure all the updates are installed. In addition to massively improving your security, this will allow you to take advantage of the latest stability and performance-enhancing features.

Overall, your site's maintenance will likely require more time than money, but although it doesn't put too much pressure on the budget, its importance shouldn't be underestimated.

 Conclusion

Your website can be more than just a tool for spreading the word. It's a testament to your trustworthiness and reputation and can be critical in getting people to help you with your cause.

You will need to spend some time and money on it, but the investment will be more than worth it in the long run. What's more, if you plan and think through every step carefully, you can get top results with minimal outlay.

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