The True Cost of Running Your Websites On WordPress

By Ariel Rule

It’s been a good year to be a digital marketing agency. With updates from Google like the newly instituted push for sites to have SSL and updates to the AdWords platform, businesses have finally started to understand the importance of having a purpose-driven online presence.

This has many business owners turning to web and marketing experts, like yourself, to help them create a better, more holistic online reach so they can focus on the thing they love most — their business.

For most digital agencies, creating this online presence often starts with building or redesigning a website. And many agencies turn to the popular CMS WordPress to accomplish this task.

WordPress has proven to be an excellent open source tool that allows people to build blogs and finally get online.

However, for agencies that build multiple sites for SMBs, WordPress isn’t always the easiest to work with.

Aside from the fact that you need at least some background in web development when building sites with WP, it’s important to note that, even though it’s an open source platform, it isn’t necessarily free.

So if it’s not free, how much of a cost are we talking about?

Let’s find out.

Real Numbers From a Real Digital Marketing Agency

As a website building platform, we work and partner with quite a few digital marketing agencies of various sizes that have moved from WordPress to Duda.

This made getting a true cost of running sites on WordPress much easier to put together.

We reached out to WebAct, a digital agency that switched from WordPress to Duda for building SMB sites, to see what the cost difference was between the two.


President of WebAct, Brian Lewis, kindly shared the costs associated with producing the sites they build in a single month. We were then able to compile the monthly and annual cost for their agency when building on WordPress versus Duda.

Here are some of the things he took into consideration when crunching the numbers:

  • Sites built per month
  • The hourly cost of a developer
  • The time it took to build a single site on one platform versus the other
  • The cost of themes
  • The average spent per month on plugins
  • The cost of paying an IT administrator to handle maintenance on sites every month
  • The cost of hosting per site per month
  • The cost of an SSL certificate per site per month
  • Cost of general maintenance of clients’ sites per request

As far as building sites in a digital marketing agency, these are the average things to consider when figuring out where money is being spent.

Let’s break out these numbers starting with WordPress, and then we’ll move on to Duda.

  • Average Site’s Built Per Month: 7
  • Hourly Cost of a WP Developer: $150
  • Time To Build a Single WP Site: 14 hours on average
  • The Cost of Theme Purchases: $150-$300 per site
  • The Amount Spent on WP Plugins:  $1000 per month average
  • Cost of WP Admin for Maintenance: $7,000 per month
  • Cost With Hosting Per Site: $4 dollar per site average
  • Cost with SSL Certificates: $7 per month
  • Cost of Monthly Maintenance Done: $1,155 per month (amount paid to admins for maintenance)

Right now, this just looks like a jumble of numbers so let’s see what the grand total is for monthly and then yearly costs:

The Monthly Cost of Building 7 Sites on WordPress:

  • Base cost to build the site ($150 x 14 hours x 7 sites): $14,700
  • Cost of themes ($200 each site): $1,400
  • Hosting for 7 sites: $28 paid
  • SSL Certificates for 7 sites: $49 per month
  • Plugins per site: $142 average per month
  • Cost of WP Admin: $7,000
  • Cost of clients requiring additional maintenance: $105 per month

Monthly Total Out Of Pocket Expense:

$23,424 per month for running and maintaining sites on WordPress.

Now, take that and multiply it by 12 for the whole year and look at what the grand total cost is.

Yearly Out of Pocket Expense:

$281,088 spent on 84 websites built and maintained using WordPress.

That’s quite a bit to shell out. Keep in mind that this number is still rather conservative considering this is only for costs pertaining to building and maintaining sites and not all the expenses related to running an agency.

As you can see, the expenses for this agency were quite high when it came to using WordPress. This example simply shows at-cost numbers.

That means they had to charge more than this base cost in order to generate income to create a sustainable business. These higher price points made it harder to sell their other services such as SEM or content creation.

As a digital agency, perhaps you’ve experienced a similar truth. So what was the difference for them when they switched to Duda?

Let’s take a look.

Cost of Duda Versus WordPress for WebAct

One of the things WebAct considered before making the switch to Duda was the cost.

They considered the same things as they did with WordPress. Here are the numbers they discovered:

  • Base cost to build the site ($75 x 7 hours x 7 sites): $3,675
  • Cost of themes: N/A (all templates included in price)
  • Hosting for 7 sites: $52.50
  • SSL Certificates for 7 sites: N/A (SSL certificates included)
  • Plugins per site: N/A (all business widgets and tools included in price)
  • Cost of Admin: N/A
  • Cost of clients requiring additional maintenance: $53 per month
  • Cost for using Duda Platform on 7 sites: $ 91

Monthly Total Out Of Pocket Expense:

$3,871.50 for running 7 sites on the Duda platform.

Yearly Out of Pocket Expense:

$46,458 for running 84 sites using Duda’s website builder.

WordPress Versus Duda: A Cost Comparison


As you can see, for WebAct, the cost related to using WordPress every month was over $23,000 in out of pocket costs. But in switching to Duda, not only was site development time cut in half per site, but their expenses each month decreased to only a few thousand dollars.

When talking with him, Brian stated, “When we switched to Duda from WordPress, we were nervous about making a change just like any other design company. Now we do not build on anything else but this amazing platform.”

Brian also brought up an important point about hidden costs that his agency faced when working with WordPress:

When you build a WordPress website you need lots of plugins that either have monthly or yearly costs. Not only are you paying for them, you also have to learn how to make them work with your theme. Once you add lots of plugins and the website is good to go live, you have to work out the bugs.

After the this process, hidden costs come up. Your customer depends on you for nothing to go wrong with there website. When WordPress does an update, it will sometimes break the website and the same goes for plugin updates…With Duda you do not need to worry that your website crashed, or a plugin is going to need an update so it does not work. It saves our team two to ten hours a month on a website just to keep it up to date.”

Overall, the switch from WordPress to Duda saved WebAct over two hundred thousand per year in expenses and gave them room to expand their clientele.

The time saved from switching to Duda, gave WebAct the opportunity to work with more clients. Since dev time with Duda was essentially cut in half, they literally had more time in a day to build more sites and thus grow their business.

What Could A Switch to Duda Mean For Your Agency?

A switch to Duda could really affect your bottom line since your price point can change dramatically.

As you can see from the real world example from WebAct, their out of pocket costs dropped dramatically when switching over to Duda. But this also dropped the price point for their customers.

The same could be true for you. With expenses lowered with Duda, switching means you could keep your price point high, but put more money in your pocket. This results in a higher profit margin for you and a better quality SMB site for your customers.

On the flip side, switching to Duda also gives you the opportunity to lower your pricing to acquire more customers and offer more services to them to help reduce churn rate and customer acquisition costs.

WordPress certainly has its strengths as a blogging tool.

But in the case of building small business sites, WebAct found that the costs were too high for what their clients really needed. In switching to our website building platform, which specializes in building SMB sites, they saved quite a bit of time and money that they then reinvested in their business, marketing and customers.

If you’re an agency building small business sites with WordPress, your costs could be similar to those of WebAct’s.

If so, why not give Duda’s responsive website builder a try? Our brand new editor has been redesigned with the input of agencies just like yours so the features and workflow are smoother, faster and better than ever before.

Start your 30-day trial today and see why more agencies are making the move to WordPress.

About Ariel Rule

Ariel is a long-time blogger and Duda's Social Media Manager. When she's not engaging the social community you can often find her hiding behind her Mac sipping on coffee, writing Duda's next blog post or strumming on her guitar.
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