In this Episode of the Project Ignite Podcast, I’m going to reveal my website budget breakdown and how I kept it to less than $1000 when I built this website. This episode it packed with killer tips and tools you can start using to create incredible websites on the cheap!
- We use www.wordpress.com to host Project Ignite. The theme we use is the Headway Theme, found at http://headwaythemes.com/.
- I outsource all the time to www.upwork.com, and www.craigslist.com when I need coding or designing done.
- Check out my SEO plugin here: https://yoast.com/wordpress/plugins/seo/.
- I also use Google Analytics for WordPress: https://yoast.com/wordpress/plugins/google-analytics/.
- I use akismet for my spam filtering, found here: https://wordpress.org/plugins/akismet/.
- For security, I use Wordfence: https://wordpress.org/plugins/wordfence/.
- We use http://www.gravityforms.com/ for all of our form creation.
- I use http://www.infusionsoft.com/ for my email marketing and e-commerce, but I also discussed Aweber (http://www.aweber.com/), MailChimp (http://mailchimp.com/) and Get Response (http://www.getresponse.com/).
- We also discussed the Smart Podcast Player, found at www.smartpodcastplayer.com, which was developed by Pat Flynn at http://www.smartpassiveincome.com/category/podcast/.
- For more advanced navigation, we use WP-Pagenavi, found at https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-pagenavi/.
- To ensure all of my images are optimized, I use WP-Smush, found at https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-smushit/.
- For pop-up creation, we use https://en-ca.wordpress.org/plugins/popup-maker/.
- For my landing pages, we use www.clickfunnels.com, but we also discussed www.leadpages.net and www.wpprofitbuilder.com/.
- For speed optimization, we use https://www.cloudflare.com/.
Transcript: “How I Kept My Website Budget Under $1000”
Hi, Derek Gehl here, and welcome to episode number two of the Project Ignite podcast. I’m really excited about this episode because it’s going to be just chock full of stuff that you can use when you build your next website. In order to deliver on that, I’m going to take you behind the scenes of ProjectIgnite.com and show you how I built it with a website budget of less than $1000… just to proven that I could! 🙂
We recently completed this website, and just before it went fully live I showed it to some members of my mastermind group. They all took a look and asked, “wow–how much did that website cost you to build?” It was less than $1,000 and when I showed them my website budget breakdown, they were surprised.
I realized again, even in this day and age, people are spending way too much money on building websites, on hiring programmers, or they’re using the wrong things on their websites–creating slow, bloated sites that are harming them in a number of different ways.
So, I want to take you behind the scenes. I want to show you the theme, the plugins, and the tools I used to create this website, and these are themes, plugins and tools that I’ve used for many, many years for both high end and budget web design.
You know, not only are you benefiting from learning what we use, but you’re also benefiting from learning what not to use.
Over the past decade, I’ve spent tens of thousands–no, hundreds of thousands of dollars on themes, plugins, testing software, tools, to see what works and what doesn’t.
We’re constantly testing new things, and after spending all of that time and money testing, this is what we use every single day.
As I move forward, I’m going to be sharing tons of different tools and resources with you.
What I want to do is just explain the different tools and give you a brief summary of why I like these. What I’m not going to do is get into why this one is better than that one, or why I chose this theme over that theme.
Just know that we’ve done a ton of testing–we have tried so much, and these are the tools that I use every day across all my websites not matter my web design budget.
So, the website itself is built on WordPress. If you’re not using WordPress, you probably should be. WordPress is now the biggest website building platform in the world. Something like 22% of all websites are built on WordPress–that’s 75 million websites using WordPress today.
One of the reasons why I love WordPress so much is because it now has the biggest community of developers of any platform. It’s open-source, which means there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of programmers around the world that are constantly building features, functionality, plugins, and themes for this powerful platform.
What that means to us, as the non-techy entrepreneurs, is that we can go out and build these websites without having to invest in programmers to design this kind of functionality, rather, we can just piggyback on the technology that’s already been built for us.
In the case of WordPress, and in many cases, this is all free for us to use (which will fit anyone’s website budget). As I go through my list, some of the stuff that I use isn’t free, but even the stuff I pay for is really dirt cheap.
It’s funny, because I talk to people that show me website budget breakdowns and then proudly announce “I’ve spent $20,000 on that website,” and it almost seems like a rite of passage, like they’re proud of it. It’s ridiculous.
And whenever I visit those websites, I’m doing the mental math; you spent twenty grand on that and we could’ve done that with a $1000 website budget (or less) by outsourcing and leveraging plugins.
That said, let’s dive into this and start sharing the different tools we use behind the scenes to create this website. Just remember: you can find the show notes for this podcast on ProjectIgnite.com/podcast on the episode two page.
You can pick and choose which ones you’d like to use. To that end, if you have a WordPress website that you’re already happy with, don’t feel like you have to run out and change everything.
But going forward, maybe these will work for you–maybe some of these will be better than what you have, maybe some of these you aren’t using, so even if you do have a website, pay close attention because I think you’ll pick up a few things along the way.
Something I should mention as well, is that when I’m building a WordPress website, my goal is to use the absolute minimum of plugins and add-ons as is humanly possible.
Every time you add a plugin to a WordPress website, it effectively adds to–or as I like to call it, bloats you, and slows you down.
“when I’m building a WordPress website, my goal is to use the absolute minimum number of plugins and add-ons as is humanly possible
So let’s start right at the top. What is the theme we used for Project Ignite? Lots of people go out there, and say, “hey, I can’t find the theme that I want,” and they wind up hiring developers to go out there and build a custom theme for them which gets really expensive.
In this day and age, I truly believe it’s no longer necessary, because of what are called drag-and-drop theme builders.
These are theme builders that you install on WordPress, and though most don’t necessarily come with a particular design, what they allow you to do is drag-and-drop and create your own unique page designs without having to do any coding.
Now if we go back to the early day of WordPress themes, you’d get a theme and it would typically have very specific page types, page layouts, and page formats, and you’d be kind of hamstrung using this box that they’d created for you.
So this is their design for a post, and if you wanted to change it, you’d have to go out and hire a coder, or a developer, or a designer, to change the CSS or potentially even hack up some of the code on that theme to make it the theme you want.
But now we’re seeing the next generation of themes, which are drag-and-drop themes, which allow you almost the ultimate flexibility. But like all themes, there are good and bad drag-and-drop themes.
So like I said, I’m not going to get into theme comparisons, but I am going to tell you that the theme I use for all of my websites these days is called the Headway Theme.
The Headway Theme is my absolute, hands-down favourite drag-and-drop theme; a) because although it comes with different styles and templates, you can start with a blank page and create literally any page you want, so you don’t have another B2 website that looks like every other website out there.
Second to that, you’re never going to be limited by your theme’s functionality. As your website grows, you have the ability to create any page style that you want.
The best part about Headway is that you don’t need to be a coder. Is there a learning curve? Absolutely.
You’re starting from a blank canvas. But you don’t need to be a programmer. If you go through their help videos, they’ll walk you through how to start building websites using Headway.
And like any good theme, if you reach out into the outsourcing universe, on sites like www.upwork.com, you’ll find lots of developers and designers that specialize in this Headway Theme if you ever do get stuck.
Now, Headway Theme is the primary theme that we used to build Project Ignite. You can get a single site license of the Headway Theme for $59.00 (Again, it is within anyone’s website budget).
If you have multiple sites, they do have developer licenses for a little bit more than that to let you use unlimited websites.
I’ve built countless websites with Headway now, and I absolutely love it.
One of the other elements of why I really like it is because while I’m not a coder, I’ve had really smart programmers look at the Headway theme and the code behind it, and the feedback has been that it’s really well built. Many of the themes you get into are very clunky, very bloated, like a lot of the drag-and-drop themes out there.
They do really weird things and can create really weird code that isn’t very efficient. From the outside, from a non-coder standpoint, they look good–but they’re not all that efficient. Headway is a well built theme, so I really love that. Headway also offers different blocks.
Blocks are additional extensions or different features that you can buy which they’ve developed. Some are free, some are paid. The only one I’m using is called the Article Block, which allows us to create little article pages quite quickly.
Do you need it? No, absolutely not, but that’s one of the things that we use.
Let’s jump over to plugins now. Any WordPress website is going to have plugins that provide more functionality. One of my challenges when I create a website is to try to use as few plugins as possible.
And the reason for this is something I see all the time, when people look and say, “these plugins are free,” and start adding plugin after plugin after plugin, and that is creating bloat. So I try to use minimal plugins.
Here are the plugins I use on just about every website I create.
The next plugin that I absolutely love and use on all of my websites now is called WP-Smush and this was developed by WPMUDev, which is a big plugin developer, and its a free plugin, and basically what that does is as you add images to your websites, it makes sure that they’re optimized.
So WPMUDev has a server that has image compression software on it, and as you add images, it runs them through that software and compresses it. It’s called lossless compression, so they still look super good, it just makes sure that they’re optimized.
So if you’re out there grabbing images from online, or doing stuff in Photoshop, and you don’t necessarily know how to make sure they’re super optimized, just use this plugin and know that when it lands on your website, it’ll be compressed and taken care of.
The fact is, page load times have huge impacts on bounce rates, on search engine rankings and on usability of our websites. I can’t tell you how often I go to websites that use a ton of unoptimized images that take forever to download, and though we may not notice it on high speed connections, it is having an impact, so a plugin like WP-Smush takes care of that.
Now I want to take a step off of WordPress and take a look at some of the third party tools that we’re also using. If you go to Project Ignite, you’ll find it’s built on WordPress, using the Headway theme, using all of these plugins that we just talked about.
But, as you click on some of our offers for free e-books or our opt-in offers throughout the website, you’re going to find that they link to video pages and stuff like that. If you look up to the URL, you’ll notice that they’re actually hosted on a subdomain, which is a ww3, so they’re not actually hosted on the root site.
So, let’s break that down here. Everything I’ve added up, if we assume you’re using Aweber or Get Response, in the first month–because there are some ongoing fees there–the total cost of all the plugins and all the themes, software, everything… The total is about $251.00.
Like I said, that ongoing fee could be reduced as well. But $251.00 for all of the themes, plugins, software, to get this up and running.
Depending on what you choose, there could be some ongoing fees with that, but those fees would likely be well under $100.00 per month, probably less that $50.00 per month. For powerful marketing tools. That was the hard cost of buying licenses.
On top of that I kept my website budget under $1000, not just $251.00, because there are costs on top of that–I’m not a developer, I’m not a coder, I’m not a designer. I need to hire people to do that for me.
The entire graphics layout was done using a designer from the Philippines. I actually didn’t find him on Upwork, in fact, I posted an ad on Craigslist in the Philippines. Most people try Upwork first to find things, but what I’ve found is that while Upwork is great and I’ve found some great people there, including the coder I use, I’ve found that posting on Craigslist and job boards in the Philippines can yield better results.
In a future podcast, I’m going to talk about how I’ve outsourced my entire organization, so I won’t get into that too deeply, but needless to say, the entire graphics package was $250.00 completed. The other side of that is the coding.
The coding here took about 20 hours of a coder that knew Headway really, really well. He was also in the Philippines, and he wasn’t the cheapest coder out there, but he did a great job. I paid him about $22.00 per hour, and it took him around 20 hours to finish it all up. That’s a total of $440.00 of my $1000 website budget.
Let’s break this down. The total cost of all of our fixed costs:
plugins and stuff like that, was $251.00. Graphics – $250.00. Coding – $440.00. That’s a total of $951.00 to build this website.
In future episodes, I’m going to go into outsourcing: how I hire people, how to get the best results, so that you can replicate this, but today I wanted to give you the tools.
You might think, “but what about all of the videos? what about recording podcasts?” It doesn’t have to be expensive! In future episodes, I’m going to show you how to do this. Do it at home, do it for cheap, without having to spend a fortune.
Now–is Project Ignite perfect yet? No. There’s always things I want to improve. If I can leave you with one thing: if you’re just getting started, just get your website up. It’ll never be perfect, and like most entrepreneurs, you’ll always see ways you can improve it. Just get it live first, and then start to improve it.
There you go. You have a whole list of the tools that I use. We’ve let you look under the covers: this is what I use, these are the tools, that is what it costs, anybody can do this. It just requires action, you just have to get started.
Like I said before, if you want the links to all of those, head over to ProjectIgnite.com/podcasts, head over to episode 2, and you’ll find all those links in the show notes. Hope you took something away today, now go take action and start creating your success on the Internet. Bye for now, everyone!