When I started my online adventure years ago with my very first website, I went with Wordpress.
It was free.
Everyone was using it (strength in numbers, right?).
Online marketing maven, Marie Forleo, sang its praises!
And (did I already mention this?) it was FREE!
I picked a free theme and got to work setting up my blog, which I planned to grow into a business.
And here’s what happened.
Every time I looked at my site content manager (which looked something like this), I felt a little sick.
I was scared I’d break something.
I didn’t know what plugins to use.
I didn’t realize that Wordpress is open source – which means (in many cases) the free stuff has bugs baked into the code which can compromise site security.
When I'd get stuck I’d log onto the forums to ask for help; and was treated like an idiot who was told to go search for my answers before I posted questions (which I really didn't have time for).
I know many people who adore Wordpress and I am very happy it is something they love. But my personal experience with it was not simple or cost effective by any stretch.
Around the time I was growing weary of Wordpress I was having a Skype conversation with a woman who had a blog and business similar to mine (at that time); and she was in a state of panic about her baby business.
Over the course of six months (that’s how long it took her developer and designer to build her site) she paid over $10,000 - by the time she figured in all the associated expenses: the graphic design, custom code, theme, e-commerce integration, and plugin fees.
As we talked she shared how overwhelmed she felt about what it would take to recoup her website investment. In addition, she didn’t know how to use her site beyond writing blog posts and worse, she confessed she wasn’t totally in love with the way her site turned out. Ouch.
I was at a crossroads.
I wanted a better website, but I certainly did not want to end up in a situation similar to hers.
So I began researching and experimenting. Taking classes. Trying. Playing. Talking to developers. And researching some more.
Ultimately I decided to dive into Squarespace and I loved it so much I learned how to use it inside and out - which eventually inspired me to transition my business into one that BUILDS beautiful and affordable websites in a relatively short amount of time for small business owners who don't want to feel overwhelmed about website development and maintenance.
My personal opinion about Wordpress is this:
With Wordpress you get what you pay for. And in many cases you end up paying the price for not paying more.
I’ve always been a bargain hunter. In fact just last weekend I unintentionally summoned three Target employees to figure out the 30% discount I was due on the pool noodles I wanted to purchase.
My husband (mortified) kept telling the cashier “It’s okay, we’ll pay full price.” But paying more than I need to for anything is…I don’t know…against my religion.
We left the store having saved $8 once my discount was properly adjusted.
But I digress.
My point is – especially if you are a small business owner –
Wordpress is simply not cost effective.
For something to be cost effective it needs to produce good results without costing a lot of money. For a small business owner, time is (essentially) money. So when it comes to building a marketing foundation (aka website), it’s important to look at three things:
And not just to launch your site, but also to manage, nurture, and evolve it along your entrepreneurial journey.
In case you are where I was a few years ago - wondering what you should do about your website, let me walk you through a typical web development chronology and show you some differences between Wordpress and Squarespace.
Everywhere you see third party on that chart, just figure you’ll be spending money.
A good quality Wordpress theme begins at approximately $250. What you’ll pay for decent plugins for your site can total anywhere from $100 to $500. In addition, you'll have hosting fees which can range in price depending on who you go with.
Most small business owners I know aren’t coders and they don't want to attempt to learn how to design their site. They just want a great website that helps them do more of what they love to do. With that in mind, the next investment is hiring a designer, developer, and copywriter.
And let me tell you something from experience…
Hiring a developer for your website pulls on the same emotions as hiring a babysitter for your kids. You are vulnerable. You want someone who cares deeply, who understands, who is patient, who is easy to talk to, who will do what they say they’ll do. Someone who will take care of your site and you.
Someone you trust.
Altogether, you’ll be looking at spending (at least) $3000 to $10,000 to launch a quality Wordpress website. Maintaining it year in and year out will be additional expense.
With a Squarespace site you’ll pay either $10, $20, or $30 per month which is $120, $240, or $360 per year if you pay monthly. If you purchase your yearly package in advance, you’ll receive a decent discount – dropping that $360 down to $288. This fee covers items 1 thru 8 on the chart above.
Your developer costs will be additional, but they will be significantly less. Why? Because Squarespace is so integrated it means much less work for your developer.
My most popular basic done-for-you website package starts at $4500 (with all the B-School bells and whistles) and my most expensive tops out around $6500 (which includes business card design, my soulful success kit, and a press release). Most of my packages include copy creation, which is one of the most difficult things for most business owners because it's hard to know how to talk about what you do when you're in the picture. I also offer training sessions where I teach you how to use your gorgeous website so you can make ongoing updates to accommodate the flex and fluidity needed to properly market and grow your business.
Unlike Wordpress, knowledgeable Squarespace employees are available 24/7 to answer questions so if you forget how to do something you don’t need to waste time scouring the internet for answers. You simply open up a chat and get the exact help you need right away.
Are there some downsides to a Squarespace site?
Yes, I believe so.
Many designers I know poo poo Squarespace because you don’t have precise control over design elements right down to each and every pixel.
This doesn’t bother me because I find the Squarespace template designs and functionality to be very elegant both visually and functionally.
Another issue is - there are some limitations to templates. So sometimes it is necessary to use custom code to get the exact look you want.
For example – the newsletter sign-up box is very basic and I wish there were more options for the display of social sharing icons for content. If you know CSS you can customize these items, but for the regular user there is not much that can be done. (pssst... My clients don't have to worry about this:)
Overall, if we were comparing apples to apples...
meaning if we were comparing features to features, a Wordpress site that contains the same features as a Squarespace site would cost thousands of dollars more to: design, develop, and maintain.
For me the Wordpress vs. Squarespace debate is very similar to PC vs. Mac.
They're both great. It just depends what you like.
I’m a Mac gal myself. I’ve had the same computer for years and it’s still going strong. My computer doesn’t get viruses and it’s simple to use and maintain. It came integrated with the software I need to run my business and be creative.
I can say the same thing about my (and my clients) Squarespace websites:)
Curious about my website packages? Check 'em out right here.
Wondering if it's possible to migrate your Wordpress site to Squarespace? The answer is...YES! Get in touch and let's chat about that:)