As WordPress gains more and more of the global CMS market share, there are a lot of opportunities to help businesses establish a strong digital presence with it. Needless to say, launching a WordPress business in this environment is a smart move.
That said, no matter how slow of a start you have with your WordPress business, there are costs everyone has to contend with.
Before launching your new WordPress business, it’s important to wrap your head around how much money is going to come out of your pocket to fuel this business venture. In the following post, I’ll dig into the typical and not-so-typical costs associated with launching a WordPress business to help you prepare for it.
30 Expenses You Can Expect When Launching a WordPress Business
With most new business ventures, there are traditional costs you can expect to have as you work to get it off the ground: marketing, sales, and office equipment, to name a few. But for WordPress freelancers who rely on specialized tools to get their work done seamlessly from home, there are other costs you have to factor in to your startup and finance management plan.
Here we go: the 30 expenses you can expect when launching a WordPress business:
1. Business Registration Fees
Whether you’ve decided that your WordPress business is better off as a one-man ship or you have plans to scale it to a WordPress agency, you have to register said business with your local government.
The first thing to do is to find out which kinds of business licenses you need to get for your business. If you’re a sole proprietor, it may only be a local license. For those of you planning to register as an LLC, C-corp, S-corp, and so on, there are additional fees and licenses you have to plan for. And they all come with fees.
Also, depending on where you live, there may be zoning fees you have to pay in order to conduct business at your property (even if you’re working from home). Be sure to check with the local authorities to determine what sort of registration fees are required to launch your WordPress business.
2. Business Insurance
Once you’ve secured the right to operate as a business, your next goal should be to protect it with insurance. Here are some of the types of business insurance you need starting on day one:
- Property: When you run a business out of your home–or, later, out of a rented workspace–you need to protect the assets you keep within it. Property or renter’s insurance will cover you in the event that a natural disaster, power outage, or theft disrupts operations or destroys equipment you rely on to run your business.
- Health: Unless you have a spouse that provides you with health coverage, this is one you’ll need to procure on your own. Even if you’re in good health now, it’s important to have this in case something happens to you. You can’t afford to let an expensive medical bill do harm to your business.
- Disability: On a related note, you can’t afford to let a serious illness or injury sideline you from making money. If your WordPress business is your only revenue stream, then disability insurance can provide a safety net that allows you the time and flexibility to get back up and running.
- Liability: You’re in the business of developing the online face of your client’s brand. If anything on their site should tarnish the business’s reputation–even if the content came from them–they could attempt to take legal action against you simply because you were responsible for implementation. There are, of course, other reasons their reputation could be harmed by a website–compromised security, lack of accessibility, etc.–so there’s a lot that can put you at risk in this line of work.
Liability insurance (as well as a statement regarding it in your freelance contract) can protect you from expensive and time-consuming lawsuits.
Depending on where you live, you can actually get most of these insurance plans through a freelancer’s organization like Freelancer’s Union.
3. Tax Payments
A QuickBooks Self-Employed survey from 2018 found that taxes were a real problem for freelancers. Among the most common challenges they faced were:
- Filling out tax forms correctly.
- Keeping track of expenses and revenue ahead of the tax deadline.
- Figuring out how much to pay in taxes.
- Saving enough money to make those tax payments.
If your business generates enough of a profit in your first year of operation, you’ll owe a tax payment to the local government. Rather than wait until before the deadline to determine whether or not you have the money to pay it, you should put money aside every month based on your earnings.
4. Retirement Savings
This is another thing you shouldn’t wait to get started with. Even if you’re only able to put aside a little bit of money every month to start, any amount you contribute to a dedicated retirement savings account will help you start preparing for the future.
5. Business Loans
For many of you, a business loan might not be necessary when you launch a WordPress business. However, if you find the list of expenses here to be overwhelming and you’re starting from scratch with no clients or brand-name recognition, a business loan may be helpful in getting everything started on the right foot.
6. Workspace Furniture
While I’m sure you could just as well work from your couch or kitchen table, if you’re planning to put in a solid eight hours of work each day (or even just a few if you’re working part-time), that’s going to get mighty uncomfortable after awhile. Plus, it’s a good practice, in general, to work in an environment that puts you in a more professional frame of mind.
At the very least, I would recommend investing in a desk, ergonomic chair, and lamp where you can conduct all business matters.
7. Office Equipment
I wrote a piece last year about the essential gear WordPress pros use to power their businesses. While some of these guys and gals have tricked-out offices, I’d suggest starting off nice and simple when your business is new. There’s no reason to create unnecessary distractions or spend extra money at this point.
That said, focus on procuring the following pieces of equipment by the time you launch:
- Computer or laptop
- Mouse and pad
- Printer and scanner
- External hard drive
- Office supplies like notebooks and pens
After you’ve gotten into the swing of things, you can add on to your office to help improve your mood and productivity.
Even if you’re not in the habit of talking to clients on the phone on a daily basis, you need a dedicated device through which you can call them at a moment’s notice. You have a few options:
- Landline + smartphone: The landline will be used for work-only phone calls whereas your smartphone will be for all personal matters.
- Smartphone + telecommunications software: Telecom software (like Skype) will be used to conduct all work-related calls and texts while your smartphone remains yours for personal use.
- Smartphone only: You can handle all calls–personal and professional–through your smartphone. However, be aware that clients will now have 24/7 access if you’re not careful about implementing strict work hours. It also may be more difficult with this option to expense your phone bill as it’s multi-purpose.
I’d say, in general, that having an alternative to your smartphone is always a good choice.
You’re likely already paying for Internet in your home, but this has now become a partial business expense you must account for. Be sure to calculate how many hours a day you work online so you know how much to claim for this during tax season.
The same pertains to any office or home utilities you’re currently paying for. Electricity, heat, hot water, etc. should be considered business expenses. Of course, you can’t deduct the full cost of these bills, but you can get a partial deduction based on the amount you consume to work from home.
Another expense that will go up when you work from home is your grocery bill. It might not be a huge difference from before, but the more time you spend at home wanting another cup of coffee or a mid-afternoon snack will drive the cost up a bit.
12. Outside-the-Home Work Expenses
For those of you who decide not to work from home, keep track of how much you have to spend to work outside of it. This could include:
- A coworking space membership
- Money spent on food or drinks at a coffee shop
- Travel time/gas money to and from the outside location
13. Domain Name
You will, of course, need to have your own WordPress site for your business. But, first, you need to start with buying a domain name. You can buy these on your own from a site like NameCheap or you can wait and see how much your web hosting company changes for one.
14. Web Hosting
For your purposes, finding a solid cloud hosting plan is probably best. It’s cheaper than VPS, but more secure than shared. It also is highly scalable, so it can grow with your WordPress business as needed. WordPress recommends Bluehost, DreamHost, and Site Ground.
While you’re at it, see if you can get a hosting plan that includes “free” extras like an SSL certificate, CDN, and backups. That way, you can save yourself those extra costs, at least for the first year or so.
15. WordPress Theme
If you intend on selling your clients on premium WordPress websites that utilize paid WordPress themes, then your site should be a reflection of that as well.
16. WordPress Plugins
You’re also going to want to invest in high-quality WordPress plugins. While you may be able to find a good starter set of free plugins, eventually you will want to bolster your site’s features with premium plugins. A membership with WPMU DEV would be a wise and cost-effective choice, in that case.
17. Multi-Site Management Tool
Unless you’re building websites for one client who wants them all to exist on WordPress Multisite, you’d be better off purchasing a WordPress management tool. In so doing, you can better keep tabs on all your clients’ sites at once and streamline the monitoring and upkeep.
18. Project Management Tool
A project management tool is necessary to help keep all of your work well-organized, all project stakeholders informed, and development pipelines on schedule. And this is something you should invest in before you ever sign your first client. Email and spreadsheets just isn’t an efficient way of managing a workflow.
To start, you may be able to get away with a free plan from one of these project management tools. However, by the time you reach your third or fourth client, you’re going to need to pay for a professional-level plan. It’s probably best to do that from the get-go, so you can get acquainted with premium features before you’re too swamped to do so.
19. WordPress Development and Design Tools
The nice thing about WordPress development tools is that many of them are free to use. That said, you may encounter the occasional tool that comes with an associated cost. If you feel that it’s necessary for you to get your job done better, don’t be afraid to spend money on it. The time you save and the higher quality results you produce will easily pay for that business expense.
20. Finance Management Software
There are various types of software you can use to manage the finance management piece of your WordPress business:
- Contract management
- Invoice management
- Tax software
I know there are some contract management tools you can use for free like And Co. Invoice management, bookkeeping, and tax software, however, are always going to cost money since they’re processing sensitive information and payments.
If you can find one software to bring them all together, that would be ideal. If you have to use multiple ones, that’s fine too, but be sure to account for the convenience and time savings that come with using an all-in-one tool like Zoho Accounts or the Intuit suite.
21. Payment Processing Fees
Even if you’re not collecting payments from clients through a payment gateway on your site, you will need a tool (probably PayPal) to handle payment collection. And while those kinds of payment processors tend to be free to “use”, there are fees associated with receiving payments through them.
22. Business Cards
It’s probably not often you’ll encounter new business opportunities while you’re out and about . However, you never know when that chance will arise and, rather than give a prospective client or business partner your phone number or email, it would be much more impressive to have a business card on hand. It’ll make a good impression on them while also giving you the opportunity to demonstrate your skills in creating a consistently branded experience.
23. Networking Opportunities
It’s never too early to start networking, especially if you live near a major metropolitan area. When you do take the time to network with prospects and peers, make sure to take everything associated with that experience into account:
- Travel time
- Money spent on accommodations (if needed)
- Entry fees (if any)
- Meals and drinks
- Amount of time spent away from work to attend the event
24. Professional Membership Fees
Professional memberships are always a good idea when you’re launching a new business. The startup and entrepreneur communities can be great resources when you’re trying to learn the ropes. Having access to mentors who’ve been through it before can be truly invaluable as well.
So, if you have local organizations you’re interested in joining or you want to get more involved with WordPress- or web development-related organizations, factor in those membership fees to your list of costs.
25. Business-Related Training
There are a number of ways you can learn how to be a better WordPress developer. While you can learn some of those beginner skills and main essentials online for free, you may want more. If you’re looking for ongoing resources or to take part in a formal training program, expect it to cost you something. Here are seven awesome courses you can look into to get started.
26. PPC and SEO Marketing
As you’re well aware, it can take some time to get a WordPress site to the top of search results. Of course, any blogging you do and time you spend on social media will help, but it might not work as quickly as you need it to if you’re hoping to ramp business up quickly. If you decide you want to “pay to play” to give your business’s launch a really strong start, PPC marketing, and premium SEO tools will come in handy.
All of the stuff you do above to build and promote your new WordPress business is going to require an investment of your time. Even if your business hasn’t launched yet, your time is valuable and should be added to the list of expenses.
When calculating business costs, do not forget to put a price tag on how much time you spend doing the following:
- Setting up the business (physically)
- Setting up the business (digitally)
- Building your website
- Writing copy
- Optimizing it for search, speed, and security
- Developing processes for your business
- Documenting everything
- Finding freelance clients
- Communication with prospects (e.g. pitching, proposals, quotes)
- Onboarding new clients
- And so on
This one won’t apply to all of you, but it may apply to some. When you have young children, you obviously have a choice: keep them at home with you and work around them or delegate the care of your children to someone else. If there is another spouse at home to take care of them, that’s great, though you may still have to contend with distractions .If you’re concerned with productivity and privacy while working from home, you may need to factor in daycare expenses.
29. Vacation Days
Just because you work for yourself doesn’t mean you aren’t entitled to take a vacation. Granted, it’ll be harder to justify a vacation if it means business closes down during that time, but there are ways to get around that.
For one, developing a passive revenue stream will keep money coming through even if you aren’t available to develop websites. Accounting for planned absences ahead of time can be helpful as well. If you know that you will only work 50 weeks out of 52 this year, you can adjust your freelance rates to ensure you make enough money as if you worked the entire year.
However you plan to handle it, just remember to look at “paid time off” as a necessary expense. Even if you can lighten the blow of work stoppage with the methods mentioned above, it will cost you something to step away from work.
30. Physical and Mental Wellness Activities
You also have to think outside the box, at things like personal comfort, automation, productivity, legal matters, and wellness as you’re launching a new WordPress business. While some of these may seem like nonessentials, the best business plans account for ways to fight burnout right from the very start. If you can take care of both yourself and your business, you’ll find it easier to work at maximum capacity without having to slow down.
While it might be tempting to just do some meditation or exercises at home, you’re already trapped within those four walls for most of your life as it is. If you want to make the most of your wellness efforts, you’d do well to invest in a gym membership, yoga studio, massage package, or something of that nature. It’ll get you out of the house, away from work, and able to truly decompress and give yourself a fresh start on the next workday.
The nice thing about this list of expenses to expect when launching a WordPress business is that most of these are pretty cheap. However, at some point, you will need to take into account all of these business expenses (and more) once your business is chugging along at full speed. Which is why it’s best to set them all in motion now, so you have less to think about when you’re swamped with work down the line and need to scale up in order to deliver greater power to your workflow.