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Dear MAM: I have had a web site for a number of years. Each year I seem to be writing out checks for a lot of money. How much should my web site cost me after it is built? Sincerely, Ann R., Raleigh, NC

Dear Ann: Obviously, there are a number of determining factors. However, you are in the same boat as many in paying a lot of money after you built your web site. There are a few general considerations to take into account when totaling up the annual costs.

These are ballpark averages. If you are paying more than $40/month for hosting (including the domain names, web site and e-mail privileges), you are probably getting ripped off.

The second “recurring cost” is access to a web developer for making changes to the site. Hopefully, you have a database-driven site that allows you to make most of the changes. The developer would only be needed for changes to navigation, design or additional pages and non-text. Let’s be generous and say you make an average of one hour of changes each month for $100/hour.

The third consideration is search engine optimization listings. There are pretty good resubmission services as low as $30/month. Obviously, if you are interested in significant SEO (including paid listings and keyword purchases), that is another story and another budget. However, I generally use an SEO specialist, NOT the same company that is doing the development.

Finally, those all-important web site traffic reports. Chances are that the hosting fee mentioned above will include traffic reports. If you are looking for something more substantial (I like live, detailed reports for myself), I use Webstat. They are excellent and only costs about $10/month.

To recap monthly charges for one-year…hosting at $40, developer changes at $100, seo submissions at $30, and live traffic reports at $10. Your annual web site charges should be in the neighborhood of $2,000. If you are paying much more, you are probably getting ripped off. And be wary of any web site developer charging recurring fees, licensing or subscription charges. Those should have been paid in full at the time the site was initially built. With each of the aforementioned categories, if you find something better, you can always make an immediate change. On the other hand, say you have a small, relatively static web site. You just want to keep it running at little to no expense. You should be able to do that for around $10/month. Sincerely yours, THE MARKETING ATTORNEY

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