How much does it cost to start an online business? $86 or $715…

The startup costs for a professional looking online business are surprisingly low. What’s more, these costs may be tax-deductible.

I’m not an accountant, but the IRS states it plainly on their website:

Business start-up and organizational costs are generally capital expenditures. However, you can elect to deduct up to $5,000 of business start-up and $5,000 of organizational costs paid or incurred after October 22, 2004.

You can start a new, professional looking website as a home-base for your online business for way less than that!

Here are the startup costs for this website:

$11.99/yr to register the domain name unlockyourtime.com.
$7.99/yr for domain registration privacy.

I used GoDaddy for each of these startup costs and got 30% off by using this link: 30% off new products!

$14.99/month for web hosting also from GoDaddy.  I used the same link and saved $60 buying a year’s worth of hosting service at once.  I chose the “Pro WordPress Hosting” plan, which is a little bit more than some of the other WordPress hosting plans but includes these incredibly valuable features:

  • Daily automatic backups.  This is essential for restoring your site should it start to malfunction for any reason (hackers, plugin conflicts).  I’ve never needed a back up on any of my sites but I sleep better at night knowing I have one just in case.
  • Free SSL certificate.  You need an SSL certificate to accept secure payments, and since we are talking about building a business, accepting payment is essential.  These usually run $75+ per year.
  • Free support.  WordPress can occasionally be finicky, and troubleshooting yourself is time-consuming.  The exclusive access to GoDaddy’s expert WordPress support team is a huge benefit that could cost $70/month elsewhere but is included at no extra cost with the “Pro WordPress Hosting” plan.

$49 one-time for the page builder Elementor Pro.  This lets you build attractive web pages without knowing any code.  The only reason I went with the pro version over the free version was for the ability to construct a pricing table, which is needed if you are planning on selling courses, memberships, or other digital products via your website.

$59/yr for the WordPress theme Astra Pro.  Working hand-in-glove with the page builder, the theme allows me to customize the website exactly how I want it.  The only reason I went with the pro version over the free version was for the ability to customize the menu colors.

$30 one-time on Fiverr.com for the website logo.  This is a great website when you need help with graphic design at an affordable price.

$5/month for a professional domain-level email (myname@unlockyourtime.com).  I use Google Suite basic plan for this.

$29/month for the email service ConvertKit.  This price is good for your first 1000 email subscribers.  Why is email so expensive compared to everything else?  Probably because of how essential it is for converting your visitors into paying customers.  Email is definitely where your money will be made, and ConvertKit has the easiest interface I’ve seen to do all of the fancy things you would want to with an email service (segment your list, run automated campaigns, nurture sequences, etc…).  If you purchase for a year in advance you’ll save 2 months payment and get the service for $290/year.

$99/year for Restrict Content Pro.  This is what lets me build a membership site and when combined with a Stripe account accept recurring payments.

So if you add up these startup costs, assuming you pay for the yearly option on everything to save money you come up with an investment of $715.

If funds are tight then I would recommend sticking with the free versions of the theme and page builder, paying monthly instead of yearly for the email and website host, and holding off on the membership site plugin until you know for sure you are going to create a membership site.  That would bring your costs down to $86 the first month and $44 every month after that.  You could use MailChimp’s free plan for your first 1000 email subscribers, but each email you send would include an advertisement from MailChimp, and that might not be something that you want your customers to see.

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