Q&A: Is $4500 too much for a website?

Q:

Kat. I’ve consulted with a local website designer who does amazing work but is asking for $4500 for a website. Is this reasonable? I am curious to hear your thoughts. Help me with your knowledge and experience please!

– B

A:

I love that you are going out there, exploring services, and then taking the time to investigate them.

In terms of an answer, it might be frustrating to hear this but the question you are asking, if $4500 is reasonable for a website, is like asking “how long is a piece of string?”

Test it out by asking your same question with other services or larger commodities:

  • Is $150 too much for an hour of psychotherapy?
  • Is $50,000 too much for a car?
  • Is $2000 too much for a laptop?

For all of these questions, the answer is: it depends.

And it mostly depends on you.

So we first need to update your question to being a question not about the website nor the service, but about you. Is $4500 reasonable for you to spend?

And to answer that question, you’ll need to be crystal clear on what you need out of your website and out of the website service and how it fits into your marketing and who you uniquely are.

The tricky thing with website pricing is that “websites” aren’t just one thing. It’s not like buying orange juice. It’s more like buying a fruit salad. If you want a larger quantity, larger variety, and with exotic fruits that are expensive and difficult to import, the price of that salad will increase. Right?

And which fruit salad will be more expensive? The one you make yourself? The one someone else makes for you? Or the one made by a five-star chef?  

What if you’re interested in a fruit salad but you know that something super simple, an apple and banana salad, would appease your appetite? Would it be reasonable to splurge on the salad that is 10 times more complex and expensive? Maybe it would! Maybe it’s your birthday and you just want to do something ridiculous and fun. Or maybe you’d rather save that same money to buy a cupcake later in the day.

The real question here is: what are you hungry for?

And by that I mean, what do you actually need? Here are the most common things that therapists need when it comes to creating a website:

  • Getting clear on marketing fundamentals like: identity, niche, voice, audience, overall messaging
  • Getting clear on marketing strategy to understand why they need a website, what they need the website to do, and how to use it for attracting clients and referrals
  • Writing and planning the website copy including the navigation, header, footer, and pages, basically all the written stuff.
  • Making decisions on the visual side including what the website looks like in terms of fonts, colors, layouts and the images that are on the site
  • Choosing the platform & using it. Deciding between options like Squarespace vs Wix vs WordPress.
  • Setting up any technology stuff like domains, email provider setup, schedulers, email marketing subscribe forms
  • Generating traffic to the website. Things like social media marketing, content marketing, SEO, outreach and networking, PR, and more.
  • Accountability to stop putting their website on the bottom of their to do list and finally get their website stuff done. (True for many therapists whether they are working with a professional or going full DIY).

Therapists may not need a deep level of each one of these items. And in fact, if you’ve been reading this blog recently, you’ll know that having a therapist website that is good enough is ideal (you don’t have to have an amazing, stunning website to get the benefits you’re likely needing). 

And furthermore, most major platforms are just fine for most therapist website needs. 

From my experience consulting private practice therapists in their marketing and running three website design service models to make websites: most therapist don’t have a design need. They have a need for the other stuff though: getting clear, getting organized, making plans, writing content, staying accountable.

Most therapists don’t have a design problem and therefore don’t need to invest a lot into the design of a website.

Once you have written content and images in front of you, it could take just an hour or two to put it together on a simple platform like Squarespace. If you can write and send an email, you most likely can build on one of these platforms.

But how about you? What do you need exactly? And what value would you place on that need?

Sometimes it helps to think in terms of pain. What is causing you the most pain towards achieving your goals in private practice? Many therapists will find they need a MUCH simpler website than they think.

For instance, if the pain you’re solving at this time is that you lack an online presence and therefore referrals sources have no where to send their referrals to find out more about you, then, you probably need a very simple brochure website that helps visitors “meet you” – understand a bit about who you are, how you help, and reach out for a call. 

If you DIY all of the items on the above “needs” list including getting clear, planning it out, writing all the content, finding the images, deciding on a template, setting up the tech, launching, and then driving traffic to the site… then the price of the website would be your time, energy, and as little as $60/year.

But most therapists will want help with some of those things.

If you get clear enough to know what you want to do yourself and what you want to hire for, there are still decisions to navigate.

For example, if you say, “I’m going to build my own website on Squarespace but I need help writing it.” That’s awesome, but how are you going to get help?

An experienced professional writer, will run you $3000-4000 or you might want to use a writing tool like Empathycopy which will run you $139.

But how do you know which of the options are the right fit for you?

A website can include many things you *could do*
The best way forward is knowing what you *should do*

To know what you should do, invest into growing your knowledge.

  1. Learn about how marketing works – particularly around what types of marketing investments lead to returns which means that when you put money into them, you make money back. Returns means you don’t throw the money out the window and instead that investment returns more money back to you then you put in.
  2. Learn about business budgeting – if you’re under six figures, you actually don’t have the budget for a $4500 website if you want decent profit margins so this question could be outside of reasonable consideration financially if that describes you.

Spoiler: when it comes to marketing investments for solo and small businesses, you’ll find there aren’t measurable, high returns on most design investments. 

Here are some questions to guide you in your new quest for growing your marketing and business budgeting knowledge:

  1. What help do I need with my marketing?
  2. What marketing investments generally yield high returns for therapist practices? 
  3. What marketing strategies are a fit for my unique goals?
  4. What problem do I want a website to help me solve? 
  5. Is a website the right fit solution for the pain or problem I’m facing in my business? And if so, how much value can I derive out of solving that problem? Can I put a number on it? E.g., a website will save me $500 a month.
  6. If I’m moving forward with a website, what’s the least amount of investment I can make into a website to still achieve high impact towards my goals? 

And these aren’t questions that I can answer for you. They are, however, questions I encourage you to investigate – either through your own self-discovery process or with the help of peers, groups, or coaches (like me). 

Moving forward from a place that is clear, intentional, and educated will help you ensure you are making reasonable investments. 

Hope this helps.

Kat Love

Hi, I'm Kat! I'm the founder and lead designer here at Empathysites. Therapists helped me heal from childhood sexual abuse so now I help therapists with creating their websites. I write on topics like website design, strategy, and turning website visitors into clients. Reach out anytime if you'd like to say hi. Pronouns: they/them/their