Featured Internet Marketing

10 Rules for Setting Your Internet Marketing Budget

It Costs WHAT?!!!!!
I’m tired of hearing that.
Budgeting your internet marketing project may seem like a crap shoot. But I can simplify things for you:

  1. If you’re building a new site, expect to spend 2X that amount again in the year after the site launches. Unless you want it to sit there, all alone, with no traffic.
  2. If you want a site built by a single untrained individual who ‘learned how to use Dreamweaver’, expect to spend less than $2000. Also, expect to build a new site within 3 months.
  3. If you want a site built by a 5-10 person, boutique-style agency, expect to spend, at an absolute minimum, $10,000. These are experts, and they deserve to be paid as experts.
  4. If you find a 5-10 person, boutique-style agency that’ll build you a site for $2000 or less, expect something that looks like they had a sneezing fit during the design phase.
  5. If you expect to get a #1 ranking on Google for $99, you’re insane.
  6. If you hire a smart individual with a proven track record to optimize your site for search engines, expect to pay at least $5000, one time. Unless they’re your friend, or they’re willing to work hourly.
  7. If you hire a big agency with all sorts of fancy tools, an army of copywriters and other expertise for search engine optimization, expect to pay, at an absolute minimum, $50,000 for a one-year engagement.
  8. If you want to double your sales this year, you are going to have to pay more than $1000 to do it.
  9. Reliable hosting costs more than $9.95 a month.
  10. If you’re spending $250,000 to build your product and get it to market, don’t tell me you can’t spend $15,000 to give it a decent web site, unless you want to watch my eyes bug out like I’ve been suddenly depressurized.

I may be unusually grumpy tonight because I’m at Disney World in Florida. It’s 90 degrees and 90 percent humidity. I’m jetlagged, and I just spent $17 on a cheeseburger. And I’m here working.

CEO & Founder

Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent and the EVP of Marketing Services at Clearlink. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). He's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Follow him on Twitter at portentint, and on LinkedIn at LinkedIn.com/in/ianlurie.

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  1. For real…. Why does everyone expect anything related to the Web to be FREE?! We have to build a decent retirement plan for ourselves, too. Duh!

  2. This post excited me in ways I’m ashamed to admit.
    It’s far too often that people act like I hit them with the shock and awe when we discuss budgets and pricing when it comes down to it. I hate to be cliche about it with them, but hell.. if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten. There’s no other way around it.
    I don’t know why people are always so gung ho about their “dream” up until the point it comes time to cut the check.
    Oh, and get as far away from Disney World as possible. As much as I love Florida, I won’t go further north than oh, Boca. LOL.

  3. Thank you for setting people straight and I even agree with the first two comments!
    I like JC questioning why people think free services is synonymous with the ‘information should be free’ mantra of the web.
    Good point that if you are not willing to pay someone for their services why should someone pay you for yours?
    Erika well said on those not wanting to pony up on the dream.
    I may link to this article as I’m writing about the importance of paying for advertising and marketing. People scoff at that idea.
    I’ll let you know. 🙂

  4. The best bet for Disney World food is at EPCOT in The Land, Four Seasons Food Court. Great menu at reasonable prices and the coolest air conditioning. Sit in the “winter” area to bathe in the blue to be even cooler while you recharge and wait for your Fast Pass time for Soarin’. (Even if you’re working you need a break for a ride.)
    PS: Look for http://www.EPCOTfans.com coming soon

  5. This is a fantastic article, Ian! Thanks!
    I like that it benefits both web designers/developers (as social proof that they’re not charging exorbitant prices), and small business owners (who may have misconceptions about what these services actually cost).
    I’m going to include it in my next roundup.
    BTW, I don’t think you sound too grumpy at all — the tone is perfect. 🙂

  6. Congrats on cutting to the chase and just laying it right on the line, Ian. Sheesh, this should be the very first page anyone reads the minute they consider marketing their company or product online. People are willing to pay their doctors, their lawyers and their auto mechanics. Pay the web developers too! You want it free? Go spend the next year (or two) learning HTML, CSS, Javascript, PHP, MySQL, graphic design, copywriting, SEO and everything else that is entailed in creating a successful online presence.

  7. Sadly, you might just be preaching to the converted. Sound ideas all, but this kind of thing should required reading for all new businesses.
    A big part of my job is educating my clients, which involves explaining that if they think I’m expensive, just wait until they try the amateurs.
    “If you want a site built by a 5-10 person, boutique-style agency, expect to spend, at an absolute minimum, $10,000. These are experts, and they deserve to be paid as experts.”
    There’s room for another type of agency; one like me that’s just a one-man outfit who regularly competes with the 5-10 boutique-style agency and beats them on quality if not price…

  8. I agree with everything except the hosting. I use Site5 for my organization and they’re great and cheap. We don’t need dedicated hosting and while they don’t do phone support, email seems to be working just fine.

  9. Totally with Wayne. I’m also a one-man-band (actually one-man-and-his-dog-band) and my clients, the ones with experience working with bigger agencies, say one of their biggest complaints was getting anything done; the lag between request and anything being actioned. My work ethic, and I’m sure that of other one-man outfits, means I work overnight, weekends, holidays – whatever it takes to deliver. Bigger agencies are very much 9 to 5.

  10. This is good stuff. So many people are really clueless to these things, this does a good job of summing it up and ballparking it in layman’s terms.
    I will say, the wording of #2 could be a little confusing. I take it as saying that if you go the cheap route, expect to have to get a whole new site again in a few months… but it comes off as saying that the ‘dreamweaver’ developer will finish your site in 3 months. Just my 2¢

  11. Wow, it was a long time ago since I read such complete nonsense.
    With 10+ years in the industry, I can say that the prices stated are VERY inflated.
    System admin

  12. I think these prices are outdated. With web 2.0, people can create great looking sites for cheap. For people just starting out I would suggest using a wordpress site with a nice template. Just pay someone to design a unique logo. As far as SEO goes, you don’t need much investment if you know what your doing. It also depends on the niche. Adding a few articles to directories and creating free blogs around it will definitely help you out. And I forgot to mention twitter and youtube. I would suggest reading a book or buying a course in it. You can really get tons of targeted traffic for free.

  13. This is a really good article (even if you were grumpy when you wrote it).
    Yes people can create websites for cheap but if they don’t know anything about SEO, web page coding, usability or accessibility they will be back at square one when the site isn’t producing an income.

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